It’s really lovely to see the transformation of 49 Market Street from its former incarnation as Gowings, the department store, to the newly (ish) opened Gowings Bar + Grill and QT Hotel.
As soon as your enter the building and head up to the first floor to Gowings Bar + Grill you can sense this space is something special. A respectful refit of the old store has led to an old-style New York diner meets modern, hip space complete with trendy black-clad wait stuff wearing anything but your traditional waiter garb . It feels fancy, and special yet not stuffy or intimidating.
A large open kitchen runs along the side of the restaurant with chefs bedecked in white peak-hats. For such a large kitchen that houses A LOT of staff it’s amazing how quiet it is. There is no shouting, no clanging of plans…nothing. Just the quiet efficiency of a well-run kitchen turning out delicious food.
The menu seems to have a slight French influence and we start off with six snails roasted in puff pastry shells in garlic, lemon and mint butter ($23 .00). I loved the snails we had in France last year so was very keen to try them again in Australia. Our sauce wasn’t quite as garlicky as other snails I’ve tried (probably a good thing) and our snails were very good, being *just* on the right side of too chewy. The puff pastry shell takes the place of the traditional baguettes slices that you get in France to sop up any butter sauce – which is possible better for the waistline (bread vs puff pastry, hmmm --- I’m not so sure now that I think about it).
Our second entrée was the steak tartare of pasture-fed Ox/Beef ( $29.00). The tatare is mixed with pickled black shimeji mushrooms, a free-range egg, and other classic condiments and is accompanied by a generous serving of shoestring fries. I’m never sure how to eat steak tartare with shoe string fries? Whilst the fries were super scrummy, I think I would’ve liked some crackers (or something) to scoop the tartare on to. Fries, or no fries, our steak tartare was EXCELLENT, so flavoursome and totally moreish. The steak was lusciously tender and the mushrooms added a nice textural element. I love how the condiments add a nice bit of “zing” to the dish.
Now, it’s probably work pointing out that the serves at Gowings Bar + Grill are REALLY generous…like REALLY REALLY generous! We could have easily gotten away with one entrée (or maybe two), one main between us and just one dessert. Whilst I would consider this a “not-cheap” restaurant you really are getting value for money, especially considering you don’t really need your own entrée, main and dessert! It’s probably a great place to go if you want to experience a more fancy dining experience, but minimize the cost by sharing some courses with your dining companion.
So with that disclaimer above I was clearly entering food coma territory as I TOTALLY forgot to take a picture of our first main! We opted for the delicious tender, ½ serve of organic herbed chicken that is served with a lush, creamy Paris mash, steamed black cabbage and salt bush ($33.00). This was a lovely main and would easily serve two greedy people (like us)! In fact it comes already plated up individually. The Paris Mash was so fine and creamy…really good! Like I said, there's no photo of this dish...but here's a picture of the kitchen where it was cooked!
Despite feeling rather (very) full at this stage we do a fine job of polishing off the thick-cut free-range Berkshire Pork Chop. The chop is served on a platter with green lentils, carrots, pearl onions, beer-battered sage and Marchetti's rosemary brown sauce ($39.00). I really liked trying the beer-battered sage, it’s an usual element that I’ve not seen on a menu before.
To accompany our mains The BFF ordered a bowl of fried onion rings ($7 .00). The slices of red onion are coated in a crunchy batter – really good.
I think one of my favourite things of the night was this lovely salad of iceberg, red peppers and Ortiz anchovies doused with a seeded mustard dressing ($14.00). This salad was so fresh, and whilst many consider iceberg to be tad…dull, I think that the dressing, the anchovies and the peppers really gave what would otherwise be a bowl of lettuce a real kick. So delicious, so zesty and I so wish the bowl was twice the size!!
I could easily have forgone dessert but desserts are The BFFs happy place so I couldn’t deny him. We kick off with a double baked dark chocolate crème brûlée topped with last season’s sweet marinated cherries ($16 .00). Boy this was GOOD! The dark chocolate wasn’t too rich, and the sourness of the cherries really elevated the chocolate flavor up to something special.
We probably should’ve stopped at one dessert but seeing plates and plates and plates of the Hot Beignets come out of the kitchen was too much to bare. We asked for a half serve of these French market doughnuts that come heavily dusted in icing sugar ($16.00). Our waitress suggested that we get a little pot of hot chocolate sauce to poor over the doughnuts – and all good waitresses should be obeyed!
Gowings Bar + Grill is at Level 1, 1/49 Market Street, Sydney. Phone them on 8262 0062.