Gowings Bar & Grill, Sydney CBD

For those born before Gen-Y, the name Gowings evokes not so distant memories of the department store that formed part of Sydney’s history and existed for some 138 years. Gowings, a menswear institution survived two World Wars and the Great Depression before it closed in 2006.

Gowings Bar & Grill is located at QT Sydney, a hip and flamboyant hotel in that same building that once sold men’s clothing.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Gowings Bar & Grill

Located on the first floor just below the smart Gilt Lounge, the 120 seat European style brasserie evokes a touch of New York cool and vibe. The dark fitout with luxurious leather seating beneath high ceilings is accented by brass pendant lighting and dark timber tones that set the mood. The ambience is buzzy, funky and informal, inviting Sydney-siders and hotel guests alike in dine in stylish surrounds.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Open Kitchen

The menu by QT Sydney Creative Food Director, Robert Marchetti and Executive Chef Paul Easson, is presented French brasserie style. One large sheet on hardback details entrees, mains and desserts – a list that leaves one spoilt for choice.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Seafood on Display from Marketplace Fishmongers

The wine list devised by wine consultant Ian Cook is extensive, devoting two pages to wines by the glass before detailing local and international drops by varietals over a twelve page spread. But it need not be daunting to the diner as Shun Eto, Curator of Wine and Assistant Restaurant Manager is on board with excellent recommendations and matches.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Bread & Pepe Saya Butter

A new addition to the food menu includes a raw selection of seafood with hand-selected sustainable fish, crustaceans and shellfish and other fish dishes to complement the offerings from the grill and the wood-fired oven.

Entrees tend to be small in size and it is recommended that three dishes are shared between two persons.

Gowings Bar & Grill
The Giant Octopus

The Giant Octopus ($19) brings Mediterranean flavours to the palate with tender pieces of BBQ Octopus  marinated in Cabernet vinegar and lemon, on a garlic sauce with sliced cucumber, cubed potato, shallots, topped with mâche leaves and a scattering of cracked wheat. Alas, the “giant” refers to the type of octopus not the the size of the dish but it is nonetheless tender and tasty with a hint of smoke.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Hot Spanner Crab Cakes

Crisp on the outside with soft innards, Hot Spanner Crab Cakes ($22) are bite-sized morsels on a bed of thin batons of celeriac and aioli. Moreish with a touch of heat, the double smoked bacon in the crab cakes is what makes the dish and enhances the flavour. A glass of Freycinet Riesling from Tasmania goes well with the crab cakes.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Steak Tartare Pasture Fed Ox/Beef

Still on the entrees, the Steak Tartare Pasture Fed Ox/Beef ($29) is an elegant assembly of sliced meat with the classic condiments topped with pickled black shimeji mushrooms and a free range egg. Perfectly seasoned with the right balance of flavours, the tartare comes with a side of shoestring fries.

Gowings Bar & Grill
“Cioppino” Californian Fish Soup 

From the Marketplace Fishmongers comes the “Cioppino” Californian Fish Soup ($39) beautifully presented in an earthenware dish. Chunks of snapper, one tiger prawn, clams and mussels share a tomato spiced broth bringing a harmony of seafood flavours. The charred and smoky garlic and parsley bread begs to be dipped in the delicious broth. The dish comes highly recommended with Chantereves Bourgogne Blanc 2012 from Burgundy, a wine made by a Japanese winemaker with a fine balance of acidity and fruit.

Gowings Bar & Grill
1/2 Crisp Spiced Duck

The standout dish is the 1/2 Crisp Spiced Duck ($44) from the wood rotisserie. Large enough to feed two persons, the bird is delightfully succulent and gamey, with a hint of wood smoke and a crisp, spicy skin. The Paris Mash beneath is decadent and creamy, the kind you enjoy after dissociating guilt. The steamed black cabbage rounds the dish with a slightly bitter and earthy flavour. The dish pairs well with a classic Pinot Noir from New Zealand.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Sautéed Mixed Mushrooms

The big flavours of the spiced duck are well complemented with the earthy and comforting Sautéed Mixed Mushrooms ($10) baked in a paper bag with mint and parsley.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Gowings Classic Profiteroles

When it comes to dessert, a choice of eight tempts the sweet-toothed but it is the trio of Gowings Classic Profiteroles ($18) that proves to be irresistible and popular on the night. Each profiterole is filled with crème pâtissière and vanilla ice-cream, topped with little chocolate balls with copious amounts of Valrhona dark chocolate sauce – a chocolate lover’s dream. The wine recommendation of Piggs Peake Suckling Pig Shiraz 2013 is simply sensational.

Gowings Bar & Grill
Christmas Is Coming Cherry Tart

Less sinful and in keeping with the festive spirit is the ‘‘Christmas Is Coming Cherry Tart’’ ($16), an almond frangipane tart with a delicate base topped with a delicious combination of chocolate chip and cherries, served with a chocolate eggnog sauce (not shown). The flavours of tart are well-complemented by the Pressing Matters Riesling R139 from Caol River Valley in Tasmania, a sweet floral wine where the R stands for residual sugar and the number equates to the number of grams of that sugar.

In addition to lunch and dinner offerings, Gowings Bar & Grill has recently introduced an extensive breakfast menu which includes the superfood omelette – think free range egg white omelette in flax seed oil –  organic yoghurt with spelt toasted granola, oats, toasted almonds and marinated plums and wood fire grilled farmhouse breakfast.

Gowings Bar & Grill has many offerings to lure the first time diner. The food menu tempts with many options and the wine recommendations are simply nothing but stellar. Service is swift yet personable and attentive with entrees and dessert served fast. Entrees and mains vary in portion size so it helps to ask before you order, as all dishes are served in oversized plates. This is a coveted CBD dining destination and rightly so. The venue tends to get very busy therefore reservations are highly recommended.

Gowings Bar & Grill
QT Sydney Hotel
Level 1, 49 Market street (Cnr Market and George street)
Sydney, New South Wales


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.

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