No pressure. But when you're running one of the most visible, celebrated and (yes) expensive restaurants in the country, and you spend three months and many millions rethinking the place from the carpet up, there's going to be a certain amount of scrutiny from the dedicated diners of Australia when you throw open the doors. Such is the nature of a special-occasion restaurant; your guests develop an emotional investment in what you do. They don't think of it as your place, but as their place. (Retire your snow egg at your peril, and be careful what you do with your tablecloths.)
But just about everything at the new Quay has been done to put the focus back on the diner. Peter Gilmore is no one-trick pony and The Fink Group's big gamble has paid off.
The new Quay does everything the old Quay did – the dazzling food, the sense of occasion – while trimming away the hint of the rote, of the production-line that had rankled with some diners. Our reviewers noted in last year's guide that certain "naff, nanna and negligent" aspects of service had begun to creep into the experience. A year down the track and the Quay of today is a long way from any of those things.
Jeremy Courmadias, a Le Caprice alumnus who gave new polish to Rockpool Bar & Grill in his previous job, has brought a very welcome transformation to the service culture. And Gilmore and his team, reveling in a new-build kitchen, are flexing their muscles anew. It's a new Quay, and there's no other restaurant quite like it.
Quay, Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, NSW, (02) 9251 5600, quay.com.au