Excited hotel guests, slick businessmen and stylish ladies mingle in the Hilton's lively Caffé Cino, a sanctuary of smooth service and consistent cuisine for in-the-know urbanites. Nestled right on George Street, the luxurious space gives welcome reprieve from downtown hustle and bustle, while hasty commuters outside make for an animated backdrop through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
The lobby surrounds are palatial to say the least: shiny marble finishes meet suspended escalators, and a giant steel sculpture stretches through the building's void like a fairytale beanstalk. Busy hotel workers ward off a calming café ambience, but the open-plan seating area soaks up just the right amount of buzz.
Pull a chrome stool up to the espresso bar that overlooks an ever-rotating valet rank, or opt for plush leather armchairs around crisp white dining tables. Staff are efficient - no doubt conscious of their clientele's sacred lunch hour - and offer oh-so posh niceties that recall the hotel locale.
A large marble counter showcases tasty offerings of the day. The kitchen team's chefs deliver enticing cakes and tarts, as well as freshly made salads and wraps. It's hard to go past the salad of citrus-poached salmon with shaved fennel, watercress, orange segments and mustard dressing, but this mid-morning visit calls for something sweeter.
For speedy meetings, opt for the $9.50 coffee-and-cake combo; velvety Single Origin creations come with a side of bite-sized, buttery shortbread, along with a pastry of choice. Today, an individual lemon meringue pie offers light-as-snow goodness atop a delicate tart case filled with luscious citrus curd. Those after something richer will gravitate to the neat layers of almond sponge, chocolate ganache and coffee mousse in opera gateaux, and breakfast-skippers can choose from healthy options like bircher muesli trifle and cubed watermelon or pineapple served in cocktail tumblers.
The focus here is on polished service for city appointments, with a dash of five-star hotel style and a slice of Sydney fine dining.