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Gowings by QT

  • Restaurants
  • Sydney
  1. a seafood sampler, caviar, langostines, lobster, oysters
    Photograph: Supplied
  2. A woman eating a raspberry dessert from a white table
    Photograph: Supplied
  3. a flat top of a table of food, steak, schnitzel, squid, chips salad
    Photograph: Supplied
  4. the interior of gowings, wooden floorboards and pink velvet chairs
    Photograph: Supplied
  5. Steaks on a white and grey marble counter
    Photograph: Supplied

Time Out says

Chef Sean Connolly has breathed new life and old-world service into this iconic Sydney building

Piling out of the elevator, onto the first floor of Sydney’s historic Gowings Building, the ornate, art deco gilding of the State Theatre feels a world away, despite being only just beneath your feet. Far removed from the overt, grand elegance of 1920s gothicism downstairs, the QT Hotel exudes sophisticated swagger and contemporary cool.  

Old New York-style stage lights point the way up an industrial, wooden staircase to the recently reborn Gowings Bar and Grill. Though it takes its inspiration from Little Italy and the state-side steakhouse scene, Gowings 2.0 is a thoroughly new era, an utterly fresh reimagining under the direction of acclaimed British chef and genuinely good geezer, Sean Connolly (the Morrison Bar and Oyster Room).

After being greeted with cheerful exuberance and warm hospitality, be swept past the impressive, open kitchens to your table, admiring a magnificent monster of a bistecca fiorentina, resting on the pass, along the way. The dining room is expansive, and the experience immersive, with bold elements of art, high fashion, glamour and fine dining, dashes of punk and just a sprinkling of indie sleaze.

In true old-world style, start with a Vesper, a classic Bond drink made with gin, vodka and lillet blanc. In a spectacular show of tableside bartending, a martini cart will pull up beside you, and emerging from a dramatic cloud of liquid nitrogen, the bartender shakes and decants the crystal-clear cocktails into frosty, white goblets. Garnished with paper thin lemon peel, it’s sexy, zesty, and very bloody classy. 

Ease into dining with a few seafood courses, expertly paired with clean, crisp white wine. Sweet, fat scallops are seared to perfection, bathing in warm pools of buttery bagna càuda, served atop their half shell. 

Slivers of pristine, raw kingfish, are dressed with a rock-oyster cream and scattered with salmon caviar, citrus, fresh chive and puffed wild rice. This dish will render you enamoured, and subsequently desperate; pathetically scooping bread through the plates' last smears, overcome with desire for more.

Rosemary and sea salt flecked pizzetta snuggles up against a generous dollop of whipped ricotta, drizzled in sweet, sticky honey. Octopus carpaccio is so delicate, shaved with such precision, it has the appearance of lace.

The time has come to push forth onto pasta, masterfully married with a bodacious red, one of the many local, natural-leaning wines on the list. On this visit, we devoured two dishes, but allow us to assure you: we distinctly recall just one. This is not to say that the other lacked an impression, simply that (to our carnivorous surprise) the vegetarian gnocchi piled high with a generous helping of wild mushrooms stole the whole damn show. 

In an epic, final feat of showmanship, the main courses arrive. As astonished as we were to sing the praises of mere mushrooms moments before, we found ourselves staggered once again, this time by caesar salad - dressed and tossed tableside by Connolly himself. Forget the cloying, mayonnaisey, boiled egg abominations of Caesar's past - this baby is a new journey down an old road, a fresh, light and unmissable celebration of an oft misunderstood classic.

It is testament to the new era of Gowings that in this review, the steak is almost an afterthought. The steak is amazing, of course. Grass fed, flawlessly medium rare, speckled in crisp salt flakes - fatty, unctious, delicious. Put simply; the overall experience, from start to flamboyant finish is world class yet familiar, with extra special mention to the cheeky and endearing banter between restaurant manager, Ernesto and chef Sean. Honestly, a joy to witness and cleverly disarming. Get amongst it, friends. 

Carly Sophia
Written by
Carly Sophia


Gowings Building
Market Street
Opening hours:
Tue-Sat, 6-10pm; Thu-Fri, noon-3pm
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