Opening a hotel restaurant in a CBD renowned for independent hotspots left right and centre has its ups and downs. For example, the backing of a 40-strong hotel chain is undoubtedly impressive, but unlike say New York, where three-Michelin-star chefs can be found hanging out at Trump International Towers, Sydney hasn't quite yet jumped on the bandwagon. Abode, the new addition to Park Royal down on the corner of Day and Bathurst Street, is at least a leg up in that direction.
Street-facing and impressively decked out in apparently only a few weeks, Abode already deals with the whole hotel 'problem': any casual passer-by could easily be forgiven in thinking this restaurant/bar decked out in white woods, creams and greys is simply that, sans the attached accommodation. While it's no Jean-Georges, its size is impressive, and, with a sunken bar and lounge area, hidden-away games room and main dining room complete with cushioned banquettes, comfy and welcoming, Abode does live up to its name.
According to restaurant and bar director Christian Rasmus, the main focus here is the food, whipped up by green-on-the-scene head chef Ryan Hong. We began with three selections from the raw bar, including salmon belly ($16), an oyster each ($4) and yellow fin tuna tartare ($18). Oyster lovers will like the accompanying cucumber and coriander for its freshness, while the wasabi gel and kewpie mayo alongside the salmon gave a delish sashimi kick. The best was probably the tuna but mainly because of the avocado puree. Love an avo puree.
Breaking open a warm Bread and Butter Project roll ($3) with the most generous hunk of almost cheese-like butter, we moved onto 12-hour cooked lamb shoulder ($16) with Panko crumb, celeriac and apple jelly. Three words: move over pork. Apple with lamb is a hit. As was the juicy 9+ Wagyu flank ($40) that came after, cut into short fat chips, with a flavour-packed king mushroom and pumpkin puree.
On the side we enjoyed some roasted carrots ($9) — it's great how something so simple can be so delicious — and not double but triple cooked fries ($9). Finally we finished with the corn-fed chicken (nice and juicy, $34) and the Tassie king salmon ($34), which while cooked well was sadly drowned by a small ocean of butter.
With a strong wine list and seasonally changing cocktail menu, including an awfully wintery Spiced Blazer served in an espresso cup ($20), it's clear Abode's focus is in the right place. The best thing any hotel restaurant can do in a city unaccustomed to non-guest dining is remove the idea of a hotel altogether. Something this hospitable wannabe home in the CBD has done nicely.