Tourists and Westies. Nothing breathes the fear of uncoolness into the heart of the inner city hipster or snob than those two words. Which is why Darling Harbour has been an anti-cool repellant to the hoards of well-dressed and affluent diners. The aquarium, Home nightclub, McDonald's, seagulls ... it's not exactly Surry Hills. For tourists and families from the outer, outer 'burbs', however, it's a mecca, and for social gamblers, well, it's only a chip's throw away from the casino.
Nick's Seafood is a savvy company who know the clientele the inlet attracts, and cater for them. It owns six venues around the harbour, the latest of which is Cyren, formerly Jordans. In a climate where restaurateurs are worrying about places closing and people not wanting to splash out a small fortune on fine dining, Cyren pretty much has cocked its head to the pessimists and opened with a capacity for apparently 650.
Madness, some say. But Cyren isn't competing with the upper end of town. It's plush interior and massive kitchen may be swish, but the menu is a simpler affair. Calamari rings? Check. Battered seafood platter with chips? Check. It's strengths lie in marine life of the unbuttered variety – the natural oysters ($22 for six, $44 for a dozen), the pan-seared scallops ($19.50), the baby snapper ($36). The fresh local lobster salad (market prices vary) is slightly unnerving at first – essentially a hybrid crustacean of shellfish and greens rearing out of the plate as if to escape back into the nearby harbour. And being Darling Harbour, there are also obligatory fireworks.
Cyren is big and brashly located and presented. There's a line outside on the opening Saturday night, and it's filled with an all-ages crowd, mostly family affairs. There's not a huge amount of fireworks on the menu, but what's there will sparkle for those wanting their food to match their view of the waterfront.