200 Dobroyd Parade (City West Link) Haberfield, New South Wales 2045
|Opening hours||Daily, 12-2.30pm, 5.30-8.30pm; Sat-Sun, 7-10.30am|
|Features||Views, Wheelchair access, Outdoor seating, Family friendly, Bar, Licensed, Accepts bookings|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 9797 9523|
If you've got it, flaunt it, or so the saying goes, and in the case of the restaurant at the new UTS Haberfield Rowing Club, "it" is unmistakably the water views. From any angle, there's no missing the silver ripples of Iron Cove, dotted with gleaming yachts, sea birds and rowboats.
Unlike a conventional club, there's little to distract from the main attraction – no hyper-busy carpet, no infernal ka-ching of pokies and no televisions glaring from every angle.
It's just you and the view, framed by massive expanses of glass – or, if you nab a spot on the huge outdoor deck, nothing at all.
In fact, the interior hardly resembles your typical club in any way; we're greeted by shiny floorboards, big black tables and acres of space. Tasteful touches such as oar-shaped fans and a rowboat strung from the ceiling allude to the rowing area downstairs.
It's all part of a sleek $8 million redevelopment of the venue, which is owned and operated by the ActivateUTS union at the University of Technology, Sydney. It opened in April after more than 12 months of work. The site is perched on the southern end of the bay along the City West Link and includes a small kiosk downstairs.
Fog shrouds the bay on the morning of our visit, giving it a grand appearance that lures our fellow diners onto the huge outdoor deck despite the cold. Fortunately most are still rugged up in beanies and jackets from their morning walk on the Bay Run – and within moments of arriving a heater is delivered by one of the attentive waiters.
A round of coffees are an improvement on our first visit a few weeks before: a short black is dark and strong with good crema and a bitter edge while a velvety flat white with a pretty rosetta delivers equal punch with chocolatey finish.
Head chef Shane Rider (formerly of the Imperial Hotel) is behind the new weekend-only breakfast menu, introduced in recent weeks. It's a thoughtful, compact list with a focus on simple flavours that's a step up from the original lengthier menu that was on offer earlier in the year.
The pan-fried haloumi with roasted mushrooms arrive quickly. Piled within a glistening arrangement of asparagus and rocket leaves, the golden haloumi delivers a great salty hit while the flesh of the mushrooms has that proper meaty taste rather than drowning in butter as they often do elsewhere.
A more substantial option is the English muffin, which comes dressed with poached eggs and shavings of soft serrano ham with leaves of wilted baby spinach. The eggs yield deliciously under the knife and, while it may not be the most delicate way to start the day, there's a messy pleasure in mopping up dollops of rich hollandaise and tangy tomato relish with forkfuls of toasty muffin.
Just as hearty is the pancake stack, two fat, fluffy discs topped with a generous splodge of caramel cream and passionfruit coulis. The rich buttermilk flavour and chunks of fresh banana in the batter win fans of all ages at our table but a few other options for youngsters wouldn't hurt.
A second batch of coffees lacks the depth of our earlier brews but we're revving to get going anyway. The fog breaks to reveal the full length of the Bay Run bustling with walkers and joggers. After all that lazy grazing while admiring the view, we can only join them.
THE PICKS Banana and buttermilk pancakes; pan-fried haloumi with roasted mushrooms and asparagus
THE COFFEE Classico from Espresso di Manfredi
THE LOOK Sleek and polished
THE SERVICE Uniformed, efficient and attentive