The name Solander rang a bell. I was on my way to try out the new West Hotel Sydney, a Curio Collection by Hilton property, and had rung before arrival only to be invited to dine at the hotel restaurant, Solander Dining. Solander, Solander ... I turned the name over in my mind until I made the connection.
"Wasn't he on the Endeavour?" I mused. And I was pleased to find that I was right and that he was. Botanist Daniel Solander was Joseph Banks' assistant on the famous 1768- 1771 voyage of James Cook.
Before dinner at Solander Dining, a friend and I walked a few hundred metres from the hotel's Sussex St address to Darling Harbour where, across the water, we could see the replica of HM Bark Endeavour moored at its home, the Australian National Maritime Museum. What a lovely synergy.
Belgian chef David Vandenabeele, formerly of the Langham Hotel in New York, is in charge at Solander Dining and we can all be very thankful for that. He's known for his signature "chicken tea", a chicken consomme' he serves in a teapot that was a big hit in New York and he has a food philosophy that embraces and supports the best regional and seasonal produce from sustainable sources.
The restaurant and bar area is spacious and feels relaxed and live jazz was playing when we dined there. A good hotel should have a signature restaurant and this one is a ripper and is a destination in its own right.
West Hotel has 182 rooms and is named for its location in the emerging western corridor of Sydney between Sydney Harbour and the CBD, near Barangaroo. Hilton's Curio Collection is about smaller, more boutiquestyle accommodation and the size of this property gives it a snug - not smug - feeling.
The writer was a guest of the operator and Destination NSW
with PHIL BROWN
Arts Editor - The Courier-Mail
Copyright © Phil Brown