The hidden secrets of Circular Quay

French onion soup … Le Petit Flot shows an unashamedly Gallic side.These days, Sydney’s Tank Stream is little more than a trickle in a stormwater drain and hides itself beneath layers of concrete that run the short distance from just west of Hyde Park to Sydney Cove, or Circular Quay as it is now better known.
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But it had supported the indigenous Gadigal people for millennia and was central to the foundation of a European Sydney, providing the initial lifeblood — or should that be life water? — for Captain Arthur Phillip and his accompanying rabble of soldiers and miscreants of the First Fleet.

I’m not sure of its original name, but it eventually took its title from the tanks that were built along its course so act as storage for the precious water it delivered to those who colonised NSW.

Its path is traced by a series of signs incorporated into downtown footpaths, and they’re obviously crucial to the story woven by John Pastor, of Go Local Tours (golocaltours南京夜网419论坛), as he leads us through the hodge-podge of laneways that tell much of the story of Sydney in the late 18th and early 19th centuries — and that are missed by most visitors to Sydney, and, indeed, unknown to many long-time residents.

John Pastor has some pretty interesting tales to tell of old Sydney.

But John has much more interesting tales to tell of Sydney’s early days and the signs are really only there as a skeleton. The flesh lies in characters such as Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who did so much to build the city’s foundations but would apparently have named everything after himself if not restrained; and pioneer nurse Lucy Osburn.

We’d been introduced to John and Go Local Tours by the Tank Stream Hotel (梧桐夜网stgiles南京夜网), one of Sydney’s newest accommodation establishments — one which sits directly over the Tank Stream and occupies most of a 1960s building at 97 Pitt St, on the corner of Hunter St.

In its day the building was recognised as a leading example of the post-war ‘international style’ and its distinctive cladding of Wombeyan marble drew plenty of admiration.

Sydney’s Tank Stream Hotel … location, location, location.

The hotel opened last year as part of the international St Giles group, which has hotels in cities such as London, New York and Kuala Lumpur.

It comfortably occupies a chunk of the middle ground that sits between many Sydney hotels and the Sheratons and Hyatts of the world. I agree completely with the description of it as a four-star property in a five-star location.

The new Tank Stream Hotel … a four-star property in a five-star location.

And location in Sydney’s historic and financial heart the Tank Stream Hotel has in spades. Circular Quay and the Opera House are literally just down the street. Martin Place is a couple of blocks away.

The rooms are a bit tinier than expected but the compensation comes in the form of high-class inclusions — and a superb restaurant.

Le Petit Flot translates, appropriately enough, as “the little stream” and it should be packing them in — absolutely brilliant food from the team in the kitchen, backed by efficient, friendly service from a young German woman working her way around Australia.

It obviously helps that we have plenty to chat about — she hails from Frankfurt, I was conceived just up the road in Wurzburg — but her attitude and knowledge of the food are simply outstanding.

Main courses at Le Petit Flot … we both chose a tasting trio of porkbelly, grilled lamb and braise beef cheeks.

The menu is unashamedly French-inspired, with the Woman with Altitude’s French onion soup and my pastry-wrapped scampi leading the way with absolute aplomb.

The following mains — we both chose a tasting trio of pork belly, grilled lamb and braise beef cheeks, and refused to budge from our selections — simply confirmed what we already suspected. The kitchen held some people who really knew what they were about.

Le Petit Flot … my pastry-wrapped scampi leading the way with absolute aplomb.

My only complaint was that our main courses were served on chopping boards. What’s wrong with plates? They do a fine job — certainly a better one than planks of timber or pieces of slate. Let’s stop following facetious fashion and get back to what works best.

John Rozentalsis a freelance writer whose passions aretravel, food and wine. He lives at Molong in the Central West of NSW, from where he hostsOz Baby Boomers, a lifestyle-resource for mature Australians, and Molong Online.

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