Dates of Visits: A couple of times in April 2013
From the moment you enter the well-polished brass doors, you are well and truly looked after. With a classy interior that looks out to the Sydney Harbour and Opera House and waited on by smart attentive staffs (fit too, from pushing the brass doors, I presume?), Aria Restaurant Sydney is clearly a perfect place to dine, impress and to entertain.
Aria is owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran who had guest chefed on Masterchefs TV series and other TV shows; and restaurateur, Peter Sullivan. Aria is highly regarded both locally and internationally, holding two coveted Chef’s Hats.
A night out at Aria is pricey, but they also have a pre-theatre service from 5:30pm to 7pm which is 20-30% cheaper from the dinner service: $44 for once-course, $72 for two-courses and $89 for three-courses. The only ‘catch’ is that you have to leave around 7pm when the dinner service starts. This is an entrepreneurial idea with each table doing 2 rounds of businesses and also fantastic for the patrons attending shows at Opera House wanting an early yet economical dinner. Best of all,, it’s a good deal since items on both the pre-theatre and dinner menus are identical and standard portions are served.
I have been to Aria numerous times, and had always enjoyed their first class service and wonderful food and wine. This month I was able to sample and see nearly all the dishes presented in their April Menu. Here are my iPhone moments.
Amuse Bouche is served in both pre-theatre and dinner services.
I had the carrot, sweet walnuts, lime and coriander soup in the dinner service, whereas I had the mushroom soup (pic below) in the pre-theatre service
Six freshly shucked Pacific oysters with cucumber, sea water pearls and aged sherry vinegar.
I wasn’t too sure of the freshness of the oysters, a bit sulphurous for my liking, but the pops of the briny salty sea-water pearls to cleanse my palate was a nice touch.
Warm slow cooked bio dynamic egg, patatas bravas, asparagus and morcilla
I was expecting a runny yolk but I was pleasantly surprised that the egg has been sous-vided, so it was a semisolid gel-like custard that can be cut through. I can’t remember the other accompaniments on the plate, but the salted pop corn added a nice touch – chicken eats corn to lay eggs (touch of humour there, perhaps?) Morcilla is blood pudding by the way.
Twice baked soufflé with warrigal greens, cauliflower and a raisin and caper dressing.
This is a Vegetarian dish which I thoroughly enjoyed. The slightly bitter chargrilled cauliflower was paired perfectly with the sweet creamy soufflé which had shreds of native spinach (warrigal greens)
Baked Holmbrae chicken with ‘mac and cheese’, charred leeks and a truffle sauce
This was a very interesting dish. There were 2 pieces of chicken if I remember correctly – a baked chicken off the bone and another piece of chicken wrapped in ham and fried. The wedge of baked ‘mac and cheese’ was wonderful
Char grilled O’Connor sirloin with confit carrot, potato rosti, star anise and onion sprouts
Crispy skin Cone Bay barramundi with rye spaetzle, horseradish, curly kale and beetroot
Again, another perfectly cooked fish, tender meat falling off the crispy skin
Valrhona Jivara chocolate tart with caramelised hazelnuts and vanilla choc ice
This is a sinfully rich dessert. Not for the faint hearted! Best to share
Roasted almond pannacotta with honey infused mandarins, blackcurrant and almond crumble
Creative plating with 5 delectable pannacottas decorated with foam instead of the usual big plain mould I am so used to. It’s accompanied by guava instead of mandarins
Tonka bean parfait with muntries, raspberries and tamarillo sorbet
This is a ‘healthier’ dessert option, ice-cream sandwiched between two wafer-thin shortcrust and another scoop of sorbet for the road
Banana and chocolate chip soufflé with a dulce de leche ice cream
Loved the presentation
Identical Petit Fours were served for both the pre-theatre and dinner services: Chocolate truffles, friands and burnt sugar thins
Unfortunately, I can’t say that the petit fours tasted as nice as my desserts.
Enjoying the iconic views while walking to the car park at the Opera House to pick up my car. My 3-coure a la carte dinner worked out to be $126 (Egg, Chicken, Parfait – in case you are curious)