Brace yourself for an overload of Sydney photos. Was back home over the Christmas and New Year break and did a hell of a lot of eating. Top of my go-to list was Aria. Actually, I had wanted to go to Quay – Australia’s number 1 restaurant and ranks in the world’s top 50 restaurants. Bookings are near impossible. We tried to book 2-3 months in advance, to no avail. Aria was my second choice. Did you know that Australia has no Michelin star restaurants? (It’s because they don’t cover Australia). Aria is up there on Australia’s culinary scene, having garnered a lot of publicity from Masterchef’s (TV show) Matt Moran. Located at Opera Quays it offers both views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
We were able to get a booking here under the pre-theatre dinner option, that is dine early and be out early (in at 6pm and out at 7:30pm). It was also a somewhat cheaper option (although the meal will set you back some bucks). One of my best friends appreciates food, much like yours truly and it’s a tradition of ours that when I’m back home for visits that we do a fancy expensive restaurant. Prior to our reservation we thought we’d have a pre-dinner cocktail but alas they weren’t open until 6pm on a Sunday, so we headed to Opera Bar instead for a cocktail.
Enjoying Sydney sunshine:
My memory is a little rusty, so here’s what can I remember. Upon arrival, we were given the best seats in the house, right by the window with views of the Sydney Harbour and the bridge (mind the barricades – they were set up for impending New Year’s Eve celebrations. Our reservation was for December 30).
We splurged on a bottle of wine to share (I’ll admit the wine list was pricey!)
There was an amuse bouche/appetiser. I cannot recall what it was, but it was tasty.
Some bread to boot:
For entrees, I opted for the scallops and was not disappointed by the generous portion – 4 scallops (for an entree! Maybe I’ve been in Japan too long. Am used to much smaller portions). I love meaty scallops!
Jess opted for the wonton consomme – lots of mushroomy goodness in there. Again, very flavoursome.
For mains, we both opted for the lamb dish:
Now, I swear Australia is the only country I know of where when you order a meat dish, you have to order the sides separately. I’m not a fan of this. If you’re ordering a main dish, if should be a complete dish. Mind you, this only happens at upper scale restaurants in Australia. Most other countries you get the meat/protein plus vegetable accompaniments etc. So anyway, we have to order sides separately. We got a salad to share and the truffle oil mashed potatoes. Was really disappointed with the salad. Overpriced for 4 cos lettuce leaves and some ricotta/feta (can’t remember which) cheese.
The truffle oil mashed potatoes on the other hand, I would highly recommend. Portion was incredibly generous (4 person serving) and it was incredibly creamy and indulgent.
Because we were on the time-limit dinner, they unfortunately couldn’t offer us dessert as they needed us to vacate the table. If you eat fast enough, there would have been time for dessert…but I would argue that the service was a tad on the slow side. It did take a little long for our main dish to be brought out. At any rate, complimentary petit fours were included to end the meal on a sweet note.
The overall experience – whilst it was fun to do, I don’t think I would go back there again. I was also somewhat horrified by two minor mishaps that didn’t escape my attention. I’m usually not that picky but when you spend a fair bit of money at a reputable restaurant, I have higher standards. The first was that when we arrived, the table wasn’t properly ready. By properly ready, I mean that it was a table that was set for four people, when there was only two of us. Considering we had a reservation 2 months in advance, and they knew we were coming, I would have liked to have seen that they were prepared for a party of 2 rather than a table set for four and then take away the additional place settings in front of us. I just looks unprepared. A reserved table should be ready and waiting for you. The second incident was that a waitress knocked over my cutlery which fell on the floor. She then picked up the cutlery and proceeded to put it back on the table for me to use. I think she noticed my split second expression of absolute horror and did a double take and said she’d get me new cutlery. I’m all for the 5-second rule if something falls, but at a top-notch dining establishment I expect them to bring me out new cutlery. I’m really not that fussy a person, but you have certain expectations when you dine at certain places. Nevertheless, it was still cool to dine there. And the food and wine was pretty good. Been there, done that!