Saturday, July 9, 2011

ARIA Restaurant, Sydney

Location: 1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9252 2555
Cuisine: Modern Australian

H and I went to Sydney on a feasting expedition and were lucky enough to secure a pre-theatre booking at Matt Moran's ARIA with just a few weeks' notice.

Just as expected, the staff at ARIA were polite and friendly the minute we set foot in the restaurant. We were escorted to our table, and seated next to a window with a breathtaking view of Circular Quay..

the amazing view from our seat
Whilst we were perusing the menus, our waitress for the night brought over a complimentary appetiser of mushroom soup with walnut foam.

mushroom soup with walnut foam
The soup was smooth, creamy and flavoursome and the walnut foam provided a rich nutty flavour. A perfect start to the meal.

After looking through the wine list (which was a bit pricey for someone like me who has yet to form an appreciation of good wine), we ordered some cocktails from a fairly extensive cocktail menu.

lychee ice tea and Poculant Pimm's

Both drinks were nice and fruity and went well with the view.

Next up, the entrees.

Peking duck consommé with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushroom
H's Peking duck consumme was pure brilliance. The broth was bursting with the rich flavours of shitake and abalone and a hint of duck. The duck filling for the dumpling was also quite flavoursome and had a nice soft texture.

Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pickled watermelon and crackling
Who could skip over a pork belly dish at one of the country's top restaurants? Not me. And it proved to be a good idea. The pork belly was cooked perfectly - the meat was tender and fell apart quite easily when cut. The crackling was light and very crunchy. The watermelon, although not quite so pickled as expected, was cool and refreshing and cut through the fattiness of the pork.

braised beef cheek with red onion choucroute, roasted chestnuts and puffed wild rice
I had half expected the main dishes to be quite small. However, I was proved wrong when the dish was set down in front of me. A very generous serve of tender flavoursome beef that just fell apart when cut rested on a bed of sweet roasted chestnuts and red onion and was topped with crunchy bits of puffed wild rice. Perfect winter warming food. I found the beef a little too meaty, but I suppose that was to be expected with the cut of beef.

slow cooked lamb neck fillet with potato purée, tomato and basil fondue and a black olive sauce
H's lamb was just as flavoursome, but less meaty than the beef. The potato puree was smooth and creamy and went well with the basil and olive flavours.

Being too full after two courses, we decided to skip on dessert and asked for the bill.  To our surprise, a waiter then brought over a palate cleanser to end the meal.

(from left to right) strawberry cheesecake, Bailey's chocolate truffle, pistachio macaron
So it turns out we didn't miss on dessert after all. These tiny morsels of cheesecake, truffle and macaron were a beautiful way to end the meal.

ARIA certainly lived up to its name and I would highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates good food.

Overall Impression: 9.5/10
Aria on Urbanspoon

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