Normally I wouldn’t dream of taking photos of my food at a work lunch. But the food at Aria is so visually spectacular that pretty much half the table had their smartphones out so I didn’t feel too bad snapping a few quick pics.
Aria’s in a killer location, so close to the Opera House that you can almost hear the sopranos and with the most jaw dropping view of the Sydney Harbour bridge. Mind you when I’m in Sydney I tend to have my jaw on the floor quite a bit, we just don’t do views the same way in Melbourne. The design of the restaurant itself is modern and quite masculine – think big round concrete pillars, muted colours and thick white tablecloths. It feels quite corporate and clubby but doesn’t take anything away from what’s out the floor to ceiling windows.
Service is polished and the food, even for a function, was sensational. Chef Matt Moran knows how to deliver in terms of beautiful looking, and more importantly, damn tasty food. To start a square of wobbly Kurabuta pork belly, complete with crisp crackling on top. The pork is topped with slivers of apple and served on a bed of swede with a scattering of hazelnuts for texture. It’s a substantial starter and leaves a warm, residual feeling. Main of barramundi is pan fried so the skin is crusty and the fish itself firm. The fish is teamed with sour berries and a curl of Italian cured meat known as guanciale. It’s a strange combination but the berries didn’t overwhelm the seafood and the whole thing worked well.
The sweet end of the meal finishes in high restaurant style with a banana cheesecake. The dense cake is served with a swirl of salted caramel, nuts and a scoop of banana gelati on top of a macaron. It hit a whole lot of pleasure receptors.
It’s hard not to be impressed by a meal at Aria, from the view to the assured cooking – each dish is a revelation of flavour and liveliness. This is a big occasion restaurant that doesn’t startle but does deliver. Take me back!
Details: Aria, 1 Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (Ph (02) 9252 2555)
Damage: Budget breaking. Three courses at Aria for lunch is $89.