Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This isn’t so much a post about the food at Aria restaurant, as it is about my experience in dining there. This is because I visited Aria during the Sydney International Food Festival’s ‘Let’s do lunch’ promotion which is now finished for another year. The restaurant is back to its usual menu, though.
So, my friend wanted to visit a 5-star establishment for our lunch (ie. somewhere we normally wouldn’t visit because of the... erm, ... prices), and we settled on Aria. A last minute change of plan by us meant that we had to give up our original booking (made 3 weeks in advance) and rebook. Luckily, Aria were able to accommodate us at short notice (though they said we had to be out by 1.30pm for a 12pm booking).
The restaurant is divided into two dining sections – the one with the Harbour Bridge view, and the one with the Opera House view. We scored a window table with a Bridge view. I must say, for a weekday lunch, the place was packed. This may have been due to the SIFF promo being on, but I got the impression that Aria is a regular spot for business lunches (men in dark suits) as well as for ‘ladies who lunch’ (ladies in pastel suits).
I’ve found that the service in posh places like Aria can often border on the snooty, but our waitstaff were surprisingly agreeable, friendly without being too familiar. It certainly made for an enjoyable hour or so. Again, maybe it was because it was a lunch service, but it was pleasant, nonetheless. The waiter, in particular, was helpful in suggesting that we order a dessert to share because it was a reasonable size, and just right if ‘you just want something sweet to finish with’.
The Let’s Do Lunch offer consisted of a fish main, with a glass of wine (glass of 2008 Brown Brothers' Vermentino) or San Pellegrino water, and tea or coffee. All for $35. You also got bread and an amuse bouche, which is a pretty good deal all round.
Amuse bouche was soup - leek, I think. It was very, very good.
The main dish was barramundi:
Roasted fillet of barramundi with fennel and calamari risotto.
I have to say, this was sublime - the fish was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin. The risotto was creamy, tasty and well-seasoned, with tender calamari pieces through it. The size was right for lunch.
On our waiter’s suggestion, we decided to share a dessert from the Let’s Do Lunch dessert menu (different to the regular menu). It was split into ‘tastes’, with dishes incorporating a key ingredient, such as chocolate, mango, banana, coffee and strawberry. I chose Mango, and it came on a platter with 3 delightful mini desserts.
Mango: Cheesecake with ginger crumble, lime jelly, roasted pineapple sorbet ($20).
The lime jelly was topped with foam, and was tingly on the tongue. The sorbet was my favourite, mainly because of the way it looked, like an egg on a nest of sand.
Like my incredible dinner at Quay restaurant, our visit to Aria enabled us to have just a tiny taste of multi-hatted dining. It's definitely worth a revisit, for a special occasion, when someone else is paying, or when I join a neighbourhood group of ladies who lunch (if you need a new member, ladies, please contact me).
On the way back to my day job, I walked through Angel Place, the laneway that connects Pitt Street to George Street. There was an installation of birdcages over the lane, complete with birdsong. It was kind of surreal to look up at the empty cages swinging in the breeze, while being serenaded by chirps and tweets. I floated back to work...
Aria is at:
1 Macquarie St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 9252 2555