Book a window table and you'll be rewarded with a phenomenal view of either the Sydney Opera House or the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or if you are lucky; both. Book anywhere else in the restuarant and you'll still enjoy a beautiful, and somewhat decadent dining experience. Aria is the restaurant of famed chef, Matt Moran and business partner Peter Sullivan. Matt Moran has recently been a favourite on Masterchef in addition to other TV ventures including My Restaurant Rules and The Chopping Block.
The Menu First and foremost, I should comment that this restaurant is a little pricey by Sydney standards. A meal for two consisting of two main meals, one shared dessert, one bottle of wine and two coffees came to the grand sum of just over $250. So save this one for a special occasion, or if money is no obstacle, indulge at your leisure. Forewarned is forearmed, so when you first set your eyes on the menu, you'll now not be so suprised at the prices that jump off the page at you.
With that hurdle out of the way, I can say that the food is delectable, well cooked, well seasoned with each plate looking a little like a work of art. Don't believe me, check out this image gallery of the food items; you'll be salivating.
We skipped the appetisers, perhaps a little put off by the $40 an entree price tag, and opted straight for the main meals. However, as a pleasant surprise, our excellent waiter brought us a complimentary appetiser which was a shot glass of parsnip soup with a vanilla and cardamon foam. Delicious. We were also treated to complimentary bread (sour dough or carraway seed) with some beautifully creamy butter. So if you do decide to skip the entree, you'll not be left hungry for long.
Complimentary appetizer; smaller is sometimes better
For the main meal, I struggled to choose between a twice cooked souffle of caramelised onion and spinach with spiced eggplant and tomato and saffron sauce ($46) and the beef fillet, which came with mini leeks, mushrooms and a beautifully reduced jus ($67). After discussing the options with my knowledgeable waiter, I opted for the beef and was not disappointed. Every mouthful was delectable and left you wanting more. So tender, so rich and when cooked to the chef's recommended medium rare; so juicy.
Also on our waiter's recommendations, we opted for a side dish of Truffled Mashed Potato ($15) which I would also encourage you to try. I have never had more buttery mashed potato in my life, and this combined with the beef was a taste sensation.
Truffled Mashed Potato - no picture could do this taste sensation justice.
For dessert we chose the brandy snap mille feuille with caramelised bananas, hazelnuts and salted caramel sauce. This was nice, but not as impressive as the desserts I saw fellow diners indulge in. Or did I just have a case of the dessert envy? One remarkable looking dessert was the rhubarb and strawberry souffle with Eton mess which came in its own little brass saucepan. It looked fantastic. Our dessert was tasty, but I would have liked my bananas to have been more caramelised.
Coffees came with a delightful complimentary array of petit fours, which we just about had room for. A nice touch for the end of a delicious meal.
Dining at Aria gives you the feeling that you are dining somewhere special; somewhere exclusive. In my case it gave me the notation that I should have dressed up a little more for such a glamourous restaurant. Front of house staff are extremely courteous and well versed in what the ideal hospitality experience should include.
There are some lovely little extras that make you feel very special indeed including on our visit, a free sample appetizer in addiiton to complimentary petit fours with our coffee. These little touches enhance the whole experience and go someway towards justifying such a hefty cheque at the end of your visit. Wait staff treat you as an individual, taking time to explain the menu to you without hurrying you. This would be a perfect first date, if you want to impress, or a great spot to celebrate a special occasion. For the romantics out there, this would be an amazing restaurant to propose in, if you had the beautiful window spot.
At weekends, don't forget to book early to avoid disappointment.