Presided over by well-known chef Matt Moran, and perfectly positioned overlooking the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay, Aria is a must for Sydney residents and visitors looking to experience the finest dining the city has to offer.
Established in 1999, Aria’s elevated position overlooking Sydney’s most iconic landmarks always delights diners. Interiors are subtle and stylish, and while slick, in no way overshadow the dazzling show that occurs outside. But Aria doesn’t just trade on its magnificent view; the menu’s selection of Modern Australian bistro classics is done awfully well. Visitors can dine à la carte, sample the seasonal tasting menu, or order from the pre-theatre menu.
To start, Sydney rock oysters with finger lime dressing makes a splendid way to kick off a harbourside meal. The king salmon with beetroot, horseradish and pickled radish is also a good choice; while the Peking duck consommé with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms offers a heady mix of Asian flavours.
And the mains don’t disappoint either. A twice-cooked soufflé of caramelised onion and spinach with spiced eggplant and a tomato and saffron sauce, surely rates as one of the best vegetarian dishes in Sydney. The fish mains, including a roasted fillet of Palmers Island mulloway and the Bass grouper fillet are both spectacular dishes. Other mains such as the roasted ballotine of chicken, the roast lamb rump, and the grass-fed scotch fillet will delight meat lovers.
The dinner menu also offers some exciting flourishes not available to lunchtime diners. The ravioli of scampi and spanner crab is extremely interesting. The pressed terrine of quail and the Rangers Valley sirloin – served with king brown mushrooms, leeks and a tomato and green olive sauce – will also satiate red meat enthusiasts.
And if it’s at all possible, diners should try and leave room to sample some of the amazing desserts on offer. There’s the black forest vanilla cream with candied cherries and cherry sorbet; or the panna cotta with pistachios, balsamic strawberries and strawberry sorbet.
Overseen by head sommelier, Matthew Dunne – who was named the 2011 Sommelier of the Year by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards – Aria’s wine list features almost 1000 drops, and in addition to comprehensive coverage of Australian wines, offers an extensive choice of French, German and Spanish wines.
Aria is located at 1 Macquarie Street, City. Opening hours are: lunch Mon-Fri 12 noon-2.30pm, pre-theatre Mon-Fri 5.30-7pm; Sat 5pm-7pm, dinner Mon-Sat 5.30pm-11.30pm; Sun 6pm-10.30pm, supper Mon-Sat 10pm-11.30pm.