Last week my partner surprised me for my birthday with dinner at ARIA in Sydney. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when we turned the corner and I saw their sign.
ARIA has a pretty large dining room, but appeared to be sectioned off to instil a relatively intimate atmosphere. We were lucky enough to be seated in the area that had a panoramic view of both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The view is stunning and the tables of two around the windows are angled towards the harbour.
This restaurant has a very romantic setting and was a perfect place to celebrate my birthday. The wait staff are incredibly efficient and informative albeit a little cold. However this could also be due to the fact that my partner and I could have been projecting very much a ‘we’re here to enjoy each other’s company’ so could have been just leaving us alone. This idea is also supported by the fact that seated next to us was a young family and the waiter was very engaging with them.
The Sommelier was by far the best of our servers on the night. He was incredibly engaging and genuinely seemed to love his role in describing the wine to people. He even gave us tasting notes for our wine upon departure.
As it was my birthday, we elected to have the tasting menu with matched wines. Now as it was my birthday, I was pretty busy celebrating and unfortunately can only really mention on the meals that really stood out to me.
The menu started off with king salmon confit with horseradish, brook trout caviar, apple and dill. The salmon was full of flavour and was incredibly soft, it almost tasted like it had cooked ceviche style. My partner loved it and was one of his favourite for the night.
Second was wagyu beef cured and smoke with pickled cucumber, dijon mustard and rye bread. Wagyu is such a beautiful piece of meat and to have it infused with all of these flavours was absolutely divine. However, this was improved (and it was very hard to improve on this dish) was the 2012 Golden Ball ‘Cherish’ Rose. I never would have thought to pair a Rose with Wagyu, but it works and the flavours from the wine complement the dish whole-heartedly.
Next was roasted scallops with Coorong pipis, calamari, celery and hazelnut oil. This was definitely a highlight of the menu. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the lightness of the dish was a perfect mid way point for our menu.
Following the scallops was john dory with mascarpone, fennel, verjus and semi-dried salted grapes. This was amazing, the semi-dried grapes worked fantastically with the john dory fillet.
Next was probably my least favourite dish kipfler potato poached in buttermilk with brioche, shaved truffle and roasted onions. I found with this dish to be quite strong with the buttermilk flavour and found its placement in the menu odd.
Last of our main dishes was the Moran’s Family lamb loin with salt baked celeriac, sunflower seeds, lemon aspen and saltbush. This was an absolute standout, the lamb was cooked perfectly and was the ideal way to finish off the main component of our menu. My partner also still talks about the 2005 Zitta ‘Greenock Shiraz’ that accompanied it.
Dessert was black sesame see parfait with passionfruit jelly, yuzu and almonds. I love black sesame desserts so this was a fantastic way to finish off the tasting menu.
To top it off was a selection of petit fours.
I loved ARIA and would definitely go back again. It is quite expensive though so would probably only go back for special occasion.
1 Macquarie Street Sydney
02 9240 2255