16 March 2011

an anniversary at aria

What is it about anniversaries that send the opposite sex into a flurry? Given the close proximity between Valentines Day and our anniversary I was in charge of organising dinner for that and my Mr was put in charge of organising dinner for the big 2 years.  

To his credit, I tend to change my mind a lot and wasn’t sure If I wanted a Duke Bistro type dinner or go down the romantic road and opt for waterfront and chef hatted kinda dining.  To be clear I chose the latter and after a little procrastination Aria was booked. Now because of the procrastination/male panic/female indecisiveness we were offered the only time slot Aria had left, 5:30 – 8:30. At first I was a little annoyed as I had my heart set on the seasonal tasting menu and the only option we were given was the pre-theatre menu. I’m a little obsessed with stalking menu’s online; it really is a terrible habit as I’m never surprised when I read a restaurant’s menu. That, combined with the other habit of reading every review under the sun before I go basically takes the mystery out of dining out, my friends and family think I’m crazy. That aside, I was excited to visit Aria as it has always been on my list to visit.

Now, onto the restaurant. Given the early timeslot and the gorgeous Sydney weather the view was simply amazing. I have to say that looking at our glorious Harbour never gets old for me and especially in that dimming afternoon light. 

From the moment the doors are opened for us, the service is incredible. I have been to fine diners before but nothing like this. Every one that worked there greeted us with a smile, I was extremely impressed. 

We start with a bottle of the 2003 Kilikanoon Mort's Block Riesling from the Clare Valley, I love Clare Valley riesling and we both decide on a white wine. We then go for the three course option which is entree, main and dessert for $85. 

Gazpacho and chive oil
Our amuse bouche comes almost immediately after we order, a delicious gazpacho with chive oil which I expect to be oily, but it is fresh, light and chilled. 

His: Kurobuta pork belly with pickled watermelon and crackling
From here on out I think will go through the dishes by 'his' and hers'. This is his, a deliciously tender piece of pork belly with pickled watermelon and if that wasn't enough to tempt, an extra piece of crackling. He seems to be incredibly pleased with his choice as I've never seen the man eat so slowly, savouring each mouthful. I'm a big fan of the crackling with the pickled watermelon which is surprisingly much sweeter than what you expect. 

Hers: Peking duck consomme with duck dumplings, mushrooms and shaved abalone
We both argued over this dish while we were ordering as it sounded incredible, let's just say I was very pleased with my choice. The soup came covered with a lid and as soon as it was lifted, the aroma was released and I could not wait to try. The broth was aromatic, beautifully flavoured by the duck and the mushrooms. The dumplings were soft and the duck was cooked wonderfully on the inside but the mushrooms and the abalone won me over. Trying to pick up each paper thin slice of abalone with the mushrooms was difficult as they kept sliding off my spoon but mixed with the delicate consomme, the flavours came alive.
Hers: Char-grilled Rangers Valley sirloin with a cauliflower and bacon croquette,roasted king brown mushrooms and a grain mustard sauce
Ever since my experience at Movida, whenever I see a croquette on a menu I point and nod my head and this cauliflower and bacon one doesn't disappoint. It's crispy on the outside and hot and creamy on the inside.  I also love the little side of pickled cauliflowers that it comes with. Another side is the single roasted king brown mushroom which is flavoured by one thing - butter, butter and butter can I say yum yum yum? The beef is seasoned well and cooked just the way I like it, rare! Thank goodness they get this right as this piece of beef is perfection.  
Mozzarella, fig and radicchio salad with balsamic $16
Salad of tomatoes with toasted sourdough, olives, cucumber and basil $15
His: Slow cooked lamb neck fillet with eggplant purée, tomato and basil fondue and a black olive sauce
I have to say I knew that my Mr would choose this dish for three simple reasons: the eggplant puree, tomato and basil fondue and black olive sauce. He's Italian, what more can I say? The dish is perfectly balanced in flavour and the lamb is cooked the only way it should be cooked, completely melt in your mouth soft, the knife slides right through.

His: Tempered Manjari chocolate with salted peanuts, golden raisins and a caramelised 
banana ice cream
I don't particularly like chocolate which is probably why this dessert was chosen by my man, no sharing. One word to describe this dessert would be decadent and it was plated beautifully.  I did get to try it all too, the raisins and peanuts  were sticky and sweet and the chocolate was rich but very smooth and incredibly creamy. 

Raspberry souffle with white chocolate ripple ice cream
The note on the menu next to the souffle said "please allow 20 mins" and I was willing to wait. This didn't even take close to that long but I would have waited 40 mins. This was like putting my spoon into a sugar coated, raspberry cloud. It was all fluffy and bouncy and everything a souffle should be. The outside was coated in crunchy sugar and soft warm raspberries were all throughout. The ice-cream was delicious and creamy and I loved the crumble on top but I didn't even get to chance to finish it as I was so consumed by my sweet berry cloud. 

Petit Fours 
The final dish (and one we could barely finish) were the bite sized petite fours. A chocolate orange truffle, apricot jelly and coconut macaron. The macaron was my favourite as it was sticky and crunchy and I loved the texture.  

I always judge a restaurant on the question: Would I come here again? The short answer is yes - the food was glorious, the service was outstanding and how can you not LOVE that harbour view. 



  1. Awww happy aniiversary! I never get sick of the view either =) Aria is great!

  2. the food looks amazing and I always like having early dinners because the lighting is better for taking photos! happy anniversary!

  3. Aww thanks so very much ladies! Jacq, you're right about the lighting!

  4. Happy Anniversary you two! wow wow wow indeed - the kurbota pork dish looks like a winner to me, but i would die for the souffle.
    What a superb night - fine dining is always great and its great that they backed it up with the flawless service!

    I want to go there now!

  5. Gianna, you have to book you will seriously love it!

  6. That whole menu looks amazing!! Peking Duck Consommé - mmm, nice. But that Raspberry Souffle definitely looks well worth the 20 minute wait...How polite of them to warn you of the wait in the first place....at least you knew with an introduction like that, it was going to be special :))