How was it?
2006 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Mont-Redon $60.00 (half bottle)
How cute is the little jug for our wine? hehe.
You'd think that after spending the whole weekend feasting, I'd be all feasted out. But.. no! The final pit-stop on my birthday feasting adventure was supposed to be a surprise! But, I don't like surprises and I will probe and investigate until I find out (however, it was seriously not that difficult to work out this one!).
Oh, but what a great surprise it was - birthday dinner at Matt Moran's restaurant - Aria!
When I walked in, I felt as though I was walking into a hotel. Beautiful, spacious yet minimal design. DCM and I were greeted at the concierge by the maitre-de and we were shown to the bar, where we ordered some cocktails and waited a few minutes for our table. The maitre-de came back and ushered us to our table. We were seated right by the window, looking onto the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The view was stunning and I would have been happy to sit there with just a cocktail in hand :)
My drinks (L-R: Red Wine, Mojito, Water)
The service was so impressive at Aria. I was pretty much in awe of all the service people. They were all so accomodating, courteous and knowledgable. We ordered the 7 course degustation and there was a different waiter for each single dish! As well as separate waiters for pouring the water, wine and changing cutlery.
Soy & Linseed Sourdough
Whilst taking this photo, one of the waiters asked me: "You're not taking a picture of the bread are you?", I sheepishly replied: "umm... yes...", he replied: "I've never seen that before!" lol.
After we ordered, we were offered some complimentary bread. I chose the Soy & Linseed Sourdough which had a beautiful crispy crust and a soft and tangy inner. DCM chose some rye bread, which wasn't as fantastic as mine ;) So you know which bread we chose when the bread came around again! In total, I had two bread rolls - which was a big mistake because I ended up getting full half way through the meal :( So, a word of advice: if you ever try degustation menus - just have one bread roll, or none at all!
On top of the bread, we also received some complimentary soup starter. But, I forgot exactly what was in it however I think there were some anchovies. It was a very tiny shot glass packed full of flavour, and I really savoured this and took my time.
And then slowly, one by one, we were presented with our 7 course meal ...
Course 1: Tuna
Sashimi of blue fin tuna with avocado, nashi pear and grilled cuttle fish
We both loved the tuna sashimi. It was so fresh and the perfect starter.
Course 2: Salad
Winter vegetables with Serrano ham, shaved black truffle and walnut vinaigrette
So pretty, I couldn't stop photographing it! Loved the combination of the fig, serrano ham and vegetables. It was lite, but quite filling.
Course 3: Peking Duck Consomme
With dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms
I found the peking duck consomme to be a little bit on the salty side, I didn't have much of the actual soup, but the mushrooms and dumplings were cooked perfectly - soft, delicate and flavoursome. (By now, I was getting full!)
Course 4: Scallop
Roasted spiced scallops with prawn crisps, shaved fennel and a tamarind & date dressing
Course 5: Pork Belly
Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pork croquette, paradise pears and pear chutney
Crackling pork and juicy layers of fat and meat - it was delicious, but too much for me at this point, so after a few mouthfuls, I traded for the pork croquette :) They were a deliciously crispy, fried roll with creamy pork filling. Yum.
Course 6: Lamb
Roasted lamb loin with a lamb pastia, fennel and red capsicum
At this point I was well and truly stuffed and wanted to save room for dessert aswell ;) However, we had to persevere! The lamb was pink, tender and moist. I'm not a huge fan of gamey meat, so I had a bit of it and once again traded, this time for the lamb pastie :) I love anything wrapped in filo pastry!
Course 7: Dessert
I don't quite remember what this was, but I think it was a peach granite. Very refreshing and cleansing after all the food. And now, onto dessert...
I forgot to take note of these desserts (and they weren't on the menu!) So, from memory, we received some petit fours and a beautiful dessert platter consisting of a peach (?) sorbet, lying on a bed of pistachios (DCM's fave) and a vanilla ice cream covered in a meringue like shell (my fave), decorated with some mandarins and figs.
And finally, check out the view from my table... :)
Aria 7 course dinner tasting menu - $160 p/person (or $250 with wine)
10% surcharge on Sundays and public holidays
Aria is everything you would expect from a two-hatted restaurant. This fine dining experience was the best I've had and exceeded all my expectations. The service was spot on, and the food was plated beautifully and tasted equally as amazing. Aria is definitely a special occasion restaurant as it is quite pricey. But if you're looking for some amazing fine dining in Sydney, look no further.