Aria has always been in the back of my mind as a restaurant that I have heard a lot about but never really had the occasion to visit. Early this week I was browsing the listings for Sydney Fast Festival Feasts 2013 and Aria caught my eye - you can check out the list here (link).
Aria's offer: Matt Moran has designed a special menu of your choice of entrée and main and a glass of wine for $55 per person. Side dishes and additional beverages will be charged on consumption. The offer will be valid for lunch from the 7th of January Monday to Friday and for pre-theatre each night between 5:30 and 7PM.
I made a booking that day for the upcoming Friday pre-theatre sitting. For those who are wondering, the pre-theatre option is also available on the weekends. Booking on the phone was a breeze and the staff were very friendly as I checked availability and that there was a vegetarian option available (for my friend).
Even though it was 5.30pm, summer in Sydney meant that the view outside was probably the same as you would have at lunchtime - bright, sunny and lots of people bustling along the promenade outside.
Here are the Fast Festival Feast menus - vegetarian on the right and wine options below.
(Click to enlarge)
Complimentary bread was offered with a choice of sourdough or caraway seed with rye. The waiter later made a second round with the bread basket for a refill so I tried both, my preference was the rye.
Entrees came out fairly quickly and they looked delicious.
Cow's milk burrata with charred baby artichokes, golden beetroots, sourdough toast and shaved white truffle (Vegetarian entree)
My friend said that it was really good. I took her word for it, fantastic presentation on the plate and I loved the look of the thin slices of white truffle resting on the plump ball of burrata.
I didn't have any trouble picking my entree. As soon as I read the description for the consomme, I didn't even look at the other option.
Peking duck consomme with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms
It didn't disappoint, every mouthful of the consomme was a delight to drink. The three silky soft dumplings were small but expertly made and filled. I would happily order this again and I especially liked the subtle slices of abalone hidden in the broth.
Baked onion with chickepeas, baba ganoush, warrigal greens and a tahini dressing (Vegetarian main)
It is a little hard to see in the above photo but that is a whole onion intact on the plate, cleverly sliced and opened so that it looked like a flower unfurling. We were baffled by the technique that would have been involved in making it look like that!
My friend said that this dish was also delicious.
Char grilled sirloin with summer vegetables, bone marrow and salsa verde
We also ordered a side of beans (charged separately from the festival feast offer)
Steamed roman beans with lemon oil ($15)
Lastly we were offered a complimentary tray of petit fours - my favourite was the chocolate truffle ball on the far left, it tasted like a high end version of a jaffa ball.
I was very impressed with my Aria experience. The staff were so friendly and welcoming, it was a perfect early summer dinner.
If you want to try it for yourself, the Sydney Festival runs until the end of January. Let me know if you have tried one of the other offers this year?