Dinner at Aria – 12 in 2 list

Aria is one of the top shelf restaurants in Sydney – on Sydney harbour at Circular Quay.  It serves ‘modern Australian’ and has breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. About a year ago, I added in to my ’12 in 2′ goals list, hoping to visit for dinner in the next two years.

As was customary with past birthdays, I met with some close friends and enjoyed the degustation this past Friday. Aria offers a 7 course menu with matching wines for a breath taking sum of $260.

Here’s what it looked like, til I’d drunk too much 😉  These are phone photos, so don’t expect breathtaking compositions!

Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange

Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange

I’ve never had crunchy avocado 🙁

Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye

Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye

Tasty!

Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge

Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge

Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire

Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire

The fish disliking BF ate this, though I did end up with extra mussels. Oh and they cooked the lettuce?!

Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions

Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions

By FAR the table’s favourite dinner! It was like high end mac and cheese! There were suggestions that my 30th might be in a hardware store, serving mac and cheese… It could happen! Or the venue could be Ikea?

Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms

Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms

The signature dish of Aria – and we loved it. Though, in a lot of ways, didn’t match the other dishes..

Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush

Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush

Also yummy, and my first taste of salt bush, it was tempured.  It was lovely, and you can get lamb that’s fed on salt bush!?

And then the matched wines got me – I missed the Berries tart of summer berries with strawberry sorbet and short bread.  And there were petit fours, and I had a affrogato with a shot of something… come on, it was my birthday!  I did fail to mention I had a strawberry Pimms cocktail to start too.

The hangover on Saturday morning was HORRENDOUS, so we were late to the wine and cheese, and there was no more wine for me.  I even scoffed a packet of McDonald’s French Fries.  I wouldn’t have thought to go to McDonald’s but the BF wanted his favourite burger of all time, so I let him 😉

Would I recommend Aria? No.  There’s some personal reasons which I won’t share, about our particular event and the staff not being particularly sensitive.  At the cost of meal being so high, you do set your standards of service incredibly high, and they totally missed the ball park in so many ways.  There was wonderful company, a great view, and a pretty tasty menu.  I really can’t complain!  And another 12 in 2 list item demolished!

What’s the memorable (good or bad) meal you’ve had in your life?  Was it the food that shone, the service, or the company?

This entry was posted in Fine Dining, Food, Goals

17 Responses

  • Happy Birithday, Sarah! I hope you had a good time, sorry the food wasn't at all appealing to me. I am shocked by how small the portions are compared to what is served in the US restaurants. My most memorable time out at a restaurant was back in 1982. I thought I was going to have a nice quiet dinner with my then fiance, that is until he noticed a woman eating all alone. She was much older than we were but he dragged me over and asked her if she would like company. At the end of the night, she hugged me and thanked me for sharing my man. She shared that she was a recent widow and her friends had been uncomfortable around her so she was alone a lot. This night was the best night she had since her husband died.

    I tend to be shy around people I don't know and would never have done that on my own but the company was good and I left with a wonderful feeling.

    • Rest assured this isn't a 'normal' sized serving either! All the food is delicately prepared, and melds lots of flavours using strange techniques, like sous vide (cooked in a ziplock in a water bath). Normal restaurants serve more US style portions, though still a little smaller.

      That is such a heart warming story – for your finance to notice, and for the lady to accept and share her heartfelt thanks. What a lovely story!

  • That all looks super fancy to a non-foodie like myself! Glad you enjoyed it all though, and got to knock another item off your list. I’m sorry to hear that they had sub-par service. Experiencing bad service at restaurants is one of the worst things sometimes, especially when you have a large party and it’s for a special occasion.

  • You would definitely expect flawless service at those prices and also a perfect meal. It sounds delicious though, with beautiful dishes like the Barramundi & salmon. I've never had Wagyu beef but I would hope it was really 'special' given the price it normally goes for. Also have never tasted truffles so I would really have enjoyed that experience. Hope you had a great birthday…the Harbour & the Bridge are just so memorable, it must have been a stunning setting!

    Loved Lois' story above, that's beautiful. We had an expensive meal once at Melbourne's Flower Drum, but it really was very memorable – delicious food and wonderful service!

    • The wagyu was pretty good – though it did scare me that it looked uncooked, but eating it was super tasty. Truffles are such a delicate taste, I wonder why people love it so intensely, I really do.

      Lois' story was just wonderful wasn't it?

  • Happy birthday 🙂 The food looks super-fancy and I'm sure it was all tasty. It always makes me laugh that portions are so small at fancy restaurants (and on Masterchef!). I don't know if I would appreciate it properly!

    Too bad about the service, you would definitely expect good service at somewhere like that.

    • Thank you! I can only think the small portions are because the cost of the food would be astronomical in man hours if a whole plate was covered with such intense workmanship of flavour etc. Weirdly, I seldom come away hungry – though I would love to see all the courses put on one plate!

  • Grilled romaine lettuce is pretty popular here – and I've eaten it quite a few times since it's usually one of the few vegetarian offerings and it's pretty good, but it's still a little weird to eat lettuce warm. I'm sorry the experience wasn't everything you hoped. What a bummer.

    The best meal Mr. G and I ever had is a tough call . . one of the best was at the restaurant that looks out onto the ice of Rockefeller ice skating rink. His steak and mashed potatoes and my salmon and asparagus were nothing unusual, but they were cooked and seasoned perfectly! Yum 🙂

    • There you go – I suppose grilling lettuce isn't that far from cooking cabbage!?

      Now you mention it, I've had a meal at Rockafella centre… but not above, sort of below. I'm glad they did the 'basics' right and you were pleased. Do you enjoy asparagus? My menu this week has featured it heavily (I'm on a meal program), and I'm not sure I love it!

      • It was probably the same restaurant – we took an elevator down from the street. Siting at our table, we could look right out a floor-to-ceiling window that was level with the skating rink outside.

        I adore asparagus. 🙂 We drizzle it with oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes. mmm!

  • Hi Sarah, I'm glad you got to do something special for your birthday. I have only had a meal like that once, and the service was overbearing – they were hovering at our table and almost asking us about every bite! It's fun to try lots of things that are so carefully prepared for the flavour "experience." I hope you find another high-end restaurant you like better – or stick with the lunch menu!

    • I do agree, when you start out early in this 'fancy' restaurants, there can be more staff than diners! Aria does a pre-theatre seating, so it's thankfully not barren at 7pm. It's hard to balance being attentive with service, and being a little too close for comfort, and I'm sure it's a real art form.

  • Lois – I love your story! 🙂 It's often not just the food, you reminded us that its the people you share it with. Come to think of it, I very rarely see people dining alone at restaurants. Nor have I ever done so either – I wouldn't be brave enough!

    Sarah – Just when I thought we'd run out of 3 hatted restaurants, I remembered Est. Methinks next year it's either that, or the Ikea / Bunnings Warehouse route. We'd probably derive more satisfaction per dollar out of the latter, because you get to say to your kids one day, "have I got a story to tell you!"

    • I totally eat alone a lot! Especially when travelling – my tip is bring a book to read or write in, just to make it seems less awkward.

      Either/or Sharon – I think Est would be great, so I'll pencil that in!

  • Happy Birthday!
    Glad you had fun despite not enjoying stellar service.



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