There's no better way to truly enjoy all Sydney has to offer than with a 3 course menu curated by Chef Peter Gilmore. The word 'Grande' doesn't even come close to describing this place. The multi-layered effect truly gives the place a luxurious feel, that you actually feel like it is money well spent. The wall of windows gives you the best seat in the harbour, to view the busy happenings at Circular Quay. It is also very entertaining watching tourists pass by, to a point where we were unsure whether they could see us eating inside. That is what we truly found interesting about this restaurant, while the food (you will see shortly) looks and tastes amazing, being able to witness the excitement and enjoyment of those visiting Sydney for the first time is something special.
Complimentary warm sourdough and house-churned butter
Every restaurant, whether it is fine dining or your local favourite, SHOULD and I must emphasize, serve you warm bread and butter. Not only is it a nice gesture to start the meal with, but it ignites your taste buds and lets you enjoy your meal more.
Fraser Island spanner crab
White corn polenta, palm heart, fresh corn juice, crème fraîche
Where's the crab? The question that was on my mind as the dish was placed in front of me. It's hiding beneath the creme fraiche of course! This dish had the texture of porridge, meaning the polenta was truly evident among the crab. This was a great start to the meal as it was very light, allowing us to save room and cleanse our palette for the main dishes.
Seared Hervey Bay scallops
XO sauce, heirloom radishes
How beautiful does this entree look? It is so neat and tidy.. it is presented so well I felt the need to be gentle when handling this food, cutting each slide perfectly ensuring that the other pieces remain in tact... and then you finally bite into those delectable scallops. The scallops were fresh and grilled to a golden colour on both sides. The texture was amazingly smooth and was accompanied by the crunch of the heirloom radishes. Smaller portions of XO sauce gave me a dipping sauce for the scallops, I just wish there were more! More scallops and more XO sauce please!
Red oak leaf lettuce, cabernet dressing and Young potatoes, herb and anchovy butter
Main course is always best served with side dishes. The salad wasn't anything special, but the potatoes were salty and lathered in butter. We wish they would offer re-fills like many Korean restaurants!
Roasted Holmbrae duck
Raw and pickled hispi cabbage, black miso, freekeh, seaweed
The pickled cabbage and the black miso sauce brought the whole dish together. The star of the dish is surprisingly not the duck. We loved the cabbage and black miso sauce. It truly complimented the duck well, or would you say the duck complimented the miso sauce? ;)
Macleay Valley suckling pig
Confit organic carrots, pickled onions, black and white garlic
The Macleay Valley suckling pig arrived at our table, looking as beautiful as the scallops did. The presentation was clean and colourful, almost like it was teasing you with it's crackling pork belly. The interesting element to this dish is how the pig is cooked. You are served two pieces, one is pork belly with succulent layers of pig fats and a perfect golden brown crackling to finish. The other piece is served with a bed of carrots and pickled onion, and it seems to have been slow cooked to the point where it literally falls away with the slightest touch of your fork.
Chocolate cake from across the water
Eight-texture chocolate cake by Peter Gilmore
We have always been wanting to try The Quay for a long time, but never get around to it. That is why I jumped at the idea of tasting the chocolate cake made at The Quay, specially for Bennelong. This chocolate cake is like no other, don't be fooled. It combines 8 different textures to create the ultimate dining experience for all the dessert lovers of the world. You are presented with a glistening round cake that you just want to crack open, the waitress then pours melted chocolate into the middle of the cake giving you the 8th texture. The remaining 7 include the cake base, milk chocolate praline discs, chocolate caramel cream, dark chocolate top disc, chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise, caramel, vanilla and chocolate ganache, and chocolate mousse.
When Bennelong's signature pavlova is ushered through the dining hall, everyone stops to take a glance at the marvel of their Opera House inspired dessert. It is so very aesthetically pleasing, that even the OCD freaks will find pleasure in being served this dish. Each of the iconic sails are presented as a piece of meringue with a texture so light that it almost resembles foam. Meringue is also squirted around the base of the dessert, creating a sweet layer to hold the meringue sails. Hidden within, there is a center of rhubarb which perfectly counteracts the sweetness of the meringue. This is an example of Bennelong setting a new standard of what a Pavlova should taste like!
This was by far one of the most enjoyable fine dining experiences we have had. Since visiting, we cannot tell you how many times we have recommended this restaurant to our friend, family and fellow foodies. We just hope they find the experience as enjoyable as we did!