For fans of good value food, great Australian produce and degustations, the InterContinental Hotel sure has a treat for you! Over the course of the year, they’ve designed four seasonal menus to be served at Cafe Opera with a focus on key local produce and we’re here to preview some of the dishes which will be coming up throughout the year.
Here’s the nitty gritty details. Each menu is called “A Taste Of…” and is available for a limited duration. The cost is $85 pp for 6-courses (what a bargain compared to other degustations) or $115 if you want matching wines as well. The different menus are all themed based on a core ingredient as follows:
February 25 – March 17: A Taste of Artisan Butter with Pepe Saya
May 6 – May 26: A Taste of WA with Marron Crayfish
July 1 – July 28: A Taste of Perigord Truffles by Lowes Mount Truffiere
October 21 – November 10: A Taste of Native Bush Tucker with Outback Pride
It’s quite an interesting and daring concept but I congratulate Cafe Opera for supporting the local food industry and taking the plunge to execute the series. And it’s also refreshing to see it not blow up to a ridiculous $200 pp (we all know degustations cost nowhere near that much to cook). But enough chat, onto the food previews…
A Taste of Artisan Butter with Pepe Saya
Butter with bread
I asked to try some of the Pepe Saya butter with plain bread and boy is the butter tasty! It is light and fluffy, and definitely not processed as you can see a line of chefs all churning and hand crafting it. Truly a work of art.
Shiro Kin Wagyu Beef
One of the mains is a wagyu beef which is served with butter roasted heirloom carrots and a crispy dumpling. The wagyu is super tender and definitely high grade, the carrots are well caramelised with butter and very juicy, and the dumpling is made from ox tail (or so they say). It doesn’t taste like ox tail but rather more like a gourmet chicken nugget, no complaints on flavour though!
There are two desserts to sample as part of the Pepe Saya courses. The first is a buttermilk sorbet with the questionable combination of pork crackle (salty and sweet?!). The sorbet is very light and goes surprisingly well with the pork crackle; there is no usual saltiness but rather a great crunchy textural element.
The other dessert for sampling is a Kouign Amann (the French chef has no problem with pronouncing this). The chef tells me to imagine a sweeter, more cakey version of a croissant. Personally, it tastes like a fried dough ball, but it goes beautifully with the side of apple puree, cinnamon mascarpone and salted caramel ice cream. Imagine a gourmet de-constructed apple pie.
A Taste of WA with Marron Crayfish
Marron Crayfish Lollipop
I have never tried Marron Crayfish before but after doing so, I am a massive fan! For those in the same boat as me, a Marron Crayfish looks like a lobster and tastes similar as well, but is generally more creamy in texture (similar to a scallop). The lollipop is served with a small chunk of Marron Crayfish on the end, topped with cardamom popped rice and lightly fried. It is a simple, fun and tasty canape that is popular with all patrons.
Marron Crayfish and Foie Gras Pastilla
During the night, I hung out with the lovely Chocsuze and there is no doubt that this dish was our favourite of the night! This consisted of multiple layers – Marron Crayfish, verjus, shaved mushroom, marjoram, espelette vinaigrette all on a foie gras pastilla. This dish truly highlighted the marron with complementary flavours and some crunch from the pastilla as well. It was so good we went back for seconds!
A Taste of Perigord Truffles by Lowes Mount Truffiere
Truffle and Scallop
I am a massive fan of truffles after having my fair share of them in Italy but am disappointed to find the truffle dishes do not feature this ingredient strongly enough. The scallop here is cooked to perfection – it is soft and creamy and sits atop some soft cabbage. I do find though that the truffle flavour is not that apparent here, leaving the scallop to defend the flavour fight on its own.
Truffle and Egg
This is one of the more interesting dishes on display which is constructed right before our eyes. A soft boiled egg is presented with a slice of crispy pork belly, eggnog puree and freshly grated truffle. The eggnog puree goes beautifully with the runny egg yolk and pork belly, but once again the truffle flavours disappear and are overwhelmed by the egg yolk.
A Taste of Native Bush Tucker with Outback Pride
Unlike the other seasonal menus, this one is more vague in the description with using “bush tucker” and “outback pride”. The ingredients featured here included a range of native fruits, herbs and spices which I never even knew existed or were native to Australia! They were pretty exotic including samphire, coorong beach bananas, muntries, finger limes and more.
Mountain Leaf Flathead
The first I tried was the flathead which is cooked with salt bush butter and served with abalone ravioli and king brown mushrooms. This dish was tasty enough but didn’t really stand out. I found the flavours quite average and didn’t exhibit any exoticness compared to others.
Wattle Seed Pavlova
The pavlova is served with a chocolate cremeux, strawberry and is filled with wattle seed cream. This was slightly crispy on the inside but soft on the inside, a perfectly made pavlova in my opinion. There’s been too many times where pavlova has ended up like a sweet biscuit and this one sure shows them how it’s meant to be done.
All in all, I am thoroughly impressed by Cafe Opera and the InterContinental Hotel. The food is delicious, the setting classy and the price tag relatively affordable as well! It’s a shame that the degustations are limited in duration but I suppose that just means I need to get my booking in nice and early. If you have the time to check it out, I would definitely try and make it to the Pepe Saya Butter and Marron Crayfish menus.
For more information and bookings, contact restaurant reservations on (02) 9240 1396 or at restaurant.reservations@
Excuse Me Waiter dined as guests of the InterContinental Hotel
Cafe Opera @ InterContinental Hotel
117 Macquarie Street, Sydney 2000
Ph: (02) 9240 1396