Bennelong has been on my list to try for a while but we had been saving it for a special occasion, which finally came around in the form of a shared birthday celebration with some close friends.
Going to the iconic Opera House for a meal or a drink is always an enjoyable experience even for a Sydneysider – the stunning views across the harbour never fail to entrance us and the unique ambience of dining under the sails is well worth it. We had been to this particular space in its previous incarnation when it was run by Guilleaume Brahimi but had heard great things about the current menu under executive chef Peter Gilmore.
It’s safe to say that we had some pretty high expectations of Bennelong and these were definitely exceeded in our minds – not only was all the food executed flawlessly (even among the different choices that we each picked from their 3 course set menu), but the service was top notch too. For entrees, we had the Royal Red Prawns with potato, saffron, rouille in a broth of rock cod which was an intensely flavoured seafood dish that was full of umami infused into the broth, as well as the succulent prawn and rock cod meat.
Royal Red Prawns
Our other entree was the Spanner Crab which was a lighter entree than the prawns, with the delicate crab meat paired with a soft creamy polenta and a young corn creme fraiche emulsion and topped off with popcorn for some crunch factor. Our friend also enjoyed the Smoked Wagyu Tartare with raw mushroom, seaweed and egg yolk, which he thought was delicious.
For mains, we went with the Macleay Valley suckling pig which looked like a small serving at first, until you unearthed the rest of the tender pork hidden underneath the mound of confit organic carrots and black and white garlic. The small strip of crackling on top was perfectly crispy too.
Macleay Valley Suckling Pig
The other main we had was the Arkady grass fed lamb, which was juicy and paired with some barletta onions, eggplant cream and capers. Our friend went for the Wild Cape York Barramundi which was also nicely done with simple accompaniments to let the freshness of the produce shine.
Arkady Grass Fed Lamb
Wild Cape York Barramundi
Onto the desserts – this is where the meal gets even better, we ended up choosing 4 different desserts each and were rewarded with some amazing dishes. The star of the show is of course the Pavlova, with its majestic meringue shards shaped like the iconic sails that we were dining under at the Opera House – it also tasted fantastic with a zesty lemon curd and vanilla cream. The Chocolate Cake from Across the Water was also delicious if you want something a bit richer.
Chocolate Cake from Across the Water
The Cherry Jam Lamington was a dense and decadent delight, along with the superb Creme Caramel vs Mille-Feuille which actually ended up being my favourite flavour wise, with its delectable and intricate caramel woven throughout the dessert.
Cherry Jam Lamington
Creme Caramel vs Mille-Feuille
All in all, Bennelong was everything we hoped for and more – they make the most of their spectacular location and quality produce to create a dining experience like no other. The 3 course set menu is brilliant value considering the calibre of the restaurant and it is a must visit for special occasions in Sydney.