Having lived in Sydney for more than 12 years now, I can safely say that I’m very familiar with its major landmarks, especially Sydney Harbour area. But see, that’s where it ends – I’m familiar, but I haven’t really experienced it. At least, not from a food perspective. I’ve never actually gone down to its restaurants, or its bars, instead walking past them. Every Single Time.
I always figured that my thoughts on Darling Harbour restaurants would also apply to Sydney Harbour restaurants – overpriced, average food at best, often to lure in tourists (with some exceptions, of course).
But I love to be proven wrong, especially when it comes to my unfavourable assessments about food. What other such restaurant than Opera Bar to begin rejecting my hypothesis? Read on!
Date Last Visited: 23/1/14
Address: Lower Concourse Level, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): Tasting platter, bombe alaska
One of the other less obvious advantages to being invited to eat & review restaurants is that you tend to find places that you would never have chosen to go if you were to choose where to eat next. I’ve been pleasantly surprised most of the time, with this conclusion particularly true of opera bar.
Having said that, the usual disclaimer applies. But of course it does.
Dear reader, you have already figured out that I’m actually pretty enamoured with the food at Opera Bar, but in the end, you’re here for the location. And boy, is this a hard location to beat. Not every bar can take the “opera” moniker, but when you do, you do it with style.
Glad it was such a good day out too!
As the menu shows, there’s your usual suspects on the menu – some of it restaurant-level, most of it classic fare. There’s several cuisines represented too – Mexican, Asian, Greek and so on.
We were given a $100 tab to spend. Now, given that it is the Opera Bar, one would imagine a good deal of that would go to drinks. But I’m a teetotaler (and I trust they know their drinks), so what does one get with a $100 bar tab?
Something like that? Yeah, and that’s for two people. I should say that my friend and I actually finished all of it, much to our surprise. I was pretty sure we over-ordered, but I guess I underestimated our appetites. Absolutely insane. But if you’re thinking it takes $50 pp to get full from food at Opera Bar, don’t fret – I could easily have taken out one of these dishes and have been satisfied, and I have a larger appetite than most.
But ’nuff of that, let me take you on the walkthrough.
Undoubtedly, the Opera Bar tasting platter for two easily takes home the centrepiece award. At $48, it’s the “dish” that keeps on giving with respect to variety. For me, the top row’s best is undoubtedly the cajun chicken pies. A good pie can only please. I would have preferred the filling to be a bit hotter when it came; as it was, it felt like it was sitting for awhile, which dulled the flavour somewhat. Otherwise, a nice spice kick with some chicken lovin’.
Another moreish dish is the pea & parmesan croquettes, which when bitten open in your mouth, burst forth with starchy and cheesy deliciousness. A safe picking that works.
While the Spanish sardines w/caper salsa were a bit more out there in terms of creativity, they didn’t hit the spot with regards to flavours as much, being more along pickled fare. While I love pickles usually, these sardines were not quite on the money.
The last dish on the top tier, the pickled mustard greens were an enjoyable palate distraction to the rest, though my eyes were ion the bresaola with it. Can never escape the meat!
On the bottom tier, I’m sure you’d wanna hear about the pork buns first. Don’t expect this to be the deliciousness that Ippudo, Momofuku or Tsuru offers. Opera Bar’s variation involves a smaller portion of pork (mistake #1), where it’s drier and thinner (mistake #2), and overall isn’t as tender (mistake #3).
Props to the bun though – it’s decently fluffy, though as it didn’t come rather hot once again didn’t do it justice. Good mayo to make up for the pork belly though.
For me, the king crab rillets is the dish with the most awesome – it’s just a great dip made out of crab! Texturally solid enough to eat by itself, goes great with bread, and is full of flavour. So simple but piquant.
As for the paneer skewers – well, it’s grilled cheese. C’mon you know you’ll love it. It ain’t burnt.
Furthering this culinary adventure is the relatively tamer poached chicken salad. Despite its simplicity, this was actually quite delicious, with a good deal of chicken thrown in the mix. Of note are the spicy mustard notes of the wasabi mayo, with the creaminess the avocado brings.
One thing I disliked about this salad is that there’s too much clumped up lettuce. These textural, crunchy interruptions were quite unwelcome, and kept unbalancing the dish as I ate it. In the end, the plate was collected with much lettuce remaining. Don’t worry, I scoured the plate of chicken 😉
We’re STILL not done though. Spicy lamb quesadillas serve for the Mexican side. You can skip this dish though – they weren’t really anything much to speak of. The filling was fairly bland, though the side condiments help out to an extent. The tortilla is pretty solid though.
Finishing things off on a sweet note comes the mango & vanilla bean bombe alaska. When it arrived it looked like a meringue tart with small slivers of mango. In other words, not too impressive.
But then open it up and there’s a lot of temptation spilling forth right there. Makes sense though, as omelette à la norvégienne (yes, the French term for it) is ice cream and cake with a meringue topping. So cool, so good. Ice cream and cake go really well together, and meringue only adds sweetness to it.
A surprisingly good dessert – do give this one an order if you’re ever down here.
And as always, fancy Australia on Australia day – even at a fancy place like Opera Bar. I wonder if those singlets are donated.
Looks like one can’t disregard Opera Bar after all, aye?
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀
- The food is surprisingly good for its price, giving its location
- A good variety on offer
- A must-try dessert
Not so Awesome:
- It’s not food that will blow your mind
- Maybe skip the Mexican takes