Located under the shade of Australia’s most recognisable landmark – the Sydney Opera House – Bennelong is an iconic restaurant under the helm of Quay’s Peter Gilmore. The multi-level space, with a soaring pitched roof, has sweeping Sydney Harbour and city views, and a menu to match. Here are a few reasons to visit it.
The Bar: Located right next to the entrance and accommodating up to 40 people, The Bar is the ideal spot for a casual pre-theatre aperitif. Take one of the four seats on the wide brass bar or occupy one of the low-set tables on the far right of the entrance. The latter, in our opinion, offers the best views of the Sydney Harbour from the venue, as you’re seated right next to a glass wall with nothing between you and the view. The restaurant doesn’t take any bookings for its bar section, which gets fairly busy around 7 pm, thanks to the theatre-going crowd, so get in early to grab a good vantage point for sunset views.
Cured and Cultured: Don’t have the time for a full-blown three-course meal? Want to grab a quick bite before or after a show at the Opera House? Head for the restaurant’s Cured and Cultured section, right across The Bar, where you can order as many dishes as you like. Kick off the soirée with chilled Sydney rock oysters served with a sprinkling of lemon and pepper granita, which gives the oysters a textural complexity as well as amps up their freshness. Then devour the buckwheat pikelets – slathered with lemon jam and cultured cream, and topped with red claw yabbies. Or enjoy a serve of raw Mooloolaba yellowfin tuna, which gets a beautiful kick from slithers of soy-infused pickled radish and comes topped with grain-sized baby mushrooms.
The dinner: Of course, if you want to make an occasion for it, go the whole hog with the restaurant’s three-course menu, priced at $130 per head (food only). Opt for an entrée of seared scallops – they arrive doused in a crème fraîche emulsion flavoured with lemon jam and dotted with broad beans and micro herbs. When it’s time for the main course, don’t be put off by fish on the bone. The restaurant’s John Dory is liberally coated with umami butter, then roasted on the bone for a spectacularly flavoursome crisp skin. Small tweaks are made to the restaurant’s menu almost every day, but this is one dish that has won so many fans, it’s now a regular fixture on the menu. But the best course of the night has to be the dessert. “Chocolate cake from across the water” is the only dish on the restaurant’s menu that has been imported from Quay – Peter Gilmore’s other iconic Sydney restaurant, located right across the water from Bennelong (hence the name). Featuring eight textures of chocolate, it’s an absolute standout. Alternatively, you could for the Gilmore’s clever twist on an Aussie favourite – lamington filled with cherry-jam ice-cream and served with shavings of coconut ice-cream.
Bennelong Point, Sydney Opera House, Sydney; (02) 9240 8000