Bennelong – Sydney, CBD

Photo credit – Brett Stevens

Bennelong sails spectacularly into Sydney.

Photo credit – Brett Stevens

As I step into Bennelong, I am in awe of the sheer size of the restaurant. The expansive yet intimate interior allows for Bennelong to be split into three separate areas – The Restaurant, Cured & Cultured and The Bar.

The Cured & Cultured counter provides a casual dining area with a menu focused on raw and cold produce such as Sydney rock oysters or Australian-made prosciutto. The Bar offers guests a place to relax over drinks, you can also order off desserts from The Restaurant.

On this night, I was celebrating my birthday with L at The Restaurant. Dinner consists of a 3 course a la carte menu with sides for $125 per person. The same menu is available at lunch however without sides, there is also the lighter 2 course option for $95 per person.

Single origin wheat noodles with smoked pork, line caught squid, peanuts and sesame

Australian produce is at the core of Bennelong’s menu (even the still water is Aussie). “Ninety-eight per cent of everything I’m serving is Australian grown or produced,” says Chef (culinary wizard) Peter Gilmore. “To me it’s about celebrating our farmers and producers. The fact that it’s Australian grown – we should be really proud of that.”

My entree of grilled Lady Elliot Island bug is a prime example of this celebration, the simple preparation allows the ingredients to shine. The Wagyu rump cap I chose for my main is perfectly paired with black barley, roasted oxheart carrot and mustard emulsion. The caramelised carrot brought a touch of sweetness to the dish, while the barley added a textural dimension (that was probably the best carrot I’ve had).

Grilled Lady Elliot Island bug with fermented chilli, organic turnips and radishes
Wagyu rump cap with roasted oxheart carrot, mustard emulsion and black barley
Flinders Island salt grass lamb with broadbeans, kale, Jerusalem artichokes nasturtiums and anchovy salt

Quay has the Snow Egg and Bennelong has the Pavlova. This, however, is not your average pavlova. It’s a masterpiece that pays homage to the Sydney Opera House. Crisp slivers of meringue are carefully arranged on top of an alternating pattern of Italian meringue and double whipped cream. At the core of the dessert is poached meringue filled with raspberries and rhubarb.

Whilst I was gushing over my dessert, L’s Strawberries and Cream was slightly marred by the fact that the ice cream was completely frozen and required a few minutes to thaw. I’m not sure why this was, it could perhaps be part of the theatrics of the dish.  

Strawberries and cream
Cape Grim natural water
To cap off my already wonderful dinner, I was asked by the maître d’ if I would like a tour of the restaurant and kitchen. I replied with a soft, reserved yes (I was screaming on the inside with excitement). The kitchen has been fully renovated and is open, bright and spacious. As I stood there memorised by the kitchen staff cooking, head chef Rob Cockerill greeted me and we shook hands. 
Photo credit – Brett Stevens

Tucked on the left side of the kitchen is the Chef’s Table. An exclusive dining area consisting of six seats adorned with an panoramic view of the harbour. For $650 per person, you get to indulge in the view and a seasonally designed 10 course degustation.

Photo credit – Brett Stevens

As I returned to my seats, I was slightly dazed and filled with euphoria. What an incredible birthday dinner, this was the truly the best meal I’ve had this year.   

Good: Superb locally sourced menu, stunning decor and that Pavlova   
Bad: Completely frozen ice cream in the Strawberries and Cream    
Perfect for: Birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions  
Price: $$$

This post was based on an independently paid visit.

Sydney Opera House
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 8000

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Amy zhong
    July 15, 2015 at 4:11 am

    oooh the pavlova looks stunning, the three course sounds like a pretty good way to experience the bennelong though!

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