Unfortunately this is the only picture we could take as it was too dark inside (this one only came out because I'm so pale!)
The Food: My biggest fear going to Aria was that the portions would be tiny & we would be left waiting for our food with forlorn (& hungry) expressions on our faces. Luckily, I was completely & utterly wrong. I was stuffed half way through my main & only managed dessert after giving myself a serious talking to.
We were greeted with a starter of parsnip soup with cardamom. I usually hate cardamom but the soup was beautifully smooth & punchy at the same time. Once we finished our starters a waitress came around with a basket of freshly baked white sourdough and rye bread. The rolls were warm & served at the perfect time.
For entree I ordered the Kurobuta pork belly with roasted Spanish pimentos, pork trotter croquette and garlic chips ($42). The Pork Belly was impeccably cooked with such a fine layer of crackling & such flavoursome meat. I was in pork heaven. Dale ordered the Scotch Egg of Alaskan crab with a salad of celeriac, capers and preserved lemon ($44) which he was amazed by. He'd never eaten scotch egg before & wasn't a massive fan of crab but this dish blew his mind.
For main I ordered the Lamb - roast cutlet and char grilled neck with garlic soubise, baby fennel and mint gel ($58) which was sheer magic. The lamb was perfectly cooked (I ordered mine medium) and the mint gel a perfect match - and I'm not a big fan of mint jelly, so that's really saying something! Dale ordered the Duck - roasted breast with honey glazed parsnips, rhubarb chutney, confit duck pastia and a pain d' pice sauce ($58) which he also loved. He finds it hard to find well cooked duck as a lot of the time its either too fatty or too tough. He spent the whole meal exclaiming how happy he was to have perfect duck! Our biggest favourite from dinner was the side of truffled mash potato ($15) that just about knocked us both flat. It easily served both of us & was the most magnificent mash either of us have ever tried (and we pride ourselves on our delicious mash potato!!). I will be dreaming about the mash for a long time.
For dessert I ordered the delice of Valrhona chocolate with tonka bean cream and beetroot sorbet ($26) and Dale ordered the black currant jelly with poached pears, quinoa tuille and vanilla ice cream ($26). Mine was quite yummy, although I was probably too full to really enjoy it. I think next time I will skip the dessert! Dale loved his (surprise, surprise) and was minutes away from dumping me & running away with it.
Once we were done Dale ordered an espresso & a waitress brought some petit fours to the table. I definitely did not go hungry!!
The Service: O.M.G. The service was immaculate. Our waiter was perfectly attentive, the moment we shut our menus he was there to take our order. He even gave us the pork belly entree free as a piece of strong was left on the trotter. I had not thought anything of it but as soon as he picked up the plate he apologized and returned saying it was removed from the bill! We were pretty shocked! When the bill came around we included the amount of the pork belly because we were just so amazed with the service of the staff!
The sommelier was one of our favourites, he matched wine to Dale's meals (Dale can drink a lot more than me!) and kept us entertained with some great banter. He also photo bombed a group of girls without them realising which gave us a giggle.
The main thing that stood out to us about the services was 1) the way every staff member (whether assigned to our table or not) was so extremely polite and said 'thank you' every ten seconds! and 2) when one of the staff saw I was headed to the bathroom & followed to open the door for me!!! I was shocked, and very impressed!
The Wine: As I mentioned, the sommelier was fantastic & gave us some great wines. I drank the 2005 Helm Premium Riesling ($18 a glass) for the night as I love sweet white wine! Dale stuck to reds & had some truly great drops.
The Atmosphere: The restaurant is quite dark at night which really highlights the glorious opera house right in front of you and the harbour around it. Its a great restaurant with a luxurious & private atmosphere.
We had a fantastic evening & will definitely be back asap! It was worth every cent & made our anniversary so much more special! I highly recommend you go & find out what all the fuss is about.