Smudge Eats: Bennelong

[Originally published on Smudge Eats, October 2015]

Restaurant Profile: Bennelong, Sydney

- by Camilla Sampson

It takes a special type of restaurant to adequately reflect the beauty and elegance of one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, the Sydney Opera House. The re-invented Bennelong is just that.

Now under the watchful eye of Peter Gilmore, the venue with some of the best views in the country has been restored to its former glory, delivering the best of modern Australia produce.

Peter is, put simply, one of the country’s best chefs. Executive Chef at Bennelong and its sister restaurant Quay, his creative and original cuisine has been awarded an unprecedented number of Australian and international awards. Along with Chef de Cuisine Rob Cockerill, the kitchen team bring a unique approach to Australian dining to the stairs of the Opera House.

The venue is split over three levels, making the most of the building’s historic architecture. Take a seat in the main restaurant, located on the lower level, or find a spot on the central and upper tiers for a night of fantastic produce.

The three-course, a la carte menu is available in the main restaurant. It features plenty of meat and seafood options, all set off with delicate combinations full of flavour. Seared sea scallops come with spring vegetables, creme fraiche emulsion, lemon jam, herbs, and flowers while the roasted holmbrae duck is served with raw and pickled hispi cabbage, black miso, freekeh, and seaweed. Traditional ingredients are mixed with those that are lesser known, or used less frequently, providing a unique tasting experience.

A ‘Cured & Cultured’ menu, served on the central and upper tiers, places an emphasis on raw foods like oysters, cured meats, crustaceans, and organic vegetable salads. It’s designed to be accessible, enjoyed with a glass of wine before heading into a performance.

Sommelier, Russ Mills, has matched his wine list to Peter’s ingenuity, featuring popular names right through to boutique drops.

Peter himself remains split between Bennelong and Quay, light-heartedly noting that he will be able to walk between the two. Expect to see him in his chef’s whites, striding daily between the venues.

Photo by Amanda Davenport

FoodCamilla Sampson