One of Australia’s most iconic buildings has opened its belly to more people who want a fine dining experience without stuffiness and pomp. Chef Peter Gilmore has taken over the pass at Bennelong, the restaurant inside the Sydney Opera House, set on the sparkling harbour and looking out to the country’s most famous bridge.
Arguably Australia’s national dish (don’t tell New Zealand, which likes to claim the dessert), the pavlova, is given a twist at this iconic location. Shards of meringue form landmark sails in a sugary replica of the building that houses it. It is part of a menu that is particularly Australian; 98 per cent of everything served at Bennelong is Australian grown or produced. Roasted John Dory is roasted on the bone and served with saltbush, turnips and umami butter. Sydney rock oysters make an appearance and red claw yabbies’ are served in lemon jam and cultured cream, buckwheat pancakes. For the prosciutto, the pigs come from Byron Bay and the curing takes place in Sydney.
There are four ways to eat here: the restaurant downstairs; those catching a show or a play can slip in for a supper menu including a truffle and five cheese toasted sandwich; there’s the cured and cultured section up a floor, and there’s the chef’s table in the custom-designed kitchen for AUD$650 a pop. But more than anything, it’s a beautiful place to be, and the food is just a spectacular bonus.