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When you first walk into ARIA you can be forgiven for gaping a little and – for a few brief seconds – ignoring the incredible menu. The reason for this, of course, is that each of the intimate ARIA spaces created by interior design guru, Alexander Tzannes, makes the most of Sydney's spectacular harbour. The main dining room offers an unobstructed view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, the private dining room gazes over east Circular Quay, while the outdoor terrace area allows guests to breathe in the world-class vista. However, it is worthwhile tearing your eyes away from the scenery to peruse the menu, masterfully prepared by ARIA's famed head chef, Matthew Moran. Here you will find Australian modern cuisine befitting a six gun salute. And, with selections like six freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters with chorizo, tomato and crispy potato; steamed pink snapper, beetroot puree, kohlrabi, green apple with caviar sauce, and slow-cooked breast of quail with crushed minted peas, ricotta filled zucchini flower and almond dressing, it may take you a while to shift your gaze back to the view.
You'll no doubt be distracted again when the food is brought out – each dish is presented with such artful finesse that, if it weren't too delicious to pass up, you'd surely be tempted to frame it. There is also an impressive selection of wine to match. And, to finish on the right note, gluing yourself to the scenery is the ideal way to pass the 20 minutes that it takes the chef to make his passionfruit souffle. The ARIA experience can be enjoyed at a set price for lunch, pre-theatre and supper throughout the week. There is also an a la carte dinner menu, and a seasonal tasting menu.
ARIA's wine list offers a magnificent selection of Australian wines led by an outstanding 'Penfolds List', a collection that extends from 1976 through to 1994. In addition, Aria offers 18 distinctive wines by the glass, including Penfolds Bin 707 1997. Drawing from meticulously maintained private cellars, the best boutique wineries and the most reputable larger producers, Aria's wine list offers something for every palate. Focusing on the best examples of vintage, variety, style and region, it offers an extensive range from both the New World and the Old.