A week last Sunday, a good friend from Melbourne told me that she would be in Sydney for a couple of days and was I free for dinner on Tuesday night. That gave me just 48 hours to find somewhere fabulous. I like to take overseas and interstate guests somewhere with a view if possible, so Bennelong immediately sprang to mind.
Unfortunately, when I checked online it said it was fully booked, in both the main restaurant and the Cured & Cultured Counter. I decided to try my luck on the phones and amazingly scored a booking at the Cured & Cultured ( C&C) Counter when I called at 5pm for 8pm the same night!
The location was perfect, especially as my friend was staying at the Marriot just a stone throw away. And, the venue was the star of the show. The food was very good, but its hard to compete with the Sydney Opera House.
The C&C Counter is perfect for groups of two, or if you are dining alone. It wouldn’t work with 3 or more people though, as you are sat on bar stools around what initially looks like a bar, but is actually where the chefs prepare most of the C&C menu. My friend and I loved watching them.It’s captivating, and they are all more than happy to offer suggestions or explain what they are preparing.
The waitress advised that we ordered 3-4 dishes to share, but she obviously had not met my friend or I before, so we ordered 4 savoury dishes (Sydney Rock Oysters with Lemon & Pepper Granita, Red Claw Yabbies with Lemon Jam, Cultured Cream and Buckwheat Pikelets, Raw Mooloolaba Yellow Fin Tuna, Five Cheese & Truffle Toastie, Suckling Pig Sausage Roll with Black Garlic) and 1 dessert (Chocolate cake from across the water – which I was delighted to find out came from Quay, Peter Gilmore’s 3 Hatted restaurant, located the other side of Circular Quay).
Three different people all recommended that we order the Red Claw Yabbies with Lemon Jam, Cultured Cream and Buckwheat Pikelets; and we were certainly glad we did. It was by far our favourite dish. They made it look so easy to make, but once we analysed it afterwards, we realised that to get the right sweetness with the jam and the cream is almost impossible.
The only slightly disappointing thing was finding out when we arrived that they are no longer serving the famous Pavlova (in the shape of the Opera House!) at the C&C Counter. Oh well, it gives me a good excuse to dine in their main restaurant area soon*.
In summary….a friend said to me recently that the restaurants with a view will often rely on this view, and that the better the view the worse the food. I agree there are a lot of restaurants like this in Sydney, but Bennelong is most certainly not one of them. After just opening a few months ago, there were awarded 2 Hats in October.
* Watch this space for our Bennelong part 2 review.