A birthday to remember

There’s always that one special birthday you will always remember. Well, for me, this recent birthday was that special birthday.

My boyfriend took me to a gorgeous restaurant this year. A little 5 star restaurant with water-front views, located just across from the world famous Opera House called Aria.

My boyfriend knows I’m a massive Masterchef fan and with good reason (to read my other posts about Masterchef, click here). The whole time the Masterchef series was airing last year, I would rave about Marion’s mango and fish sauce dessert and gush over Alvin’s drunken and bruised chicken dish, all whilst he would smile and nod politely. But with that look of ‘What the heck?written all over his face, I knew what he was really interested in. And that was who was the latest evictee from Survivor.

Rolls eyes. Typical.

And even after months of much babbling over Masterchef, he must have listened to something because I was surprised to find out we were dining at one of Australia’s most well-known chefs, Matt Moran’s Aria for my birthday this year. I was so excited when he told me this, and let me tell you, foodies, my experience was nothing short of amazing.

For entrees, I had Kurobuta sweet pork belly with pickled watermelon and crackling ($39). When it came out and was placed in front of me, at first, it was visually stunning. Everything was so clean and looked as though it was prepared and handled with utmost precision.

The pork was delicious. The melt-in-your-mouth texture of the meat with the crunchy skin was delicious. The pickled watermelon was a bit left of centre and the watermelon sauce went well with the pork.

My boyfriend had the cured goose breast with chicken liver parfait, poached rhubarb, black pepper and ginger bread ($42). I’ve never had goose before, but was pleasantly surprised with its thinly sliced beef-like texture. The parfait was very light and was wrapped in a thin layer of crunchy pastry.

For mains, I had the baked fillet of snapper with toasted seeds and pine nuts, asparagus, smoked potato purée, apple and a caviar sauce ($56). This was a beautiful dish. The snapper was moist and tender – perfectly cooked. The sauce and the puree was a killer combination with the fish.

The boyfriend had roasted lamb fillet with confit belly, eggplant purée, tomato and basil fondue and a black olive sauce. The lamb was cooked to medium-rare perfection. The confit was a perfect hybrid of crunchy and tender textures. I actually preferred this dish over the snapper.

As a side, we had truffled potato mash ($15). This was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. I’ve have never had potato mash like this before. The mash was so smooth but so rich in flavour. A nice compliment to our main dishes.

Now to the desserts.

The boyfriend had pavlova with mango, saffron cream, and lime and basil sorbet ($24). This dish was delicious, save for the lime and basil sorbet. It just seemed so out of place and overrode the sweetness of the pavlova which was, by itself, beautiful.

I had the Valrhona chocolate with tempered Manjari chocolate, raspberries, brownies and cacao ice cream ($24). I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this. I don’t know, being a self-confessed chocoholic, I like having my chocolate desserts sinfully packed with chocolate, rich and decadent. With this dish, the chocolate was scarce, with tiny pieces of browie, one dollop of ice cream, and a small stack of very thin tempered chocolate. I suppose one would describe it as light on the palate, but to re-iterate, if I’m going to have a chocolate dessert, I’d want the chocolate to have impact. Unfortunately, this dish didn’t match that.

All in all though, this was a beautiful restaurant. The décor was modern and chic, with the highlight definitely being the views of Circular Quay. The service was average – the waiters were very professional and friendly but inattentive. The food was beautiful, particularly, the entrees and mains – beautifully presented, it was like like art on a plate.

This was by far, one of the best, if not the best birthday I’ve had. Now how am I going to match this for my boyfriend’s birthday? Hmmm…

Aria on Urbanspoon

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