1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay, Sydney 2000
P: 02 6252 2555
My trip to Sydney finished with a dinner at Aria in Sydney. We had high hopes for the meal, knowing Matt Moran's reputation. Things started REALLY well.
J ordered the pork belly for entree. He reported that it was simply divine. The pork was tender and succulent, and the croquette delicious.
I ordered the special of the night, ocean trout with big orange roe, quail egg and potato. Words can't describe how much I enjoyed this dish. It was so beautiful and so simple.
For mains J ordered the raviolo. It sounded quite nice on the menu, and in fact I very nearly ordered it myself. Alas, the real thing didn't live up to expectations - the taste of cumin was overpowering, forcing J to leave much of the dish behind.
I again went with the special of the night - roasted duck breast. The meat itself was nice, I was a little less sure about the 'stuff' it came on, but that pie you can see there at the top of the picture? I have no idea why it was there. Sure, there was duck in it, but it just didn't gel with the rest of the plate. And, frankly, it wasn't very nice. The meat inside was dry and stringy, and the pastry was unpleasant.
We plowed on, determined to try the desserts. J ordered the "banana" dessert. Artistic, isn't it? Have a guess how much banana was in it. Go on, guess. Guess!! There were just 4 itty bitty pieces. While the rest of the dish was nice enough, we just expected banana to be the main ingredient. Quite a bit of the offering was left on the plate.
I ordered the "strawberry" dessert. Again, this was a hit-and-miss selection. That panna cotta was nice enough. Sadly the slivers of poached strawberry were quite tasteless. As for that tart-type thing up the top of the picture... it wasn't particularly enjoyable either, although I loved the meringue. That globe of red on the right was a strawberry sorbet, and I can admit that it was fabulous - everything that is good about strawberries and sorbet combined.
The meal ended with coffee for J, tea for me, and a pretty tray of petit fours to share. A type of truffle ball with a vaguely burnt aftertaste, a rectangle of sponge with a weird flavour, and a square of turkish delight that was the best of the lot. J's coffee was similarly off-target. He loves his espresso, but the cup dished up was so bitter that, after a small sip, he left the rest. It even smelt bitter.
I felt so strongly about the meal that I ended up emailing my thoughts to Aria, trying to be as pleasant as possible. I received a nice response from Mr Moran thanking me for taking the time to send in my feedback (wonder what he was REALLY thinking!), and expressing his regret that the meal wasn't up to our expectations.
So in short, the high points were the entrees, the duck breast, and the strawberry sorbet. Low points were the raviolo, the pie, and the petit fours. Oh, and the coffee.
I have to say, maybe our expectations were too high going in. Or maybe they weren't. I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope we were just there on a bad night. All in all, it was a disappointing meal to have when I got engaged.