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Totally Cured and Cultured at Bennelong

November 4, 2017 Destination Feature, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Dream about dining inside the dramatic sails of the Sydney Opera House with its spectacular views, creative food by the supremely talented Peter Gilmore, but think you need the king’s ransom? Helen Flanagan experienced the luxury without the linen.

There’s just so much to drink in at the harbour-side Bennelong restaurant, helmed by Peter Gilmore and located under the Utzon sails of the Sydney Opera House, arguably one of the world’s finest ‘galleries’.

Gilmore’s take on contemporary cuisine begins on the lower level of the tri-level layout. A private table is available on the central level; a bar with panoramic views of The Sydney Harbour Bridge is on the upper level; for those looking for an experience like no other, The Kitchen allows just four guests the opportunity to enjoy a backstage view of the chefs at work while dining from a curated eight-course menu with matching wines; and for a one-of-a-kind, full-service lusciousness with a laid-back attitude, hot foot it to Cured & Cultured. Book early evening, because the ever-evolving natural light show beats any fireworks display.

Tony and Helen

“Bennelong is all about the provenance of the food we are serving,” explains Gilmore who is also executive chef of Quay, named in the prestigious S. Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurant list.

“All menus are crafted in partnership with farmers, fishermen, breeders and providores from across the land, who work with our chefs every day. It’s a two way process: responding to what’s in season and the best of what producers are bringing us, however on another level, we’re planning menus a season or two ahead and working with producers to develop ingredients for us.

Salad of roasted organic carrots

“Cured & Cultured has a simple focus: raw food such as beautiful oysters, cured meats, crustaceans and organic vegetable salads.” It’s the cream and the crunch without the starched linen.

There’s a cracking wine list and polished wait staff described cocktails so convincingly, the classic dirty martini was nearly changed to a very in-tune-sounding Symphony #4 in D Minor or on-song Don Pancho De Le Mancha.

Raw kingfish artichoke, capers, ice plant

Not surprisingly the atmosphere exudes excitement and there are happy faces everywhere. Propped at the counter, right in front of you, chefs work quietly and methodically on the presentation of dishes. But happy to chat albeit briefly when questioned by this inquisitive food writer, in-between fondling shavings of various coloured carrots and squeezing tweezers to ensure incy-wincy flowers and herbs are artfully positioned. Most dishes, chef says are prepped in a downstairs kitchen and the roast carrot salad swathed  in sticky sherry caramel, tossed with young almonds, feta, amaranth and artfully dressed with raw heirloom carrot, is the most popular dish on the menu. But what about raw kingfish with artichoke, capers, ice plant; cured black pig ham polenta, popcorn, parmesan and pine nut hotcake; Tasmanian-inspired scallop pie; twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé with seasonal crumble; and warm buckwheat pikelets, lemon jam and cultured cream with a plate of yabbies served in the shell? Oh and let’s not forget the five cheese truffle toastie or the best-ever suckling pig sausage roll with black garlic. Salivation levels go shy-high when the oven door is opened and chef cuts through the pastry. But what happened to those end bits? Next time.

The Pavlova

If you’re not rushing off to a concert or the opera, or looking for a casual bite post-show and lust after something sweet, the cherry jam lamington and pavlova are irresistible. Understandably.

Cured and Cultured

Encore, encore Cured & Cultured, What a triumphant performance.

If you go: www.bennelong.com.au

As evening falls

Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au

Written by Helen  Flanagan

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