A round of applause to the recently opened and reinvented Opera Bar, which offers a symphony of new flavours and culinary delights, set against a view that never gets old.
For a long time, the venue's been languishing — always full, but not necessarily in a good way. So it was a bit of a surprise when Matt Moran and the Solotel hospitality group were re-awarded the tender, and there were some concerns that the venue could turn prohibitively priced with Moran taking the helm of the venue. Not so. There have been changes, but prices remain consistent. What's new is an Australian-inspired menu, a charcuterie room, a raw seafood bar and an optimised seating plan, so more people than ever can enjoy this heritage-listed landmark and panoramic harbourside views.
Equip yourself with a refreshing pomegranate and mint Sydney Sling ($18) and head outside to the sun-drenched deck where you and 699 other people can now find a seat. With new rows of timber-slatted benches and sea-facing table and chairs lining the promenade, it's a much-welcome addition for anyone who has spent their evenings searching for a spare stool. The promenade has also been marked with a large blue sculptural 'O', which has, perhaps predictably, been adopted as a backdrop for selfies.
Get yourself front row seats at the Raw Bar and watch some culinary theatre as chefs slice and shuck seafood to order. The menu stars Noosa spanner crab ($28), Hervey Bay scallops ($22), Moreton Bay Bugs ($26), as well as a delectably marbled and creamy Petuna ocean trout ($20) (and yes, that's the same one Tetsuya has a penchant for). I won't give Moran too much credit here; there are no dressings or finishes, just fresh, un-touched Australian seafood, hand-picked and locally sourced.
If you're partial to cured meats, visit the new glass-walled larder at the northern end, which functions as your own personal deli counter, hand-slicing Spanish jamon, bresaola and salami matched with artisan cheeses, pickles and relish designed to be shared. Take a seat in one of upholstered circular booths inside, where you can enjoy a glass of chilled Semillon in your own intimate alcove.
A touch of fine-dining finesse comes through in a remake of a beloved Aussie classic — the Golden Gaytime ($12). This version layers vanilla and honeycomb ice-cream on a chocolate biscuit base, which is then coated in sweet and salty popcorn. A gay time indeed.
Most promisingly of all, we may have seen the end of jazz lounge covers at the bar. Adam Lewis from Goodgod is taking over as entertainment manager, promising to bring some exciting new DJs and live music talent to get the party started.
First image: Nikki To