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.
As part of the relaunch, a new Opera Cafe is slated to open in February 2015. Champagne breakfast anyone?
UPDATE 12/3: Looking for the ultimate postcard-perfect Sydney brekkie? Opera Bar is adding a brand new cafe element to its revamped waterfront digs. Opening March 13 from 7am, Opera Bar is set to launch the Opera Bar Cafe.
Open five days a week from 7am to 12pm, the Opera Bar Cafe menu will have eat-in and takeaway breakfast options on offer. Think freshly baked muffins, croissants and bagels, as well as takeaway-friendly items such as quinoa bircher with coconut and berries, fruit salad with sheep's milk yoghurt, cacao balls and housemade muesli bars. For something heartier, there's also going to be a choice of bagels with smoked trout and cream cheese, or tomato, basil and cream cheese. Toast is also on the menu topped with either fig, goat's curd, mint and walnuts, or the classic smashed avocado and tomato.
Drinks-wise, you can pick up a 100% raw, organic cold pressed juice from Sydney-based juice brand, Cali Press. Single Origin Roasters have your espresso and cold brew, you can spice things up with an old fashioned pink lemonade, or there's loose-leaf teas by Tea by Truly Tea. Opera Bar Cafe is located on the lower concourse level, inside Opera Bar.