Once Upon a Time: Chapter Five

NEL's 11-course Disney-themed degustation is back for 2024, this time featuring dishes inspired by 'Frozen' and 'The Jungle Book'.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 02, 2024


When you wish upon a star, do you wish for all things Disney to be worked into your daily life? If so, then you'll be familiar with Sydney fine-dining institution NEL and its Once Upon a Time degustations. Since 2019, the Harbour City restaurant has been regularly plating up 11-course meals featuring dishes inspired by the Mouse House and its movies. In fact, it's done so four times so far. 2024's run will mark the enchanting dining experience's fifth chapter, then — and NEL's Executive Chef and namesake Nelly Robinson has new film-themed culinary creations in store.

From Tuesday, April 16–Saturday, August 10, fans of top-notch meals and Disney alike can flutter into the Surry Hills eatery to enjoy courses that take their cues from Frozen, 101 Dalmatians, The Jungle Book and more. Both savoury and sweet dishes are on offer, with or without beverages — including cocktails — that also help tell a magical tale.

For those who'll never be able to let their Mouse House obsession go, cured ocean trout Nordic-style — complete with a pickled onion snowflake, snow made out of cream cheese, and dustings of lemon and dill done at your table — is on the menu. Of course the Cruella de Vil-themed plate goes with a black-and-white colour scheme, featuring ricotta gnocchi, pan-seared mushroom and a celeriac velouté. And there'll be far more than the bare necessities tempting your tastebuds with the banana-shaped cream paired with roasted white chocolate and peanut butter brittle.

Other courses include a nod to Peter Pan via a golden sweet pastry crumble, aka the Once Upon a Time degustation's version of pixie dust; saying "hi ho, hi ho" to a Snow White-inspired dish; and also paying edible tribute to Mulan, The Lion King, Bambi and The Nightmare Before Christmas. There's even NEL's version of a wand, aka a chicken and eggplant pastry that comes in a crisp tulle.

NEL is known for its themed degustations, also spanning KFC-inspired dinners, Moulin Rouge!-themed and Christmas degustations, and heroing native Australian ingredients in the past. Unsurprisingly, the Once Upon a Time spread is especially popular — and because it serves up new and fresh dishes riffing on the Mouse House's favourites each time, it's always a different experience each year.

Price-wise, this childhood-inspired feast will require an adult salary, costing $185 per person, with beverages matched for an extra $165. Reserving a spot ASAP for dinner Tuesday–Saturday from 5.15pm, and for lunch from 12pm on Saturdays as well, is recommended — this always books out.


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