M & I celebrated our two years anniversary last week at a beautiful restaurant we both can barely pronounce - Guillaume at Bennelong. We like to call it "the opera house restaurant that was on Masterchef".
Finding the location of Guillaume was tricky for us and we had ended up walking around the entire Opera House searching for the entry and that was no fun in my heels. On the website it states that it's situated in the southern most shell of the Opera House, aimed so that you sit beneath Jorn Utzon's vaulted concrete "ribs". Unless you're good with your North East South West, that information was not helpful. Anyways after seeking some much-needed help, we found out that you basically go inside from the bottom of the Opera House and take the lift up to the restaurant.
Guillaume offers a range of dining choices and you can choose accordingly to your preferences. There's the standard a la carte menu with 4 courses, an 8 course degustation menu with matching wines if desired and also a pre theatre and tapas menu. We decided to go with the a la carte menu whereby you choose your own dish from four courses - 3 savoury and 1 sweet - for $150 per person.
It was the first time we had dined INSIDE of the Opera House and so it was quite an interesting experience. The interiors were beautiful as you got to see Utzon's intrinsic architectural structures with his sensuously curved, chocolate-coloured banquettes surronding the spectacular dining space.
However the view was a little disappointing as it was facing the other side of the waters which meant no Harbour Bridge was in sight and towards the left of our seat, we were kind of staring into an empty space. But oh wells! At least we snagged a comfy cushion bench seating :D
To kickstart our evening, we were offered some complimentary Amuse Bouche. Honestly I cannot remember what the waiter's description of this was I was too preoccupied at his lovely French accent to really focus on what he was saying. Nevertheless, I do recall him mentioning something to do with pumpkin and creme fraiche? Either way this amuse bouche was super delicious with a soft and fluffy texture that was creamy in flavour and addictive as hell. We literally scraped it all out!
For my first entree, I opted for the Smoked Salmon, served with creme fraiche, Avruga and brioche. As I cut into the delicate roll of salmon, I was amazed by how soft it was. The creme fraiche and avruga went beautifully with the salmon and I made sure to match each bite with some of the crunchy brioche. Usually I'm not a fan of strong smoked salmon but this one was very well-balanced in its flavours and simply perfect!
M's Eel with silverbeet, oyster, "Sot L'y Laisse", and truffle was plated so beautifully that it was almost too pretty to eat. Resembling that of a spring flower garden, the eel was very tender and infused with a concoction of flavours. You might be wondering what that fancy "Sot L'y Laisse" is? Turns out it's chicken. M described it as beautiful bits of karaage chicken. Trust.
On the whole, there seemed to be so many elements in that one dish yet when you ate it, it all seemed to fit together seamlessly - a truly unique experience.
My dish of the night was definitely these Scallops. Big in size, juicy and full of flavour, they were the king of scallops - one of the biggest ones I've had at restaurants. Served with cauliflower, spinach, shitake and balsamic, it was a creamy affair that involved plentiful of oohs and aahs from both M & I. Absolutely loved the cauliflower puree as it gave an extra kick to the scallops and the marinated spinach and shitake spiced things up further. We give our nod of approval and a double thumbs up!
M's Squid was equally as unique and fascinating as his first entree. Accompanied with "tagliatelle", sea urchin and tapioca "cracker", the scented flavours from the consommé was beautifully infused into all the ingredients. Both M and I loved the thick consistency of the broth and how well it went with the tagliatelle - it was like soup noodles in a sense with seafood!
For my main, as per usual I went for the Beef option, topped with a side of mash. For starters, can I just say how freaking amazing the mash was? Velvety and smooth in texture, both M & I demolished it with extra cravings of it lingering in our minds. My beef was as good as it looked - cooked to a perfect medium rare, it was tender and succulent. The shimeji mushroom, spinach, shallot and merlot was also nicely seasoned and it did go well with the beef however ended up a bit salty towards the end.
M went with another seafood option for his main, choosing the classic Rouget - which we found out was fish eventually :P Upon being served, the kind waiter poured another jar of consommé into the dish, adding warmth and extra flavour. The fish was delicately soft with a crispy outer skin and the broth complimented all the other seafood ingredients such as the prawn, mussel and clam. Also served with capsicum, leek, potato and rouille and topped with the amazing mash. I simply loved the soup and found myself dipping bits of the fish into it for that extra boost in taste. Yum...
Before dessert was served, a sweet amuse bouche was provided. Unfortunately both M & I weren't a big fan of this as it was quite bitter in taste with strong grapefruit scents. Oh but how cool is the monogrammed serviette? A very fancy affair indeed!
My dessert of choice for the night was the Nougat Glace with peanuts, caramel ice cream and banana. Essentially, it was like an ice cream sandwich however I didn't really like the caremelised banana topping as it was quite soggy in texture. Nothing too special overall but not too bad as the ice cream was very creamy.
M chose the Chestnut ice cream with cassis and chocolate. It was presented in a lovely scroll-like shape with faint chestnut flavours. Overall, quite a standard dessert and so was nothing too outstanding either. However we were both very intrigued by the gold flecks on top of the chocolate roll :P
How beautiful does the Opera House look on the inside? With the dim lights and the glass panels, it really is something special.
The dining area at Guillaume is surprisingly quite small and so you find yourself sitting in quite an intimate space. Service was impeccable and the waiters were always checking in on us to see if our food was okay or if we needed anything else. One of them even offered to take a photo of us as she thought we looked really loving. That's always good to hear considering it was our anniversary :)
Oddly, there was even a large dining table separated from the rest of the space. Assuming this is reserved for private functions?
Overall we had a pleasant dining experience at Bennelong. The food was exquisite and sourced from fresh local produce and we enjoyed the merging of classical French influences with contemporary Australian cuisine. Dessert was a little disappointing but everything else lived up to its reputation, especially the beautiful plating of all the dishes.
Despite being so busy, I am glad we got to celebrate our special event at such a lovely restaurant. Happy two years anniversary M!
Guillaume at Bennelong
Sydney Opera House
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9241 1999