Lobster French toast: Matt Moran might as well drop the mic and walk away right there. We're sold. Is this the go-to show-off dish for summer? It's a hell of a good start for the newly revamped Aria, the chef's Sydney flagship.
"It's going to be the signature dish," says Moran. "It's pretty special." He takes a plump tail of Champagne lobster and glazes it with Pepe Saya butter and egg and tops it with pearls of Sterling caviar and finger lime, then sets it on a thick slice of brioche.
If you can drag your eyes off your plate, you'll notice more than a few changes to the 17-year-old restaurant's interior, which has been almost completely gutted and reformed by architect of the moment, George Livissianis. "We've been under construction for three months, but we've been talking about it for three years," says Moran. "The structure of the restaurant is still where it was, but the kitchen is a little bigger and you can now view it when you walk in to see glimpses of what's going on. People like to see that theatre." The bathrooms have been ripped out and remodelled, terrazzo floors feel modern and fresh, while leather walls, timber ceilings and Henry Wilson lights soften the space into a comfortable, rather than stifling, elegance.
Aria Sydney's new interior.
The menu remains true to the produce which Moran and his team spend time meticulously sourcing. Head chef Jason Staudt plates up the likes of smoked duck with green almonds and cherry, and mud crab with kombucha and Alba white truffle. Another summer win: the restaurant is also now open for weekend lunches, a service Moran "never wanted to work, so never did". Saturdays and Sundays will see just one sitting, so diners can relax through the afternoon. "That's what fine dining should be," says Moran. "We don't want to rush anyone out."
Though much has changed, the view out to the glittering harbour is unchanged and next to unbeatable. Aria's encore is a thing of beauty.
Aria Sydney, 1 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 2255, ariarestaurant.com.au/sydney