After a quick shopping expedition in the city we decided to have dinner at ARIA. The evening was crisp and clear, with a stunning full moon lighting the night. We were also lucky to look up and see Venus and Jupiter doing their dance and appearing close together even though they are hundreds of millions of miles apart. At first Mr. CA4G thought one was a plane until I remembered it was the celestial rarity that I had read about on FaceBook. A rarity because most of the conjunctions between the two planets happen during daylight hours.
Enough of the stars, and on to dinner. We decided to have the pre-theatre menu, which offers great value. But first things first, we had to choose a wine. After perusing the wine list we decided to try a 2009 Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. We like our Napa Valley Cabernets and this did not disappoint. Great flavour without being too heavy and a fabulous aroma which opened more during the evening.
A concise menu of 5 items per course, plus an entree extra, made choosing easy. After ordering, an amuse bouche of house made lavosh, with broad bean and ricotta purée topped with a little dot of lemon curd was presented to us. Along with amuse we both selected a sourdough roll (From Iggy’s Bread) which was accompanied by salted butter and a black garlic and porcini butter (both from Pepe Saya).
I ordered the Yamba Prawns with smoked eggplant, pickled radish and finger lime (the entree extra).The prawns had been roasted with the little bubbles of finger lime and then stacked on the smoked eggplant which had been pureed. Slices of pickled radish were sparingly placed around the stack.
Mr. CA4G ordered Southern calamari with iberico jamon, dashi custard, and shiitake mushroom tea. The dish was topped with an intriguing squid ink and tapioca crisp.
For mains, I chose the lamb rump with globe artichoke barigoule, green olives. Beautifully cooked medium rare, with the small amount of fat on top salted just the way I like it. An eggplant and capsicum ajvar sauce was a nice mellow compliment to the lamb. Nice combination of flavours. We also ordered our favourite side truffle mash, (mash potato finished with truffle oil) so creamy and delicious.
Mr. CA4G ordered the Cervena venison loin and sausage, farro, parsnip and rosemary. The parsnip came as a puree and a delicious finely shaved crisp. This was our first experience with farro on a menu and it is an ingredient we look forward to having again. The venison was served with jus for the sauce.
We were only going to have two courses, but decided to go for broke and order dessert. Possibly not a good judgement call as we realised later, when waddled out the door. An interesting sounding tart caught my eye and Mr. CA4G chose the cheese selection.
The tart was caramel and cep accompanied with mandarin wedges and espresso ice cream. The tart had a nice depth (about 2cm of luscious filling) and was quite light. The flavour of the cep mushrooms was delicate but was not overpowered by the caramel. The mandarin gave a refreshing burst, and the espresso ice cream was enhanced with the addition of ground coffee, which gave it a bit of grittiness. Cracked hazelnut kernels and hazelnut ‘soil’ finished the plate.
The cheese selection consisted of Munster and St Agur from France, La Luna from Holy Goat in Victoria and Manchego from Spain. The cheese was accompanied by crackers and fresh grapes.
A plate of varied petit fours was delivered to the table which we enjoyed immensely.
We practically rolled out the door, into the chill night air and headed home under the bright moon and the celestial dance.