In the shadow of their popular buffet, lies one of Sydney’s most underrated restaurants. Despite being missed by both the SMH Good Food Guide and Gault & Millau, the dishes here warrant attention. From the opening Apple Wood Smoked Duck ($17) pate and candied quinoa lollipops, and leafy green hillock of Grima’s Farm Red Radishes ($15), it’s clear that my meal here will be something special. The later is esoteric and insubstantial, and while it definitely floated my boat, my dining companion termed it “elf food”. He was however a convert to the Grilled Cotton Bay Sardine ($16) that employed coal smoke, fennel and crisp sardine skin to expertly balance what he’d normally consider too oily a fish. While he waxed lyrical on little fishes, I lost my head in a textural Slow Cooked Egg ($27) accentuated by morels, mullet bottarga, salmon roe and a surprising Cups Estate 2006 Merlot ($10/glass) match. We met again over an ode to Spring – Flinders Island Lamb ($37) – as Chef Julien Pouteau entered the dining room to deliver a goat’s foam so perfect it felt one step removed from suckling an udder’s teat. Dish-by-dish wine matching makes drinking against this imaginative, produce-driven menu a breeze, particularly if you’re both partial to different wines.
Intercontinental Sydney, 117 Macquarie Street, Circular Quay
Ph: (02) 9253 9396 icsydney.com.au/dine-drink/cafe-opera/
Modern Australian $$$$