Last week Fresh Catering invited Sydney’s top food bloggers to taste their way through northern Africa and the Middle East at Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.
The pre-performance food provides “drama to set the scene”, according to The Daily Addict. Tagines, hummus, sumac, slow roasted lamb, baklava, Turkish delight – the flavours of North Africa and the Middle East are on show, on and off the stage.”
Not Quite Nigella recommends “canny opera goers” arrive at 5pm with time to take in the harbour view while wining and dining.
There are four casual eateries on site which serve everything from quick bites to mains. Each offers a different perspective of the harbourside view.
The Northern Terrace is Not Quite Nigella’s tip for an impressive water view for those of you who are “feeling social” (you’ll find the largest crowds here). The mains (around $25) are “very good value”, all served with impressive accompaniments.
“The calamari is crunchy, freshly cooked and tender inside.”
“The salmon is perfectly cooked and not in the slightest bit dry inside. The chermoula spice rub on the outside is fantastic.”
“The lamb shanks are very tender.”
The Southern Terrace is the Northern Terrace’s quieter sister, which serves an identical menu including the best-seller: the lamb, fennel and broad bean tangine.
Near the entrance is the Qantas Garden Bar, a lovely spot for a snack. Try the spicy lamb merguez sausage with harissa and oregano on a soft brioche bun – “not what you’d consider traditional opera fare but it’s one of the best selling items” (Not Quite Nigella).
Photo by Simon Leong.
If you walk further down along the sea wall you’ll pass Sparkling & Oyster bars, a camel in costume (one of the stars from the show), and the looming stage, to arrive at the Northern Cantina. Here you can sit and relax with a mezze-style share plate and the pistachio and fig cheesecake, which caught the eye of Not Quite Nigella.
The Platinum Club Restaurant
All of the bloggers agreed that The Platinum Club is the spot for indulgence with a full service restaurant. “That unbeatable view of Sydney Harbour plays a big part in the layout of the pop-up, which towers over the opera stage to its far left.” (The AU review)
The three-course meal starts with caramelised chickpea puree with either sprinkled sumac or shaved bortago, and grilled bread. Not Quite Nigella particularly liked the sweet currant salad and the salmon dip accompaniments, and everyone was happy with the generous servings.
It was unanimous that the 12 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder was “the clear winner of the night” (The AU review).
“(It) had both of us reaching back time and time again with our forks.” (Not Quite Nigella)
The caramelised fig pavlova’s “crispy perfectly round shell” and “soft, fluffy interior” rounded out the meal, with a selection of cheese as the alternative.
You can find the recipe for this scrumptious pavlova here.
See the full pre-performance dinner menu at The Platinum Club.
Platinum Club Bar and Buffet
“The buffet is a beautiful set up of everything from fresh cured salmon, olives and pickles to Turkish delight, cheesecake, and baklava. There is so much here to take in, with flavours coming at you from everywhere, all focused on giving you a complete and authentic buffet that draws on North Africa, Egypt, Europe, and the Middle East.” The AU review
See the pre-performance buffet menu at The Platinum Club.
Want to learn more? Read this interview with Executive Chef of Fresh Catering, Geoff Haviland.