Opera Australia Blog

The food bloggers tour of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour

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.

Casual eateries

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.”

Crispy Calamari. Photo by Not Quite Nigella

Crispy calamari, burnt eggplant and tabbouleh. Photo by Not Quite Nigella.

“The salmon is perfectly cooked and not in the slightest bit dry inside. The chermoula spice rub on the outside is fantastic.”

Chermoula rubbed salmon

Chermoula rubbed salmon with moghrabieh salad. Photo by Not Quite Nigella.

“The lamb shanks are very tender.”

Moroccan lamb shank

Moroccan spiced lamb shank tagine. Photo by Not Quite Nigella.

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).

Qantas Garden Bar

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.

Northern Cantina

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)

Platinum Club Restaurant

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.

Caramelised chickpea puree

Caramelised chickpea puree with sumac and grilled bread. Photo by the AU review.

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)

12-hour slow cooked lamb

12-hour slow cooked lamb. Photo by the AU review.

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.

Caramelised fig pavlova.

Caramelised fig pavlova. Photo by Not Quite Nigella.

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.

Pre-opera buffet.

Pre-opera buffet. Photo by the AU review.

Want to learn more? Read this interview with Executive Chef of Fresh Catering, Geoff Haviland.

5 Responses to “The food bloggers tour of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour”

  1. Amanda Stewart

    We went to Aida last Saturday and I agree, the food was initially delicious but having no covered areas, bar Platinum Club, meant that we ended up leaving a lot of it as it just became too waterlogged to eat. We were prepared to sit in the rain, but having to stand up and eat in the rain was not enjoyable.

    • Barbara W

      Just too wet to eat out so looking forward to our extra “treat” – intermission food and drink in platinum club that we enjoyed so much last year overlooking the awesome scenery changes for Madama Butterfly
      After being kept waiting in the rain by the ticket collectors, the only edibles were quartered pita bread and 2 dips – for $60 a head! Thinking I’m not doing it next year – as were most people around me

  2. Mel Francis

    We were given Platinum Club Drinks at interval as a ‘Thank You ‘ by a young woman about to leave for Iran. She was mortified by the measly offering! It would have been absolute basic food for peasant-standard hospitality! Two dips and plain pita bread..for $60/ head! The ‘Sparkling White’ was nice, but we would hardly have drunk two glasses if we’d hurried, since there was less than half an hour .
    All in all, and embarrassing rip-off..And to think the food is published as a highlight of the event!
    I don’t know if the rain on Saturday night drowned the kitchen, in a way I hope so, as that would provide an excuse..
    Mel Fancis

  3. Sue Brown

    I attended the performance on Tuesday 31st March and was extremely disappointed with food, wine and attitude of serving staff. I ordered a glass of champagne while waiting for food, took a sip which was not cold, took it back and was given another glass (less amount I sipped) and received a colder stare than the bubbles. I order the chicken kebabs and found that the chicken was still raw in parts, took back and told that that was way it was supposed to be. Given another one which only slightly more cooked which I binned. I think the catering firm should visit Hope Estate and Bimbadgen in the Hunter Valley to see how they cope with crowds. I will not be eating at next year’s Opera on the Harbour. THE OPERA WAS FABULOUS Congratulation OA well done.

  4. rhonda clarke

    Totally enjoyed our meal we had Lamb and Salmon at the Northern Bar upstairs. Great night with just a slight shower of rain while dinning. Loved the shown, just amazing voice from Aida.


Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

More in aida
What the critics said: Aida on Sydney Harbour

"The most spectacular harbourside production so far" The Australian (paywall) "A bold, sumptous vision ... Aida is a work that...