Yes, even the opening of Opera Kitchen was pushed back because of Oprah Winfrey. It’s amazing that the powerhouse talk-show host managed to make the whole country hit the pause button, but now that she’s left Australia, you can head down to lower concourse of the Opera House and check out this new venture.
Located in the canteen area past Opera Bar, it features second outlets for Charlie & Co., Misschu, Cloudy Bay Fish Co, as well as new eateries, such as Kenji Nishinakagawa’s sushi joint, and Becasse Bakery, the latest project for the incredible overachievers at Becasse (this is the third business that Justin and Georgia North have opened this year, in addition to running Plan B and their two-hatted signature restaurant).
Circular Quay, being the tourist-magnet that it is, can suffer from a build-up of expensive, not-so-great dining choices; Opera Bar is one of the few affordable gems in the area, but at certain times (pre-theatre; Saturday afternoons when Fate plays a game of “release the
hounds wedding parties!”), it can be a restaurant-scanning headache trying to find a free table.
So this makes the introduction of Opera Kitchen all the more welcome.
Becasse Bakery is the most budget-friendly of all the options: the most expensive item on the menu is the Toasted Croque Monsieur ($14). This place is also worth singling out because the pastries – such as the Vanilla Bean and Passionfruit Cheesecake ($6) – are ace. While friands usually taste like novelty-shaped bricks at many cafes, the Pistachio & Raspberry Friand ($7) is a finely-pitched treat: not overpowering, but the ingredients are freshly felt in each bite.
As you can guess, the menu is mostly French-influenced (there are Strawberry Sables, Pate Au Choux Buns, Toasted Brioche), although you can also order the delightful-sounding Bolivian Chocolate Petit Pot ($8). Or pretend to be nutritious and get the Becasse Bakery Granola & Yogurt ($8). When I revisit, my first orders will be for the Warm Goat’s Cheese & Caramelised Onion Flat Bread ($12) and Banana & Salted Peanut Brittle Tartlet ($8).
As to Opera Kitchen’s other offerings, it’s great to see alternative locations for favourites such as Charlie & Co. and Misschu. Sure, the prices are markedly higher than at the original eateries ($21.50 for a Charlie & Co. burger that’s $14 at the Westfield branch; $12 rice paper rolls that usually cost $6 at the Darlinghurst Miss Chu), but you’re basically paying an eyeball tax for the famed harbour view and, besides, rent for venues next to the most famous building in Australia would not be cheap. And you’re dining at Circular Quay – eating well and (mostly) meeting your budget, enjoying the long hours of sundazed light. (Or ordering everything takeaway and sitting in the park instead.) And it’s nice to have somewhere you can direct tourists to, without feeling like they’ll be (too) rorted.
You could do so much worse.
Opera Kitchen, Lower Concourse, Opera House, Circular Quay, operakitchen.com.au