Sydney Opera House’s permanent food show

8 Min Read

Please note: Cured & Cultured has now closed.

The Concert Hall and Drama Theatre at the iconic Sydney Opera House are not the only spaces that hold performances.

Bennelong Restaurant’s Cured & Cultured doesn’t just give its guests scrumptious food, it shows you how it’s done.

Diners can sit around its rectangular counter that encases its kitchen where they can view the chefs doing their thing.

Executive chef Peter Gilmore tells Two Chat Food his team enjoy performing for their guests. “We wanted to create that friendly atmosphere to give people a chance to interact with the chefs,” he says.

Cured and Cultured at Sydney Opera House.
Another type of show at Sydney Opera House.

They make their magic with an abundance of local produce. “Native and local ingredients are what a restaurant in the most iconic building in Australia should represent,” Gilmore says.

In fact, 90 per cent is sourced from Australian ingredients and at least 50 per cent comes from NSW.

“Native and local ingredients are what a restaurant in the most iconic building in Australia should represent.”

Cured & Cultured executive chef Peter Gilmore

Gilmore explains his red claw yabbies dish is a classic example of how the restaurant uses great native ingredients in creative ways. “The idea of wrapping [yabbies] in a pikelet brings together the nostalgic feeling of childhood along with the idea of catching yabbies in the countryside,” he says.

Red claw yabbies at Cured and Cultured, Sydney Opera House.
Cured & Cultured gives diners a look at where their food has come from.

FOOD

Rex: The first item on Cured & Cultured’s menu is a quintessential gastronomic experience of this harbour city: Sydney rock oysters. The team serves the silky salt-water molluscs with a lemon and pepper granita that gives the appetiser a real bite.

Andrea: The rock oysters are pretty much fresh on a plate. 

Scrumptious Sydney fair.

But that’s not all the seafood here. The sashimi of yellowfin tuna is another beauty. The meaty yellowfin tuna is dressed in an anchovy emulsion, Australian native finger limes, roasted rice, enoki bulbs and kohlrabi remoulade.

Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family and in this dish it’s combined with mayonnaise, mustard and garlic vinaigrette, which balances against the tuna and emanates a wintery vibe.

Yellowfin tuna decorated in remoulade and roasted rice at Cured & Cultured, Sydney Opera House
Yellowfin tuna decorated in remoulade and crunchy roasted rice.

Rex: Marine food is the restaurant’s strong point, and my favourite is the dish of red claw yabbies, known for their sweet, delicate flavour

They’re fresh water creatures that hail from northern Australia but are also found in most other parts of the country. They also breed in neighbouring Papua New Guinea.

Here, the yabbies help reimagine the Australian afternoon-tea staple of pikelets with jam and cream. They come accompanied by a stack of thin, buckwheat pikelets, cultured cream and lemon jam.

Red claw yabbies Cured & Cutured, Sydney Opera House
The red claw yabbies in all their glory at Cured & Cutured, Sydney Opera House.

Our chefs for the evening suggest we layer each pikelet with a crustacean (that’s been carved from its shell and placed back into it again) cream and jam. 

By presenting the yabbies in their shell, you gain a clear idea of where your food has come from – an important detail amid the fountain of processed food that’s comprised a lot of 21st Century eating.

This dish has really nailed the savouring of what’s usually a sweet affair with a tangy jam and a sour cream. But you only need small portions of the condiments to avoid overpowering the delicate flavour of the yabbies. 

Andrea: I prefer slightly bigger dollops of cream and jam with each yabby pikelet. The jam is delicious and provides some punch, and an equal portion of cream balances it – or maybe I’m just a sucker for cream. However, that’s the great thing about this dish – you can adapt it as you wish.

I’m particularly fond of this one because it reminds me of my younger days on holidays with my family catching yabbies by the Tweed River in northern NSW. 

Suckling pig sausage roll at Cured & Cultured, Sydney Opera House.
All the nostalgia.

Rex: The sausage roll is an Aussie favourite and Cured & Cultured’s version is particularly special: The suckling pig is wrapped in a fresh, flaky, buttery pastry and flavoured with black garlic. It’s the restaurant’s air of casual sophistication captured in a single dish.

Andrea: This evening’s meal has been a trip down memory lane – from the pikelets to the sausage roll. It reminds me of the very rare times my parents let me buy lunch from my primary school’s canteen – I bee-lined for a sausage roll and savoured every bite. It was a treat then and it still is now.

As fresh as they come.

Rex: The spread is topped off with an expansive wine list that focuses on Australian wines.

It offers over two hundred of the country’s lesser-known labels. It has a beautiful 2011 Brokenwood, Oakey Creek, Semillon from the Hunter Valley in NSW to the 2018 Garagiste Le Stagiaire rose from Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, and the Swinney, Tirra Lirra Cabernet Sauvignon Grenache, 2017, from Western Australia.

Andrea: On the sparkling side it has the 2014 Apogee Deluxe Brut from Pipers Rivers in Tasmania, the Laurent-Perrier, Cuvee Rose Brut from Tours-Sur-Marne, France, NV, and the classic French champagne Krug, Grand Cuvee, Edition 166, Reims, France, MV.

Cheers!

AMBIENCE

Rex: You can come here before or after seeing a ballet or opera, or you can even do what we’ve done and just make a night of it.

Andrea: I like that the restaurant has broken down the “fourth wall” so we can ask the chefs about the food and watch how they prepare it.

Chefs at Cured & Cultured at Sydney Opera House.
It’s interesting to observe the different techniques the chefs use.

Rex: Agreed. Maybe my fondness for this goes back to the days I watched 1980-90s American sitcom ‘Cheers’, which had a ‘barfly’ kind of sentiment that’s expressed well through the lyrics of its theme song: “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came…”. 

SERVICE

Rex: The team at Cured & Cultured looks after us well and provides us with prompt attention throughout the evening. It also take the effort to accommodate special occasions.

Andrea: Both waiters and the chefs are happy to chat about your meal – so feel free to ask them all questions!

You can pay upwards of about $150 for two for a good-sized meal, or less if you only want a few bites. Be sure to book in advance!

Explore more of our culinary adventures at Two Chat Food or follow our journey on Instagram @twochatfood


Cured & Cultured | $$
Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Sydney, Australia

Opening hours
Mon-Wed: 5:30pm-9:00pm
Thursday: 5:30pm-10:00pm
Fri-Sat: 12:00pm-2:00pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm-2:00pm, 5:30pm-9:00pm

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