Matt Moran has a lot of accomplishments under his belt, but a new project still gives the seasoned chef and restaurateur butterflies.
“I’m nervous as anything,” Moran says of the ambitious Barangaroo House project that opens tonight (Friday 15 December). “If you’re not nervous though, it means you don’t care.”
Barangaroo House is one of a kind. Designed to look like wide bowls stacked on top of each other, the building comprises three venues over three levels: House Bar; Bea, the restaurant; and Smoke, the cocktail bar. Each floor is a more refined version of the last with lines and materials such as wood and brass echoed throughout the spaces.
“Each venue is different but they all sing to each other,” says Moran. “We’ve been working on the project for nearly four years, and a lot has shifted in that period.”
Menu descriptions are deliberately simple so guests can focus on the flavours of each dish. “I could write down that the meat is cooked over coal or slow-roasted for 24 hours, but where’s the intrigue in that?” says Campbell. “It’s not about the technique, it’s about the flavours on the plate.”
While there are substantial meat dishes, such as the one-and-a-half kilogram tomahawk steak, or the scotch fillet; seafood and vegetable dishes are the stars. Indigenous Australian ingredients appear on many plates, including the delectably fishy Spanish mackerel with saltbush and cucumber, or the kangaroo served with munthari (native cranberries) and blueberries.
Kebab-style dishes at House Bar are the ideal accompaniment to the bar’s wide selection of beers and wines. There are also share dishes such as chicken wings or a bucket of prawns. Smoke’s wine list is 400 strong and the champagne offering is equally impressive. There are over 50 cocktails, many of which feature ingredients such as rosemary and cinnamon treated with smoke.
Compared with the multi-storeyed office buildings behind it, Barangaroo House is compact yet dramatic. Hanging plants spill over the curved edges of each level, and views from Smoke’s rooftop veranda capture the restrained end of Darling Harbour, with ferries gliding by and the warehouses of Pyrmont across the water.
When ascending the sinuous wood staircase from House to Bea to Smoke, make sure to look up. Each landing has an abstract sculpture by Sydney artist Luke Storrier, but the ceiling boasts the largest piece, an elegant wood artwork floating overhead like a mahogany-coloured stingray.
35 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
Monday to Sunday 11am–12am