Cafe Opera, Intercontinental Sydney

Cafe Opera on Urbanspoon

A selection to complete a rather good afternoon.

High ceilings. Sandstone contrasting with raw red brick walls. Spacious corridors. Perhaps the best seating is in the balconies overlooking the inner sanctum.  In this modern age of glass, electronics and density, it is rewarding to be able to relax in hallowed surroundings being with crowds but not feeling hemmed in. My group of five were fortunate to obtain a reserved table outside the cafe proper, which was chock a block with guests also here for the Sunday Christmas lunch, held  but only once a year in December.   We were greeted with sparkling wine, generously topped up throughout our meal.  A hint of festivity decorated our table, where we could pull Christmas pops, wear season hats and just literally relax. No ala carte selections today, we went with the flow of Christmas goodies, with under currents of a French end of year theme, especially for dessert, but also with good old Aussie seafood offerings like fresh prawns, quality salmon cuts and lots of preserves, nuts and healthy salads.

The Cafe Opera is located upstairs from the rather compact lobby of the Intercontinental Sydney, located at the Bridge end of Macquarie Street, all within walking distance of the NSW State Parliament, NSW Art Gallery, Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House.  It is sited on the top end of town so to speak and makes most of the old State Treasury Building.  The staff attending to us that day were delightful, quick on the foot and friendly.  They happily offered alternatives of juice or soft drinks if you have to drive after the meal.  Guests are orderly, patient and quiet in waiting for their food in the queues.  The food bars are daintily decorated and suggest an Euro atmosphere, especially with the biscuits, pastries and cakes at the end of the ambient buffet.

I normally try to skip mains in a whole some buffet, but this time I found the Christmas ham and roast turkey irresistible - the cloves were still in my slices of ham and the accompanying gravy lifted the meats further.  The choice of cooked food may not be as varied as in the Sheraton by Hyde Park, but they had gems like delicately grilled barramundi and butter chicken curry.  I saw the rather chunky dim sims ( really steamed buns and pork/prawn siew mai) and did not have the heart to mention to the staff that Cantonese yum cha is really meant for petite snacks of bite size and not to be served in such huge proportions.  Dim sim literally means " touch of the heart" and not a flagging of monster sized grabs.

That little disappointment was soon wiped out by the variety of entrees, starting with Japanese sashimi, sushi and lobster bisque.  The latter was rather gratifying, flavourful, thick and with toasty croutons.  And I did revel in my dessert choices, rather up to expectations and with really too much to choose and take it all in. May be I did miss Italian, Spanish or Middle Eastern dishes but that would have been over the top. We were placed where we could hold a conversation, where the background noise was in another room, where it was reading to catch up with family and friends.  Then it was off to view the David Jones Christmas displays, the Martin Place Christmas tree and the QVB window shopping. I would recommend the Cafe Opera also on quieter months.