A taste of local produce in Sydney
Many hotel restaurants are bland places that have a slightly officey, could-be-anywhere-in-the-world, type of feel.
Not so at Cafe Opera, situated on the first floor of the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney's central business district.
The hotel's "Taste Of" themed degustation dinners, created by executive chef Tamas Pamer and his executive sous chef Julien Poteau, have been put together to promote local Australian produce.
Until August 11, there are three menus in the series that all focus on a different culinary element.
The Dairy features five courses of cheeses and milk products from a range of producers from NSW and Victoria, while Head to Tail showcases the rarer parts of the lamb, sourced from Flinder's Island. The last in the series, Foraged Feasting, includes ingredients that the chefs have dug up, picked or foraged from the Australian bush and gardens.
"We are supporting the local producers," says French-born Poteau.
"We are in Australia, we are embracing Australia's produce, and that's our duty and our mission.
"Since we've been here there is nothing that we're importing from France.
"When I started four years ago there were things coming over, but now that Tamas Pamer and I have settled into Australia and our network has become bigger, we know where to find good quality product."
At the launch event, we were treated to The Dairy menu, which kicked off with an elegant course of soft beetroot-cured trout with fromage frais, chive and pickled cucumber.
The next dish was straight from the forest - a goat milk pudding using milk from Jannei Goat Dairy near the Blue Mountains with a "floor" of young pine needles, caramelised turnip and buckwheat.
This delicate and precise dish was followed by a main of Barossa chicken roasted in Pepe Saya butter, joined by chestnut mushrooms, crisp potato "chips" and a cheddar emulsion.
Roast chicken has never tasted so good.
The restaurant's two sommeliers offer intriguing off-the-radar wine matches, from fresh and fragrant Logan Vintage 'M' Cuvee from Orange to a Small Acres Cyder Pommeau, a fortified cider, from the state's central west.
A final flurry of sweet dishes begins with a baked fig and a huge dollop of French-style cheese by Victoria's L'Artisan Cheese called The Mountain Man.
The grand finale was a pot of comforting, warm custard made from L'Artisan brie and served with soft cooked apple, honey and macadamias.
Now in it's second year, the Taste Of degustation menus and the restaurant's friendly, efficient service, are ensuring Cafe Opera is a drawcard for tourists and locals alike.
IF YOU GO:
Cafe Opera, InterContinental Hotel, 117 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW.
A Taste of Head to Tail runs from May 26 - June 21; A Taste of Foraged Feasting runs from July 14 - August 11.
Price: A$110 (NZ$118) for 5 courses, A$150 (NZ$162) with matching wines.