Photographer: Brett Stevens

Sydney’s Bennelong Is One of the World’s Most Beautiful Restaurants

The Sydney Opera House’s newest restaurant, Bennelong, could easily have been a tourist trap. Instead, the redesign is an absolute stunner, and the kitchen is turning out exquisite, modern Australian fare.

  1. The Redesign

    The Redesign

    The Fink Group opened Bennelong at the Sydney Opera House about seven months ago in a breathtaking space newly redesigned by architect Tim Greer. The restaurant now has the grandeur and acoustics of a cathedral, in addition to some of the most spectacular views in town.

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  2. Prime Location

    Prime Location

    The restaurant is just one of the shell-like structures on Bennelong Point that make up the famous Sydney Opera House. The building was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who got the job when he won an international design competition in 1957. 

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  3. The Bar

    The Bar

    On a recent visit to Sydney (to review the Noma pop-up), we found Bennelong a comparably accessible luxury destination, bustling with a mix of serious business meetings, wide-eyed tourists, and dates, with all receiving warm, impeccable service. Just outside, visible through the massive windows, visitors from all over the world fixed their hair, steadied selfie sticks, and snapped pictures of themselves in front of the iconic building. The real view, though, is inside. 

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  4. Fresh Interiors

    Fresh Interiors

    French chef Guillaume Brahimi previously ran Guillaume here. Since then, stylish new tables made from brass and Marblo (a polymer-based hybrid material invented in the late 1970s) have been installed in the main dining room, along with cognac-colored lighting by Tom Dixon that seems to warm up all the bare steel and granite.

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  5. A New Chef

    A New Chef

    One of Australia's best-known chefs, Peter Gilmore, is now in charge of the kitchen. Gilmore, 47, is famous for his work at the fine dining restaurant Quay which overlooks the Sydney Opera House from just across the water. (His complex snow egg dessert, a fruity ice cream encased in a sphere of soft, poached meringue and wrapped in a fine lace of malt biscuit, is justly famous, too.)

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  6. Not a Tourist Trap

    Not a Tourist Trap

    The food at Bennelong is not what you'd expect at one of the city's biggest tourist magnets. It is beautiful, modern, and delicious, a celebration of local Australian produce, meat, and seafood, from Fraser Island's spanner crab to Hervey Bay's scallops. It's playful as well: Bennelong's version of the Australian cake known as the Lamington involves plenty of dark chocolate, sour cherry jam, and a halo of frozen, ethereal curls of coconut milk that melt in your mouth. (Noma, in town for just a few more weeks, riffed on the classic with bush tamarind.)

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  7. Casual Chic

    Casual Chic

    Although this is a special-occasion restaurant, a meal here is slightly less pricey and less elaborate than what you'll find at Quay. Fish might be served on the bone at Bennelong. And a whole head of pulled-apart lettuce with a bowl of warm potatoes dressed in anchovy butter might show up with your lunch. (Lunch is an excellent time to go; you can order a two-course meal for AUS$100). Seen here: a juicy slice of roast duck, dressed simply with miso butter and cabbage.

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  8. Chef’s Counter

    Chef’s Counter

    Bennelong includes a main dining room, a slightly more casual upstairs lounge in which you can order such snacks as Sydney rock oysters and hot lobster rolls, and a bar you'll never want to leave. Inside the gleaming, stainless steel kitchen, a small chef's counter faces the harbor. Although dining here means you miss out on the spectacular, soaring design of the main dining room, at night it affords a view of twinkling lights and boats sliding across the water.

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  9. Vegetable Mastery

    Vegetable Mastery

    Lamb and beef appear on the menu, but there's an emphasis on vegetables that are cooked masterfully, so they shine. Seen here: many kinds of local mushrooms, with grains and feta cheese.

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  10. New Kitchen

    New Kitchen

    The newly built kitchen downstairs is spotless and modern, just as you'd expect, complete with a custom MKN Kuchenmeister stove shipped from Germany (and seen at left).

    Photographer: Brett Stevens

  11. Modern Sydney

    Modern Sydney

    The Fink Group has signed a 10-year lease. Less than a year along, Bennelong has already proven to be one of the most elegant and successful businesses to operate in the history of this restaurant space.

    Photographer: Brett Stevens