Invariably, whenever you go to an event in the Botanic Gardens, there is the question of where to eat. Nowhere is particularly nearby, so it’s handy that Opera Australia have teamed up with Fresh Catering to set up a restaurant onsite at the venue itself. It’s called the Platinum Club, and it’s a fully sheltered restaurant with fancy waiters and proper plates just at the far end of the stage. Let’s get this out of the way: yes, it’s expensive. A three-course meal with wine is $235 a head (the entire degustation, excluding wine, at Quay just around the Harbour, is exactly the same price). But you can’t knock the guys for convenience.
The menu is Chinese-themed this year, to reflect the Beijing setting of Puccini’s Turandot. The mixed-plate starter includes creamy, garlicy shrimp rillettes, savoury duck salad and tender drunken chicken. There are vegetarian options on every course, but for mains we can’t look past the softly cooked barramundi with fried rice flecked with lobster and butter sauce heady with black beans. There’s a green tea pav for pud and unlimited wine throughout the evening.
Don’t want to go the full fancy meal? There’s also a buffet in the Platinum Club replete with many of the dishes included in our starter for $125 a head, which also includes wine. Got a sweet tooth? You can pop into the Platinum Club at halftime to gorge on Chinese sweets including green tea macarons and Hong Kong custard tarts (they’re like the Portuguese ones). You get a glass of sparkling too, and all in all it costs $60.
For $25 you can gain access to the bar area of the restaurant during the interval and order some snacks to keep you going for between $8-$18. And of course, there are always the Chinese-themed, cheaper food outlets onsite, with dishes like pork spare ribs and popcorn chicken available at Northern Cantina, and a bao station at the Qantas Garden Bar. If you can tear yourself away from the fancy surrounds of the Platinum Club, that is.
Read Time Out's full review of Turandot here.