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Aria plans wine bar transformation

Through rafts of restrictions, regulations and guidelines, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that venues operate across the country.

But it’s not just the operations themselves that have changed, it’s the consumer too, adopting different behaviours, desires, and in many cases, budgets. Venues Australia-wide are taking note, and we’ve seen some great things come out of innovating businesses along the way. 

One of the most recent changes announced comes from Sydney fine dining institution Aria, which officially reopens its doors in Circular Quay today. 

Although the premium restaurant reopens with its renowned offering and a menu that celebrates everything Aria has been about in its 20 years of operation, the team there have announced that change is coming. Later this year, part of the restaurant will become a relaxed wine bar, transforming Aria to suit the unique situation we face in 2020. 

With one of the largest and most awarded wine lists in Australia, the wine bar will feature more than 80 wines by the glass, and 1700 bottles. Unlike the usual Aria experience, guests will be able to pop in without a reservation for a drink and a snack. 

Matt Moran, Aria co-owner, said being in lockdown had caused the team to rethink what could be next for the restaurant, especially in the current climate.

“With over 30 per cent of our guests traditionally from overseas, we knew that in order to sustain Aria’s future we had to evolve our experience. That’s why we’re looking to launch Aria’s wine bar later on in the year,” Moran said.

Co-owner Anna Solomon added: “In the restaurant industry, you always have to evolve and in this current climate, change comes fast. The Aria wine bar concept is a great opportunity to show another side of this special place. It’s going to be a wonderful place to enjoy rare wines and watch the world pass by.”

Solomon and Moran will come together with Head Chef Joel Bickfor and Head Sommelier Alex Kirkwood to develop what they have described as a “fresh, laid back experience” that will pay homage to what has made Aria so successful for so many years – great food, wine, service and Australian produce.

Bickford said: “I’m looking forward to designing new dishes that can be enjoyed in a more relaxed setting alongside a cocktail or a few glasses of wine. The dishes we’ll put on the bar menu are a little more casual than what we’ve done in the past, but still use the same great produce and techniques our kitchen is known for.”

But for now, Aria is bringing its much loved fine dining experience back, and has reopened with a new tasting menu that compliments its extensive wine list, plus an a la carte offering. There’s no official word yet on when the wine bar will be added, but its expected in the next few months.

Alex Kirkwood in the Aria cellar
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