It’s not every day you see Gladys Berejiklian launch a restaurant.
Clad in red, the ribbon-cutting NSW Premier caused a ripple of excitement through the tightly packed attendees, many of whom were Armenian-Australians. Fellow politicians, the Hon. Natalie Ward MLC and Councillor Sarkis Yedelian, joined Berejiklian at the event.
The restaurant in question - Planar - carves out a space under the new International Conference Centre. It’s the latest outlet for Gary Simonian from Platinum Restaurant Group.
Simonian already owns a significant amount of restaurant real estate in Darling Harbour, with Harbour Kitchen & Bar, Blackbird, Casa, and Meat District Co. taking up prime positions on both sides of Cockle Bay.
The architecture of the restaurant works in well with the soaring concrete flyovers, framing the view of Darling Harbour in a uniquely angular way.
Cutting into our enjoyment of the space over-zealous International Conference Centre security made a militarized zone between the bar and outdoor seating (a mere metre and a half away) targeting anyone holding an alcoholic drink.
One can only hope their enthusiasm is curbed during Planar’s usual operation, as the space – despite serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner - definitely looks like it should be a dugout bar. The beverage list is extensive, and I’m told cocktail making classes are on the way.
Like Simonian's other Cockle Bay restaurants, the menu at Planar is wide-ranging, designed to please a wide variety of eaters. Across the course of the evening we were introduced a good portion of the dishes, starting with Crispy Squid ($16) with soft polenta, pesto, cherry tomato and fried shallots.
Ingredient quality was high across cubes of grilled wagyu and medium rare beef mince that was presented as patties with yoghurt sauce and pita bread in a dish called Acropolis ($16).
Effortless dough twirling in the open pizza kitchen captivated the attention of guests, including myself.
The culinary highlight of evening was the miniature versions of their Red Lobster Pizza ($28).
Even with sparingly applied toppings of fresh lobster, cherry tomatoes, chives, Italian cheese, and roasted garlic butter, these thin-crust mini pizzas really impressed.
After a quick fire in the gas pizza oven, they were dressed with fresh lemon zest and drizzled with aioli right before our eyes.
I look forward to heading back to Planar to give the menu a proper going over next time I'm in the neighbourhood for a show.
Tenancy C08, International Convention Centre
1A Harbour Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9212 6789