As a Sydney-sider who grew up a fair way away from the CBD, a visit to the city always felt like a special occasion to me. Whether it was to celebrate a birthday, play ‘tourist’ with overseas visitors or simply enjoy a day out together, my family always opted for Darling Harbour as our hangout of choice. My childhood is full of memories of strolls along the marina, playing in the iconic spiral fountain, movies at the IMAX, going to the ill-fated Sega World and eating hot chips on the steps outside the Harbourside Shopping Centre (seagulls always circling perilously above).
Over the last few years, Darling Harbour has undergone a huge refurbishment, giving one of Sydney’s most popular tourist precincts a more modern face. Gone are some of the buildings I’d have recognised in the past, including the IMAX theatre and the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. The area’s contemporary upgrades include a brand new IMAX theatre that’s set to open in late 2020, as well as the striking new glass-facaded International Convention Centre (ICC).
One of Darling Harbour’s newest restaurants, Planar, opened in 2018 and fits perfectly in-line with the precinct’s sleek new facelift. Found at the foot of the ICC, Planar is a modern Australian restaurant with an open-plan and clean, minimalist interior. Set back far enough from the main action of the marina, the restaurant allows for some respite from the Darling Harbour crowds while still offering spectacular harbour views.
I admired these views as I reclined in one of Planar’s huge, cushioned lounge chairs on a recent autumn evening. Although the nearby outdoor heater offered warmth, I decided I was in need of something extra to stave off the chilly weather. Cue Planar’s comprehensive beverage menu. The extensive range of wine, beer and spirits on offer is sure to satisfy any taste and preference, and the cocktail list delivers a blend of classics and creative new concoctions. My ‘Little Italy’ (Amaretto di Sironno, Aperol, Montenegro, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup, egg white) was a beautifully presented cocktail, but it was my friend’s ‘Berries Smoked Negroni’ (Gin, Campari, Chambord, rose water) that truly proved show-stopping. Arriving on the table in an opaque glass cloche, the drink was impressively revealed as the dome lifted and the swirling smoke within it disappeared.
Much like Planar’s drinks menu, its dining menus are extensive and varied, with options to suit any taste. The restaurant is open from 7am every day, and offers a casual breakfast menu. Lunch is served from 11:30am with even more options, plus there’s even a dedicated vegan menu.
Planar’s main lunch and dinner menu features an eclectic range of dishes of varied global influences, allowing you to effectively travel the world in one meal; start in Mexico with the bean nachos before heading to Italy for some stone-baked pizza or duck ravioli. Check out the States with the American pork ribs, or head over to Asia for some Singapore noodles. My friend and I didn’t travel too far, opting for the scotch fillet (cooked to perfection) and the generously-proportioned grilled barramundi.
With its spacious design, diverse menu and stellar location, Planar is an ideal option for family and group dining. It’s also an excellent addition to the revamped Darling Harbour, offering a fresh, contemporary and sleek dining option in the precinct.
Find out more: planarrestaurant.com.au
Shop C08, Ground Floor, ICC Sydney
Darling Harbour, Sydney, 2000
Photography by Guy Davies