Mar 10, 2017
As we await some very exciting restaurant launches in 2017, in Sydney a swag of excellent eateries have already opened their doors. We headed to dining rooms around the city to sample 2017’s early offerings.
By Sarah Maguire
Dinner at The Provincial begins with the summer zing of passionfruit and ginger jelly on a Sydney rock oyster, accompanied by an Aperol spritz at a pre-dinner perch on a Chesterfield lounge. Inside this Inner West restaurant on the ground floor of Union Place, an apartment complex in Rozelle, Sydney suburbia meets rural France. The Provincial has a European menu that’s all about local produce and the Parilla, a smokeless grill of Argentinian origin on which everything from whole snapper to pork chops are cooked using fragrant iron bark and fruit tree wood charcoal. At the table, dishes include juicy barbecued quail with a salad of grapes, sumac and pistachio accompanied by heirloom tomato salad lifted by a scattering of goats cheese and crunchy almonds. For mains, watermelon salsa atop the succulent Wagyu Short Rib is a cool, clever foil to the smoky barbecue sauce hiding underneath. Dessert – marinated strawberry done three ways with basil ice-cream on top – astounds, not only for the complexity, presentation and taste, but for the damage. At $13, we’re talking suburban prices for thoroughly cosmopolitan cuisine.
Union Place, 124 Terry Street, Rozelle; (02) 9818 4411
Born by Tapavino
By Kate Phillips
One of the latest additions to the booming restaurant scene at Barangaroo, Born by Tapavino – from the same team at Balcón by Tapavino and Tapavino – offers casual Spanish waterside dining with a buzzing ambiance. Share plates are uncomplicated and designed to show off the produce. It’s hard to go past the extensive jamón bar to start – spiced cherries and goats curd or salted honeydew melon are great accompaniments. Next, select from share dishes devised by executive chef Renee Anderson such as kingfish cruda, served with charred peppers and caper salt, and the roast chicken with sidra, green almonds and broad beans. The drinks list? As expected, it’s extensive and Spanish. Staff will talk you through the wine and sherry offerings and tailor the drop to your dishes of choice.
9a 17 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo; (02) 8072 7387
SEE ALSO: Where to Find Sydney’s Best Desserts
Devon Café Barangaroo
By Jessica Irvine
With its blonde wood interiors and blue-and-white spliced walls, Devon Café at Barangaroo does a good impersonation of a beachside haunt. And while Sydney Harbour is just steps away, the game is up after a quick look at the menu. Yes, you can get the standard Aussie breakfast of eggs, bacon, avo and tomatoes here, but Devon’s standout dishes set this apart from your run-of-the-mill eatery. Offerings here have a strong Asian influence – think Breakfast with the Sakumas, which is something of a Devon signature and demands a spirit of adventure as far as breakfast meals go: miso marinated king salmon, eel croquette and a “63 degree egg” (meaning the egg has been slow-cooked at just 63 degrees so it’s super runny). It’s a mostly young and cool crowd here, and a quick glance around suggests no meal passes the lips without an iPhone snap being secured first. It’s hard to begrudge the social media fixation given the precise presentation of the food and unique approach to staples. The DD Special is a case in point: hot chips with a side of soft-serve. Try the matcha flavour – the sweet and silky ice-cream perfectly offsets the crunchy, salty goodness of the fries.
Shop 19, 200 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo; (02) 9262 4660
SEE ALSO: The Best Places for Breakfast in Sydney
Bistro Moncur, Mosman
By Steve Taylor
Like the exquisite soufflés that bookend its menu, the new iteration of Bistro Moncur on Sydney's Lower North Shore is a dazzlingly engineered pocket of sunshine and substance. This culinary conservatory has popped like a Monet sketch from the bones of Mosman’s old Buena Vista Hotel (it's now, simply, The Buena) and offers simple but serious tucker from the imaginative palate of star chef Guillaume Brahimi. Perfect steaks recline under a velvet blanket of melting beurre. Crafted pork snags snuggle up to a cloud of mash. An artfully curated drinks list launches with signature cocktails, glides into some spectacular wines and puts the brakes on with a dazzling range of ports, sherries and cognacs. Come for the French onion soufflé, stay for the mango soufflé and wonder why everything in life can’t be so light and rewarding.
76 Middle Head Road, Mosman; (02) 8287 2968
Love Fish Barangaroo
By Akash Arora
Why settle for just seafood when you can have sea views, too? With that in mind, make your way to Love Fish Barangaroo – the new outpost of the longstanding Rozelle restaurant – perched right by the water in Sydney’s burgeoning new dining district. Romesco-laced Clarence River school prawns and Patagonian toothfish with mushroom “custard” are the indisputable stars from the menu’s small-plate section, while the pancetta-topped mussels doused in apple cider and black-garlic oil is our favourite among the main courses. The wine list, with about 45 Australian and New Zealand drops, is just as impressive as the food and so is the service – friendly yet courteous, brisk but not rushed, even on a busy Sunday afternoon when every table was taken and the queue was out the door.
Wulugul Walk, 7/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo; (02) 8077 3700
By Alex Greig
Chippendale’s restaurant precinct grows apace, the latest addition a cross-culinary mash-up with Michelin pedigree in The Old Rum Store. Executive chef Stanley Wong, whose career has seen him tend stoves in Hong Kong and the Michelin-starred Jean-Georges in New York, has devised a menu that’s more interesting than your average steakhouse. The curious blending of Japanese flavours and New York grill finds harmony on the menu at Eastside Grill. A wedge of iceberg creamy with gorgonzola dressing, salty bacon and soft egg says America, while a delicate sashimi of Hiramasa kingfish with nashi, jalapeno and hazelnuts whispers of somewhere more exotic. But it’s the Japanese white charcoal grill that’s the main event here. From its scalding surface sizzle tender cuts including Ranger’s Valley Black Angus Scotch steak and Skull Island tiger prawns. Sides such as truffled mac ‘n’ cheese vie for attention alongside a Black Angus Beef tenderloin, while the tanginess of smoked apple and fig chutney is a pleasing prelude to the sweet heaviness of bourbon-brined pork chops. The aesthetic is Meatpacking District meets Chippo backstreets (note the giant graffiti mural by street artist Caratoes) and the wine menu is a curated line-up of hits from the Old and New worlds plus a truncated list of topnotch saké.
2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale; (02) 9212 0900
By Akash Arora
This bistro-style eatery – with vast floor-to-ceiling windows, a marble bar and industrial-style tables – is tucked at the back of the second floor in Circular Quay’s brand-new gourmet food court, Gateway Sydney. Buenos Aires-born chef German Sanchez – who spent several years in Italy – is at the helm at Popina Kitchen so expect a menu brimming with meats, cheeses and unabashed Mediterranean influences. The lamb backstrap and ricotta ravioli with crushed pistachio is a lipsmacking example of this confluence of cultures. So, too, is the beef sirloin: crumbed Milanese-style and served with escabeche vegetables and soft-boiled egg. But do leave some room for dessert, too – the dulce de leche mousse served with coconut ice-cream alone is worth a visit.
Level 2, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney; (02) 9247 6446
Blanca Bar & Dining
By Craig Fordham
The latest addition to Bondi’s bustling dining scene is a Japanese-inspired tapas restaurant helmed by a top Finnish chef and an Australian rising star – Blanca is so very Bondi. Tomi Björck and Samuel Cole met in the kitchen at Quay in Sydney and both went on to great things – Björck establishing a burgeoning restaurant empire and appearing as a judge on MasterChef in Scandinavia, while Cole worked at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner in London and as a head chef on board luxury yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. What started as a conversation between the aspiring chefs over a beer in Barcelona some years ago has transpired into a fresh and exciting revamp of the former Ribs & Burgers site at The Hub dining precinct on Hall Street. The hero dishes of the share menu deftly meld contrasting flavours and textures, such as the soft black bun with crisp soft-shell crab and the aged raw beef wrapped in a sesame leaf. From the larger dishes, grilled Fremantle octopus and pork ribs in miso caramel stand out. Drinks-wise, the menu is a protracted list of cocktails, European and local wines and, of course, Japanese whiskies and sakés. The split-level diner is intimate, with a minimalist monochrome interior of textured walls and warm lighting – a burger joint this ain’t.
4/75-79 Hall Street, Bondi; (02) 9365 2998
Lotus Dining Barangaroo
By Tessa Penny
Lotus Dining’s third Sydney restaurant, like its predecessors, promises modern Chinese cuisine blended with native Australian ingredients. Dishes showcase a variety of local herbs and plants, such as butterfly pea flower and crystal ice plant – some which are sourced from the restaurant’s outdoor garden. With a strong focus on seafood, chefs Chris Yan and Kenji Okuda (both ex-Billy Kwong), deliver a finely crafted menu of classics with a twist such as duck pancakes with mandarin and miso; and calamari with salt and native pepper, plus fresh lobster fished from an on-site tank and wok-fried with XO sauce. Standouts include tasty mussels with Tsing Tao, Chinese ham and lemon myrtle; and wok-fried garfish with ginger and shallot. The cocktail list is lively with refreshing infusions such as Spring Garden Gin (mint, summer pea, garden herbs, cucumber) and there’s a well-curated wine list of aromatics from local and overseas producers, all picked to complement Chinese flavours.
Shop 8/9 Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo; (02) 8318 3688
Olio Kensington Street
By Akash Arora
Housed on the top floor of Chippendale’s lovingly restored Old Rum Store, Olio is a labour of Lino Sauro’s love. The Italian chef comes from a family of Sicilian farmers obsessed with two things: fresh seafood and olive oil (grown and pressed on their own fields). The menu revolves around them (the olive oil is, in fact, imported from Saura’s family farm in Sicily) with dishes such as chargrilled-calamari salad with a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette and homemade ravioli with king prawns, black truffle and burrata sauce. Enjoy an Aperol spritz on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace with views of the lively Kensington Street precinct before making your way into the dining room, with its exposed brick walls and expansive windows. Stay for the last course, too – the semifreddo nougat parfait with toasted-almond sauce is a must.
Level 2, The Old Rum Store, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale; (02) 9281 1500
By Vanessa Frey
Bored with the usual chill spots? Follow the cool crowd to Woolloomooloo’s Frisco Hotel and kick back with more-ish snacks (popcorn shrimp, anyone?) and cocktails while catching sun-kissed views of Sydney’s other famous waterfront. Recently relaunched, this heritage pub has had a nautical but nice refurb that trims original Federation-era features with bright, modern blue-and- white interiors decked out in timber for a warm and welcoming feel. The menu leans heavily towards sea fare. There’s a deftly prepared sushi and sashimi board and finger-lickin’ food: creamy lobster with lemon mayo on a brioche roll, say, or the fish taco with pickled ginger and nam jim cupped in crisp lettuce. The surprise dish, though, is squid-ink calamari – deceptive black-tempura nuggets that look like they should be thrown overboard but turn out to be delicious little morsels. It’s clever cooking by head chef Adam Park, who also pleases the palate with sophisticated dishes such as grilled salmon with shiitake and enoki mushrooms and his special miso sauce. Curated in suitably hip fashion, the beverage lists feature so-hot-right-now orange wine, craft cider and cocktails like the gin-spiked Sailors Mistress. It’s not the standard pub grub at Frisco but it’s food (and drink) that makes you very happy. Let the good times roll.
46 Dowling Street, Woolloomoloo; (02) 9357 1800
Bouche on Bridge
By Sarah Maguire
Make sure to arrive early at Bouche on Bridge in Sydney’s CBD. Descend the staircase at your left into the subterranean bar, pull up a stool and acquaint yourself with this establishment’s sustainable ethos via a cocktail. Some of the ingredients in bartender Matt Linklater’s creations come from the kitchen leftovers, like the strawberry pulp that’s been turned into the fruit strap perched in my gin-based Strawbedo. One hardly seems enough but it’s time to return upstairs to the mood-lit surrounds of wood and whitewashed brick. Executive chef Harry Stockdale-Powell, formerly of Rockpool – he co-founded Bouche on Bridge with Emma Darrouzet – creates modern-European fare with a zeitgeist emphasis on niche ingredients from Australian farmers. The service is impeccable yet easygoing as we dine on cubes of wallaby tartare scattered with radish slices and luscious pink lamb fillets atop swirls of romesco, a Spanish sauce of nuts and capsicum. Parmesan ice-cream by itself is a flavour shock yet, combined with mouthfuls of almost toffee-sweet eschalot tarte tatin, comes into its own. It’s a main-course dish that shows derring-do. Bouche on Bridge is one to watch.
6 Bridge Street, Sydney; (02) 8278 9400