These Are the New Sydney Restaurants to Try Now

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Apr 18, 2018

by TRAVEL INSIDER WRITERS

Ete Restaurant

Every restaurant worth its salt these days is all about seasonal, regional produce. But Été takes the fresh factor to a whole new level. Along with the menu, it tweaks its interiors (artworks, cushions and, most importantly, a feature wall of flora) with changing seasons. Which means it might feel intimate and feature hearty food in winter but turn over a new leaf in spring with bright colours and light favours. The one thing that won’t change, however, is its name Été (which means summer in French). Seasons aside, Été offers a sensational take on French cuisine with timeless combinations such as confit duck leg and orange, pork and peach, and lamb and turnip appearing on chef and co-owner Drew Bolton’s (ex Quay) menu. The service is refined, the drinks list sumptuous and the dessert section not-to-be-missed. Try the crème brûlée with luscious, oozy fig (if it’s in season, of course). – Akash Arora
T1. 03. Tower 1, Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo; (02) 9052 5383.

Alibi

Let’s first address the most important questions. What’s the difference between plant-based and vegetarian food? The former is entirely, well, plant-based, while the latter uses dairy and other animal products such as eggs. That’s easy though. It’s the next one that left us in a whirl. What’s the difference between plant-based and vegan? The former is all about food, while veganism is a lifestyle. So a plant-based restaurant can use leather trimmings to deck out its interiors but a vegan eatery can’t. But of all the questions, this is the most crucial: Is plant-based food any good? In the case of Alibi – US celebrity chef Matthew Kenney’s eatery in Ovolo Woolloomooloo hotel’s atrium – it’s definitely interesting. And rather brave. There are no pretend-meat dishes here – no tofu trying to be chicken, or mushroom dressed up as beef. Each ingredient is comfortable in its own skin and even though the dishes sound familiar (pizza, tacos, burger, et al), they taste nothing like them. Lasagne, for instance, is layers of sliced zucchini and heirloom tomatoes, while cheeses such as cashew cheddar and macadamia ricotta give a new texture and taste to the smelly stuff. Is it interesting? Absolutely. Delicious? Yes. Is it for you? Go try it yourself. – Akash Arora
6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo; (02) 9331 9000

Image: Nikki To

Bar Patrón

A collaboration between Neil Perry’s Rockpool Dining Group and Patrón Tequila has seen the once-dreary space occupied by Café Ananas in Circular Quay transformed into a bright, breezy dining room, replete with glass, stone and plush leather. Chef Pamela Valdes, from Xalapa in the Mexican state of Veracruz, is the force behind rambunctious flavours in dishes such as aguachile (lime-, salt- and coriander-marinated prawns) and chiles rellenos en escabeche (stuffed, pickled jalapeños). She’s also responsible for overseeing thousands of feather-light tortillas made on site each day – they’re perfect for rolling up fillings that range from marinated flathead to skirt steak. But it is the flan napolitano – cooked, chilled, then drowned in a good measure of tequila – that brings the house down. That, or the Millionaire’s Margarita (priced at $100), with top-flight Gran Patron Platinum tequila! – Akash Arora
2 Phillip Street, Circular Quay; (02) 9259 5624

Seventeen

It’s hard not to slip into a daydream as you gaze out at the Walsh Bay finger wharves from your table, imagining one of the luxe boats bobbing gently on the water belongs to you. But you’ll quickly snap out of the reverie once your meal arrives in front of you at Seventeen. Opened in December 2017 by Clint Jaegar, an alumnus of Tetsuya’s and Bill’s, this 100-seat restaurant and deli reflects its waterside location in the interiors with sandy blond panelling and nautical touches and serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a selection of delicate cured meats and rich cheeses from the deli. The tight menu changes every six weeks or so but attention to detail remains the same: baby Angasi oysters come wrapped in a light tempura batter and precisely arranged in a six-strong line, while the size of the Huon salmon fillet would satisfy even the hungriest fullback. And if you’re lucky enough to call one of the nearby vessels or apartments your own, Seventeen offers a concierge food delivery. – Kate Barracosa
Shop 2, 17 Hickson Road, Dawes Point; (02) 9247 6790

Hartsyard

Hartsyard’s fried chicken might have been a Sydney institution but the introduction of a completely new menu in January, sans the battered bird, still draws eager crowds to Newtown. Come 8pm on a nondescript Tuesday, all but four spaces in the 50-seat restaurant were filled with patrons eager to scoop up as much of the seafood- and vegetable-heavy menu as possible. Hartsyard 2.0 is still based on sharing plates – five or six plates of varying size from the list of 12 dishes (plus two desserts) should be enough for a pair of dining companions – and though you might only cast an order with one or two words, each unlocks a dizzying array of flavours. “Tomato” is a bowl filled with tender wedges of the red fruit, plus charry calamari, torn basil leaves and crisp Korean bugak that shatters in your mouth. “Duck” features thin slices of the rich roast bird, drizzled with a pale vinegar jus and a sprinkle of crackling. “Corn” is American barbecue with an Italian twist: sweet kernels swirled with stracciatella and a generous dusting of Old Bay seasoning. Seriously impressive comfort food. – Kate Barracosa
33 Enmore Road, Newtown; (02) 8068 1473

Zona Azzurri

Specialising in wood-fired pizzas (cooked in just two minutes in the huge pizza oven) and family-style cuisine, the standout dishes at this Italian restaurant are the simple ones that allow flavours to shine: chunky pieces of gnocchi in rich tomato sauce, a prosciutto pizza decorated with generous dollops of cheese and a salad of fresh sliced tomatoes, basil and an enormous piece of olive oil-drizzled mozzarella. The restaurant is part of a cavernous warehouse space that also houses football store Ultra Football (the restaurant’s name is a nod to the Italian football team) but the moody lighting and impressive wine wall create intimacy. It technically opened two weeks before the New Year but we reckon it’s worthy of inclusion in your 2018 restaurant hit list. – Kate Barracosa
160 Bourke Road, Alexandria; (02) 9669 4741

Hopper Kadé

A street-side kitchen of sorts, where you can see hoppers deftly being turned out by chef Diago Fernandes, gives the game away as you enter Hopper Kadé. The bowl-shaped pancakes are namesake of this casual Sri Lankan eatery and they’re the reason why you should visit. Puffy, chewy and warm, the hoppers can be finished with or without an egg inside and pair perfectly with a range of fillings, from pulled pork to spiced chicken and beetroot curry. But the menu also includes a vegetarian biryani, which comes with a tangy assortment of pickle and coconut sambol, a cuttlefish salad served with fresh herbs, lime and papaya, and addictive eggplant chips. While the restaurant is only open for dinner four nights a week, brunch and lunch is served from Tuesday through to Sunday and is a single-handed, street-food style affair: think jaffles with a Sri Lankan bent, roti wraps and hoppers filled with tempting fillings. The chai tea and housemade mango lassi are both worth trying but the restaurant is also conveniently BYO. – Hana Jo
253 Crown Street, Darlinghurst; 0404 506 223

Bert’s Bar & Brasserie, Newport

Don’t let its location inside the casual sprawl of The Newport fool you – Merivale’s newest offering, Bert’s, is a world away from the carefully dishevelled crowd that frequents Sydney’s Northern Beaches. With interiors washed in soothing seaside colours of mint, jade-green marble and blond wood, the energy of Bert’s emanates from the arresting array of seafood piled on the counters. That mingle of élan and extravagance is what will set Bert’s apart from Merivale’s swelling portfolio. The starters may be dainty but they’re incredibly rich: there’s sea urchin stamped on brioche fingers slathered with chicken butter as well as pork and game melded pâté en croûte that, despite its small size, should be shared. The heartier dishes foray into lighter, fresher territory: the taglioini with lobster is staggering for its centrepiece of buttery crustacean alone and the Brooklyn Valley grass-fed beef will inspire an attitude against sharing. The whole NZ turbot comes with a side of waiters that make performance of bringing it down to size and luckily, the result is worth the flurry. Like most Merivale ventures, in fact. – Bridget De Maine
2 Kalinya Street, Newport; (02) 9114 7350

Mark & Vinny’s Spaghetti & Spritz

Blue tagliatelle? Beetroot spaghettini? A vegan egg yolk made from sweet potato? If this narrow restaurant can lay claim to one thing, it’s that you won’t forget the quirky pasta you’ve twirled around your fork in a hurry. The first Sydney outpost from the team behind one of Melbourne’s favourite hipster haunts, Matcha Mylkbar (of blue algae latte fame), it serves up sizeable pasta dishes spiked with superfoods and a selection of 50 variations of spritzes. The aforementioned blue pasta gets its hue from the blue spirulina that’s added to the pasta dough before kneading, and is served with chunks of blue swimmer crab and a stock made from the whole crustacean. The end result? It tastes of the sea. With the focus on the brightly coloured dishes, the interiors are kept necessarily simple: bare walls and pale wooden tables illuminated by the glow of a neon sign above the Aperol and Campari-loaded bar. If technicolour carbs really aren’t your bag, there are more traditional Italian dinners on the menu, including an eggplant parmi (though, granted, its made with soy mozzarella) or cacio e pepe spaghetti. – Kate Barracosa
G08, 38-52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9007 7789

Culina et Vinum

Married to an RAF squadron leader, chef Naomi Lowry’s grandmother lived all over Europe from the late 1940s to 2008 (when she passed away). And wherever she lived, she added recipes of that region to her hand-scribbled book. That tattered tome is now the basis of Lowry’s menu at Culina et Vinum – a small neighbourhood restaurant in Elizabeth Bay with a vast repertoire of dishes. There’s hearty gnocchi and risotto from little-known Italian towns and carpaccio from the Mediterranean shores but that’s not to say Lowry (ex Biota) hasn't giving those recipes and dishes her own distinct touch. While the scones, for instance, are based on her grandma’s recipe, Lowry smashes them up and serves them crumbled, with steamed ricotta and mascarpone pudding for a decadent dessert. Tying it all together is a succinct list of Old and New World wines developed by Abhi Mahadevan (ex Aki’s). – Akash Arora
Shop 1/19-23 Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay; (02) 9356 8307.

Top image: Beetroot spaghettini at Mark & Vinny's Spaghetti & Spritz

SEE ALSO: The Darlinghurst Restaurants and Bars You Need to Visit