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Cameron Stephens

Cameron Stephens

Articles (1)

The best Bloody Marys in Sydney

The best Bloody Marys in Sydney

A good Bloody Mary should be the turning point of any miserable day (or night). Surely, no other drink on earth can support, challenge, uplift and relax the soul quite like hard liquor wearing a bizarre cloak of dramatic, colourful, kinda-food items. Whether you prefer yours in the form of a thick Clamato-based Bloody Caesar, as refined and elegant as a Martini or just a no-nonsense classic, be sure to spring back up on the right foot with the help of these standouts. On the hunt for more cocktails? Check out our picks for the 50 best bars in Sydney right now, or if you're more of a beer fan, head straight to the source and knock a few back at one of Sydney's top craft brewery bars. 

Listings and reviews (12)

Little Red Robin

Little Red Robin

Like a canary down a coalmine, Little Red Robin was a brave forerunner for Lane Cove’s major redevelopments. It opened long before the massive Canopy development was built across the road, and relied on good old fashioned word-of-mouth to spread the news: This robin soars mighty high for a little bird.   There’s a charming degree of formality here in the service – the team exudes professionalism in the form of astute menu knowledge, high standards of presentation and a politeness in communicating that could impress the toughest of old-school European diners.  Don’t tighten your bib just yet, though. The cocktail menu showcases a sought-after habanero spirit from Empirical (Copenhagen), and there’s koji on your grass-fed beef. There’s Japan getting freaky with native Australian ingredients at every turn – a good sign that the team here are riding on the right side of the global post-Noma-ferments food curve. It’s a restaurant that knows how to use a range of influences to achieve a punchy and flavourful bar menu most of us could walk away from admitting we tried something new today. A regularly changing menu means you should arrive with an open mind, not an open instagram feed.  Owners Alessandro Nelli & Michelle Warren have clearly poured a lot of passion into this project, the relatively small space an opportunity to focus on the tiny details. Beautiful glassware and crockery adorn their positions in military alignment and the comfortable cushioned seating seems to absorb so

Little Livi

Little Livi

4 out of 5 stars

With its bustling narrow footpaths, perpetual construction projects and conga line of rattling buses, Broadway might take the cake for Sydney’s least fun pedestrian experience. Luckily, respite is now available for us – hark! Seek out the bucolic signage at Little Livi, a little cottage tucked just far enough down Mountain Street to remain a viable pit stop on a takeaway coffee rush.  Rest assured, your cuppa is in steady hands here. Ask the friendly partner/barista Amadeo Vasquez about his lateral involvement with various roasters, importers and brewers through his career, and you’ll come to understand he’s curated Little Livi’s coffee menu from a truly wide range of experience. Today’s super clean, vibrant filter coffee hails from Dukes in Melbourne, served in a bulbous glass for optimal sniffin’ and quaffin’. Bonus points awarded for Little Livi’s house blend being an actual house blend, designed by Vasquez himself. It’s rich and punchy through milk, and its syrupy honey sweetness intensifies as it cools.  Decent grab'n'go breakfast options are something of a rare find around here, so if you’re wondering why everything looks miles better than the cling-filmed banana breads of your past, it’s because partner/chef Daniel Leyva once headed the kitchen of the Bridge Room (RIP), and this fine-dining pedigree shines through in the visuals of every edible thing under the roof. An abundant pastry cabinet features artfully stuffed croissants, bagels (by Brooklyn Boy Bagels) and hou

Dopa Donburi and Milk Bar

Dopa Donburi and Milk Bar

4 out of 5 stars

Yep, Dopa’s short for ‘dopamine’, and it’s a clear sign that Devon boss Zachary Tan is aiming squarely at our nucleus accumbens. He established his penchant for luxury-grade café fare with Benedicts and croissants at Devon’s Surry Hills café (and subsequent Barangaroo and North Sydney siblings), but Dopa is all about the afternoon treats, featuring the sweet visions of collaborator Markus Andrew alongside Tan’s donburi bowls and other Tokyo-style snacks. Dopa is at once both retro and futuristic. Bar stools, timber and rounded edges remind us of a childhood milk bar, but set amongst the colourful lights and shiny surfaces at Darling Square, it feels like Back to the Future dressed in manga. Counter service means you’ll be jumping up and down to collect your own food, cutlery and drinks from different stations, and your wait in the queue depends heavily on how indecisive the people in front of you are. At least you can entertain yourself by watching the bar team whip up towering strawberry sundaes, plates of matcha-lashed profiteroles and glimmering bowls of kakigori – a dessert of shaved ice, syrup, fruit and ice cream. Order it first if you’re worried about saving room.  Donburi is not so much the star as it is most of the cast here – the menu boasts more than 20 rice bowl options, ranging from classic karaage chicken to high-roller fixins like urchin, Wagyu and foie gras. Your menu opens with a map of where ingredients hail from, a great indication of the behind-the-scenes

Cho Cho San

Cho Cho San

4 out of 5 stars

Wear something nice and dark if you visit Cho Cho San. Not because there’s a dress code, but because that tiny stain on your shirt will pop out like a Yayoi Kusama installation against the restaurant’s spotlessly white, bright, eye-popping interiors. George Livissianis won an Australian Interior Design award for this date-night cinch back in 2015 – how is it possible that these glossy painted brick walls and wooden designer chairs still look so polished and fresh after all these years? If Cho Cho San wanted to be a pretentious fine diner, it totally could be: it’s easy to imagine the air of exclusivity wafting into the antechamber as you anxiously wait to be seated. Instead though, this place hums with a fun and breezy energy – diners rub shoulders with bartenders along the concrete bar, where fun things like bright purple raspberry shiso slushies are slammed down alongside measures of top-shelf junmai sake, both of which hail from an ample and appealing drinks menu. The wine list features a very strong line-up of natural-leaning producers, with most bottles under the $100 mark. Take that, fine dining! Meanwhile, waitstaff trade jokes with one another as they relay a flurry of plates from the kitchen through the long space. It’s fast-paced and alive, just be prepared to compete for attention at times. When it comes to the cuisine, it’s come one, come all – the menu caters to a wide variety of diners, like a good izakaya should. You’d be a fool not to kick things off with edam

St Dreux

St Dreux

4 out of 5 stars

If this hole-in-the-wall café seems a little more ambitious than others, it’s because owners Raf Bartkowski and Ernest Igual were cracking beans long before you’d sipped your first piccolo. Long-time top brass at Campos, these two opened St Dreux as a flagship spot to showcase their multiple coffee blends, single origins and various brew methods, amassing quite a following thanks to their reputation in the coffee industry. Take a moment to admire the cutting edge of coffee brewing technology along the bar. There’s an Ubermilk, a unit that automatically dispenses pre-foamed milk. A puqpress, or automatic tamper. And, along with the offer batch-brewed filter and creamy, punchy nitro coffee on tap, these bits of kit lead to greater consistency and speedier service – music to the ears of the morning rush crowd.  Every coffee is presented with fanfare here, as drinkers receive information cards with each cup regarding origin, tasting notes and other terroir statistics. Show a little interest when ordering to get the rundown on different beans: our black espresso-based coffees are made with the Shepherd, St Dreux’s lightest blend, which has some fruited complexity and good acidity, while the batch brew of the day is a natural process single-varietal lot from the Volcan Azul estate in Costa Rica, which isn’t quite as exciting as it sounds. The milk coffee is the winner of the bunch, where the lingering flavour of brown sugar and Port in the Rainmaker blend really come to life. There

Nour

Nour

5 out of 5 stars

There’s a fantastical, cinematic element to Nour which starts charming you the moment you step off Crown Street and into the ballroom of pastel pink, soft-toned wood, splashes of light and a grand mirror that plays out a dramatic scene of open flames and acrobatic frypans from the kitchen opposite. Waiters confidently glide across the floor in a tempo that feels like it pulses throughout the whole room, all the way down to the movements of the chefs. This place is just as much professional theatre as it is a place to dine.  Here’s a fun challenge for you: try popping in to Nour for a quick meze without stumbling out three hours later, full to the eyeballs, having yielded to the menu’s seductive advances. The first hurdle you may hit is the eleven-strong cocktail list. Sceptics of arak, the popular anise-flavoured Levantine spirit, should order a fragrant-but-deadly Pommun, which skilfully knits the powerful aromas of lemon verbena, absinthe and apple together to showcase the firewater in a fresh light. Meanwhile, an Alfilfil enhances the Margarita framework with fennel, fresh chilli and a downright delicious spiced salt rim that’ll have you unashamedly licking the glass.  You may think that starting things off with a few innocuous-sounding fried cabbage skewers isn’t a big deal, but it is. Perfectly formed blocks of charred and juicy cabbage layers arrive impaled on what appears to be a sultan’s letter opener, dressed to the nines in a harissa emulsion and rose petals. If all

Noi

Noi

3 out of 5 stars

If you’re about to deck out a new kitchen, you’re going to want to Pinterest the illuminated finishes, every piece of curvy cutlery and all the handmade dappled ceramic crockery at Noi. The restaurant comes to us from the family of LuMi, Aqua Dining and Ormeggio at the Spit, all of which are leaders in the ‘fancy-but-welcoming’ subcategory of Sydney dining. And while Noi is no black sheep, it definitely feels like a stand-alone project from owner Anastasia Drakopoulos and head chef Alessandro Intini. Noi means ‘we’ or ‘us’ in Italian, and the cosy communal space indeed makes you feel like you could very much leave the comfort of your seat, wander up next to the pans and start chatting with the chef. The room is beautifully laid out, easy on the eyes with clever lighting and wooden surfaces that create a heightened sense of intimacy. Glimpse through the triangular window to a cellar heavily stocked with Italian vino, and consider starting with a Prosecco from Intini’s native Veneto, a great way to settle into the mood of – wait...is that the Red Hot Chili Peppers blasting from the speakers? Wild. An ornate wooden treasure box filled with a range of doughy breads – focaccia, baby rolls and grissini arrives to a guitar solo. The grissini are the highlight, infused with lemon verbena flavour that lingers. You get the sense that you’re in finer dining territory because the dishes are listed in that minimal ‘three elements separated by commas’ format. Faced with roughly a dozen cho

Dimitri's Pizzeria

Dimitri's Pizzeria

4 out of 5 stars

There’s a comforting effect that takes hold right away as you enter Dimitri’s, most likely brought on by a tidal wave of sensory warmth: caramelised aromas, a dark room alive with activity, red neon splashed across the entrance like opening credits by Ridley Scott. If you’ve been a fan since the Surry Hills days, maybe what you’re feeling is a sense of relief washing over you – hallelujah! They’ve retained all the charm of the OG Crown Street pizzeria and found room for a little more. Inside, tattoo flash sheets, tapestries of Sydney Harbour and the aesthetic candy of the Grifter Brewing Co’s branding melt into the brick walls like mozzarella – but your eyes will most likely be fixed on the mammoth wood oven. Clock the team dressed in competition-grade white uniforms, and the chef up front rescuing pizzas from the fire with a pole-vault-length peel. It looks intense, and hot. A glass of Grifter’s Serpent’s Kiss watermelon pilsner is a frosty, fitting way to cool down. A bunch of single-sheet menus are dropped on the table. Some of them feature drink specials, wines by the glass and just as many ‘Not Pizza’ items listed as pizzas. You might need something to nibble while you study up, so consider starting with some house bread, butter and garlic oil. It lands on the table looking like a freshly erupted volcanic boulder finished with a light snowfall of Parmigiano-Reggiano, with charry leopard spots on the outside and chewy, tangy sourdough within. Keep a plate of white and Ort

Bush

Bush

4 out of 5 stars

The hot chips? Crinkle cut. The sauce? Tomato. The greens? Optional. If that isn’t the Aussiest bloody thing you’ve heard since the Black Stump closed down, we’ll be stuffed. Grant Lawn’s first bricks-n-sticks venture is a confident step up from his market stalls (you may have seen him over at Young Henrys) – without overswinging the cricket bat.  Australians tend to cringe and shy away from depictions of their own culture, but this place feels like an honest celebration of the beauty and nostalgia of an Australian tuckshop in the ’90s. The benches in the rear courtyard look like they’ve been plucked straight out of your primary school’s quadrangle, ready for you to squash shoulder-to-shoulder with your buddies. There’s an art wall already covered in scribbles and artworks from guests that’s still a work in progress, so bring a texta and tag it before the bell rings. Take a moment to snap a photo of all the types of foraged branches and stuffed animals bringing life to the simple open kitchen. Send it to your homesick mate in London.  A cheeseburger is the drawcard menu item, which seems culturally dissonant, but go figure. It’s delicious, and we’re not complaining. Pause for that joyous moment when your fingers first clamp the pillow-soft bun and you really feel those caramelised crunchy edges on the patty within. Close your eyes as you bite down through pickles, melted cheese and sauce and listen to the pitter-patter of tangy burger sauce raining down on your plate (hopeful

Circa Espresso

Circa Espresso

5 out of 5 stars

Is it a garage sale? Is it a tiny art gallery? No! It’s the entrance to Parramatta’s celebrated café, Circa Espresso. For the three of you in Sydney who haven’t heard of it, this narrow space has been exemplifying café excellence since 2010. It really doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the full-page tea menu, the refined coffee program, real-deal baked goods or the go-to, destination-worthy dish of Ottoman Eggs – people here have clearly worked hard to ensure the options are all killer, no filler.  Owner Aykut Sayan is still here, front and centre – cheerfully greeting customers, running coffees out to tables, checking in with the chefs – and it feels like you’re a guest in his home. The shop’s layout places you in the middle of a narrow room amongst the (tiny) open kitchen and coffee bar. As you sit back and watch your whole order being prepared, soak in the old-timey paintings, posters, books and artefacts that line every wall. Don’t forget to clock those ornate ceiling fans above you, too. If you venture to the back of the space, you’ll find a quiet booth for a romantic date or a less romantic business meeting. Circa’s menu is seasonal, but always steered by flavours and textures of the Middle East. We’re talking about hearty, restaurant-level dishes at around $20 a plate. Value. Yes, you’re getting extraordinary value, especially considering the effort that goes into each individual component. Halloumi and cauliflower fritters are the opposite of mushy, and come thin a

Koku Culture

Koku Culture

4 out of 5 stars

“Sorry to interrupt, but which one is that?” asks a lady leaning across to a neighbouring table, pointing to a dramatically plated dish. Threads of red chilli and bonito flakes are dancing on layers of bacon, wok-fried eggs and okonomiyaki sauce. It’s comfort food back from student exchange. Hearing her question, other diners eagerly peer over their menus. The lady gestures back to her table and announces to the room: “We had the brûlée matcha pancakes. They were [opens hands for dramatic effect] amazing.”  A tiny café like Koku Culture brings strangers closer together, but an inventive Japanese-Australian fusion brunch menu is what gets them talking. All the Aussie breakfast benchmarks are here – bacon and egg rolls, smashed avo, granola – but they’re given a yuzu facelift here or a miso glaze there. And it feels like everyone’s on holiday; some folks are now discussing what they know about yuzu fruit as their forks compete for the soft centre of a house-baked muffin. At another table, a child squeals with delight as a babyccino arrives in style.  Owners Kenji Okuda and Donna Chau left the fast-paced kitchens of Billy Kwong and Lotus Barangaroo behind to open this neighbourhood spot on quiet little edge of Liverpool Road with no more than 30 seats. While the relaxed atmosphere might be the shift in gears they desired, this joint pumps every day of the week – so much so that a revolving front door might soon be necessary (and so might a few more floor staff). Up front is the

Southside Charmers

Southside Charmers

4 out of 5 stars

Don’t be fooled by the Hawaiian shirts, Southside Charmers means serious business. The brunch menu at this neighbourhood spot might be a little overwhelming at first pass (housemade shrubs, natural wines, dhal for breakfast!?), but relax – you’ve got attentive service and a vibrant room full of eye-candy to put you at ease. Anne Cooper and George Woodyard, the hands and minds behind nearby Bart Jr, were clearly keen to pay subtle homage to the site’s past life as the beloved Eathouse Diner. (The familiar “Eat Here” sign still hangs outside.) The interior, however, has been hit by a troppo hurricane of palm fronds, fresh fruits, pastels and neon. Be sure to feast your peepers on the wall of Mexican crosses and splashes of artwork as you take your seat. The menu predominantly features 'breakfast all day' dishes, with a few lunch items well-suited to the takeaway crowd. Thursday through Saturday nights you can slide on in for dinner, too – a move no doubt inspired by the success of Bart Jr. Just about every dish is offered with suggested additions, making it dangerously easy to splash out if you’re with a group (or if, like us, you simply struggle with self-control). Words like ‘caramelised pear brioche’ leap from the page, hoping to join your party as a plus one. The food manages to max out on colours and textures without feeling like it was designed for social media. Ingredients hug each other in bright bundles: vivid orange egg yolks run over house-smoked salmon, with handful