The lower those thermometer readings get, the harder it becomes to resist the urge to just rug up, Netflix and chill. Yet, as we’ve seen from the recent bout of reputable restaurant closures in the past few weeks, winter is the time when venues need our bums on seats more than ever. It’s a notoriously slow stretch and a hard slog for the hospitality industry this time of year, but that’s exactly why some of the best and the brightest in the biz have put their hands and minds together to lure you off the couch and into the dining room.
If you’ve got some EOFY funds left to burn, and you’re looking to splurge, then Quay is the place to do it. For July and August, Peter Gilmore is serving up an abridged five-courser that includes dishes from his signature menus for $195. Yes, that includes his new 'Moo' dessert that explores textures of Jersey milk in high-flying, fine-dining fashion. If this recently refurbished grand dame of Sydney dining has been on your hit list, this is definitely an invitation worth accepting, given the six- and ten-course options cost $225 and $285, respectively. The leather seats will be just as soft, and that Bridge-and-House panorama just as jaw-dropping.
The views are also just as captivating on a stool in front of the open kitchen at Firedoor in Surry Hills, where Lennox Hastie is turning his attention to vegetables for winter. He’s applying the same no-gas, just-fire technique and coaxing the best from the likes of cabbage, celeriac and pumpkin with nothing more than the open flames. Five plant-forward plates with a drink on arrival, too, sets you back just $100 until August 31 – a whole pineapple less than the chef’s menu.
Meanwhile, over in Chippendale, Clayton Wells is reviving some of his most talked-about dishes from years past at Automata (hello, steamed hapuka with dory roe emulsion). His ‘On the Fly’ menu scores you an entrée, main and dessert, with a few snacks to start for $65 – exactly half the price of the restaurant’s seven-course spread. At A1 Canteen, his all-day diner across the street, he’s taking a more relaxed approach, offering the comfort-seekers pasta and a glass of natural wine from the short, sharp list for 30 bucks. No filler here – we’re talking tagliatelle with pickled mustard greens, smoked feta and confit shallot business.
But perhaps the biggest deal is coming courtesy of online booking platform TheFork, which is slashing your food bill by 50 per cent when you book online at 65 Sydney restaurants for the next six weeks, until August 11. Luxe Italian long lunch on the north side at Pilu at Freshwater and Ormeggio at the Spit, perhaps, or dim sum at Queen Chow Manly? Ricotta hotcakes at Bills in Bondi? Some house-made charcuterie while you trawl the killer wine list at Monopole? They’ve got you covered.
Our advice? Go ham and eat out twice as often for half as much.
Want to save even more? These are the best cheap eats Sydney has to offer.