Five star Sydney restaurants
“By God, this is a beautiful place to eat a meal.” The thought is almost certain to strike at some point as you dine under the dominating, post-Brutalist arches of executive chef Peter Gilmore's new restaurant inside the Opera House sails. And that’ll be before you even see the food. There are four ways to eat here: the restaurant downstairs; the cured and cultured section up a floor; the bar at the top, and if you’re in for a clean $650 per head, the chef’s table situated within the stunning, custom-designed kitchen. We’ve reviewed three of them (because who’s got $650 to spare? We’ll hop on a flight to Fiji instead), so you can make an educated choice as to how you’ll dine at one of the most celebrated locations in the world.
When it comes to essential Sydney dining experiences Billy Kwong should be top of your list. The food here is a fusion of Chinese and native Australian cuisine, cooked by one of our most beloved celebrity chefs, Kylie Kwong. You can get saltbush cakes and steamed mini pork buns where the meat has been marinated in local honey from the Wayside Chapel’s rooftop beehives. For mains, the red-braised wallaby tail is a fail-safe bet with a side order of native greens.
Paul Carmichael has brought about a new age for this restaurant – one that is more exciting than it has ever been. Don’t assume that because Momofuku is a Japanese word (it’s actually the name of the man who invented instant ramen) that this is a Japanese restaurant. Carmichael was born in Barbados, and his Caribbean upbringing shines in his food, matched with the most interesting beverage list we’ve seen in ages by sommelier Ambrose Chiang. It’s degustation only, with 14 courses including snacks, so be prepared for a marathon of food.
There are many things to love about this bunker restaurant and the fact that it is really affordable at $45 for five courses at lunch and $98 for 11 courses at dinner (including snacks) is one thing. That the food is beautiful to look at, and even better to eat, is another. And there’s also that feeling you get when you’re scaling the stairs to below street level, chic Nordic wooden furnishings all around, Ella Fitzgerald on the stereo, staff only too keen to make you comfortable. It’s just a lovely place to be.
Peter Gilmore’s fine diner sets the benchmark for special occasion dining in Sydney. Its location across the sparkling waters from the Opera House is a big selling point, as is the famously formal and deeply considered service. The food, though, is anything but old hat. The mud crab congee has been on the menu for 13 years for a reason; it’s a Gilmore classic. Raw, hand-dived scallops are paired with mountain kabu turnips; supple Sommerlad chicken breast with brioche cream; and Australia’s most famous dessert, the Snow Egg, is a meringue globe filled with feijoa ice cream, encased in a crisp, caramelised shell that tastes of fairy floss.
Are vegetables the future of food? Yellow certainly seems to think so, which is why this lauded dining institution shocked their regulars by going vegetarian. But this is a team with the moxie and skill to pull off plant-based fine dining without breaking a sweat. The crowd here is younger and hipper than before. These are people who care about where their food comes from and are eating to reflect that.