The best new restaurants Sydney has to offer
Lankan Filling Station such an exciting prospect. They’ve set up the menu like a spicy Duplo set, and you decide what kind of meal you want to build, marking your order on the white paper menu. It also means that you can genuinely get out of here for under a $50 if you order right. For small appetites there are snack-sized hopper sets or hopper bowls, but if you’re here to conquer the menu order the full-sized curries with as many hoppers on the side as you can take.
The char koay teow here is spectacular: even more so if you add plump king prawns grilled with their heads on to the mix of juicy chinese sausage, bean sprouts, egg, green onion and charred flat rice noodles wearing wok breath like a heady perfume. You do not have the home skills to elevate instant noodles to the kind of lofty flavour ranks they achieve with the indomie, whose curly noodle strands are stained a glossy chestnut by the housemade black sauce and capped with a soft fried egg.
The delicious is in the detail at Juan, the compact Japanese diner in Redfern where there are only four main meals to choose from. Go with a friend and you’ve tried 50 per cent of the menu – a stat that allows little chance for food envy to kick in. Each bowl is an elaborately constructed meal for one, with more flavour layers than a lasagne, accompanied by the kind of meticulous presentation normally reserved for minor dignitaries.
If Clayton Wells’ newest dining venture is a canteen, then it must have travelled here from some utopic future where the word canteen doesn’t carry with it the suggestion of pies, strawberry milk and iced doughnuts. And yet there is something distinctly utilitarian about the Automata chef’s second space on Chippendale’s tightly packed dining hub on Kensington Street.
People get a look on their face when they walk into Goodbye Horses, the little terrace café on Summer Hill’s high street. It’s relief, mixed with a little anticipation. They’ve come here to hide out with coffee, newspapers, and breakfast, and they’ve brought their dogs and babies with them. It’s the mark of a really good locals’ haunt – that feeling of oasis, where the daily grind can be delayed until after your Single O coffee has been drunk.
When Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart took their much loved fried chicken off the Hartsyard menu to make way for a raft of excellent veggie-focused dishes you could have bottled the tears of fried food lovers across Sydney. But luckily, that famous chicken has gone from a signature menu item to being the star of a tricked up fried chicken diner.
How do you convince a town whose bachelor degrees are powered by six-dollar Thai that they should pay $36 for a Panang curry? Serving it inside a room that looks to be moonlighting as a European wine bar is a good start. Elegant restraint is the design brief here but the bar sends the clearest message about the intentions of this upscale riff on Thai dining.
New bars keep popping up in the inner city, but a decent, roomy, affordable afterwork venues that caters to broad tastes are in short supply in the CBD. That is why the expansive Verandah Bar in Martin Place getting a complete makeover is such welcome news.
In many ways Yan looks just as serviceable, with big glass walls looking into a plain white room. Turns out they’re channeling all their creativity into the food.The dishes getting the smoky treatment in the oven are the four big hitters on the protein scorecard, and three quarters of them are ribs: lamb, pork and beef.
This 14 seat neighbourhood cafe is run in part by Daniel McNeill, a former owner of John Smith in Waterloo and Fossix in the CBD. The outdoor seating is a prime spot to soak up some rays on a sunny day, but when the weather is gloomy, retreat inside where super-friendly staff will arrange sparkling water and offer blankets to stave off the winter
Newtown’s main strip is a destination for a devotedly authentic Hunanese restaurant with blazing exotic peppers and unfamiliar Stew, aware of the steep learning curve faced by many diners, took a leaf out of Japan’s lavish replica-food displays, setting up a full spread of their best dishes by the counter for maximum visual assistance. In lieu of staring quizzically at a sparingly translated menu, newcomers can simply point and pick.
Right in the heart of this new dining haven is a white-tiled lunch spot, where Robyn in on the stereo and Vietnamese is on the menu. Don’t you dare pre-snack because you’ll need every inch for the banh xeo. Those titular, lacey-edged, coconutty pancakes in a luminous turmeric gold envelope contain a core of pumpkin, corn, crunchy pig’s head nuggets or barbecued lemongrass chicken. Break it up, add pickled onion, carrot, fresh shiso and mint leaves, and ferry the lot to your mouth in rafts of cos lettuce.
If it does not swim, crawl or breathe under the sea, it’s not on the menu here. And frankly, we love Saint Peter for its singular focus. There is no dilution of the core tenet, no reluctant steak for people who are funny about fish. Hell, event their brunch menu is a pescatarian dream with smoked eel served on pikelets and uni on crumpets.
This Dulwich Hill café is a local pit stop for flat whites, filter coffees and focaccias. Sam Terrey, an ex-Mecca staffer, runs a one-man show, simultaneously playing the roles of owner, barista and baker of the daily fluffy slabs of high GI bread, complete with an oven-blistered crust and a sprinkle of salt. It’s like a big, warm pillow and all savoury dishes from the eight-dish menu are served in, with, or atop it.
What’s in a cheeseburger gyro? Take one beef patty and wrap it up in soft pita bread with American cheese and bacon. And because it’s Greek, add a load of crumbled feta. You’ll find it at Niko’s Kitchen in Dulwich Hills. Its reopening was rejoiced by locals after the first venue closed in Kingsgrove.