Explore the city's food culture
If you’re planning to see something at the lavish State Theatre, why not really live the high life and preface it with a meal 300 metres in the air? 360 Bar and Dining is offering a pre-theatre, fine-dining classic for $55 per person. Try chef Elton Inglis’s take on surf’n’turf, which features Rangers Valley rump steak, Crystal Bay prawns and a native pepper hollandaise sauce. It’ll fortify you for any marathon theatre you're attempting during Sydney Festival.
Those heading toward harbourside culture hubs like the Roslyn Packer Theatre should stop in for a Mediterranean feast at Bopp and Tone. This $55 degustation features all the bold chargrilled dishes and fresh seafood the restaurant has become known for, but in reserved portions so you can have a taste of everything. Move from a cobia kingfish crudo with a tingling infusion of grapefruit to baked mozzarella, fried dukkah-spiced cauliflower, a smoky paprika spatchcock and grass-fed Brooklyn Valley rib-eye steak. It’ll stop you longing for a snack during intermission, but won’t leave your stomach aching.
The only thing better than the Sydney Harbour views in this well loved dining destination is the fabulous seafaring menu. The expert service crew will bring you an elegant à la carte meal before you experience the grandeur of a Sydney Opera House performance. Ride flavour waves with their freshly shucked Sydney rock oysters, Moreton Bay bugs and the Humpty Doo barramundi. Or focus all your attention on the black Angus tenderloin with a Café de Paris butter. There are also fabulous vegetarian options like the Jerusalem artichoke risotto with mascarpone cream.
Whether you’re in Parramatta at a Riverside Theatre production or smack-bang in the CBD checking out the Sydney Town Hall program, you can still enjoy an award-winning Chinese fusion feast before the show. Chefs Gallery has both Parramatta and CBD setups where $30 will score you a fabulous two-course dinner and a glass of wine. There are two entrées of varied dumplings to choose from and three different mains to make a call on. But whatever road you take, it’ll be a good one.
If it’s beef you are after, make a beeline to Chophouse Parramatta. They’ve got Jack’s Creek, Rangers Valley and Riverine premium cuts across their range of on-site dry-aged tomahawks, sirloins and eye fillets. There’s also other options from land and sea like the fresh prawns, seared tuna steak and herb-roasted chicken, as well as some top veggo dishes – cauliflower schnitzel is your go-to. You’ll need to check with the venue to discover what their special $55 dining experience offers, but we’d recommend a bold glass of shiraz to accompany this punchy menu.
The list of fantastic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants in Western Sydney is a mile long, but El Phoenician sits happily among the best of the bunch. During Sydney Festival, they’ll be treating diners to a magnificent platter (to be shared between two) showcasing their favourite dishes. You’ll want a dollop of hummus and baba ghanoush on each bite of the lamb kofta, the spicy makanek and the marinated skewered chicken. The platter costs $55 per person, which includes a glass of wine to match the feast and a petite baklava dessert.
Headed to a show in Millers Point? Endeavour Tap Rooms is on some prime real estate in the Rocks, meaning you won’t have to journey far from the box office for their $55 banquet menu. It kicks off with a beer from their taps pouring local craft brews and exciting Aussie varieties, before you mix dips of harissa eggplant with grilled goats halloumi and pistachios. The smoked chicken wings are always a crowd-pleaser, and the mystery meat board will be another smoky delight.
This bustling dining room is housed inside QT Sydney hotel, also the unlikely location for intimate Sydney Festival performance Biladurang. This is quite literally the most convenient place to dine before the show, and perhaps grab a drink afterwards (the State Theatre is just next door too). Gowings Bar and Grill is offering a $55 two-course menu for the Festival Feasts program. They’ll be showcasing their fresh Australian ingredients and hot grilled dishes with their barbecued asparagus and broccolini starter and seared Atlantic salmon main with a basil salad that is a punch of savoury freshness.
Indu offers modern and exciting South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. They give you room to move on their special Sydney Festival menu, offering a choice of three different dishes for the two courses, as well as a choice between sides. For $55, you can colour your dosa with a fragrant masala eggplant or tender goat curry, then crunch into the market fish with string hoppers. The vegetarian options here are delightful and the whole feast will cure your hankering for spongy dosa and complex curries.
Sharing is the name of the game here at Kid Kyoto, where they’re slinging contemporary Japanese cuisine. The izakaya-style restaurant and bar has organised a degustation dinner of four courses at $55, where you get to choose between unusual fusion dishes. While their sleek sashimi and innovative pressed pork hocks will impress fine dining fans, you’ve got to be ready for a bit of grunge at this joint. Punk-rock and heavy ’90s tunes will be your dining soundtrack, and they’re channelling a bit of a rebellious attitude by adding delightfully untraditional accents and risqué names to classic dishes.
Named after the WWII fighter plane, Kittyhawk is in the ideal location for a meal after visiting the Sydney Opera House or the Art Gallery of NSW. It would simply be an affront not to kick off the festivities with one of Kittyhawk's highly acclaimed cocktails or a drop from their Champagne list, and then round out the dining component of the evening with Parisian classics like the king of cheese and ham toasties, the croque monsieur, or a chargrilled steak frites. Inquire about their $55 offering once you’ve scored a table.
This Roman wine bar and osteria sits inside Sydney’s sparkling Victorian-era shopping arcade. Exit La Rosa’s extravagant dining room, wander through the illustrious halls of the Strand, and you’ll soon stumble upon a show or display at the State Library of NSW, Sydney Town Hall and City Recital Hall, all which are within a ten-minute stroll. La Rosa’s $55 Festival Feasts meal includes two courses – try the frittura di calamari or one of their pasta dishes, all made fresh daily – and a glass of carefully selected red or white wine.
If you’re exploring the festival with a collective of creatives, you should head to Madame Shanghai to debate the merits of the musicians featured at the Art Gallery of NSW’s Masters of Modern Sound. The restaurant’s street food-style menu is designed for sharing and their special offering during Sydney Festival can be adapted to suit groups of any size. It features a family of dumplings, soft-shell chilli crab, kingfish sashimi and wok-fried pepper beef with mushrooms. It’s going for $55 per person and includes a glass of wine or beer to fight any fiery flavours.
Carriageworks really produces the goods during Sydney festival – there are free creations to explore like the stunning art installation Nick Cave: Until, and the mythical, surrealist world in Siti Rubiyah. And for extra bonus points, Misfits is just across the rail lines, honouring creatives past like Twiggy and AC/DC in their eclectic, neon-lit restaurant bar. For their $30 Festival Feasts special, they’re doing a wonderfully flaky fish of the day: a pan-roasted mahi mahi with a fresh kick of pickled carrot, artichoke and parsley. It comes with a beer, glass of wine or flute of bubbles.
If you’re getting all glitzed up for a Sydney Opera House performance during Sydney Festival and stressing about your inability to walk long distances in dress shoes, book a table within throwing distance of the big white sails themselves. At Portside, you can gaze out at the harbour from right underneath the House while you enjoy their summer menu of modern Australian fare. They’re offering a $55 special for the Festival Feasts program, so just ask the knowledgeable wait staff for your options on the night.
Inner Westernites looking for a bite before seeking out some culture should stop in at Rubyos Restaurant. They run a sophisticated white tablecloth service, but offer a relaxed, shareable menu. During Sydney Festival, they’ve prepared a degustation-style feast of favourites from the grazing menus, at $55 per person. And it’s an exciting selection. The pan-fried halloumi comes with an unusual watermelon-coriander-mint salsa; the Atlantic salmon is baked in a Thai green curry with coconut mango rice; the charred eggplant comes with a smooth cashew butter and fire-roasted capsicum. Time to taste test.
This spiffy wharfside café, deli and restaurant champions classic Australian flavours and our country’s thriving viticulture scene. It’s a hop, skip and a jump from the Roslyn Packer Theatre, so you can try their special menu after seeing a house materialise on stage in Home. For $55 per person, you get to explore three courses and cleanse your palate with a well matched glass of wine. Save some of the jalapeño-spiced garden salad to cut through the second course of cured meats, and then chose between a Wagyu scotch fillet or a grilled snapper to finish.
Feeling peckish after an event at the Opera House or Barangaroo Reserve? Mosey over to the Dining Room Park Hyatt Sydney. The slick venue has fantastic views of the harbour and Opera House, and the elevated restaurant is right in the middle of the city action without all the clamouring street-level traffic. As part of Sydney Festival, the Dining Room Park Hyatt Sydney is offering a surprise $55 two-course sharing menu, focusing on their local seasonal produce.
Dine like you’re exploring the izakaya bars of Tokyo at this modern Japanese eatery in the heart of Surry Hills. It’ll place you perfectly for pre-show or post-theatre dining after each session of the three-day run of The Iliad Out Loud at Belvoir St Theatre. Toko’s $55 Festival Feast menu comes in the form of bite-sized dishes that’ll sate your appetite without making your belt uncomfortably tight during a theatrical marathon. Kick off with edamame, move to sliced kingfish and seared beef, then sushi and maki rolls, grilled scallops and finish on marinated lamb cutlets.
Whether you’re looking for authentic Malaysian dishes or contemporary fusion creations, you’ll find a fragrant meal to match your tastes at the Malaya. Perched on King Street Wharf, the restaurant has been slinging fresh Malaysian fare for more than 50 years. During Sydney Festival, they’ll be offering a $55 set menu featuring pork san choy bow, coconut beef rendang, fried salt and pepper prawns, a sweetly marinated pepper chicken and more. It comes with a glass of wine, and puts you in an ideal position for a weightless bounce on the Moon Drops at Darling Harbour.
Find Middle Eastern flavours at Zahil after another intimate Belvoir performance. This modern Surry Hills restaurant, named after Lebanon’s Zahlé region, transforms age-old home recipes into modern fusion wonders. Their $55 set menu during Sydney Festival brings together Middle Eastern staples like falafel, tabouli, kofte, grilled meats, fattoush salad, hummus and more. It’s a great options for culture vultures on a plant-based diet and perfect for friends wanting to share a feast.