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Melon and sorbet dessert at Hubert
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Sydney restaurant and café reviews

Looking for somewhere great to eat in Sydney? Check out the latest reviews from our food critics

Written by
Time Out editors
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Sweethearts Rooftop
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Potts Point
First things first: book. Do not try to just walk up to this place as you will in all likelihood be denied entry by the door girl because the place is at capacity. To be fair, she’s downstairs and does ensure you don’t drag yourself up seven flights of stairs only to be greeted with a packed-out balcony. So that’s a plus. Sweethearts Rooftop can be found at the lofty heights above the Potts Point Hotel. They've taken the humble, backyard barbie and raised it up above the chaos of the Cross to a rooftop packed with picnic tables, strings of colourful lights and the odd pot plant – you'd never know you were sitting on top of the red light district.    Sweethearts may be a bit over-regulated (you end up confirming your reso by both email and SMS) and the bar lines can get long. But the snacks are good and the beer is cold. If you are a fan of al fresco dining, you’ll be wanting to book a table at Sweethearts. Stairs be damned.
Manly Wharf Bar
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Manly
  • price 2 of 4
It’s not hard to see why the Manly Wharf Bar (formerly Manly Wharf Hotel) is obscenely popular. There’s just something about drinking with harbour views that makes everything seem a little brighter. This expansive hotel is set right down on the ferry wharf and takes full advantage of its location. Glass windows look out onto the big blue and when the weather permits they open up a satellite bar out on the wharf itself so you can get the sea breeze in your lungs while you put lager in your belly. They keep the gambling facilities and a nicer-than-average sports bar up the back and it gets pretty busy given you’re in the heart of Sea Eagles territory. The main bar is essentially a festoon-lit, coastal-themed, fully licensed community centre. Everyone seems to know each other and there’s a consensus on the appeal of tanned skin, white teeth and light fabrics – there’s not a band shirt or flanno in sight. The beauty of a waterfront bar is that it’s an appealing spot to kick back, rain, hail or shine. They have Endeavour growers bright ale or the James Squire family all present and accounted for, or you can just down a Fourex, no judgement here. Manly Wharf is an upbeat pub and the only place where you can drink over the water in a suburb dedicated to the coastal life. No wonder locals love it.    
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4
Just a few doors down from the corner where Black Star Pastry first began, the Newtown store is opening up a brand new, light-filled location. BSP might be a household name now – you can thank the strawberry-watermelon cake for that, the fresh, fruity creation that pleased the Instagram gods  – but the team wants to bring it all back where it began. When Black Star Pastry outgrew its Australia Street store, the search was on for a new space to meet its burgeoning needs – a space which turned out to be around the corner, on King Street. Designed by MKZ Architects (the creators of the page-turning Black Star Pastry shopfront in the Galeries), the new store takes design cues from a traditional patisserie, with arched cake windows, high, loft ceilings and a counter to sip a macchiato on (wth a slice of cake, of course). A rolling pin installation made of light wood hangs high on the celiing, in a tribute to the timelessness of tried and tested baking tools and methods. While BSP is known for its creative cakes first and foremost, there are also quiches, pies, sausage rolls, pasties, croissants on offer, too. Coffee is by Little Marionette – you could come by for a brew alone, if there was a chance you'd ever leave without a sweet treat, too.  Find Black Star Pastry Newtown at 1/325 King Street. It's open seven days a week from 7.30am to 5.30pm. 
Saint Peter
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Paddington
  • price 2 of 4
‘Our whole menu is full of questions,’ says Saint Peter chef and co-owner Josh Niland. And he’s not wrong. When you sit down at the beautiful marble topped counter that runs the length of the new-look Paddington eatery it’s not a simple matter of ‘what do you want to eat?’, but rather, ‘what can you not afford to miss?’ at the restaurant that has transformed expectations of seafood dining in Sydney. ‘Where is the sweet spot?’, is one of the most pressing questions that Niland is constantly asking himself when it comes to the sustainable fish he is using in the kitchen, both here in the restaurant, as well as in the Fish Butchery a few doors up Oxford Street. Niland has made a name for himself by dry-aging his fish in the same manner you would beef, all in search of a moment when the fish tastes better, ‘it might be on day two, or it might be on day 22,” he says. The new open format of the restaurant means that the myriad other questions you have can easily be answered by the chefs prepping in front of you. You will want to know what fish pate, bacon and pastrami tastes like. You’ll want guidance on the different oyster regions. And you’ll really want to know how they make the ocean trout salami, which is shockingly delicious and places you in a culinary uncanny valley as your brain tries to process that, yes, this is fish, but not as you know it. First the trout are aged for 10 to 12 days to firm up the flesh. Then it’s minced, cut through with Murray cod fat and flavoured w
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Flour and Stone
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Woolloomooloo
Is it possible to build a business off the back of a lamington? When it's the arctic flurry of shaved coconut embellishing a hefty cube of chocolate-coated vanilla sponge, soaked in panna cotta and shot through with crimson berry compote at Nadine Ingram's Flour and Stone bakery in Woolloomooloo, the answer is yes. Ingram, with her community-driven, small-batch approach, has taken the most deceptively simple baked goods and raised them to cult-like status, thanks to an unwavering commitment to precision, quality and flavour. Since it was established in 2011, Flour and Stone has become a Sydney institution with queues out the door - and they’re still a regular occurrence even with an extra space added two doors down. It’s hard to imagine how a team of 22 fit behind the tiled wall when you sneak a peek from the communal 8-seater at no. 53, the new annexe. A high table, a pair of outdoor settings and a banquette seat provide extra dining space (but nowhere near enough to sate demand). The room is decorated in colourful Dave Teer artworks inspired by Old-fashioned vanilla cake, but the real eye candy is the display cabinet packed with madeleines, lemon drizzle cake, brulee tarts, and chocolate, raspberry and buttermilk cakes. Do not discount the savoury treats though. Spanakopita ferries a textbook-perfect spinach and feta filling between layers of delicate puff pastry; crisp iceberg lettuce plays a surprisingly significant role in the success of a chicken ciabatta sambo with
Nikkei
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4
When you catch a chef dancing to salsa music with a sharp knife in hand, you know you’re in for a good night. He’s busy slicing swordfish for ceviche, swaying his hips to a percussive Peruvian playlist and smiling from ear to ear. It makes sense – Nikkei, the fourth restaurant from the team behind hip Japanese hangouts Tokyo Bird and Osaka Trading Co, is a whole lot of fun. Expect surprising flavour combos (yuzu chimichurri! Sake-spiked dulce de leche!), striking composition and a playful approach to Peruvian and Japanese cuisine.  Sydneysiders are no strangers to fusion food. We don’t think twice about ordering the cheeseburger spring rolls at Ms G’s or Café Paci's dumplings in XO sauce made from trout. Nikkei cuisine, though? That’s something we haven’t seen before. A byproduct of Japanese immigration to Peru in the 19th century, Nikkei mixes Japanese precision, simplicity and umami with regional South American ingredients like seafood, tubers and chillies. The result has become a genre in its own right – putting Peru’s capital, Lima, on the map as a major dining destination and inspiring restaurants all over the world, including the legendary Nobu. Kick off your night on Commonwealth Street with a cocktail. The drinks menu celebrates Peru’s liquor of choice: grape-based pisco. Dive deeper than the classic Pisco Sour with a fizzy Chilcano, made with thyme, honey and tongue-tingling ginger. It’s a natural match for something snacky like the sweet-potato and taro crisps with
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El Jannah Express
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Lebanese
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4
Back when the El Jannah empire was just a few chicken shops in Western Sydney, there was a commonly held belief in the area: Hawa for chicken and El Jannah for garlic sauce. For many, El Jannah’s chicken was too dry, but the toum (the real name of that almighty white garlic dip at most Lebanese chicken shops) was the stuff of legend.  With the arrival of Newtown’s El Jannah Express comes an opportunity to reassess that theory. The chain’s latest shop is a fast-food variation of the original, where baba ghanoush, falafel and table service are out, and burgers, Southern fried chicken (reliably tender and crisp) and chaos are in. Everything is served in takeaway packaging, but there are a few highly sought-after seats clustered around the back wall. The roast chicken, which El Jannah has built its reputation on since 1998, is still the same charcoal-roasted rotisserie style the team have been doing since day one.  So, is it dry? At its best, during peak time when the birds come straight off the charcoal grill (have a peek at the insane production scale through the back window), it is the best. It is as good as Lebanese charcoal chicken can be – glistening, charred and juicy enough to make your hands look like they’ve just wielded a stack of potato scallops. Every morsel’s tender, carrying the same smoky flavour that’s usually reserved just for the skin and bone-adjacent bits. The skin’s beautifully crimson, as rich as a slow-cooked stew, and the umami-packed bones are well worth
Little Livi
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Ultimo
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
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Nakano Darling
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Haymarket
  • price 1 of 4
Japan’s best izakayas are the ones you lose yourself in. The places where your first visit ends hours later, when you stumble out after a long night of highballs and grilled offal feeling like a regular. The team behind two of North Sydney’s cosiest Japanese small bars, Yakitori Yurippi and Tachinomi YP, have nailed that feeling so well at their third project, Nakano Darling, that time and place become vague; the little details transportive enough to make you wonder if you’re still in Darling Square.  Beyond the grubby garage door façade, flanked by a wooden bench and a giant, eye-popping yellow flag, is not so much a bar as a Japanophile’s dream. It’s brought to life by unmistakably yellow Kirin beer crates, an abundance of raw oak, and a bar with an impressive line-up of backlit, now ultra-rare bottles of Suntory Kakubin blend whiskey perched above the usual suspects from the Yamazaki, Chita and Hakushu distilleries. That’s in addition to pages of beer, shochu, umeshu and sake imported straight from the source.   There’s a projector casting famously offbeat Japanese advertisements onto the back wall as diners bask beneath. Shed a tear of Nippon nostalgia as MOS Burger, the ubiquitous Japanese fast-food chain, flashes across the screen and fires your synapses. You can butcher the classics in the karaoke booth or pile into one of two tatami rooms for a traditional sit-down. That soft-drink vending machine in the back, the sort you’d find on every Tokyo corner, has probably co
Madame and Yves
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Patisseries
  • Clovelly
  • price 1 of 4
Bare feet and pineapple flambé are seldom, if ever, found in the same place. An ambitious pâtisserie seems better suited to Parisian laneways than the main drag of a beachy suburb. But step inside Madame and Yves, the Clovelly pâtisserie owned by classically trained French pâtissier Yves Scherrer, and you’ll find the best of both worlds, where post-swim pastries of all shapes and sizes come with a side of sea breeze. The smell of burnt butter lingers in the air of the humble street-front store, flanked by white-tiled walls and punctuated by pops of pastel pink. Yves himself stands in front of the glass counter surveying his creations: a symphony of baked and piped treats, not a polished lemon tart or glazed éclair out of place. It’s clearly the work of a professional – and some might say perfectionist; Scherrer spent two decades in kitchens around the world finessing his technique, before moving to Australia in 2009.  Down Under, he’s carved a niche of his own crafting some of our city’s most beloved sweets,  including Saké’s original Dragon Egg and Ananas Bar and Brasserie’s salted caramel éclair. On the tenth anniversary of his move to Australia, Scherrer opened Madame and Yves, which revisits the classics and expands his repertoire of restaurant-worthy desserts without the competition of entrées and mains.   When it comes to the daily-changing menu, your game plan should be Napoleonic: divide and conquer. A rainbow of éclairs will catch your eye first: tangy lemon myrtle,
Bentley Restaurant and Bar
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Sydney
  • price 3 of 4
It must be very tempting as a restaurateur to put your original venue on standby mode so that you can focus on a hot new concept. It must be especially enticing when your flagship restaurant has been around for 13 years. But that’s what makes Bentley Restaurant and Bar so exceptional – it’s remained a truly great destination for its full term on the dining scene.  Of course, change has come over time. Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt moved the restaurant from Surry Hills to the CBD, and then reworked it yet again in its primo corner inside the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel on O’Connell Street. And they might just be doing their best work yet.  You can approach the venue in full fine-dining glory and get the $180 tasting menu, and it’s an especially good call if the company card will be taking the hit for both the food and the high-cost-but-high-return wine list. Hildebrandt has one of the best cellars in the city, so there’ll be no attempts to sell you the wine equivalent of nosebleed section seats for top dollar. You’re getting the really good stuff here – exciting locals, elegant Europeans and tasting notes that read like love letters to the vineyard.  But the highest value proposition here is the lunch menu. Two courses will cost you $65 and three is a mere nudge higher at $75 – it’s got to be one of the city’s best fine dining hacks, along with Momofuku’s bar menu.  We’re sure the oysters are best in their field, but potatoes on a fine dining menu is a baller move that challe
Hubert
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Sydney
  • price 3 of 4
You’re sitting at the bar, drinking a Gin Martini out of a Nick and Nora glass, and ‘As Time Goes By’ is being played by a jazz quintet set against a red velvet curtain. This isn’t an elaborate Casablanca fantasy but rather the very real experience of dining at Restaurant Hubert on a Wednesday or Thursday night. That’s when they have the live band, which is essential to maintaining the illusion that you have travelled back in time, helped by the fact that two stories underground your phone won’t get reception worth a damn. Dinner here is akin to immersive theatre: the narrative is a love story and the leads are played by a perfect steak bavette and your fine self. It catches your eye on the menu, it joins you at the table, and after that first bite you fall deeply in love. The Rangers Valley flank has a char that is textbook, it’s served bloody and melting over the top is a Café de Paris butter that features no less than 19 ingredients. It has a complexity worthy of a Millenium Prize Problem. Chef Daniel Pepperell is working form the classic French bistro handbook, punking up a velvety soft Wagyu tartare with anchovy, and directing sweet, juicy baby beetroots to go full melodrama in a purple pool of sharp blackberry vinaigrette, wearing a fascinator of flamboyant curls of crinkled Téte de Moine, a sour and creamy Swiss cheese. Don’t be fooled by the diminutive title, because le petit aioli is no tiny snack – it’s a weighty grazing plate starring celeriac wedges, fresh avocad
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Mr Wong
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4
They’ll tell you to go for the Peking duck. They’ll tell you it’s a juicy bird with crisp skin and sweet meat. And they’d be right. It is. This is just one of the many roast delights at Mr Wong – a two-level Canto-extravaganza offering everything from fancy dim sum to green beans stir-fried with pork mince and house-made XO sauce. Chefs Dan Hong and Jowett Yu have left the day-to-day running of Potts Point pop-Asian diner Ms G’s to take the reins here, alongside head dim sum chef Eric Koh, fresh from London’s Hakkasan – luxurious dumpling den to the stars. If you’ve been waiting for a no-holds-barred-spend-big-with-service-and-wine–to-match Canto-palace, congratulations – you’ve found it. Get a crab. The big tanks hold sweet, fleshy mud crabs waiting for a dousing in the deep fryer with salt and pepper and to be served on a bed of salted chilli and green onion. Or go the Singaporean-style black pepper crab, cooked in butter and fragrant with a mountain of fresh black pepper. It’s a three napkin, two hot towels and a bowl of water job. The flash fit-out is care of Michael McCann – he of Flying Fish and Victor Churchill fame – and he’s transformed the old Tank nightclub into a sort of Hong Kong speakeasy downstairs (complete with adjoining door to neighbouring hooch lounge Palmer and Co) while upstairs features a big, beautiful bar run by Doron Whaite (ex-Felix). He makes a fine cocktail, but there’s a pomegranate and mint-spiked lemonade, as well as a house-made ginger beer i
Firedoor
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Surry Hills
  • price 3 of 4
Apple, peach, cherry and grapefruit might sound like a list of ingredients, but they’re not what you’re eating, but how you’re eating. Specifically, they are the woods that are feeding the charcoal oven, grill and hearths on which everything is cooked at this fire-powered Surry Hills restaurant. Don’t like smoky food? Move along, friend. This is not the venue for you. Not into a visceral presentation of meat and fish? Keep on walking. Firedoor is a place that appeals to the primal. On one side of the open kitchen you’ve got blue-eye trevalla strung up for smoking, cut lengthways so that they resemble an anatomical chart. On the other a huge hunk of dry-aged beef waits for a date with the butcher’s saw when someone orders the 184-day dry-aged steak that today clocks in at $176 and sits high on most Sydneysiders’ ‘if I were a millionaire…’ hit list. That steak is a local celebrity, but just because their most famous dish is a hunter’s dream it doesn’t follow that they neglect the gatherers on their menu. Baby Brussels sprouts manage to be at once charry and soft on one side and fresh and sweet on the other. It’s too warm to be a salad, but those golden breadcrumbs are doing a great job at conjuring echoes of a Caesar, and the unctuous chicken jus reduced almost to a paste is so rich and savoury in flavour there’s a roast dinner in every bite. Hastie earned his stripes at the famed Etxebarri in Spain’s Basque Country, and given they’re an anomaly in the region, serving both seaf
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Lankan Filling Station
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Sri Lankan
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 2 of 4
Have you been to the casual Sri Lankan diner tucked in Darlinghurst for hoppers yet? You have? Have you tried their brunch menu, where you can get some spicy AM kicks with an egg roll dressed in fermented chilli and sambol? Yes? Well there’s always the monthly crab curries: a Sunday set menu where your tiny table is so laden with flavours, spices and colours that it’s like dining inside a kaleidoscope. Those crab lunches book out well in advance, and with good reason. You pay $60 and in return they Tetris onto your table little fried lentil cakes, sunset coloured sweet’n’sour pickles, shredded beetroot relish, snake beans with Maldive fish and tamarind, lime pickle (so pucker-powerful you might turn inside out), coconutty pol sambol, spicy katta sambol, soft red lentil dahl, and a never-ending supply of pappadams. Last to arrive is a bowl of nutty red rice and a terracotta pot with two blue swimmer crabs in a roasted curry fragrant with cumin, coriander seeds and the sharp freshness of fennel seed. Imagine a keyboard that sounds amazing regardless of what order you play the notes. That’s the approach here: sweeten your curry with a spoon of beetroot, brighten your dahl with lime and chilli. Scoop everything onto the crunch of pappadams and accept that you will not finish it all. You will, nevertheless, throw yourself at the mercy of the dessert gods to ensure your share of caramelised pineapple pieces on sour kefir mascarpone finds safe passage. The do-it-your-way approach to
Momofuku Seiobo
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Darling Harbour
  • price 3 of 4
Trends spread like grassfire in Sydney’s tight-knit dining scene. You only have to see tail flap, kimchi or ceviche on one menu before you’re seeing it everywhere, like a game of culinary punch buggy. But Momofuku Seiobo is immune. The Antipodean wing of the famous David Chang empire blazes its own trail. If you want Carribean food in Sydney, Paul Carmichael needs to be cooking it. The Star casino complex is the incongruous location for the the 40-seat fine diner, and when Carmichael took over the reins, the tonal shift was dramatic. Former head chef Ben Greeno had ambled along a broadly Asian-adjacent path, but Carmichael came packing the traditions of his Barbadian childhood and a whole lot of plantains, redirecting the course of the $185 degustation for the sandy shores of the West Indian archipelago. Welcome to smash city, where you get your own full-size, granite mortar and pestle lined in little crescents of fried plantain, pork crackling and a garlic puree that you grind together into a starchy paste. It was prettier before, but more fun to eat after you got to go full Bam-Bam on your opening act. Yes, you’re here for ten courses plus snacks, but this is fine dining stripped of starched linens and sporting the kind of cheeky swagger that ensures dish two is a full-sized plantain doughnut: fluffy, gently banana-flavoured, but distinctly unsweetened so that the unctuous pork fat icing and green onions claim it as a savoury win. They’re basically double daring you to pace
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Nour
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Surry Hills
  • price 3 of 4
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
Saint Peter
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Paddington
  • price 2 of 4
‘Our whole menu is full of questions,’ says Saint Peter chef and co-owner Josh Niland. And he’s not wrong. When you sit down at the beautiful marble topped counter that runs the length of the new-look Paddington eatery it’s not a simple matter of ‘what do you want to eat?’, but rather, ‘what can you not afford to miss?’ at the restaurant that has transformed expectations of seafood dining in Sydney. ‘Where is the sweet spot?’, is one of the most pressing questions that Niland is constantly asking himself when it comes to the sustainable fish he is using in the kitchen, both here in the restaurant, as well as in the Fish Butchery a few doors up Oxford Street. Niland has made a name for himself by dry-aging his fish in the same manner you would beef, all in search of a moment when the fish tastes better, ‘it might be on day two, or it might be on day 22,” he says. The new open format of the restaurant means that the myriad other questions you have can easily be answered by the chefs prepping in front of you. You will want to know what fish pate, bacon and pastrami tastes like. You’ll want guidance on the different oyster regions. And you’ll really want to know how they make the ocean trout salami, which is shockingly delicious and places you in a culinary uncanny valley as your brain tries to process that, yes, this is fish, but not as you know it. First the trout are aged for 10 to 12 days to firm up the flesh. Then it’s minced, cut through with Murray cod fat and flavoured w
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Quay
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • The Rocks
  • price 4 of 4
What does it take to earn the crown of Sydney’s finest diner? It’s not just a superlative location, because being a harbour city we are not deprived of beautiful places to eat by the water. Admittedly, at Quay, when the cruise ship finally pulls away from the Overseas Passenger Terminal to reveal the Opera House and a panorama that stretches from the Harbour Bridge to the CBD, it’s hard not to fall that little bit deeper for Sydney and all her aesthetic charms.  Being number one is not just about service that’s as smooth as Italian suede and as perfectly paced as a champion race horse – though it’s certainly a foundational element to the dining experience here. And it’s important that once you have achieved the top spot on the dining dance card you don’t get complacent. Sydney is a city that thrives on the new, so if the time of double linens is over, whip the tablecloths off and embrace a new era of relaxed degustatory excess, where the collars are a little looser but the standards never drop.  Fine dining no longer ascribes to the idea that indulgence requires being fed into a stupor, which is why you can safely opt for an elegant six courses at executive chef Peter Gilmore’s world famous restaurant. Of course, if you’re here for a little excess, there’s always ten, which adds marron, truffles, and extra desserts to the mix.  No matter which way you steer you get to marvel at the monklike restraint in a dish of hand-harvested octopus, clams and scallops, anointed with soy a
Café Paci
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Newtown
  • price 2 of 4
A booze-friendly, panko-crumbed fried anchovy and mozzarella sanga. Devilled eggs given popcorn-like punch with spiced butter and trout roe. Fiery ’nduja swiped across rye crackers, the heat interrupted by thin rounds of dill-pickled carrot. These are just some of the hits of Café Paci 2.0. And the great news? We’re only at the snacks.  After a three-plus-year wait, Finnish chef Pasi Petänen has swung open the doors to his permanent reboot on King Street in Newtown. With him, he’s brought plenty of imagination and technique, along with stellar booze and an unstoppable team.  The original Café Paci opened in Darlinghurst in 2013. The building was slated to be knocked down, so Petänen was there for a good time, not a long time. Circa 2019, the fine-dining(ish) set menu is gone, and in its place is a wine-bar-ish à la carte offering.  Petänen’s cooking leans a little more Finnish-Italo-Australian than his Mexican-Finnish-Viet riffs of the past, perhaps due in part to his time spent touring That’s Amore pop-ups with Italian wine importer, Rootstock co-founder and sommelier, Giorgio De Maria. The ginger-bearded somm is behind Paci’s cracking new wine list that’s as much fun to read as it is to drink from. If you’re lucky, you’ll find him working the floor, too.  Regardless of how many UDLs you drank in high school, a tinnie of Hartwall Original lonkero is a fun place to start. The ready-to-drink gin and grapefruit soda is often found on tap in Finnish saunas, and it’s “just bad en
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4
Just a few doors down from the corner where Black Star Pastry first began, the Newtown store is opening up a brand new, light-filled location. BSP might be a household name now – you can thank the strawberry-watermelon cake for that, the fresh, fruity creation that pleased the Instagram gods  – but the team wants to bring it all back where it began. When Black Star Pastry outgrew its Australia Street store, the search was on for a new space to meet its burgeoning needs – a space which turned out to be around the corner, on King Street. Designed by MKZ Architects (the creators of the page-turning Black Star Pastry shopfront in the Galeries), the new store takes design cues from a traditional patisserie, with arched cake windows, high, loft ceilings and a counter to sip a macchiato on (wth a slice of cake, of course). A rolling pin installation made of light wood hangs high on the celiing, in a tribute to the timelessness of tried and tested baking tools and methods. While BSP is known for its creative cakes first and foremost, there are also quiches, pies, sausage rolls, pasties, croissants on offer, too. Coffee is by Little Marionette – you could come by for a brew alone, if there was a chance you'd ever leave without a sweet treat, too.  Find Black Star Pastry Newtown at 1/325 King Street. It's open seven days a week from 7.30am to 5.30pm. 
El Jannah Express
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Lebanese
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4
Back when the El Jannah empire was just a few chicken shops in Western Sydney, there was a commonly held belief in the area: Hawa for chicken and El Jannah for garlic sauce. For many, El Jannah’s chicken was too dry, but the toum (the real name of that almighty white garlic dip at most Lebanese chicken shops) was the stuff of legend.  With the arrival of Newtown’s El Jannah Express comes an opportunity to reassess that theory. The chain’s latest shop is a fast-food variation of the original, where baba ghanoush, falafel and table service are out, and burgers, Southern fried chicken (reliably tender and crisp) and chaos are in. Everything is served in takeaway packaging, but there are a few highly sought-after seats clustered around the back wall. The roast chicken, which El Jannah has built its reputation on since 1998, is still the same charcoal-roasted rotisserie style the team have been doing since day one.  So, is it dry? At its best, during peak time when the birds come straight off the charcoal grill (have a peek at the insane production scale through the back window), it is the best. It is as good as Lebanese charcoal chicken can be – glistening, charred and juicy enough to make your hands look like they’ve just wielded a stack of potato scallops. Every morsel’s tender, carrying the same smoky flavour that’s usually reserved just for the skin and bone-adjacent bits. The skin’s beautifully crimson, as rich as a slow-cooked stew, and the umami-packed bones are well worth
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Nakano Darling
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Haymarket
  • price 1 of 4
Japan’s best izakayas are the ones you lose yourself in. The places where your first visit ends hours later, when you stumble out after a long night of highballs and grilled offal feeling like a regular. The team behind two of North Sydney’s cosiest Japanese small bars, Yakitori Yurippi and Tachinomi YP, have nailed that feeling so well at their third project, Nakano Darling, that time and place become vague; the little details transportive enough to make you wonder if you’re still in Darling Square.  Beyond the grubby garage door façade, flanked by a wooden bench and a giant, eye-popping yellow flag, is not so much a bar as a Japanophile’s dream. It’s brought to life by unmistakably yellow Kirin beer crates, an abundance of raw oak, and a bar with an impressive line-up of backlit, now ultra-rare bottles of Suntory Kakubin blend whiskey perched above the usual suspects from the Yamazaki, Chita and Hakushu distilleries. That’s in addition to pages of beer, shochu, umeshu and sake imported straight from the source.   There’s a projector casting famously offbeat Japanese advertisements onto the back wall as diners bask beneath. Shed a tear of Nippon nostalgia as MOS Burger, the ubiquitous Japanese fast-food chain, flashes across the screen and fires your synapses. You can butcher the classics in the karaoke booth or pile into one of two tatami rooms for a traditional sit-down. That soft-drink vending machine in the back, the sort you’d find on every Tokyo corner, has probably co
Madame and Yves
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Patisseries
  • Clovelly
  • price 1 of 4
Bare feet and pineapple flambé are seldom, if ever, found in the same place. An ambitious pâtisserie seems better suited to Parisian laneways than the main drag of a beachy suburb. But step inside Madame and Yves, the Clovelly pâtisserie owned by classically trained French pâtissier Yves Scherrer, and you’ll find the best of both worlds, where post-swim pastries of all shapes and sizes come with a side of sea breeze. The smell of burnt butter lingers in the air of the humble street-front store, flanked by white-tiled walls and punctuated by pops of pastel pink. Yves himself stands in front of the glass counter surveying his creations: a symphony of baked and piped treats, not a polished lemon tart or glazed éclair out of place. It’s clearly the work of a professional – and some might say perfectionist; Scherrer spent two decades in kitchens around the world finessing his technique, before moving to Australia in 2009.  Down Under, he’s carved a niche of his own crafting some of our city’s most beloved sweets,  including Saké’s original Dragon Egg and Ananas Bar and Brasserie’s salted caramel éclair. On the tenth anniversary of his move to Australia, Scherrer opened Madame and Yves, which revisits the classics and expands his repertoire of restaurant-worthy desserts without the competition of entrées and mains.   When it comes to the daily-changing menu, your game plan should be Napoleonic: divide and conquer. A rainbow of éclairs will catch your eye first: tangy lemon myrtle,
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Iiko Mazesoba
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Haymarket
  • price 1 of 4
Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th US president, famously called comparison the “thief of joy”. He definitely wasn’t referencing the noodle dish that goes by the name of mazesoba, but he might as well have been. It’s a recent invention, created by a Taiwanese ramen chef outside of Nagoya in 2008, often called “broth-less ramen” and sometimes likened to Japanese carbonara.  These parallels are understandable, given you’re dealing with a tangle of noodles and savoury sauce buried underneath a canopy of recognisable toppings that must be stirred like mad in pursuit of emulsified glory. Yet, mazesoba (literal translation: "mixed noodles") is very much its own thing, and assessing it based on what it’s like as opposed to what it is might get you into trouble. Variations of mazesoba have cropped up in ramen outlets across the city (RaRa’s take, in Redfern, is first-rate), but Iiko, which opened in Darling Square in November of 2019, is Sydney’s first eatery devoted exclusively to it. Because we seem to be in the throes of an obsession with noodles and ramen that borders on the pathological, it’s a restaurant that makes a lot of sense. We’re always on the lookout for the next best bowl, and Iiko adds considerably to that conversation by offering seven of them – some traditional, others not at all. No matter what you pick, the importance of mixing at full tilt cannot be stressed enough. Soup-less it may be, but Iiko’s mazesoba is saucy to the point of being soupy, at times overwhelmingly so.
Chidori Japanese Bistro
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Crows Nest
  • price 1 of 4
So you love a schnitty, but have you eaten the Japanese version called 'katsu'? Unlike pounded schnitzels, katsu (meaning cutlet) uses thick slabs of meat. The breadcrumbs are different, too: bigger, fluffier flakes known as panko crumbs that create a noisier crunch. Tonkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlet, is the most popular katsu. At Chidori in Crows Nest, they’re so committed to maintaining its succulence, they cook the pork in a water bath (sous-vide) before it’s crumbed and deep-fried to golden and tender bliss. As is Japanese tradition, the tonkatsu is served on an elevated wire rack so the bottom never gets soggy. Genius! It also doubles as a stage, which we think is fair enough given its star billing. Dip your ready-cut tonkatsu into katsu sauce (like a fruity Worcestershire) or savour it with a sprinkle of salt. You'll find the usual accompaniment, finely shredded cabbage, on the side – which is sweet and a refreshing palate cleanse. All this clocks in at $18, or you can upgrade to the set for a fiver, which includes rice, pickles and miso soup. The tonkatsu is good, but the gyukatsu, or beef cutlet, is even better. Chidori uses Wagyu, and cooks the well-marbled beef to a juicy, perfect pink. There’s a terrific contrast between the soft, buttery meat and the golden fried coating. Dunk it in the sweet soy dressing and just try not to sigh at first bite. There’s more to Chidori than what you see at first glance, too. For a start, the compact ground floor dining space is t
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Dopa Donburi and Milk Bar
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Haymarket
  • price 1 of 4
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
Chaco Ramen
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 1 of 4
The broth is the colour of an egg yolk. It tastes unlike any other ramen in Sydney. If anything, it’s like a Sichuan hot-pot but less aggressive, slightly nutty, with that same addictive savouriness all good ramens have. There’s no chashu on top, but there’s a cluster of coriander leaves, some springy wood-ear mushrooms, three velvety medallions of chicken and a smear of crimson chilli paste along the edge of the bowl. It’s called chilli coriander ramen, but don’t bother Googling it – this isn’t a recipe you’ll find in traditional cookbooks or Japanese restaurants. For years, the debate over Sydney’s best ramen revolved around who served the heaviest tonkotsu. Was it Gumshara’s OG latte-coloured fat bomb? The O-San tonkotsu with garlic oil and a curry-like consistency? Maybe now you like Ippudo and your mate prefers Tontaro Honten or Crescent. They’re all great ramens, but there’s a new ramen wave in Sydney worthy of attention, one built on chicken bones, fish, vegetarian soups and creativity. One led by restaurants like Gaku Robata Grill and Ichibandori, less concerned with what ramen should taste like and more focused on how to make it delicious. The standard-bearer for this movement: Keita Abe and his tiny Darlinghurst restaurant, Chaco Ramen. Abe’s ramen isn’t new, of course – he’s been doing it since 2015, back when Chaco Ramen was a yakitori joint by the name of Chaco Bar. Back then Abe’s ramen, while certainly well-crafted and different to anything else at the time, se
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St Dreux
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Sydney
  • price 1 of 4
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
Tianjin Bun Shop
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Campsie
  • price 1 of 4
Never heard of jianbing? Imagine a crêpe, cooked to order. Then, crack an egg across the top, spread it thinly until cooked, add giant shards of deep-fried wonton sheets and fold it up like a burrito. It’s a Chinese breakfast favourite and, like most street-food classics, it's easily eaten on the run. Tianjin Bun Shop calls this a hamburger on its English menu, but locals know it as jianbing. This eggy breakfast crêpe-cum-burrito is addictively delicious, slicked with sweet bean sauce, garnished with coriander and loaded with the noisy crunch of golden fried wonton sheets. The open shop window to the street is where you’ll pick up your jianbing ($6), straight from the chef manning the hotplate. Don’t expect small talk or smiles. It’s all about no-nonsense speed and precision. But that’s just what punters are looking for as they queue for a snack on their way to and from Campsie Station and nearby bus stops. This takeaway-only shop opens every day at 5am for the breakfast crowd, and trades right up until 8pm for dinner. Breakfast congee, wontons and fresh soya bean milk all sell out by mid-morning. Behind the counter, you’ll find plenty of snacks you can point at to order, like tea eggs, fried bread sticks and glutinous corn cobs completely devoid of sweetness but adored by fans for their chewy starchiness. Steamed buns ($2) include sweet red bean paste as well as savoury fillings like egg and chives or pork with preserved vegetables. There's also a range of stuffed pancakes (
Flour and Stone
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Woolloomooloo
Is it possible to build a business off the back of a lamington? When it's the arctic flurry of shaved coconut embellishing a hefty cube of chocolate-coated vanilla sponge, soaked in panna cotta and shot through with crimson berry compote at Nadine Ingram's Flour and Stone bakery in Woolloomooloo, the answer is yes. Ingram, with her community-driven, small-batch approach, has taken the most deceptively simple baked goods and raised them to cult-like status, thanks to an unwavering commitment to precision, quality and flavour. Since it was established in 2011, Flour and Stone has become a Sydney institution with queues out the door - and they’re still a regular occurrence even with an extra space added two doors down. It’s hard to imagine how a team of 22 fit behind the tiled wall when you sneak a peek from the communal 8-seater at no. 53, the new annexe. A high table, a pair of outdoor settings and a banquette seat provide extra dining space (but nowhere near enough to sate demand). The room is decorated in colourful Dave Teer artworks inspired by Old-fashioned vanilla cake, but the real eye candy is the display cabinet packed with madeleines, lemon drizzle cake, brulee tarts, and chocolate, raspberry and buttermilk cakes. Do not discount the savoury treats though. Spanakopita ferries a textbook-perfect spinach and feta filling between layers of delicate puff pastry; crisp iceberg lettuce plays a surprisingly significant role in the success of a chicken ciabatta sambo with
Little Livi
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Ultimo
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
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Lobby Boy - North Sydney
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • North Sydney
  • price 3 of 4
When you’re dining in a hurry, it can be easy to slip into the pitfalls of mediocrity. While a fridge-cold sandwich shrunk in plastic wrap from a sad display is still a very real lunch possibility in Sydney's other CBD, the tides are turning in North Sydney thanks to a recent influx of dining destinations. Take Hawkers Village, the dizzying food market proffering a taste of Asia, or neighbouring Glorietta, a pizza and wine bar brought to you by ex-Tetsuya’s and Frankie’s chefs. Now, the team behind the Grounds of Alexandria is joining the fold with Lobby Boy. We all know this brand specialises in generous servings of fresh, wholesome food and perfectly roasted coffee in beautifully imagined spaces – and Lobby Boy is no exception. Brushed charcoal walls, forest-green banquettes and marble tables in a soaring light-filled atrium isn’t necessarily what we’ve come to expect from “the coffee place down in the lobby”, but it’s clear here that no expense has been spared. As with the other venues, there is real luxury here, though it’s less technicolour Instagram dreamland, and more pared-back, polished and grown-up. The effect is transporting; you’d hardly know you were on a bustling intersection (unless you’ve paid for metered parking...set that timer).  Like the fit-out, the menu is considered and tailored to all manner of occasions, whether you’re dashing to work or have knocked off for a long lunch. They take a seriously (possibly overly) decadent approach to the croissant, stuf
Brighter Coffee
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Stanmore
  • price 2 of 4
You’ve heard of confit duck, of course, and confit garlic or tomatoes, but confit tofu? That’s a new one. Should you add said block of spongy bean curd – marinated overnight in mushroom stock and slowly cooked in olive oil – to the kimchi toastie at Brighter Coffee? It’s debatable. Not so much because the tofu itself wants for anything in particular, but because that toastie is a thing of beauty on its own.  The kimchi is made in house, more a fresh and fragrant ferment than a pungent lactic acid bomb, and it’s sandwiched between two pieces of Iggy’s miraculous sourdough in the company of sweet tomato passata and a combo of nutty Gruyère and mild Gouda cheeses. Much like the other five items on the Stanmore café’s (very) short, entirely vegetarian menu, the toastie is a variation of ‘stuff on bread’, and it might not even be the best of the bunch. That title might go to Where the Wild Things Grow, which isn’t a psilocybin hunter’s guide, but what co-owners Ben Richardson and Junji Tai call their mushrooms on toast. Here, a plate-length slice of Iggy’s (or Nonie’s next-level gluten-free bread) gets a light swipe of mushroom purée, made from reducing mushroom stock to the consistency of Vegemite and blitzing it with cashews and truffle pâté. Layers of various sauteed fungi get stacked on top – field mushrooms, buttons, woodears – and elegantly finished with saffron-stained enoki strands and shiitakes seasoned with koji. Shiso, sage and dried rose get a little bit lost amidst al
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Outfield
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Ashfield
  • price 2 of 4
From the outset, Outfield is a charmer. Sitting pretty on a grassy knoll in Ashfield’s Yeo Park, the former healthcare centre is a mid-century gem – all horizontal rooflines, mission-brown brick walls and porthole windows. The prime spot, though, is outdoors, where families gather under umbrellas and slatted tables or on provided striped picnic rugs beneath the trees, watching kids having a bat on the astroturf pitch. The forest-green iron chairs might be more at home in a backyard than a Sydney café, but they embody Outfield’s unassuming and community-driven approach while also laying down the game plan for the clever thinking in the kitchen and behind the coffee machine. Owners Caleb and Belinda Maynard unveiled their update to the long-empty space in April of 2019. And while the building works the suburban nostalgia angle, the dishes are all present-day finesse. For instance, the King of Spin – the nickname of one of Australian cricket’s favourite sons, Shane Warne – features fragrant lemon myrtle-cured kingfish and a garden-fresh herb salad, pretty pickled radishes, a smear of sour labneh and a poached egg. It’s a healthy dish that would’ve done a better job of keeping Warnie’s weight in check than those infamous diuretic pills.  The menu is split up into healthy-ish open toast, rolls, salad bowls and specials presented brightly on the plate. If you’re looking for a clean start to the day, give the bowls a turn of the wrist. The bowls offer winning combinations of interes
St Dreux
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Sydney
  • price 1 of 4
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
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Kurumac
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Marrickville
  • price 2 of 4
It’d be easy to dismiss this stained glass and grey façade on Marrickville’s Addison Road, best known for the namesake Sunday markets and the 428 bus. Only a pair of well-crafted timber benches out front offers a hint of the considered approach being taken behind the door. Step into Kurumac, and you’ll discover a relaxed and refined space of built-in ply seats, matte black tables and a few choice artworks that soothes instantly, forming a neat zen backdrop to Japanese café fare. And the locals have taken notice if a queue on a stinking hot day waiting for a steaming bowl of ox tongue ramen in a beef bone broth is anything to go by. Owner Eugene Leung has brought his East-meets-West hits enjoyed by Kirribilli locals at Cool Mac for the past decade to a suburb with a penchant for craft beer, pet-nats and pho. Staples are covered with experienced ease here: co-owner Dika Prianata pumps out Campos coffee behind a white La Marzocco, alongside pastries from the Bread and Butter Project. The drink of choice, though, is a milkshake made with Mapo’s hojicha gelato, which delivers sweet childhood delight backed by a robust roasted tea flavour. Where Kurumac comes into its own is when things turn fully to the Land of the Rising Sun. Chef Jun Okamatsu’s primarily all-day menu remixes home-cooked Japanese dishes with quiet sophistication that’s still approachable. A breakfast toastie takes the form of spicy cod roe on melted cheese atop a thick slice of shokupan, a traditional subtly swee
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Concord
  • price 1 of 4
Dessert for breakfast is real! Sicilians have been waking up with granita and brioche for generations. Not to mention brioche buns stuffed with gelato. Seriously. And as Sydney heats up for the summer months, it becomes harder to deny our Italian cousins are onto a winner. Let’s start with the granita. Sicilian granita is like a finely crafted slushie, smooth with ice crystals that melt on the tongue. At Pari Pasticceria, in Concord, granita flavours run from fruity (mango, strawberry and lemon) to rich and nutty (chocolate, hazelnut, almond and pistachio). Pistachio and coffee are Sicilian classics, and here, they’re piled into a parfait glass with optional whipped cream on top.  On the side, you’ll score a shiny glazed brioche bun called brioscia cu’ tuppu, so named because it resembles hair tied into a bun. You can eat the granita and brioche – a steal at $8 – however you please: dunk the brioche into the granita like a biscuit, spoon granita onto torn brioche like a scone, or eat them separately and alternate mouthfuls. And while the combo sounds weird at first, trust us, it’s strangely addictive. The brioche is made in-house daily, and it’s softer and fluffier than you’d expect. As a result, every spoonful of granita provides both clarity of flavour and icy refreshment.  Level up with the gelato burger (also $8) if you dare. That’s a brioche bun cut in half and crammed with up to two scoops of gelato. Get the amarena gelato if it’s available, syrupy wild Italian cherries
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Das Juice
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Redfern
  • price 2 of 4
It’s almost impossible to walk 500 metres in Sydney these days without the offer of a poké bowl or a cold-pressed juice. So when a café specialising in both of those things comes along, it’s hardly revolutionary. Das Juice doesn’t have a frilly fit-out. The menu of mostly juices, smoothies and bowls reads mostly like something you have seen before. Yet, behind the unassuming glass-paned shopfront on Regent Street in Redfern, co-owners Lara Dignam, Michael Dhinse and Joshua Ng are doing something worth talking about. Recognise those names? They’re also the owners of CBD cocktail haunt Papa Gede’s, and they’re taking a woke approach at their debut café. Their aim? To rescue ‘ugly’ fruit and veg unfit for grocery shelves from landfill and fashion it into healthy, delicious GF, DF, V, and VG things. They’ve salvaged four tonnes of produce less than a year after opening, and you can check the current tally on a little letter board next to the till. What’s more, every ounce of compostable plastic and organic waste is composted.  Whether ethos objectively makes food taste better is a question best saved for a third-year philosophy tutorial, but everything at Das Juice tastes exactly as it should, like the purest expression of the ingredients themselves and nothing more. Juices are a logical starting point, and at $6 each, a thrifty one. You’re in the hands of bartending veterans, and they know a thing or two about the dark arts of balancing flavours. Order a Das Hulk. Notice how the
Calla
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Pyrmont
  • price 2 of 4
‘Crème brûlée’, ‘aerated goat’s cheese’ and ‘terrine’ are not words you’d typically expect to find on a breakfast menu – but why not add some culinary pizzazz to your morning? Chef Max Bean (formerly of Est and the Bridge Room) figures there's no reason not to, and to that end has opened Calla, jutting off the courtyard of John Street Square. It’s a welcome addition to Pyrmont’s relatively sparse café scene, which up until now has been serviced mostly by Bar Zini and Clementine’s.  Inside, it feels low-key and easygoing, but still a little luxe. Morning light streams through the windows, and Winston Surfshirt provides the soundtrack. You’ll catch Bean in crisp chef whites in the open kitchen, channeling his fine-dining days, but the espresso machine, a hopper stuffed with Mecca beans and the tempting offer of caramelised white chocolate cookies will remind you that you are, in fact, in a café. Interesting brekkies often set you back more than you’d want to shell out before 10am, but plates here cap at $23; it’s pedigree without the exxy price tag, which is a real win for locals. The humble zucchini slice gets a schmick makeover, with a garlicky crumble and sliced Swiss brown mushrooms atop, a swipe of avocado below and aerated goat’s cheese that really elevates it from lunchbox mainstay to something a little fancy. The effort is there, but it’s denser and more cakey than you might expect, and somehow the whole feels like less than the sum of the parts.  Opt for the salmon ter

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