The best restaurants in Potts Point
Sometimes you walk out of a dining experience and think ,‘We only want to eat here for the foreseeable future.’ That’s how you’ll feel after dinner at Paper Bird, the new mod-Asian diner from the Moon Park team (Ben Sears, Eun Hee An and Ned Brooks) that has opened up in a subterranean former bakery in Potts Point. Just like you did at Moon Park, you should start every meal here with the ddeokbokki. Those glutinous rice sticks slicked with only enough chilli sauce to make them hum not scream and rolled in crushed peanuts are still as snacktastic as ever and we are so glad to see they survived the move unscathed.
When Yellow ditched meat from its dinner menus last February, the staff noticed a surprising change in its diners. Sure, there were more vegetarian and vegan guests – that was a no-brainer. What they didn’t forecast was the mood-lifting cheer that followed the switch: customers didn’t just bring their appetite, they stepped up the niceness and gratitude.
Have you ever met anybody who doesn’t like Kylie Kwong? No, you haven’t, because those people don’t exist. With her warm, firm-but-fair manner, she must be one of the most loved celebrity chefs in the land. But what about her restaurant? Is it all hype, or is the food as kickass as they say? Following the move by the new Billy Kwong from its Surry Hills locale to Macleay Street in Potts Point earlier this year, we went along to find out.
When was the last time you ordered a risotto in a restaurant? It was a while ago for us. And that’s because, fellow readers and fans of eating nice things, restaurant risotto generally sucks. Cooking it to order for service is hard and takes a long time, and pre-cooking (which is how a lot of places do it) tends to result in stodgy risotto pudding. Which is sad and gross. But every now and then, we throw caution to the wind – you can call us gluttons for punishment, but we prefer to think of ourselves as snacking optimists. That’s how we find ourselves ordering it at Fratelli Paradiso, the Potts Point restaurant that boasts a full house rain, hail or shine, excellent service and a super-interesting wine list.
Cho Cho San has what is quite possibly the most beautiful restaurant interior in Sydney. The work of restaurant designer du jour George Livissianis, it’s all about Nordic cool versus Japanese refinement: think polished concrete, whitewashed bricks and pale birch plywood furnishings. The ceiling is made up of a giant light box that can be brightened and faded at the touch of a button, and hidden acoustic foam means you can actually hear the conversation with your dining partner, despite the place being invariably packed. Behind the scenes is pretty much Sydney’s dining dream team.
The line between restaurant and bar has gone from a little fuzzy to indistinct, and nowhere is this more so than at Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt’s Potts Point wine bar and restaurant, Monopole. You could pop in for a cheeky drink and end up eating the full tasting menu. You could opt for a quick supper that turns into rolling home heavy with biodynamic wines and light on cash. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for.
We’ve all been there – so hungry that you’ll offer your shoes, your bank balance or even your first born for a little snack and something to drink. And Dear Sainte Eloise gets it. Hell, they’ve named the new Potts Point wine bar for that moment of blood sugar crisis when George Orwell, while Down and Out in Paris and London, prayed to what he thought was a saint for a little supper. Luckily for you and your progeny, all you need is cash, and the makings of a perfect evening will wend their way to your wooden table top over the course of a very enjoyable few hours in this classically styled perch.
Just when you thought you knew chef Dan Hong, he comes out with a red-hot, left-of-field doozy of a new restaurant with all the punk and sass we always wished for at Lotus, combined with some damn fine cooking. He and head chef Jowett Yu are at the helm of Ms G’s – the mod- Asian restaurant you can’t afford not to be at, in and around. Ignore the name (M.S.G – geddit?) and ignore the deliberately ‘street’ interior design work. But whatever you do, don’t ignore what Hong and Yu are putting on the plate because it’s exciting, fresh and exactly what Sydney needs. Theirs is a menu of snappy flavours and big spicy ideas. We’d go so far as to say it was the most exciting thing that’s opened in ages, if Duke hadn’t beaten them to the punch a few months ago. Start with a drink in the upstairs bar where they’re shaking up what looks on paper to be a bunch of very loopy, bubble tea-inspired drinks. And yes, they even have the special sealing machine and the big straws. The Blue Bottle (Plymouth gin, pineapple, Aeroplane jelly, housemade lemonade) is a bit of a fizzer but we’ll keep you posted after we’ve gone back for a few more. Or just forget the cocktails and drink the beer and the sake. There’s a selection of five on offer but try the Miyozakura panda cup or he Akishika Bambi cup – 180ml sealed glasses printed with gambolling pandas and fawns – for the cute factor alone. After you’ve finished, you even get to keep the cup! Beer-wise, the list runs the gamut of crisp, sessionable
Four guys get together and decide to open a venue – the sort of place that they want to eat at. The first letters of each of their forenames happens to make up the acronym 'ACME', which ain’t a bad name for a restaurant, right? So goes the tale of ACME in Rushcutters Bay. Letter 'E' is for Ed Loveday of Darlinghurst’s the Passage bar (co-owned with the 'A' of the group, back-of-house extraordinaire Andy Emerson) and you'll find him on the bar serving up some killer cocktails.
Jonathan Barthelmess has long been one of Time Out’s favourite chefs. We sang his praises back at Coast in 2008/2009 when he was doing his elegant, restrained Italian food and then again when he opened Manly Pavilion. He’s back on the mainland now, doing Greek food. And we couldn’t be happier. Barthelmess has opened this new joint with fellow Greek Sam Christie – the man behind mod-Thai restaurant Longrain, Cho Cho San and Subcontinental. And while Christie is still juggling vodka stick drinks and egg-nets, he’s now also serving up veal and sweetbread meatballs and plates of fried saganaki.
While making a reservation, the lady on the other end of the line sheepishly tells us “this isn’t the show kind of teppanyaki – is that okay?”. We hadn’t expected the well-dressed men and women of Elizabeth Bay to be lining up to get their linens and silks redesigned with raw egg, but apparently Kujin gets a lot of confused customers expecting of a full-blown tong-tossing show. Don’t be discouraged, now. As it turns out, what you lose in theatrics you gain manyfold in honest Japanese food instead.
The barbecue pork buns are reason enough to make a beeline for this tiny dumpling den. Soft pillowy buns come folded gently around a tender piece of pork with a brace of crackling along the top, strips of green onion and cucumber and a swipe of hoisin sauce. They come two to a serve and you’ll want to double down – so don’t make plans to share. Now is not the time to practice moderation, so order up your own serve of bite-sized roast duck pancakes, too.
On a budget?
There's a host of restaurants around Sydney serving up tasty food at prices that won't leave your wallet empty.