This is the definitive, ranked list of where to eat in Sydney right now. These are the top restaurants we send our friends and family to when they ask for recommendations. They’re the places that are more than just exciting food and exceptional drinks – they’re also a guaranteed good time. We’ve thrown in a mix of price points because sometimes you want to drop cash like a tourist and eat inside the Opera House, and sometimes you want a mini-treat, like some next level Bangladeshi food.
If you want a better idea of how we price things there’s this helpful guide, and remember those dollar signs don’t include drinks.
There’s some old faithfuls on this list that we keep coming back to, but we prioritised innovation, excitement and fun so that you can start at the top and work your way through the best restaurants Sydney has to offer. Bon appétit!
If you're working on a budget try these cheap hacks for fancy places.
Or maybe you just want a drink? Here's 50 of Sydney's best bars to help you along.
RECOMMENDED:The 50 best cheap eats in Sydney.
Sydney restaurants for your hit list
When we were considering contenders for Sydney’s Restaurant of the Year for 2017, we asked ourselves where we’re most likely to send people when asked for a recommendation. We thought about where we spend our own human dollars when we want a special dinner. Chef Mat Lindsay is a master of light and shade. He slings big, punchy flavours into the wood-fired oven so that the blistering heat can work its magic, softening the fat under the skin of a tender half duck, blackening the leaves of a half head of cauliflower and drawing the deep seabed flavours out of the shells of their famous king prawns.
There is no waitlist long enough to come between the love Sydneysiders have for this underground French bistro from the hospo legends that brought us smash hits like Shady Pines Saloon and the Baxter Inn. Shaking the pans is Daniel Pepperell (formerly of 10 William Street), and what he can do to a simple chicken is nothing short of sorcery. You will return for round two of that perfect golden hen, a king's ransom in delicious wine and the closest thing to a time machine back to Belle Époque Paris.
Ringside seats don’t get better than the stools lining the Momofuku Seiobo kitchen. This is as close to the cooking action as you can get without head chef Paul Carmichael reaching over and handing you a veggie peeler and a bag of spuds. Or course, there are tables if you’re dining in a group, but trust us, you want to be sitting up at the glossy black bench so that the chefs can slide dishes straight into your waiting hands. It’s the personal touch that makes time fly when you sit down for the $185 menu, and yes, you do want the full beverage pairing for an extra $110, because no one in the city is having as much fun pairing food with wines, sake, beers and fortifieds than the somm here.
Behind the little linen curtains and dark timber façade of this new addition to Oxford Street you’ll find a dining experience so warm and inviting it feels like you’ve gone back in time to Julia Child’s kitchen. Perched up at one of the two marble-topped counters in Fred’s open kitchen, you could almost be at a friend’s house for dinner, except your friend is insanely wealthy and possesses two commercial stoves, a domed wood-fired oven and a double-wide hearth with twin fires burning merrily in its grates. It’s also important to note that in this high-life fantasy the friend cooking your dinner is Danielle Alvarez, who upped stumps from the lauded Californian eatery Chez Panisse and brought her skills down under to launch a French-country-style restaurant in Paddington.
Do you know your blood clams from your flame cockles? Or what the hell a stargazer is? Josh Niland does. This young gun chef wants to personally introduce you to the treasures of the high seas, and surprisingly he isn’t planning on charging you your weight in doubloons for the privilege. He's ushering in a new era of fancy fish dining in Sydney with his first restaurant, Saint Peter, named after the patron saint of fisher-people, net makers and shipbuilders. Aside from the comforting reliability of oysters that are as fresh and briny as the sea, and a very upmarket fish and chips, the menu here changes from day to day, depending on what prized items Niland’s suppliers have wrested from the fishing nets that morning.
This might just be the most 'Sydney' dining experience there is. Kylie Kwong is famous for melding her Chinese heritage with native Australian ingredients and flavours, but this isn't the kind of fusion you eat once and tick off the bucket list – you'll want to come back again and again for more tangles of native greens in ginger and soy, those little crisp saltbush cakes (a riff on the classic shallot pancake) and market seafood in an XO sauce that is so good it will hit you with flashbacks like the culinary equivalent of Burning Man.
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) in a subterranean former bakery in Potts Point. Just like you did at Moon Park, you should start every meal here with the ddeokbokki. A two-bite tortilla with octopus is a quick and easy way to get into the fusion spirit, but they really bring their a-game with the shallot pancake. It’s almost like a roti with its buttery, pull apart quality. They fill it with green onions and then layer parma ham on top, which gives it a metallic, salty bite balanced out by juicy mushrooms.
Your uni cashew nut chicken has about as much relationship to the Thai food you’ll eat at the Sydney wing of David Thompson’s Long Chim estate (there’s also one in Melbourne and Perth) as a taco kit has to the street food of Oaxaca. The kitchen in the concrete-lined restaurant in Angel Place is a fire and smoke-fuelled locomotive, filling the dining room with that sweet wok breath that promises fat, flat noodles with extra char. You will get a gentle side eye if you order the larp here. It’s famous for being the kind of spicy that lets you see through time – if they think you can’t hack it, they’ll politely find a way to mention that. You can always opt instead for no pain, all gain with a serve of the pork skewers: still fatty, still sweet, still a must order on every visit.
When Yellow ditched meat from its dinner menus last February, the staff noticed a surprising change in its diners. There was a mood-lifting cheer that followed the switch: their fanbase was buoyed by the arrival of a vegetarian restaurant with fine-dining cred. And now Yellow has gone full vegetarian – the brunch menu no longer serves ham-hock consommé or house-smoked pastrami – and Chris Benedet (Rockpool, Cirrus) has over the control decks and, overseen by Yellow co-owner Brent Savage. Short answer: Yellow is as great as ever.
Merging New York's bodegas with Europe's wine bars and Argentina's skill with meats sounds like a pipe dream, but Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore of Porteño, Bodega and LP’s Quality Meats fame made it a reality with Continental Deli Bar Bistro. Here they sling amazing sandwiches by day and some of the best drinks in the business at night. You can dine upstairs for a proper sit-down dinner, but there's equal fun to be had downstairs where you can spend all your money on cheese, cured meats, house-tinned seafood, cocktails in cans and the kinds of natural wines that'll make you weak at the knees.
There aren't many places in Sydney that so perfectly straddle the casual/high-end dining divide as LP's Quality Meats. Don't get us wrong, you could turn up in dungarees and be greeted with equal hospitality, but it's what they're pulling out of the smoker, ovens and fridges at this Chippendale barbecue hall that deserves a spot at the fancy table. On any night they might be inverting a classic veal tonnato to create a raw tuna dish served with a veal jus, and slicing up an gelatinous Italian sausage made with pork shoulder. And no visit is complete without a serve of the short rib or those famous smoked chickens. Bring a crew and arrive hungry.
We may have come a long way from our cave-man days, but the one thing that hasn't changed is that everything tastes better cooked over fire. It's why chef Lennox Hastie spends his nights by the glowing maw of a wood-fired oven, scooping out piles of hot coals so that he can grill freshly split marron, pippies that they dress to the nines in a spicy n'duja, and a rose (ethical) veal rib eye that's as soft as silk and served on the bone. Their beef obsession has seen that famous dry-aged steak hit the $167 mark, but if you can't quite stretch that far, they're even putting the essence of dry-aged beef in their riff on a vodka Martini.
You can’t help but feel like a serious power broker with your back up against the plummy leather banquette and a dry-aged steak that’s big enough to feed two. The juiciness and perfectly caramelised fat on this steak is all the set-dressing it requires, but a sprinkling of salt, some tender, fragrant Jerusalem artichoke nubs and a few choice garlic cloves reduced to a pungent paste inside their skins are an entourage we want to party with again. Take a bite, lean back, close your eyes and let the endorphins course through you.
Set aside almost half a day, check the ship schedule and book yourself lunch at Quay. It'll take the better pat of four hours to get through one of the country's most famous degustations, but it's a bucket-list item no Sydneysider should leave unchecked. Peter Gilmore has earned his place at the top of the dining game with dishes like a cured egg yolk in a potato foam with burnt leeks and trout roe – imagine the world's fanciest coddled egg – and a salt-baked pumpkin that will shame every Sunday roast that ever dared to step to this perfectly executed vegetable. Save your dollars and splurge on a deg at Quay. You won't regret it.
You’d think going out for a little fancy fish with water views would be an simple request in a harbour-front city, but it's taken culinary kingpins Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt opening Cirrus to finally nail the brief. To deprive yourself of the roasted tiger prawns here would be cruel and unusual punishment for any crustacean fan. The heat draws that savoury bisque flavour out of the shells and then they match it hit for hit with a miso mustard and a mayo spiked with pickled and roasted Padrón peppers. That sound you can hear is a thousand company cards hitting the table for a restaurant that finally ticks all the bucket list boxes for a Sydney dining experience
Picking up the giant menu book at Golden Century is like sitting down for story time, but the tale you’re about to embark on involves a lot of shellfish, eating all the fried things and having hazy recollections of thinking that second bottle of Hunter Valley chardonnay from Scarborough was a bonza idea. You can’t call yourself a true Sydneysider unless you’ve had at least one post-rager dinner here ordering sticky, burgundy-hued barbecue pork, steamed prawn dumplings, fried spring rolls and salt and pepper squid. In fact, they’ll salt and pepper pretty much anything that stays still long enough, and while the tofu is good, the pork ribs are better.
It’s rare that a restaurant stands alone. But that’s just the case with Automata at the Old Clare Hotel in Chippendale. There simply isn’t anywhere else like it. It’s a place where the menu is equal parts challenging and delicious, and the drinks list is much of the same. It’s a thrilling place to eat a meal, and you’ll leave feeling inspired and excited. Here’s why. It’s all down to the man behind the pass, Clayton Wells. As co-owner and head chef of Automata, the once-Momofuku Seiōbo sous chef has become one of the most unique culinary voices in Sydney. And the best part is that if you don't have time for the full deg you can do a three-course fly-by to get a quick taste.
You might not expect a seriously schmick wine bar and restaurant housed in the original Fairfax building in the heart of the CBD to be all about inclusivity, but the Bentley Restaurant and Bar by sommelier Nick Hildebrandt and chef Brent Savage wants everyone to have a good time. If you’re not here for the full sit-down dining experience that’s A-OK (but if you can you should). You can sit at the bar and pine after whatever is hanging in the dedicated charcuterie cupboard. Vegans get their very own tasting menu here – eight courses of the fanciest veg within the city limits and the wine list is a tome of good taste.
Frills and frippery can be fun, but nothing tops tripped back Italian in the weekend lunch stakes. Fratelli Paradiso has been dishing up the goods for close to two decades and it's still as stuffed as a fresh cannoli on a Saturday at noon. Stop by for a twirl of linguini with pesto (so simple, so right) or a crisp golden saltimbocca. Their spaghetti with scampi is legendary, as it their one kilo steaks. It might all be food you're familiar with, but it's the gold class edition, which is what makes you want to be a regular here.
They've clearly put a lot of thought into how people are going to approach the beautiful restaurant inside the Opera House sails. For some, they'll be after the full fancy, with a set menu at one of the tables that look out over the harbour and park. Other people might go for the less structured approach at the cured and cultured bar. Or you can drop in unannounced and perch up at the bar. Even here you can still order the yabbies, served in their shells and destined to be wrapped gently in a buckwheat pikelet that has gotten a modern Devonshire makeover with a punchy lemon jam and a cultured cream. Imagine an Australian twist on a blini. They also do a fancy sausage roll, and their desserts have reached cult status, especially the pavlova shaped like the building you're eating it in.
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. Behind the scenes is pretty much Sydney’s dining dream team. Like the interior, the menu is pared-back with a Japanese feel. Inspired by the izakayas of Japan, where Barthelmess and Christie have both spent a good deal of time, it has plenty of snacks, raw options and meats cooked over coals, and the drinks list is as impressive as the food.
You probably just popped your head in for a cheeky glass of vino but once the aroma of shellfish, garlic and chilli in the tangled thicket of spaghettini hits you, you may as well relinquish your evening plans. Even if this tiny wine bar and restaurant looks packed from the street (it always does) it’s worth seeing if there’s a table upstairs. Even better is scoring a seat right in the thick of things down on the ground floor, where a genial ballet of glasses, plates, guests and floor staff twirls around you. If you’ve graduated to bigger wines, sommelier Andy Ainsworth has packed plenty of funk onto the by-the-glass list with the likes of the blushing Sicilian Suscaru from Frank Cornelissen and the Czech Milan Nesterec pinot gris.
It's the restaurant that made a simple baloney sandwich an Instagram sensation, a soft milk bun bearing a sour, bright tomato sauce and a smooth, light slice of baloney. It's also the restaurant with the nicest front of house staffer in the city (seriously, you'll worry that Cam Fairbairn is a long-lost friend you've forgotten, so warm is his greeting). The wine list has a lot of love for natural, skin contacty drops and the food is the right amount of punk, serving linguine with black garlic, burned chilli and crunchy fried pieces to create an umami-bomb in comfort food disguise.
Like an oasis in the desert, a charming Italian trattoria is the last thing you expect to find in the quiet backstreets of residential Alexandria. Seek out Pino’s Vino e Cucina, however, and you will discover that the combination of dark timber, warm candlelight, soft leather banquettes, excellent wine and one of Sydney’s most tender steaks results in the only place you want to eat at for the foreseeable future. The main event is an 850g Fiorentina T-bone. Your ancestors fought a lot of sabre-tooths to ensure you got to order a giant, tender, juicy steak served on the bone in the comfort of inner Sydney instead of having to slay it yourself. The only thing missing from this perfect Italian scene is a fluffy tiramisú that seems to defy gravity, and it’s yours for the asking.
Sydney might have invented the dance known as ‘queuing for hours for a hot new restaurant’ but that aspirational jig was perfected by Melburnians when Chin Chin, the Modern Thai eatery on Flinders Lane, proved that the quickest route to popularity was a hot wok, a cache of chilis and a stocked bar. And it’s not like they didn’t plan for crowds. The big, open dining room seats 160 people, plus there’s spillover into the booths in the darker, more industrial GoGo bar. They’ve effectively taken a bellows to the smouldering love of South East Asian food that is at the core of Sydney dining, and the best part is it's not as expensive as you think.
This Japanese restaurant is hidden on a sketchy dead-end laneway where the CBD meets Surry Hills, and so the last thing you’ll be expecting when you duck under the fabric awning is a portal to Nippon. But this is as pure an expression of Japanese dining in Sydney as you’ll come across. The aesthetic is so achingly restrained you’ll feel bad for even bringing your emotional baggage into such a pure, calm space. And clearly people are very keen to spend a night in this oasis – bookings are essential at the 25-seat restaurant.
When was the last time you had lemon chicken? The entry-level Chinese dish might have had a starring role in your family nights out during the mid ’80s, but as awareness of regional Chinese cuisine grew, suburban classics took a back seat. But everything old is new again now that Jade Temple is championing old-school Chinese We now have a very good reason to get dressed up on a Sunday and head into the city for a boozy lunch, and that reason is the prawn and scallop siu mai here, given a solid paddy whacking with white pepper and packed until their wrappers are straining. Pudgy prawn har gow packed with MSC Spencer Gulf prawns are the right kind of sticky, and gently pickled, soft, ridged cucumber with squashy, earthy black mushroom fronds parry the vinegar with spice.
They’re committed to the big reveal at Oscillate Wildly. As each dish makes a perfect-ten, silent landing on the crisp, white tablecloth, you will only be furnished with the bare minimum of description of what’s in front of you. That’s the point. If they gave you Cliff’s Notes your expectations would already be formed and your palate prepared for what’s coming. At Newtown’s longstanding, 11-table fine diner, they don’t want to pad the process of discovery. Karl Firla conducts your gastronomic journey with finesse, kicking things off by condensing the full flavour bomb of a Caesar salad into a single bit of cos heart, filled not with love for humanity but with a creamy sauce that carries the smoky essence of bacon and anchovies.
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. If you're ever going to shell out for a whole mid crab doused in garlic butter, now is the time and here is the place to do it. Plus, high end dumplings don't come more delicately constructed than the parcels available on the dim sum menu by day.
You're not so much dining by the water as you are directly on top of it at this wharf restaurant. And to clear up whether Italian Japanese fusion is a good idea, they hit you with a parmesan mochi right off the bat. Let us tell you that that wobbly, savoury, glutinous rice orb will change the way you think about cheese, rice, desserts, snacks and physics. From there just strap in for a degustation that will gently rock your palate while the yachts rock gently outside the big glass windows.
You’d be forgiven for missing this restaurant entirely as you drive among the charming buildings of Stanmore. Even in the daytime, its white net curtains are closed to the street, so that when you step in you enter another space entirely: a little piece of luxury in the suburbs. Luxury, that is, but with a contemporary, produce-driven bent. Much in the style of Biota Dining, the interior is pared back and simple, all the luxe lying in the food. The chefs rather than waiters bring the food to the table during your set dego of four, six or eight courses plus snacks.
If you can't afford to have a top chef come to your home and cook the kind of aspirationally fresh, local and elegant fare you normally see on cooking shows, the next best thing is going out for dinner at Sean's Panaroma. This little beachfront restaurant looks like a coastal café but has the heart of a fine diner, and for nearly 25 years it has been setting the standard for thoughtful modern Australian cooking. These guys were all about the local produce long before it was cool. Sean Moran, the titular chef, splits his time between the Bilpin farm, his Mount Tomah restaurant in the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens and the Bondi restaurant, but you’ve got Sam Robertson running the Bondi kitchen, so your dinner is in safe, and experienced, hands.
When you want to live your best pre-GFC life and drop cash on red meat, red wine and oysters, this is the best place in Sydney to indulge yourself. Start off at the cold bar where raw seafood is the go, before levelling up to a whole coral trout out of the charcoal oven as a stepping stone to the dedicated beef menu that includes prime cuts from David Blackmore's full blood wagyu herd; Richard Gunner's dry-aged, grass-fed Herefords; and Cape Grim dry-aged beef at 36-months old or the vintage stock at 60-months old.
This is the most impressive sushi counter in Sydney. The only challenge is landing one of those eight spots that let you take both hands off the wheel and let chef Chase Kojima do the driving during your omakase dining experience. Eating at the sushi bar is a matter of patience. Chances are if you’ve booked in for the experience, you’re not expecting instant dinner. This is more like watching art unfold act by act. Each piece, small and perfectly formed, is made carefully in front of you, served individually and placed on a hand-made ceramic plate. It’s quiet, methodical and almost hypnotic, watching someone score a finger of kingfish belly 47 times before seasoning it with mustard and black pepper.
Often overshadowed by its sister venues Porteño and LP’s Quality Meats, Bodega sometimes feels like their shier, quieter sibling. But this eatery ain’t no shrinking violet. Sure, it’s framed as a tapas restaurant, but portions are generous, flavours are banging and the drinks list is killer. It’s got that upbeat vibe inside, too. It’s designed like a ’50s diner, with two rooms in which to dine, a wide-open kitchen and service that is quirky as much as it is attentive. It’s the neighbourhood restaurant you’ve always wanted, right in the centre of Surry Hills.
Icebergs can be everything you love about Sydney, or it can be everything you hate. Those with even a slight case of reverse snobbery might accuse this top-shelf Bondi restaurant of being a little private beach club at times. Admittedly, fellow diners do have a tendency to give off a ‘comfortable on any size yacht’ vibe. But letting that get in the way of what could potentially be an epic lunch would be a mistake. Because when it’s good, it’s very, very good and the views are the best in the city.
You don’t come to Sagra to show off. It’s not about pomp or prestige, any more than fiddly garnishes or fancy plating. But taking someone there will impress them, because this is one of Sydney’s most beloved modern Italians. It’s the simplicity of things that is Sagra’s drawcard. The space reflects this – it feels like you’re stepping into someone’s home as you walk into the little terrace building. Tables are close together and service is warm and helpful – which is good, because much of the menu is in Italian, so you’ll need some steering.
The first thing that hits you when you visit Pilu is the view. This Sardinian restaurant (the only one in Sydney, mind) is built in a huge old weatherboard house looking out over the beach at Freshwater. In winter, catch the whales migrating. In summer, watch as locals take to the sea. Chef Giovanni Pilu is all about celebrating classic Sardinian fare. Make sure to order ahead for the incredible platter of golden, crisp-skinned suckling pig and rosemary potatoes. And there’s the zuppa gallurese – a monumental dish of Sardinian crispbread soaked in lamb broth then coated in a layer of melted cheese like a big, fluffy bread-lasagne-soufflé thing. Damn tasty, at any rate.
Inside the beautifully restore Marie Louise salon on Enmore Road you can sit upstairs in the dining room-proper, but we’re all about the casual vibes of the black and white-toned downstairs bar, where you can sit next to your partner and watch all the action of the bar unfold. The name Stanbuli is taken from the Turkish slang for Istanbul, and that’s what the food here is all about: real Turkish food, by way of head chef Kasif.
At Bacco Osteria, they’re playing the long game. Classic, three-ingredient Italian fare and ace wine might not be the hot new thing, but importantly it’s what people actually want to eat most nights of the week. This glass-fronted wedge of restaurant along the Angel Place warren in the CBD is just behind the City Recital Hall, so that’s a big thumbs up for a post-concert plate of pasta, and it’s pared-back, functional aesthetic is the right pitch for regular CBD diners who want to be able to drop in for cured meats and wine straight from the office without a change of costume.
In a modest Japanese restaurant on the Pacific Highway in Crows Nest, a chef nicknamed ‘Kuririn’ for his likeness to the manga character, is possibly the most unsung culinary hero in the country. Behind a small sushi counter at the back of HaNa Ju-Rin restaurant, Kuririn, aka Tomoyuki Matsuya, is a performance artist. He works solemnly, with precision and economy of movement – deft hands forming vinegared rice; the smallest, most elegant wrist gesture as he pulls a svelte Japanese knife through a piece of fish; a neat tilt of his head as he places the sushi on your plate.
There’s only one place you need to be right now, and that’s face-first in a focaccia con porchetta. The outrageous sandwich is a hot, fatty, rich and juicy pile of chopped-up roast pork straight from the rotisserie, laid with crisp cos lettuce leaves and grilled eggplant, all smooshed between pieces of pizza bread in a happy delicious mess. The pizzas here are excellent, but for our money we would even consider going round two on the porchetta, this time served is soft slices with a little jug of pan juices and a squeeze of lemon.
Our advice is as true today as it was when we first wrote it: don’t order everything, as much as you’ll want to. You will leave Apollo uncomfortably full. Start with the taramasalata – a dip of mullet roe and yoghurt – with house-made pita bread points served warm in a little pizza box. There’ll be pickles and olives and then out comes the Greek salad with a big slice of fetta laid over the top of chunks of cucumber, tomato, red onion and finely chopped oregano. And then there’s the crowning glory – the sticky roast lamb.
Bang is serving up food inspired by the streets of Dhaka, and injecting new life and flavour into one of Sydney’s most popular dining strips, Crown Street. Bucking the share plate trend, Bang separates its service into starter, main and dessert. So bear in mind that your small plates will all arrive at the same time, and cleared before the larger dishes land. After years of one-dish-at-a-time dining, it’s actually refreshing to be able to eat this way, like holding your own pick’n’mix party – a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
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.
The Dolphin Hotel has been taken over by none other than Maurice Terzini, the man behind Icebergs and Da Orazio, and he’s brought everything but the sand with him. Everything about the place screams Bondi Beach: the high ceilings strung with long, tassled lighting; the crystal-white tones everywhere you look; the mirrored pizza oven in the corner and most of all, the beautiful people sitting all around. It’s Bondi, in all its glamour and glitz. But it’s all happening in an old pub on Crown Street.
Now that Merivale have sprinkled some fairy pub-mother magic (and a whole lot of cash) on the place it’s an impressive sight. Downstairs the public bar at the front and the dining room up the back are lined in dark timber and lit with an antique, golden glow, and upstairs in the breezy, greenhouse dining room Patrick Friesen and Christopher Hogarth are making sure any crustacean blow-out you indulge in is a solid investment in your future happiness. Order the deeply savoury kombu butter mud crab, spiked with lemongrass for a full mess affair, or the typhoon shelter crab, a style famously made at the Under Bridge Spicy Crab restaurant in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district.
If you want to pinpoint the exact moment that Oxford Street in Paddington got its groove back, it was when ex-Momofuku chef Ben Greeno threaded the first lot of Bannockburn free-range chickens onto the newly installed rotisserie at the Paddington. Those brined chooks are the major reason there’s a waiting list at this schmicked-up pub opposite the Paddington United Church – all the foams, foraged treats and fusion in Sydney seemingly can’t beat a juicy piece of chicken with sticky, golden-brown skin for crowd appeal. And the best news of all is it isn’t going to bankrupt you to get it.
What was once a hugely popular food truck has morphed in to a hugely popular restaurant, slinging the flavours of Malaysia in sleepy Castlecrag. Don’t worry though – the crab is still on the menu. Phew. Like at Lex Wong's food truck, the inspiration for the food comes from all over Asia, and boy does this man know how to mix-up a plate. You have to get the soft shell crab. It’s a pile of ultra-fresh, crisp-edged crab surrounded by a pool of spicy, oily, tomato based chilli sauce and four little fried, crisp, fluffy mantou buns for swiping up all that sauce.
This gorgeous room has a real inner west sensibility – lots of upcycled timber, black painted metal and a cute feathered fake duck at the counter. But if the room is inner west, the menu is most certainly pegged in the deep south. The American deep south, that is. You’ll want to go for the crunchy, golden fried chicken, all juicy on the inside and served with buttery, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits – those buttery American-style scones they serve all through the south – and sausage gravy. And keep your eyes out for their brunches. They don't happen often so jump at the chance when they do.