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People’s Choice: Best Restaurant

They’re still your number one after all these years, and with very good reason

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Winner: Porteño

Sydney is a high stakes town when we’re talking red meat. You can drop well north of $100 on prime cuts at Firedoor, Ester and Fred’s, and they’re not even dedicated beef dealers like Rockpool Bar and Grill. But if you want a seriously excellent steak that’s not the-best-part-of-a-week’s-rent expensive, let Porteño’s red hot grill lure you in for a rib eye on the bone ($58) that’s been treated right. 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. You can start the meal with cattle too, and you should. The vitello tonnato is a spinning top of flavours with soft cooked veal, mackerel’s insistent brininess, capers, cress, and crunchy fried onions. Paper-thin slices of fresh lemon rally everything together with the tuna mayonnaise that’s only politely oceanic. Meat is undoubtedly the star of Sydney’s most beloved Argentine asado house, but with their move to Holt Street they were able to make room for a lot more on the menu than their fabled pork and lamb, cooked slowly over the glowing coals. Seafood steps up for its moment in the sun as the fish of the day, stuffed with creamy coconut rice and wrapped up in a banana leaf before being cooked over the flames. Big fillets of John Dory become flaky and soft, taking you on a trip to Kokomo with each bite thanks to the zippy, green papita sauce, fresh coriander, and fried plantains for a taste of the tropics. Start your meal with a glass of the Ben Marco for a whole lot of fruity suede with soft, round edges thanks to the mix of malbec grapes from Mendoza. Finish it with the milk flan. It’s a light, wobbling minx in its own right, and with the addition of twin horns of dulce de leche and whipped cream, it’s demonically delicious – you’ll be riding that sugar wave all night long. Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz, the dual kings of their own Sydney dining empire, have turned grilled meat into a borderline religious experience. It’s no wonder that Porteño is taking home the People’s Choice Award for 2017.

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