January in Sydney means the arrival of Sydney Festival, with mind-bending art installations, thrilling theatre performances and live music turning the city into an exciting cultural playground. Our city also loves to express its creative spirit through food, with a melting pot of cultural cusines as diverse as the people that live here and modern culinary creations to excite your palate.
Eateries across the city are joining the creative momentum of Sydney Festival, offering Sydney Festival Feast menus to enjoy before you head into a show or to debrief over afterwards. From the city centre to Parramatta, from Circular Quay to the Inner West restaurant district, there are options covering everything from Chinese feasts to modern Australian cuisine with sharing in mind. Check out the full list of participating venues and their menu options.
Sydney Festival Feasts 2020
If you’re looking for a fresh pre- or post-show feast that is perfectly placed about a five minute stroll from the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent in Hyde Park, this Middle Eastern eatery could be just what you need. Dining on the rooftop of a Westfield may not be the most glamourous proposal – however Babylon manages to transport you far away, with one of the most beautiful, greenery-laden rooftop dining options in Sydney. The special $55 feast for the Festival involves seven dishes inspired by childhood memories from Turkey. You’ll sample dishes like hummus topped with wattleseed dukkah, smoked eggplant salad and woodfired chicken skewers with tabbouleh and dips.
A walkable distance from Sydney Festival locations like Tumbalong Park, the Domain, QT Sydney and Hyde Park, this Asian-fusion restaurant nestled in the Botanic Gardens makes a great starter for a uniquely Sydney day out. Botanic House is open for lunch during the week and brunch and lunch on the weekends, over the festival they’re offering a six-course shared feast for just $55 a head. The menu designed by chef Luke Nguyen is a modern Asian fusion that marries South East Asian flavours with native Australian Ingredients, with mushroom and tofu rice paper rolls, market fish with lemon myrtle infused coconut milk, and mango pudding.
Perched on top of Customs House and overlooking Circular Quay, Café Sydney has a proudly local and seasonal focus with quality cuts of meat and fresh seafood options like Sydney rock and pacific oysters, Moreton Bay bugs, Coffin Bay octopus and Humpty Doo barramundi. They’ll be offering a daily selection of à la carte specials over the Sydney Festival season. This central location is close by to Festival venues including Sydney Opera House and Tumbalong Park.
With Sydney Festival coming to Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres and Prince Alfred Square, it’s the perfect excuse to explore the area's dining scene. You’ll find a lively contemporary Chinese diner in the local branch of Chefs Gallery, where watching the chefs pull noodles and pinch dumplings into plump little parcels behind the glass-walled kitchen is a big part of the fun. Over the Festival they’re offering a $30 feast including a small sharing dish, a serving of noodles or rice and a glass of house wine.
You don’t need to head west for the flavour and theatre of Chefs Gallery: the Town Hall branch will have you sorted for a traditional noodle and dumpling feast with contemporary pan-Asian flair if you’re catching a Sydney Festival show closer to the CBD. Their festival feast includes a small sharing dish, a serving of noodles or rice and a glass of house wine for $30.
This modern Cantonese restaurant and cocktail bar situated on the rooftop at Westfield Pitt Street is another convenient choice for feasting before or after a Spiegeltent show. Designed with the glamour of Art Deco-era Hong Kong and Shanghai in mind, they serve up modern twists on traditional favourites. Over the Festival you can order a sharing feast with seven dishes for $55 per person featuring jade scallop and prawn dumplings, pork and crab meat siu mai, and san pei claypot chicken swimming in thai basil, chilli, garlic, ginger and soy. The best seat is out on the terrace, surrounded by glowing Chinese iron lanterns.
Located in the beautiful, stately surrounds of the Queen Victoria Building, Esquire brings an air of olde-worlde glamour and New York supper club vibes to the Sydney Festival dining options. For $55 you can enjoy a two-course feast from their seasonal à la carte menu. Expect modern Australian dishes like smoked chicken terrine with roasted grapes and apple chutney, salt-baked carrots with teriyaki, or barramundi with smoked onion and sherry caramel. Esquire makes for a refined pre-show meal before a Sydney Town Hall show or a luxurious midnight feast with an internationally sourced selection or wine and cocktails.
This bustling dining room in the middle of the CBD features rotisserie ovens and grills pumping out seafood, steaks, woodfired meats and rotisserie fowl. Throughout Sydney Festival you can enjoy a two-course feast with a glass of wine for just $55. Situated inside the QT Hotel, the restaurant pays homage to the building’s history as the eclectic Gowings department store, with a market-style alley and edgy art pieces. This one is well placed for feasting around shows at the Spiegeltent in Hyde Park at Sydney Town Hall.
Walking into Indu is like walking into a super-slick rabbit warren filled with crescent-shaped booths, hidden below George Street and Angel Place. This Indian eatery celebrates the culture, flavours and local hospitality of southern India and Sri Lanka. For Sydney Festival they’re offering a $55 feast that allows you to sample from each section of the menu. Try traditional dishes like dosa and hopper – the egg hopper is topped with eggplant pickle, pomegranate pearls, goat’s curd and coconut sambol. Albacore tuna croquettes come with black garlic mayo. Other flavours to traverse include heirloom carrots with smoked yogurt and dukkah pistachios, and goan pork belly curry with cardamom and cinnamon bark.
This fine cocktail bar in the business end of town is also serving up a traditional Parisian menu with a fresh spin. Kittyhawk is inspired by Liberation Day in Paris (August 25, 1944), and, more specifically, by the Rum and Rye cocktail that is at the very top of their list. Over Sydney Festival they’re serving a three-course French-inspired feast with a glass or wine or beer for a rather reasonable $55. Try dishes like a truffled-up croque monsieur with smoked ham, gruyère and béchamel; a chicken liver parfait with port jelly; char-grilled top sirloin with Montpellier butter; and gnocchi with grilled corn and hazelnut praline.
This dark and elegant Roman wine bar lives inside the historic Strand Arcade and specialises in age-old Roman dishes and boutique Italian wines. Allow yourself to be seduced by the interior – decked out in dark rose walls, lacquered tables and Edison globes captured in hanging glass cloches – and stay for the Sydney Festival feast, with two courses and a glass of wine for $55. Popular dishes include the petuna salmon carpaccio with Tasmanian salmon, ricotta and pecorino ravioli with Tellicherry black pepper, and gaeta red snapper and salt fish pie with pickled turnip and spinach.
This contemporary Chinese bar and eatery in Darlinghurst is all about the old-school elegance of 1930s Shanghai and food made to share, cooked shaokao-style in the open kitchen. Their festival feast includes six shareable dishes accompanied by a glass of wine, beer or pomegranate iced tea for $55. Share around a mix of dishes inspired by Shanghai street food like kingfish sashimi, steamed prawn and calamari dumplings, and wok-fried Mongolian beef tenderloin with piles of steamed rice and greens. It’s hard to resist sticking around for a cocktail at the bar overlooking Hyde Park, with Asian-inspired flavours to complement the menu.
Follow the neon lights and groovy soundtrack, pass the Twiggy mural on your way up the staircase and you’ll find yourself in Misfits, Redfern’s eclectic bar and lounge that celebrates the proclaimed ‘misfits’ of the silver screen and radio waves. They’ve established themselves as a stop on your cultural pilgrimage with a Sydney Festival feast including a plate of cured meats, salami, pickles and toast with two glasses of wine from their curated selection for $30.
Rubyos is a Newtown institution where locals and visitors alike flock to the University end of King Street for upmarket tapas and modern Australian fusion cuisine. This restaurant has grazing menus to keep everyone happy from plant-based eaters to seafood and meat lovers. Their $55 festival feast will get you a selection of eight signature dishes accompanied by a glass of prosecco. Expect dishes like the ginger poached smooth dory fillet with oriental glass noodle slaw, roasted sweet potato and blue lentil salad with Canadian maple and ricotta, and lemongrass marinated chicken tenderloins with Viternamese mint.
With panoramic views of Circular Quay taking in Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, James Squire’s flagship brewhouse is not a bad place for a drink or something to eat either side of a show. There are decks and terraces for taking in those 270-degree views, and the first-floor restaurant is where you’ll find a menu encompassing modern Australian flavours. Over Sydney Festival you can enjoy a two course feast for $55, with options including hiramasa kingfish crudo with salmon roe or woodfired halloumi with slow-roasted tomatoes for starters, and pan-fried fish with lemon beurre blanc or premium rib fillet with chipotle butter.
Sitting on the edge of Sydney’s Botanic Gardens in the Domain, this restaurant is at the centre of a leafy oasis surrounded by rolling green lawns and the Sydney skyline. The menu consists of honest Italian classics, and their Sydney Festival feast menu allows you to sample from a shared charcuterie board and choose an entreé and main for $55. Choose from arancini or caponata (a Sicilian grilled eggplant salad) with goats cheese and roast almond to start, and for mains there’s a spring pea risotto with mint and pecorino or pappardelle with salted cod and saffron.
Placed within the five-star Park Hyatt Sydney, this restaurant is already a winner for its sweeping harbour views. The modern menu from chefs Etienne Karner and James Richardson draws on European heritage and Australian seasonal produce. It's offering one of the fancier Sydney Festival feasts, a special $55 two-course feast with dishes designed to share. If their existing menu is any indication, this feast will be inventive – take examples like their charred muscovy duck breast with roasted nashi pear and coffee and raisin puree, or the Darling River kangaroo tartare with macadamia.
This restaurant offers modern Australian cuisine, heritage charm, alfresco dining and sweeping views of Walsh Bay and Sydney Harbour from within the Pier One Sydney Harbour Hotel. The menu champions Australian suppliers and providores and the best of local, sustainable ingredients. For Sydney Festival they’re offering a two-course ($55) and three-course ($71) special feast. Select from dishes like raw kingfish with pickled kohlrabi and roast beetroot with black rice and purple mustard, and finish off with a mango passionfruit tart or chocolate dessert with dulce de leche.
This teahouse-style dining space is located within the grounds of Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship, offering a modern interpretation of Chinese high tea to complement the beauty of the garden. Their lunch-only Sydney Festival feast includes lighter sweet and savoury options with a glass of sparkling wine on arrival for $55. There are seven dishes (and rice) including har gau prawn dumplings, spring rolls with king brown mushrooms, salt and pepper calamari and kung pao chicken.