A Top Chef and a Food Critic on Where to Eat in Sydney
When our experts agree on Sydney’s best late-night bite, take note.
The chef: Dan Pepperell
Owner-chef of two of Sydney’s hottest haunts, Restaurant Hubert in the CBD and Alberto’s Lounge in Surry Hills.
The critic: Joanna Savill
Qantas magazine’s NSW food reviewer and host of SBS TV series The Food Lovers’ Guide to Australia.
The restaurant that nails the Sydney vibe
DP: Sean’s on Bondi Beach encompasses ocean breezes, sea views and laid-back yet professional service. It’s great for a special occasion but you also feel at home if you’ve walked straight off the sand dressed in shorts and sandals.
JS: Poly in Surry Hills is the epitome of Sydney’s dining scene at the moment, offering great sit-down options, fantastic wine and small bites for those who like to graze.
Meal with a view
DP: Hands-down, Icebergs at Bondi Beach. The food and service match the view. The sea salt-crusted bistecca from the grill with Terzini salad and a side of French fries is perfect in so many ways.
JS: I take all my overseas visitors to Bennelong. People are always gobsmacked by sitting in the Opera House eating really delicious Australian food. My pick is the red claw yabbies with buckwheat pikelets, cultured cream and lemon jam.
For a late-night bite
DP: Chat Thai. The original one in Haymarket – Sydney now has seven – is open until 2am. Thai food after a day’s work is awesome – so fresh, vibrant and spicy. There are some hot noodle dishes and a delicious papaya salad with fermented crab but my favourite is the salted mackerel fried rice.
JS: You can’t go wrong with Chat Thai. My go-to is a bowl of soup or one of the delicious noodle dishes and a dessert.
The best fine dining
DP: Sunday lunch at Sixpenny in Stanmore is a must. Watching the afternoon sun shine through the curtains in the beautiful dining room while eating poached Dutch cream potato with oyster and abalone emulsion is pretty magical.
JS: I’m calling it as LuMi Dining. Federico Zanellato and his team mesh his Italian heritage with Japanese techniques in this unassuming part of Darling Harbour. My pick is the divine filled pasta, which alternates between agnolotti and tortellini.
Top spot for a working lunch
DP: Rockpool Bar & Grill in the CBD is the ultimate power lunch spot. There’s everything from bruschetta, burgers and pasta to King George whiting cooked over charcoal.
JS: Bentley Restaurant + Bar is fantastic. There are plenty of vegetable dishes alongside the meat and fish options at this CBD eatery, making it a breeze to deal with dietary requirements.
Sydney’s best breakfast
DP: Yellow in Potts Point serves a great weekend brunch. The brekkie picks are the kombu scrambled eggs served with green chilli and nori or the toasted liquorice bread. Snag a table outside for prime people-watching.
JS: Ruby’s Diner in the eastern suburbs caters to all tastes. My daughters are well looked after with the pistachio and quinoa granola. I have a sweet tooth so I go for French toast with ricotta.
DP: I take my daughter, Marlo, to The Dolphin Hotel for pizza every week – it’s a Surry Hills institution. They use a slow-fermented, Roman-style dough and have a good selection of natural wines plus colouring-in stencils for the little ones.
JS: Chiosco by Ormeggio in Mosman has a great family-friendly menu – even their chef’s set menu is perfect for kids big and small, serving up deep-fried calamari, pasta and Nutella bomboloni.
DP: The confit of ocean trout at Tetsuya’s in the city. It’s a slow-cooked piece of Petuna ocean trout with kombu, trout roe and fennel salad – one of the great dishes of the world and unique to Sydney.
JS: The aged tuna tartare at Paddington’s Saint Peter. What Josh and Julie Niland do there is so inventive. They serve it with dashi jelly flavoured with nasturtium and bonito flakes. It brings together a litany of influences – Asian dashi, European-style tartare and Sydney’s creative flair.
Best place for solo dining
DP: I like to pull up a stool at the bar at 10 William Street. The pretzel with whipped bottarga and tiramisu is sensational. The Paddington venue has a good party vibe later in the evening so there’s a chance you can make some new friends.
JS: The Caribbean stylings of Momofuku Seiōbo at The Star complex in Pyrmont can be enjoyed solo. Sit at the small counter and watch your meal being prepared by the talented chefs.
DP: The Sydney Fish Market at Pyrmont is fantastic. Order sashimi and oysters from any of the purveyors, grab some hot chips then sit on the wharf and fend off the seagulls while you watch the fishing boats potter about.
JS: I love Pilu at Freshwater. It sits right beside the beach and the Sardinian food is just amazing. I love their award-winning bottarga served shaved over a crudo di pesce. Don’t miss the flaky seadas for dessert.