These are the latest openings in Sydney.
Salt Meats Cheese
Following a recent revamp and a new direction, Gateway Sydney’s Popipa Kitchen has reopened as Salt Meats Cheese restaurant. Chefs Massimo Mele and James Roberts are at the helm, with main courses such as the slow-cooked lamb shoulder pasta that ticks all the Italian boxes – it’s rich, hearty and satisfying. But it’s the menu’s starter and antipasti sections that are the real stars.
Drizzled with lemon oil and paired with crusty ciabatta, stringy stracciatella cheese is a decadent start, while butter-soft and perfectly seasoned zucchini fritters are a fitting follow-up. A dense almond cream beautifully ties together grilled octopus and Jerusalem artichokes, while a thick disk of melted parmesan on top of pork and veal balls completes the picture. Enjoy it with an Italian pinot grigio from a succinct but strong wine list. There are desserts, too – from tiramisu and semifreddo to – hold your breath – chocolate pizza with ricotta, banana, ice cream and lashings of honey. But they’re not the restaurant’s strongest suit, so order another entrée.
Level 2, Gateway Sydney, 1 Alfred Street, Circular Quay; (02) 9247 6446
Vizio Caffe e Cucina
William Street’s newest addition is an Italian affair. Well, “80 per cent Italian and 20 per cent Australian,” according to the knowledgeable staff who run this all-day café/restaurant/bar. A marble-topped counter and window seats are prime spots for solo lunchers, while the long banquette is ideal for small and large groups. Vizio's must-order bites include the cheesy pasta and pecorino croquette with San Daniele ham and the crostino alle Sardine with a hint of heat from nduja. Served on a purée of pumpkin and topped with amaretti, the light and moreish butter-soaked pumpkin gnocchi is a standout, too. There are other popular dishes with modern twists: crudo di tonno with macadamia, prawn ravioli with tomato "water" and braised lamb finished with leek "ash". The drinks menu features Aussie picks, a selection of Italian craft beers and unusual wine varietals – and a whole lot of grappa.
Shop 1, 52-58 William Street, Woolloomooloo; (02) 9358 2231
The cheese-laden towers of grass-fed beef at this buzzy new burger joint have a fine pedigree: they’re by molecular chef Tomislav Martinovic, formerly of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck. Contracted by Concept Burger's owners, Sergio Spagnuoli and Coco Liang, Martinovic has dreamed up a menu that picks and chooses from the world’s cuisines. His Chinese burger is a five-spice fried-chicken wonder with fermented-chilli paste. There’s one with pancetta and pecorino (the Italian) and another with field mushroom and truffle paste (the French) but Martinovic has been clever not to move too far from the formula. He knows what makes a burger great and he’s not above a milk bun. The sole dessert – a white-chocolate mousse with passionfruit and cookie crumbs – is a light, fragrant nod to his fine-dining roots.
9-11 Arncliffe Street, Wolli Creek; (02) 9597 4184
The Garden at The Lord Dudley
It's ostensibly a gastropub but the set-up at The Lord Dudley means it's one with a difference. While the venerable pub continues, in all its original (carpeted) glory, to serve up counter-meal classics such as chicken schnitties and lamb’s fry, the newly refurbished restaurant is a completely different proposition. Follow the neon signage down the stairs to find an ambient and welcoming space with rough-hewn sandstone walls, a dozen tables and a handsome marble-topped bar. Brass accents, bentwood chairs and floral prints veer towards the European, as does the menu. Highlights include the famous Dudley pot-pie with its flaky pastry top, the Grill of the Day – perfectly cooked and paired with a rich and satisfying red wine jus – and the Wild Mushroom Arancini served with plenty of parmesan and a truffle aïoli that ensures plates are scraped clean. Cast an eye over the wine list – the impressive offering travels from French Bordeaux to Argentinian malbecs with Aussie drops in between. You could opt for a dessert wine but it's hard to go past the not-too-heavy, creamy, crumbly Sticky Date Ice Cream Sandwich.
236 Jersey Road, Woollahra; (02) 9327 5399
Mode Kitchen & Bar
There are hotel restaurants, then there’s Four Seasons Sydney’s new Mode Kitchen & Bar. Settle into the polished-stone, brass and timber space, order one of the bar’s signature cocktails such as the Contessa – a twist on the classic Negroni – or select something from the 200-strong wine-list before moving onto the real star: the food. Chef Francesco Mannelli has brought his experience from the likes of Est. and Balla to create something all his own at Mode. After years in the kitchen, this is Mannelli’s first head-chef gig and it shows in the care he’s put into the menu. The seafood is a highlight – don't miss the Hiramasa kingfish sashimi and the Fremantle octopus – but there's nothing wrong with his sweet tooth. The carrot cake with citrus and cinnamon doesn’t disappoint.
199 George Street, Sydney; (02) 9250 316
District Brasserie is the new kid on the modern-Australian block – and it's got a grand CBD location, taking on the lower ground floor of the building formerly known as Chifley Plaza (now simply Chifley). The eatery, which resembles an upscale New York steakhouse, matches its distressed walls with aged brass and super-comfortable caramel leather chairs. With head chef Mark Knox (formerly of Public Dining) at the helm, the menu highlights simple and honest food, such as delectable Riverina lamb rump cooked in the restaurant’s spectacular Spanish charcoal oven and paired with blackened eggplant puree and charred shallot. District Brasserie is open for breakfast, too, so office workers can enjoy a freshly baked smoked-salmon-and-lobster croissant from the onsite bakery. And if you’re short on time, pick something from the takeaway menu, featuring a range of French-inspired morsels and locally produced Single O coffee.
Lower Ground Floor, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney; 02 9230 0900
Flour, Eggs, Water
With just three ingredients extruded into straps, strings and tubes, Eugenio Maiale built an ode to pasta in the form of four Sydney restaurants: A Tavola in Darlinghurst and Bondi, Flour Eggs Water at Tramsheds, and the late Besser in Surry Hills. But it’s time for fans of Besser to dry their tears. In its place has sprung up a Surry Hills iteration of Flour, Eggs, Water, all the better, Maiale says, to convey his brand’s core focus (it’s pasta, just in case you hadn’t guessed). The menu retains Besser’s favourites such as polpetti (meatballs) and Bistecca alla Fiorentina but incorporates more of the handmade pastas that made the first pasta bar such a winner. Expert pasta-makers create little pillows of ravioli and tiny crescents of agnolotti; pappardelle, strozzapreti, macaroni and gnocchi serve as vectors for things such slow-cooked lamb ragu and creamy, fall-apart wild boar. The signature dessert, Cremino al Cioccolato, comes in a tiny coffee cup but it’s rich: you must take a slim spoon and dig down through each of four layers – a Nutella-rich mousse, Italian meringue, cake and salted-caramel gelato – to get the full effect.
3/355 Crown Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9331 1611
The new Double Bay outpost of popular Bondi eatery China Diner has brought a bit of a buzz to the backstreet-dining scene at Kiaora Lane. It’s a narrow space with booths along one side, high tables, a long bar and some street-side seating. Kick off with the fun fruit-driven cocktail list: a lychee-garnished Lil’ Gene is a not-too-sweet, not-too-strong start to the evening, while a Lemongrass & Coconut Sour is essentially an Asian-influenced piña colada. Although a few Bondi favourites make an appearance on the menu, regulars can expect a changing list of Chinese-inspired share dishes. Masterstock pork belly with chilli and caramel; prawn and water chestnut dumplings; and five-spice duck pancakes are crowd-pleasers but stray from the usual suspects and you’ll discover a few hidden gems: raw ocean trout is served with slightly sweet and funky spice-driven apple kimchi; a comforting eggplant, mushroom and snow pea dish has a decidedly smoky edge; and the super-crisp and herby Asian slaw gets a punchy hit of yuzu. When it comes to dessert, plan A has to be the coconut and vanilla sago with fresh raspberries. Plan B is black sticky rice with caramelised banana and salty peanut praline. And plan C? Order both.
16 Kiaora Lane, Double Bay; (02) 9326 1900
NOLA Smokehouse and Bar
A piece of New Orleans has come to Sydney. Fitted out with cane chairs, shutter windows and bursts of colour (soothing blue on the floor; vivid red on the walls), NOLA creates a relaxed southern American vibe right in the middle of Sydney’s Barangaroo. Open the vast, harbour-facing windows at this second-floor eatery, let the sea breeze in and your Louisiana life is complete. That is, after you’ve ordered your share of Creole-spiced okra and steak tartare from the bar menu or enjoyed the house-smoked glazed pork knuckle with pickled bullhorn peppers and slaw. And don’t forget the drinks. There are 450 American whiskies to choose from as well as a bevy of cocktails – from Absinthe Sazeracs to fruity Hurricanes.
Level 1, International Tower 1, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo South; 02 9188 3039
Expect a front-row seat at one of Sydney's most iconic, and happening, beaches and a tight but crowd-pleasing menu of considered dishes at the recently revamped Hotel Ravesis. Unsurprisingly, there's a strong selection of seafood – from a free-form, freshly rolled pasta with local crab to a seared tuna burger. There are also a few unexpected – but welcome – entries on the menu, such as vegan porcini paté and grilled kangaroo skewers. The likes of steak frites, pork schnitzel and sourdough pizzas cover off the pub favourites, while the drinks list is a cut above, featuring classic cocktails and a you-won't-need-to-agonise single-page wine list concentrating on Aussie, New Zealand and French drops.
118 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach; (02) 9365 4422
Image: Nikki To
There are many reasons to visit 12-Micron – the sprawling 230-seat establishment located on the second floor on Barangaroo Avenue, with uninterrupted views of the harbour (pleasant) and the still-under-construction casino (not so pleasant). The high-ceilinged bar – with mixed seating, plenty of daylight as well as an outdoor terrace area – is perfect for sundowners. Try Smokey Bee, a heady basil-laced concoction of Hendricks and limoncello before making your way to the dining room for a menu brimming with seasonal Australian produce. Justine Wise (of Melbourne’s Press Club) is at the helm, with hearty dishes such as roast lamb and seared duck. Whatever you do, don’t miss the sweet offerings in the 64-seater dessert-bar section. Options range from fermented strawberry and white-chocolate cheesecake to lemon tarts. And you don’t need to settle for just one, thanks to three-, five- or seven-course dessert dégustation menus by Melbourne patissiere Darren Purchese.
Level 2, 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo; 02 8322 2075
Image: Ryan Linnegar
The latest addition to the Lotus Dining Group, Madame Shanghai – situated on the edge of the city overlooking Hyde Park – isn’t just another sizable Chinese diner. Striking velvet curtains, Oriental-inspired patterned carpet and Chinoiserie create a captivating ambience. With a focus on street food, the menu is a mash-up of Asian flavours, such as tempura jasmine smoked fish with Chinese five spice; and sticky pork hock with tamarind. Cocktail artist Kate McGraw has put a refreshing twist on classics and the standouts include the Great Imperial with lemongrass vermouth, spiced lychee and rose, and the Poets and Artists with buttered cognac, mustard seed and liquorice root. From Thursday to Sunday there’s a brunch-time menu of yum cha favourites (scallop and snow-pea dumpling, mushroom spring rolls and xiao long bao).
18 College Street, Darlinghurst; (02) 8318 8618
Image: Alana Dimou
Located in the heart of Circular Quay’s brand new Gateway gastro-complex, Tokyo Laundry is Melbourne entrepreneur David Loh’s first foray into the Sydney food scene. The 180-seat restaurant/bar feels fresh and contemporary, with floor-to-ceiling windows that bathe the purple and stone interiors with natural light. The decor is much like the menu, which has been devised by Masahiko Yomoda (formerly of Michelin-starred Arbace in Tokyo) and executed by head chef Naoki Hozawa: Japanese history and tradition entwined with modern artistic flair. Try Yomoda creations such as Hiramasa carpaccio with jalapeño sauce, olives and yuzu; and Hokkaido scallop gratin. Before you begin, make sure you’ve ordered a salted-seaweed-rimmed Junmai sake gin and tonic. And make note: a Champagne and oyster bar will soon be added to the line-up.
Level 1, Gateway Sydney, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney; 02 9251 3323
Everyone should have at least one Greek friend but if for some unforgivable reason you don’t, Sydney’s 1821 demonstrates what you’re missing. It’s larger than life but revels in simplicity; it eyes the future adventurously while acknowledging its cultural past. Despite towering ceilings, the sophisticated space – with its clever decorative nods to Greece’s War of Independence – still feels intimate. Chef David Tsirekas has framed a menu with cheeky multicultural twists (Greek San Choy Bow) that deftly honours the staples (BBQ Lamb Shoulder) and subtly reveises others (Custard Filo Pie). Here in this unambiguously Greek space, you don’t break the plates, the plates break you with their generosity, inventiveness and celebration.
122 Pitt Street Sydney; (02) 8080 7070
Hotel restaurants have a certain reputation and Silvester’s – located in the lobby of the recently renovated Sydney Harbour Marriott – is out to challenge that. Start off at the Three Bottle Man bar where the cocktail menu is minuscule (just three bespoke cocktails a week) and for good reason. The mixologists only work with Australian produce and spirits. If you're lucky, Rising Sun – lemon, berry and apple juices vigorously shaken with vanilla syrup and Poor Toms Gin from a distillery in Marrickville – will be on the list. At the restaurant, French-born head chef Raphael Szurek similarly surprises with unexpected flavours and combinations. Black pudding and seared scallops match beautifully thanks to a drizzle of yuzukoshō (a Japanese seasoning made using citrus fruit), while chorizo adds a burst of flavour to Cone Bay barramundi served with pipis and mussels. There’s a clutch of desserts to choose from but the salted chocolate soufflé with caramel ice-cream wins the decadence award hands down. Smart, courteous and well-informed staff as well as a comprehensive wine list of local and international drops rounds off the experience.
Sydney Harbour Marriott, 1 Bulletin Place, Sydney; 02 9259 7330
Top image: Vizio Caffe e Cucina