At Nel, the dégustation-only menu is a whimsical homage to the food of chef Nelly Robinson’s childhood. A backlit “nel” sign leads you down to a low-lit, subterranean space with exposed brick walls, copper piping and mid-century furniture. The wines are boutique, the cocktails playful and the food modern, albeit with a retrospective spin. The menu completely changes every six weeks, a feat that's all the more impressive once you get a closer look at the incredible dishes on offer. Expect culinary theatre of the best kind: from a plate of burning charcoal that turns out to be edible and not at all what it seems to a starter that arrives as a candle and burns down so you can eat the "wax" with freshly baked bread. It's $118 for eight courses, with a wine pairing available for $90 or come at lunchtime for the more concise, and very reasonably priced, tasting menu for only $55.

75 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney; (02) 9212 2206 

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