It’s been a good year for dining in Sydney. Didn’t make it to 2017’s hottest new restaurants? These are our pick of the best – book your 2018 table now.

The Grounds of the City

Sydney’s “destination breakfast” pioneers, who convinced us to drive to Alexandria for bacon, tempted us back to the CBD with The Grounds of the City. The menu traverses the globe, with grain-fed beef burgers neighbouring Spanish anchovies on sourdough, tempura quail and freshly rolled linguine. Each of the diverse culinary destinations delivers, though the highlight is still The Grounds breakfast experience, this time offered in a room evocative of a parlour aboard the Orient Express. – Tristan Lutze

500 George Street, Sydney; (02) 9699 2235

Chin Chin

Replicating a Melbourne dining institution within Sydney’s proud borders can be a dangerous move. But this is Chin Chin and the newly cloned combination of shared plates, inventive cocktails and a neon-industrial fit-out is as at home here as it ever was down south. The trademark remains the thrilling sensory bombardment of rich, sticky meat – much of it now sliced from the unique-to-Sydney rotisserie – covered in a garden’s worth of herbs and accompanied by an explosive chilli sauce. – Tristan Lutze

69 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9281 3322

Paper Bird

The team behind Redfern’s much-missed Moon Park has surfaced in Potts Point and – good news! – they’ve brought their shrimp-brined fried chicken with them. But it’s not just business as usual: owners Eun Hee An, Ben Sears and Ned Brooks have added new accents to the modern-Korean menu, incorporating Japanese and Chinese elements. They’re serving breakfast, too, including a rice bowl with pork floss and an egg boiled in tea. At night, the almost-subterranean digs (formerly home to Bourke Street Bakery) becomes a cosy hangout, where ’70s tracks play softly while diners drink Korean OB beer and snack on Paper Bird’s take on ddeokbokki, a plate of peanut-dusted rice cakes with a hint of spice. Prawn toast also gets a makeover, presented as a tiny sandwich stuffed with prawns, green chilli and slaw (and not a sesame seed to be seen). To finish, linger over a Japanese Slipper, a bright blend of vodka, melon soda and yuzu-infused saké. – Emma Mulholland

46A MacLeay Street, Potts Point; (02) 9326 9399

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There are so many reasons to put Neil Perry’s Rosetta on your must-dine list, starting with the service. It’s fine-dining minus its pretentions. The staff is respectful but also friendly and they’ll happily split a traditionally non-shareable dish (such as pasta) into two plates – an excellent way to try a number of items without messing up the table. It’s also more affordable than you would think – you could enjoy a lavish three-course meal for under $100 a head (pricey but not nosebleed). And then there’s the drinks list – a comprehensive selection of wines, from affordable Italian pinot grigios to special-occasion champagnes. But, most importantly, it’s the food – unpretentious, technically precise and damn good. Tender ricotta-studded meatballs only need the touch of a knife to break open, while spanner crab tagliolini gets a wonderful kick from red chill. In the end, however, it’s all about the torta di Verona. A conspiracy of marsala-soaked pandoro (sweet Italian bread), mascarpone, blueberry compote and toasted almonds, it’s a devastatingly decadent finish to a night of Italian dining. – Akash Arora

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118 Harrington Street, Sydney; 02 8099 7089

Olio Kensington St

Using olive oil produced by his family’s Sicilian farm is a pretty great indicator of a chef’s authenticity but Lino Sauro (of Singapore’s Gattopardo) brings far more than just tradition to his new Kensington Street kitchen. Seafood and vegetables are the headlines here, treated with an understated yet unmistakably Mediterranean touch. The lofty warehouse space and modern plating may play it cool but the flavours are as warmly inviting as the Sicilian sun. – Tristan Lutze

Level 2, The Old Rum Store, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale; (02) 9281 1500

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Kid Kyoto

There’s always been a relationship between food and music but Kid Kyoto, an electric izakaya in Sydney’s CBD, turns it up to 11. The menu reads like a set list, with Raw & Unplugged sashimi, ceviche and tartare warming diners up for the Main Stage of sake chicken, smoked mushrooms or sirloin with red hot chilli pepper miso. The room’s as moody as the grunge that inspired it – the perfect frame for the inventive food. Where else in the world you can enjoy Black Hole Sun pork belly under a “Come as you are” neon sign? Pure Nirvana. – Tristan Lutze

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17-19 Bridge Street, Sydney; (02) 9241 1991

Marta Osteria

This bright, humming osteria rolls out Rome-inspired plates in buzzing Rushcutters Bay. It sits where Popolo did, and while we miss the Southern Italian fare, Marta’s signature tonnarelli cacio e pepe ­– al dente and buried beneath pecorino romano – is proper soothing comfort food. The emphasis on fine produce and expert execution over intricate plating is a fitting tribute to the Italian provenance of those involved. – Tristan Lutze

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30 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay; (02) 9361 6641

Queen Chow

Planting a Chinese restaurant in a local pub is as Aussie as it gets and and from the magic wand of Merivale appears this paragon of the tradition. The treasures of the slight but punchy lunchtime dim sum menu give way to the evening riches of Hong-Kong inspired roast meats and an impressive seafood selection. Pippies in XO or black bean sauce, Moreton Bay bugs, mud crab with a choice of four different seasonings; even the fried rice is packed with slices of tender cuttlefish. In typical Merivale extravagance, it all goes down in a steamy, tropically inspired new-world saloon. – Tristan Lutze

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Level 1, 167 Enmore Road, Enmore; (02) 9114 7333

Blanca Bar & Dining

Forget that the legs of the soft-shell crab emerging from Blanca’s Black Bun look like tentacles and you’re in for a tasty treat. It’s these weird and wonderful touches that have earnt this wall-to-wall-white venue a place on best-restaurant lists since it opened in January. The extensive Mediterranean-Japanese tapas-style menu put together by Tomi Björck and Samuel Cole is full of flavours that pack a serious punch. Fremantle octopus is served two ways – in wafer-thin slices and charred chunks – with hazelnuts and garlic; potatoes with a crunchy outer and pillowy centre come with a chilli pickle for dipping; even the tiny spheres of apple scattered across the matcha tea mousse take the dessert’s sweetness level over the edge. The tasting menus (seven, eight or 10 courses for both vegetarians and meat-eaters) give a real feel for the food and if your waiter offers you a splash yuzu saké, accept. The lemony tang finishes off a meal perfectly. – Kate Barracosa

Feeling hungry?

3 & 4, 75-79 Hall Street, Bondi Beach; (02) 9365 2998

Top image: Chin Chin

SEE ALSO: Sydney Rooftop Bars to Hit This Summer




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