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Sydney Restaurant Recommendations


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  • 3 weeks later...

A typical first day in Sydney, strolling rapturously under the Opera House, my blue eyes shining honey sweet with love. This place brings back many memories, happy and bitter sweet. Last time I was here was before the Olympics, and there are certainly some changes. Some high rise buildings sprung up along the quay, overshadowing the little oyster shack, some hotels vanished, others changed their names. Most of the cute little neighborhood bistros I remember seem to have slipped off the coil or changed their names. L'Aubbergade in Surry Hills, Riberries in Woolamaloo, where are you now?

Also, to my disappointment, the fresh shrimp and lobster rolls on sale around the ferry terminal seem to have been largely displaced by pizzas and cheese 'n' bacon croissants.

My first evening, launched by corny old Australian powerpop - "How can you see looking through those tears, don't you know you're worth your weight in gold" - took me to Sydney's oldest pub, the Fortune of War, thankfully unchanged. Waist-high tiles, a picture on the wall of the bar fight scene from "A Town Called Alice", filmed right there. Schooners of VB. I eschewed the hot, floppy pies which are a sort of scrawled signature dish, and wandered down to the Campbell warehouses, a string of tourist-popular restaurant conversions. I remembered good kangaroo filet and shrimp with lemon myrtle at Wolfie's Grill. It's still there, but the menu's less interesting, and they were disinclined to give up an outside table to a single-top.

So back to Kable's in the Four Seasons. A hotel dining room, with all that means, but a highly rated menu - dishes from the lingua franca of upscale dining, with a focus on local ingredients - haute Australian, I'm going to call this style. Refreshing amuse, a demi tasse of pink watermelon and champagne soup with mango, a dollop cream and some fresh mint. First rate. A Sydney rock lobster raviolo with a crustacean (crab? bay bug?) reduction; savory and earthy. Venison braised in Shiraz - a quite exemplary daube, which only needed a little extra salt. Five Australian cheeses, served a little too cold; and I'm afraid Queensland cheddar is absolutely disgusting; the rest were fine.

I developed a wine program from the glasses available. First a Yalumba viognier, then - also from Yalumba - a shiraz/viognier; what's that all about? But it was fruity, chocolatey. Then a straight shiraz - Basket Neck I think? Feel free to correct me.

A little overcast this morning, but warm enough for bikinis on Manly Beach, and I am about to eat some crisp and greasy fish 'n' chips. Quay tonight, Sydney Morning Post's restaurant of the year.

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I was going to get the names of all the cheeses, but they actually weren't that great.  There are some good cheeses down here, and I'll note them when I come across them.  Actually, the washed rind cheese wasn't bad; I'll get the name.

If you can you should get to the GPO Cheese room in the city; its downstairs in 1 Martin place; they should have a good selection, although I haven't been there since 4 months ago.

And I agree with you about wolfies; it's gone downhill a lot in the last few years. If you feel up for some pub grub, you should visit The Lord Nelson in the rocks; the food there is pretty good, and they make their own beers; I'm quite fond of the Old Admiral, a nice ale.

Edited by Niall (log)

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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"If you smiled, the walls would fall down on all the people in this pick up joint," I told myself, as I toyed with a ginger martini while enjoying the bay views from the top of the Grand Ana Hotel above the rocks. Relieved to be keeping the "real Australia", with its funnel-web spiders, sloppy meat pies and elderly men in shorts at arms length, I was on my way to dinner at Quay, Sydney Morning Herald's restaurant of the year.

Quay is on one floor of a fairly ugly modern building on Circular Quay, which does afford the advantage of harbour and opera house views. The evening I dined there, a mild storm was sweeping in, pushing black clouds over the bay in suitably dramatic fashion. With widely spaced tables, Quay does give most, maybe all, tables a fair portion of the scenic vista. The furniture took after the building, metallic and tubular, but otherwise this had the atmosphere of a serious, luxury restaurant.

I found ingredients as good as one could wish, cooked with precision, but assembled into dishes the syntax of which bewildered me. After a forgettable shot of soup, I was looking forward to the first course, a signature dish of crisp pork belly with scallops. The scallops were first rate, bursting with sweetness; the two rectangles of pork belly were suitably rich and toffee-like, garnished with some Chinese mushrooms. I tried putting the scallops and meat in my mouth together, but could taste only the succulent pork. I tried eating meat and scallop alternately, but they didn't seem to want to make friends. It was a little like two good but contrasting dishes served on the same plate.

I may have ordered badly - I hear the fish entrees are good - but I was tempted by the special roast squab. With laquered skin and delicate flesh, this was a distinctly Chinese-style bird. The scallops showed up again as a garnish, this time in the company of black-lipped abalone. Abalone is chewy little customer I've never seen the point of, but my complaint here was that again, nothing united the individual components. A thin, soy-based broth poured around by the waiter didn't help.

Service was good and generous. I drank a 95 vintage Moet as an aperitif; the sommelier recommended I continue drinking it with the pork, and freely topped up my glass. I also drank a memorable young Shiraz, Jacob's Ladder (?), which had desirable vegetal barnyard notes instead of the usual sweet, chocolatey fruitiness. Overall a disappointing meal.

Pausing only to kiss myself in four places, (okay, and do a day's work) I moved on to a degustation at Tetsuya, last year's Sydney M.H. restaurant of the year, and the most talked-about table in town. A rambling cottage behind eery electronic gates, almost concealed off Kent Street, has been refurbished in ersatz Japanese style. Furnished with modern sculptures, and more tubular furniture, there were at least two dining rooms and some busy private rooms too. Note - as I said on another thread - I had no difficulty getting a reservation, and some tables were empty.

The staff move smoothly into the no choice ten course menu - in fact, it's even more complex than that since some courses consist of several small dishes. I took the wine pairings - all young wines, and good rather than astounding. $275 Australian per head, including tip and everything (about $178 US, which is a little less than such a meal would cost in New York).

I will spare you the details. The cooking was careful, imaginative, and rich in luxury ingredients, but none of the dishes really caught fire (figuratively speaking). Tetsuya-san was in his whites, happily being photographed with satisfied customers.

Highlights included:

- a pair of shot glasses containing caviar over dried, crumbled eggs and asparagus puree (eggs, humor) and a refreshing orange and beetroot jelly respectively;

- a quartet of small tastes: marron (a local crustacean) with generous, pungent black truffle shavings; a skinny roll of New Zealand venison carpaccio stuffed with foie gras; raw kingfish with blood orange (clash!); and a chilled sip of very purely flavored tomato broth. This was one course, note.

- lime-infused Tasmanian scallop with soft slices of foie gras mi cuit; this was a hit.

And so it went on. An earthy lobster raviolo, very like the one I ate at Kable's a few days before; a skimpy strip of Wagyu beef (now raised in Australia), overwhelmed by some fresh flat mint stuffing; a dangerously young baby chicken - okay chick - poached then tanned under a salamadner, and served on a pedestal of braised daikon; cheeses - mainly French; a blood peach sorbet, showing the essential flavor of the fruit; an old fashioned and nicely wobbly floating island on a creme anglais.

My dining companion, not yet licensed to eat at such a staggering altitude, was begging for mercy. I was suitably impressed with the chef's skill, but I wasn't laughing, or crying, or shouting his name to the blue summer sky.

Tim Pak Poy, on the other hand... when I think about him I touch myself. This guy, cooking at a long-established little bistro in Woolaharra, named Claude's sent me to heaven. Everyone, this should be your first reservation when you come to Sydney, and maybe your second one too. Buzz to enter the small dining room behind the discreet wooden door. The decor is white, with a big distressed mirror which remidned me of London's The Lindsay House. They do run to a carpet, however, as well as more of that metallic furniture; I am forced to concldue that people here like it.

Two choices only, a three course dinner or five course tasting, sharing several of the same dishes. About twenty five covers (I'm told there's a small room upstairs), but the place was only half full on a Thursday night. Service was uncharacteristically reserved and reticent by local standards, but polished. Another marathon dinner with wine pairings for me, please.

Knowing the chef's reputation for adventure, I was worried by the amuse: ocean trout roe in little pastry cornets dusted with icing sugar. The eggs, which looked like salmon roe, burst on the tongue with a dramatic, forceful pop - but I wasn't looking for a humorous, gimmicky dinner. Another false start with the little cup of smoked salmon consomme. I lifted it by the handle, tasted the warm cream floating on the soup, took a sip, and scalded my tongue. Ridiculously hot. But as the pain subsided, the meal took off.

- soft shell crab over peppered lentils, with buckheat noodles, sweet green tomatoes, fresh mint and what appeared to be flower petals. The petals had been treated somehow - maybe smoked? - and added exotic flavors to the beautiful balance of the dish (this is now sounding like Iron Chef, I know. Bear with me).

- in one bowl, a glazed filet of Murray River cod (thanks to Balic for the correction), a single cherry, cucumber salad with dill, scattered with tiny white flower blossoms; in another bowl, a "sugared" oyster, shreds of abalone, a chilled tomato en gelee, garnished with dry seaweed.

May I never eat again if this was not one of the finest dishes (or pairs of dishes) I have ever eaten in my life. The sweetest, freshest cod, the deepest flavored oyster, the range of textures and temperatures. Pass the hankies.

- Quail "sausage" (looked like whole boned quail to me, legless of course), served on a hot char-grilled slice of melon. Yes, hot and sweet and thirst-quenching melon. And a champagne sauce; an old fashioned-cream thickened, but delicate and tasty, champagne sauce.

Wagyu beef. A generous slice this time, with ox heart tomato, chunky slices of oyster mushroom, and a porcini jus. For the first time, I really saw the point of Wagyu beef; not only is it well-marbled, but the fat has almost the flavor and consistency or well-cooked bone marrow; double unctuous. The restaurant presented large, whole Perigord truffles, with an aromatic impact I have never found in New York or London (why?), and shaved them very generously over the beef at a putative (no weighing) $6 Australian per gram.

More truffles? How about black truffle ice cream served over a fresh roast fig. I asked for a gallon to take away, but my server smiled and moved on. Then an upright almond souffle, filled with fresh, diced peach and cream. Petits fours.

I want to tidy up my wine notes for this dinner, and maybe Tetsuya, before posting further. You must pity me now as I pick myself up and head for dinner doubtless cooked by mere mortals. Onward, but surely not upward.

I think I have just eaten the best meal of 2003.

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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Mother of God what a couple of days! Sounds rather terrific at the last restaurant.

Some information:

Marron is a freshwater crustacean, native to WA, (most likely farmed all over now). They grow up to a pound per year and become quite large. My wifes favourite bug, due to the sweet flesh.

Good use of blood peach, as they are rather thick skinned and stringy, but do have a very good white peach flavour.

"Murray Bay cod" I think would be Murray River Cod, a native giant (hundreds of pounds once upon a time) freshwater fish, now farmed in large numbers. Again nice freshwater fish taste, but often muddy in flavour.

Ocean trout are rainbow trout raised in saltwater, so equivalent of a north american steelhead, which is the same species. It is the Australian domestic equivalent to a seatrout (which is a brown trout at sea).

Anyway, it all sounds fab.

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Wilfred,

Thanks for your wonderful report.

My wife and I leave tomorrow for an almost month long trip to New Zealand and Australia. We are booked at Tetsuyas three weeks from tonight. A few questions.

(1)You mention a "no changes" menu at Tetsuyas. I have no problem with that. My wife has a severe allergy to shellfish. (I know Sydney is not the place to have that allergy, but unfortunately she does). Do you think they can or will accommodate her problem?

(2)A great deal of what I have read about Tetsuya's mentions that many, if not most of their customers BYO. Did you find this to be the case? Would you recommend it? Given the eclectic nature of what is served, what wines would you recommend bringing if you did BYO?

You have whetted my appetite fior Claudes. I'll try to get reservations there as well. I suppose the same questions I asked about Tetsuyas apply to Claudes as well.

Porkpa

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The responses make all the typing worthwhile - thank you so much.

Applause for Professor Balic's masterly explanation of the fish 'n' bugs, and I have made the appropriate correction. Yes, marron seems to be very popular in these parts.

BYO. Good questions. From Testuya down, I didn't find a restaurant that didn't encourage BYO. Testuya invites it - a great value $16 AU corkage fee. Other restaurants were about $10 AU; I think you can safely assume that Testuya will be the most expensive. I didn't do BYO, because I lacked time to get to wine shops (I discovered only last night that the Australian Wine Center is just over the street from my hotel).

I agree with Tony's comment about fusion. The use of Pacific Rim/Chinese/Japanese technqiues seems so natural and unforced in the context of the climate and ingredients here, that "fusion" is almost the wrong term for it. I have no principled objection to surf 'n' turf, just felt that, at Quay, the chef had not drawn any connections between his ingredients.

Porkpa - I think Testuya would accommodate you, but be sure to arrange this in advance, as shellfish is central to every menu in Sydney. There is no menu; the waiters simply announce the courses as they arrive. When I made my reservation at Claude's, the limited menu choices were explained and they made a point of checking my dietary preferences and allergies.

Rosie, yes the $178 was US, based on my own arithmetic, and included the wine pairings and tip. In Australian dollars, I believe the prix fixe was around $170 to $190 (memory falure), and drinks and stuff pushed the bill up to around $270 AU. I should have mentioned that Claude's, small though the operation is, is not a lot cheaper than Testuya. You can reduce all these prices of course by doing BYO.

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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Camping in suitably jolly fashion at the swish billabong which is Edna's Table, I finally got my dose of bush tucker last night. I had been excited about Lillipilli on King, but found a branch recently opened in the Rocks which put me off the plan. Plastic menus, silly dish descriptions (a lot of "zingy" and "zesty") and a dining room regularly empty except for a handful of forlorn-looking Japanese tourists. Edna's appeared to be a more ambitious and established venture.

An attractive white room in an old Central Business District building, with appealing and comfortable chairs at last, Edna's offers indigenous Australian cooking in a fairly non-twee, non-"heritage" atmosphere. Edna, dressed to party and full of information about the food, is out front, and her brother in the kitchen.

Being fond of the herb lemon myrtle, I took some Cole's Bay oysters with a salsa of apple, peach and lemon myrtle liqueur on the side. Fine combination.

Next up was my first experience with wallaby. A plate sized, deep-fried won ton, stuffed with wallaby meat and greens. To my surprise, wallaby is quite unlike kangaroo. It's a pale, almost white meat, with an assertive gaminess; I have been trying to think what it reminded me of - maybe wild rabbit, although you could mistake it for some kind of fowl. Roo is usually served rare so as not to dry it out, but this meat had been cooked through. Edna told me that it didn't have a higher fat content - it just cooked very quickly and retained its moistness. On the basis of this introduction, wallaby, like kangaroo, deserves to be eaten for its distinctive flavor rather than its novelty value. I wonder when I'll see it again.

I took a special of mixed sausages - emu, kangaroo, duck - for my main course, served over mashed sweet potato. I wouldn't particularly recommend this; the duck sausage was great, but the others were a little heavy. If you've read my previous posts, you'll understand that I was looking for something fairly plain and unfussy at this point of the trip. I'd happily go back and riffle through some of the other entrees.

Glass of champers with the oysters; a Tasmanian pinot noir with the wallaby - a good pairing, but I am not going to pretent Tasmania has got Burgundy and Oregon beat; a shiraz with the bangers.

The final act was a bit of a party with the bush liqueurs. When I expressed an interest, several curious bottes turned up at my table. A raki/anise-like white liqueur flavored with Quandongs; a pale drop of Tasmanian "sugar plum" liqueur; and a dark glass of Kandeltera rainwater, which I would describe as tropical Christmas cake, although Edna explained it was infused with desert limes. I was comped some of this. The check for everything was around the $140 AU mark; very reasonable.

I am now going to take my stomach onto a ferry bound for Watson's Bay. Meat pie for breakfast, perhaps?

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Woolaharra is a residential area off Oxford Street, just beyond Paddington. Oxford Street is one of Sydney's main drags, and I recommend it for strolling, but it's a long street and Claude's is a fair way out. However, only about ten to fifteen minutes in a cab from the InterContinental. Make sure you take the address, because it's a very discreet front door. As I said, on a Thursday evening it was half empty, but since it's a small restaurant I would certainly make a reservation. Enjoy.

Meanwhile, on my last night in town, I went up the Cross to cause a bit of trouble. Wrestling with sex show touts, stepping over the smackheads, and resisting the blandishments of young women in exotic plumage; I can get all that at home. One of the Cross's other attractions is the long-established Bayswater Brasserie, a standby for informal dining. Long cocktail list, raw bar, Australian wines and cheeses. My memory tells me the menu is shorter, and the selection of wines by the glass sparser, than in the past. It's a cheerful enough place, but my evening was marred by some fool spooning honey over a slice of perfectly good blue cheese. At least it wasn't served with a vegemite garnish.

G'day and goodbye from the land down under, and I hope I come again soon. Will try to add some wine notes when I have a chance.

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Next up was my first experience with wallaby.  A plate sized, deep-fried won ton, stuffed with wallaby meat and greens.  To my surprise, wallaby is quite unlike kangaroo.  It's a pale, almost white meat, with an assertive gaminess; I have been trying to think what it reminded me of - maybe wild rabbit, although you could mistake it for some kind of fowl.  Roo is usually served rare so as not to dry it out, but this meat had been cooked through.  Edna told me that it didn't have a higher fat content - it just cooked very quickly and retained its moistness.  On the basis of this introduction, wallaby, like kangaroo, deserves to be eaten for its distinctive flavor rather than its novelty value.  I wonder when I'll see it again.

Interesting. The Wallaby that I have had wasn't particularly pale, although the falvour was different to kangaroo. Prehaps this is because "wallaby" covers a very wide range of animal species, who differ greatly in size, range and diet, while "Kangaroo" is slightly more specific, there being a much more restricted range of species (less then five I think). Almost certainly the kangaroo that you ate was one an Eastern Grey.

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Wine Notes

Having spent some time unravelling my post-dinner scrawlings and fact checking, I can offer a few, scant notes on some of the wines sampled at the restaurants discussed on this thread. I'm sorry I don't give years, but it's safe to assume that, since I took a number of by-the-glass pairings, the bottles were all quite young.

Kable's

The unusual Shiraz-Viognier blend, which was new to me, was a Yalumba from the Barossa Valley. I also enjoyed the straight varietal, which I think Balic identified correctly as a Chateau Reynella Basket Pressed Shiraz. Traditional Aussie fruit and chocolate style.

Quay

The really impressive Shiraz I drank on the trip was suggested by the sommelier at Quay. Although young, it had complicated, old world, vegetable and barnyard notes overlaying the fruit. It was a Jasper Hill Shiraz. Quay lists a '96, "Georgia's Paddock" from Heathcote. I was drinking a much younger wine, but I think it was the same producer. There were only two Shiraz's by the glass on the list.

Testuya

The wine pairings at Testuya and Claude's relied heavily on the sweeter, flowery styles of white to accompany adventurous, seafood and fish-based "fusion" cooking. At Tetsuya, a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was followed by an excellent Crawford River Riesling. I didn't get a note of the next wine up, a Gewurtztraminer, but I did like the Scorpo Riesling from Mornington. Red wines had less chance to shine, but I liked the Torbreck Juveniles blend of Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz which accompanied the Wagyu beef.

Claude's

Neglecting local bottles, Claude's followed an Alsatian Pinot Gris with an Alsatian Muscat to accompany the soft shell crab and superb Murray River cod dishes. With the quail sausage came a New Zeland Pinot Noir. My notes say "Otago Bay", but I haven't been able to confirm that; a wine from somewhere in the Otago region, anyway. And an unusual dessert wine, a Chandon Cuvee Riche (made in Australia); essentially a sweet, slightly off-white (rather than quite pink) champagne.

Beers drunk at various venues included VB's and Toohey's New :wink: .

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  • 2 months later...

Well , you can walk in just about any direction from there and get a decent breakfast BUT the weekend options are not as good as the week-day ones. Try the Bambini Trust cafe on Elizabeth Street. If you don't mind a walk then set off across the Botanical gardens to Wooloomooloo and then up the steps to Potts Point (20 mins and the steps are long and steep) - now you will be in real breakfast territory. Spring, Zinc, and Wedge cafes are all good - and all within a couple of minutes of each other. In the other direction from the hotel walk down to Circular Quay, once there you have a choice of cafes looking either at the bridge or the opera house - as it is winter now, looking at the opera house is a warmer and sunnier option.

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Hi Rosie!

I'm a relative newbie to eGullet but I was in Sydney back in November and one place that had a nice breakfast was the Blackbird café in Darling Harbour. I stayed at the Travellodge Wentworth but if you can find that on your map, go straight down Liverpool St. to the water and hang a right. The atmosphere is amazing. The harbour is very close to Chinatown.

For dinner, on that same strip, I'm Angus was great. Enjoy your trip. OZ is pure magic!

P.S. I seem to recall an Aussie breakfast being eggs, toast and grilled tomatoes with sausage or ham (not thrilling), but I could be wrong.

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Bills in Darlinghurst is well worth the extra trek from the CBD to check out their breakfasts and is a Sydney institution. Besides, going the distance will just build up your hunger for the tasty toasted coconut bread, or ricotta hotcakes with honey comb butter, or...

Aussies love the grilled tomato with breakfast, spinach is often offered as a side as well which creates the handy illusion (delusion?) of turning that greasy plate into a "healthy" hangover cure. Hate to admit that they do bacon better than we Canucks. Avoid the standard breakfast sausage, but then again thats a rule I apply in any country.

And such wonderful coffee. Enjoy.

Jenna Dashney

FRESH BUTTER HERE

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  • 2 weeks later...

The city is pretty dead at the weekend; head out to Bills2 on crown st in Surrey hills for their corn fritters. Get a train to Waverton and try out the corn and bacon frittata or the Scrambled eggs at finks.n Just across the harbour, under the bridge (get a ferry to Milsons point) is Ripples. A bit further out, breakfast at Watermark or Bathers Pavillion at balmoral beach is always excellent.

If you want a late breakfast/ Brunch, try Yum cha at Kam Fook in Market City in Chinatown. For something a bit differnt, hit the rocks markets at the weekend and get some freshly cooked buttered corn on the cob.

At circular Quay, avoid all of the eateries under the train station or on the ferry wharves. I haven't eaten breakfast much down that way, but some of the cafe's on the walk down to the opera house do reasonable snack food.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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  • 1 month later...

To the Ozzie gulleteers!

Greetings, am in Sydney again (come here once a month on business). I heard about a famous pie shop here that celebrities visit and all that. Can you tell me the name of the place and its location? What pie do you recommend I try?

Am staying at the ANA Grand Harbour. Is it walking distance?

Plan to go to GPO Cheese Shop later this week. Any cheeses I should try or bring back home with me?

Cheers,

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The pie shop is Harry's Cafe De Wheels. It's in Wooloomooloo on Cowper Wharf road at the corner of Brougham St. You can walk there from Circular Quay. Here is a Citysearch editorial. Get a map from your hotel

As for the GPO; If you are looking to try australian cheeses; try the Jindi triple brie; other than that, discuss your tastes with the staff there; they are usually pretty good.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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  • 2 months later...

Hi all

Just after some advice on restaurants/bistros in Sydney, preferably inner city, that BYO and provide good value, honest food to have with a wine offline I am organising.

While I am from sydney , unfortunately I live in an epicurean and byo desert on the north shore :sad:

All help gratefully accepted.

Cheers

paul

Edited by episyd (log)
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Tabou in Surrey Hills is a good French bistro, Uchi lounge is good for Japanese. Restaurant Balzac in Randwick is BYO except Fridays and Saturdays and is very good. The prophet in Surrey Hills is a great Lebanese place. Billy Kwong is good asian food, although not the most comfortable for a long Wine dinner.

On the lower North Shore, I can't recommend Milsons in Kirribilli highly enough. The service is great, and when we BYO'ed good wine they offered to decant it before they were asked. Otherwise try Paradoxe or La Goulue in Crows Nest for French BYO. 2060 in Waverton is good too. Yings Chinese in Crows nest is great.

Which desert do you live in; I lived in North Ryde for 6 months and the food up that way is terrible; Il viccolo is about the best it gets. I tried Curzon hall once and was sorely disappointed; I should have just got up and walked when they were missing the first three wines I tried to order off the winelist.

Edited by Niall (log)

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi All--

I am new to this group, but not new to travel, fine wine and fine dining. Am heading out to Melbourne and Sydney in a couple of days, and was searching the Internet for info on Bathers' Pavillon, Balmoral, Sydney when I came across this site.

Here are some choices so far, and I would be grateful for others. My wife and I like eclectic, modern, well-cooked food. We like it at wonderful places like Tetsuya's and the French Laundry, but we also like funkier, down-home places like Salt in Sydney or Zuni Cafe or Bacar in San Francisco.

Here are a some things we are thinking about.

Melbourne--arriving there on Friday, Melbourne time after a long flight from San Francisco. Our hotel is at Swanston and Little Bourke so I am thinking Chinatown and not over the top for the first night. Flower Drum song is out because of that. Have seen good comments on Bamboo House as a less demanding alternative. Any other ideas in the neighborhood for the first night.

Saturday sees us at the AFL Prelim Finals, then down to Albert Park with business friends to Asiana.

Sunday is an all day drive around , possibly ending up in St. Kilda or back to Southgate for Walter's Wine Bar, where we were loved the food but not the attitude on our last trip in. Love to have a St.Kilda alternative and avoid Walter.

On Monday, our last night we have tickets for a performance in the Concert Hall. Either a light meal before or something after if Melbourne has late night restaurants on a Monday night.

After a three day drive up the coast, we arrive in Sydney for three days. Current plans are Sailor's Thai on the night we arrive, Bather's Pavillon in Balmoral at the end of our day exploring the North Shore, and Lulu's or Billy Kwong on our last night in Sydney. No Tet's this time.

I would love to get thoughts from the folks whose postings have been so much fun to read.

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You can try "Tea House" in Chinatown, it's on Little Bourke St, and the owner/manager/kitchen staff are Flower Drum Alumni. Extremely worthwhile, but do book ahead. Unfortunately I live in London now, and don't have their details at hand. If you have any hassles, let me know, either by private message or here, and I'll try to rustle something up. The Mietta's online guide should have details. Don't confuse the Chinatown branch with their former 'Flagship' in Camberwell. Bamboo House is too 'dumbed down' to be authentic, and be sure to let the staff at Tea House know you're up for the good stuff.

As for St.Kilda alternatives, you could try The Wine Room which is on the Fitzroy St roundabout. Bookings essential, the Rib Eye is a monster and should still be on the menu, if it ain't, bail out. The Wine Room was started by Morris Terzini who started Otto's in Sydney. Jacques Reymond is also good, but a little pretentious and pricey.

Walter's Wine Bar, sorry mate, but doesn't even come up on the radar. Had friends who used to work there, and that's all I'll say about it.

Now, that's made me even more homesick than I was this morning. Gonna be heading home to Melbourne in October for holidays and I'm gonna be fattening up for the London winter!! :cool:

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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