Directory

BLUE ORANGE

Cuisine: Modern Australian

Bohemians, travellers, families — the crowd is as diverse and pleasing as its surrounds. Get comfy inside on a banquette or try your luck for a table on the pavement where you can take in revitalising breaths of fresh sea air. There are well-received offerings at breakfast, like the Bondi Benedict, smoked salmon, potato roesti, poached eggs, tomato and hollandaise $16.50. Lunchtime sees to it you get your greens, with grilled salmon salad with crisp greens, orange segments, radish and roasted almonds $22.50 a particular favourite. Dinner turns elegant with hearty options such as slow-cooked lamb shoulder with warm eggplant salad, mint and feta $31 or angelhair pasta with seared tuna, capers, chilli and rocket $25. An impressive all-rounder.

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DANIEL'S CAFE & RESTAURANT

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian

Water views in the Hills district are few and far between but you can get an eyeful of the manmade Norwest Lake from the balcony here. Even without being able to see the water, the restaurant’s stylish, modern interior lifts it that next level up from a cafe, as does the menu. An entree of smoked salmon and ocean king prawn salad with capers, dill and walnut oil emulsion $18 is a lovely way to begin, easing you into either more seafood (baked barramundi with shiitake mushroom glaze, perhaps?) or elegantly prepared meats. Herb-roasted rack of lamb is succulent and slightly pink, served with a mustard and thyme jus $34, and tender braised Parisian duck leg confit $30 comes with a bright purple beetroot risotto. The location makes it popular for a business lunch but you’ll get plenty of thanks for taking that special someone.

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DISTRICT DINING

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian

This is chef Warren Turnbull’s latest, more “casual” dining spot, with his hallmark fusion of international flavours and quality of cooking that can be appreciated on microscopic levels of taste. A bright, Mondrianesque mural greets you on entering; inside it’s dark and elegant with staff who know their wines. The paper menu changes every other day and, while dishes can be shared, it doesn’t have that rushed tapas-bar feel. Entrees could be as complex as kingfish with wasabi pannacotta and ginger marmalade $18 or as easy-street as field mushroom and pecorino pizza $24. Chargrilled chermoula-crusted lamb rump with spiced pumpkin homous, honeyed feta and pinenuts $29 for main was flawless, and every granule of sugary, buttery crumble on top of the tangy-sweet stewed rhubarb and apple $12 made an impression.

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DUKE BISTRO

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian

The Duke is a good-cooking restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously and hums with the kind of energy and gung-ho bravado befitting the young crew who run the place. The quirky British colonial-style rooms above the pub are the ideal backdrop for the sometimes whimsical, always delicious food. The head chef and pastry chef are ex-Tetsuya’s and Sepia alumni respectively and their share plates feature a refinement and playfulness that’s refreshing. A kingfish “gin and tonic” layered with sashimi-thin kingfish, cucumber ribbons and cubes of gin and tonic jelly $18 is cool and calm and surprises with bursts of sherbet-like fizz. In contrast, cheeky nostalgia and comfort are rife in a dish of crispy fried tater tots, Duke gravy studded with little shreds of oxtail and tiny edamame $15. Fun in spades.

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FLYING SQUIRREL TAPAS PARLOUR

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Tapas,Modern Australian

It’s easy to walk past the Flying Squirrel on the corner of Bondi Road’s busy dining strip. Inside, it’s quirky and laidback with world globes, statues, knick-knacks and old books adorning the long wooden bar and bookshelves. Spanish-themed tapas is just part of a multicultural menu — Asian, Mexican, Italian and American flavours also feature, with dishes arranged according to origin. The dishes are small and priced from $5 to $18, but that means you get to try more. Crying tiger of Angus beef skirts in oyster sauce marinade with garlic rice and spicy jao sauce $14 is a winner, as is the standout chorizo and fennel $11. Flavoursome miang of betel leaves with roasted coconut, ginger, lychee, cashews and peanuts $10 made our trip worthwhile. Try a cocktail, such as Lychee Long Time V2.0 $16, a mix of Belvedere orange vodka, Grand Marnier and lychee puree.

 

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GRAND NATIONAL

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Tapas,Modern Australian,Modern Australian

This is Paddington’s best-kept dining secret right now. While its renovations are on hold, this former hatted fine diner has ditched the bentwood chairs and white tablecloths and morphed into a casual eatery with free-standing grey vinyl banquettes and a blackboard menu, offering great value. A massive wagyu burger with shoestring fries, or mains such as chicken rogan josh, fish of the day with couscous and preserved lemon, or fettuccine with asparagus and oyster mushrooms are all $18. Quality has not been sacrificed in a salad of tiger prawns, scallops, mussels and squid, Mirrool Creek twice-cooked lamb ribs with ratatouille, or roasted pork belly with parmesan and rocket salad, all $26. It all adds up to the best-value flavour-driven menu in this otherwise pricey ’hood.

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JOHNANDPETER CANTEEN

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Tapas,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian

This place looks like an elegant pop-up (it isn’t) in a corner of the vast Carriageworks complex behind the Eveleigh Market. It’s stark white with black-and-white striped benches and plump Marimekko cushions, but with food this good it could be in a tent and we’d come. The menu is classic John Wilson, caterer extraordinaire (with help from chef David Lovett). Start with a fat boiled globe artichoke with lemon mayo $12 for two or more. A main of mackerel with batons of blanched kohlrabi, olives and lemon $30 is superbly simple and perfectly cooked, as is milk-cooked pork neck with curds on desiree mash $32. Strawberries macerated in mint, lime and raw sugar makes a refreshing finale. Punches above its weight. Saturday plan: shop at Eveleigh, lunch here, go home smiling.

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LINDA'S ON KING STREET

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Tapas,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian

A place designed for intimate dinners with loved ones, or small groups of old friends, Linda’s is the neighbourhood restaurant you’d love to have in your own ’hood. Settle into the soft pink room and get stuck into some of Linda’s well-cooked comfort food. Salmon tartare with wasabi cream, salmon roe and potato pancakes $17 is not a bad place to begin before moving on to something like slow-roasted pork belly with spiced plums $28. Linda dotes on her desserts and you might forgo the entree for a warm ginger cake with butterscotch sauce and sticky-date icecream $12 — but then you may as well do both.

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OPERA BAR

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Tapas,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian

Not just for tourists, this cave-like bar that opens out onto the hem of the Opera House’s skirt is breathtaking. Try to get there before the sun sets so you can catch an eyeful of Sydney Harbour and the bridge against its backdrop of changing sky colours and shimmering water. You might end up standing up to eat (it is a bar, after all) but, when standing, you don’t often get to eat Sydney rock oysters ($22 for a half dozen) with soy and wasabi dressing. Try for a seat to experience the twice-cooked pork belly $29 with a coriander, tomato and bean salsa. The pre-theatre menu operates 5–8pm, and each dish comes with a suggested matching wine. DJs, good-looking crowds and views mean it’s a popular “just drinks” spot but the food is great, too.
 

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PYRAMA

Cuisine: Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Tapas,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian,Modern Australian

Some modern Australian restaurants run the risk of being showy without substance but Pyrama does not have a speck of pretention. Inside, it has a contemporary, airy feel enhanced by a casual courtyard that overlooks some undeveloped land. The waitstaff are pleasantly banter-happy and serve quality food with a convenient, no-fuss “meal deal” system: $40 gets you two courses and $52 will get you three. Beef carpaccio with confit mushrooms, cannellini beans and truffle dressing starts the meal on a high note and mains such as duck confit and steamed Boston Bay mussels, while not surprising, are solid in their simplicity. Classic desserts might include blueberry and almond crumble and a white chocolate brulee. While not breaking barriers, it’s an enjoyable experience with exuberant service and plenty of smiles.

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