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Sydney - what is new for us to try?

This June will be my 6th trip there. We've done a lot of the big places Doyles: Tetsuya, Aria, a great steak place in the old Post Office building that I can't remember the name of, the new place in the overhauled CBD Sheraton that I can't recall the name of (Glass?).

I liked the event dining experience of Tetsuya but it sounds like they are just coasting with the same menu year after year from reading others posts. I'd like to try Iceburgs and Sailor Thai on this trip.

So what's next for us? What can you recommend that's new, must hit that's hip too? My husband is way pickier than me, we'd do sushi but there has to be a good selection of cooked dishes.

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  1. We really enjoyed Sailor's Thai Canteen (as opposed to the more upscale Sailor's Thai around the corner). The canteen has a long communal table and tasty food at reasonable prices -- great fun!

    Ocean Room in the Overseas Passenger Terminal is outstanding. It's a beautiful room and they serve incredibly fresh fish. The sashimi and oysters were fantastic. I had a whole crispy fried baby snapper that was to die for.

    Quay in the OPT is recommended a lot for fine dining, but we thought the food was just weird (and we are very adventurous eaters). We also felt it was overpriced and trying too hard.

    3 Replies
    1. re: free101girl

      Thanks, will check those out. Curious, what did you find weird about Quay?

      1. re: Muhlyssa

        Quay now (as of March) serves a new 4-course prix-fixe meal. We ate there during the first week the new menu was rolled out.

        It all got off to a good start for me: I really enjoyed my starter ("Ravioli of slow cooked partridge, chestnut cream, fresh milk curd, truffle butter, partridge consomme") which sounds horribly rich but wasn't overly so. This turned out to be about the only recognizable and tasty item I had.

        And then it all went downhill. My second course, "Gentle braise of southern rock lobster, pea shoots, spring onions, cauliflower cream, lobster velvet," which costs $20 extra, was frankly gross. Unpleasant textures (the lobster velvet was a congealed, salty white goo), unattractive looking (white-on-white just wasn't appetizing), and off flavors. It just didn't come together at all.

        "Young chicken poached in truffle butter, twelve hour slow cooked pig cheek, hazelnuts, farro, endive heart, Joselito Jamon Iberico de Bellota" managed to be flavorless (I sure couldn't taste any Iberico ham in there) yet salty. The texture was unpleasantly wet and slimy.

        "Pear creme caramel, Sauternes Jelly, pear ice cream" was unlike any "creme caramel" I've ever been served. It was presented in a martini glass and would be best described as a parfait. The Sauternes jelly was overly solid and had been chopped up into little bits, giving the dish another yucky texture. Overall, the flavor was bitter, like overcooked caramel, but there was no obvious caramel in it.

        All in all, it was strange, pretentious and ill-conceived food. I got the distinct impression the chef was trying out "molecular gastronomy" techniques without having the slightest flair for them. The outcome was mostly disgusting. I don't usually complain about textures, but this chef was really pushing my buttons with some repulsive ones.

        By the way, my husband didn't like ANY of his four courses, which were all different from mine. We tasted each others' food, as always, and we agreed that only my starter was good.

        Quay has fantastic views if there isn't a cruise ship in port. Service was better than the Aussie average. If you feel like trying something really "out there," that you may or may not like, and paying a wad of cash for the privilege, this is the place for you.

        1. re: free101girl

          thanks for the detailed reply. My husband is much less adventerous than me, so I think I'll take a pass on Quay. We've been to Sydney enough so having a view isn't tops on my list anyway, will check out your other suggestions, thanks.

    2. We were in Sydney in March - here's a link to an earlier post of mine - really recommend Fish Face and we had a much better experience at Quay with a completely different menu from the sounds of things.

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/389363

      1. I second Fish Face in Darlinghurst.

        Another place I love is Mohr Fish in Surry Hills. Peak waiting times can range from 20-45mins, but put your name down and head over to the Shakespeare next door for a pre-dinner drink. They'll come get you once your table is ready. I always get the scallop starter which is devine, and all the main courses are lovely and fresh.

        You're only a short walk from Crown Street, so after your meal you can walk along the strip and check out some of the many bars for an after dinner pick me up.

        Other options along the Crown Street, Surry Hills strip (though I've yet to check these places out):

        Bird Cow Fish - I haven't been there, but heard it's also very good. Modern Australian I believe.
        Toko - looks gorgeous from the outside, from its blonde wood bar serving sake martinis, to the sushi bar to catch the action, to the long communal table. I'm dying to check it out myself!
        The Bentley - located on the corner of Campbell and Crown Streets - I've heard it's good (rave review in the SMH Good Food Guide, 2 hats etc), but given I can see the place from my balcony, it's a little too close to home for me ;)

        Have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: chookpea

          I am in Sydney at the moment and did a walk in at Fish Face last night

          http://majbros.blogspot.com/2007/05/f...

          Well worth a visit.

          I also liked Bistrode on bourke and I am planning to try Bentley's on Crown during my stay

          Someone recommended Toko on Crown too. Any thoughts?

        2. Try Est if you haven't already. Ottoman (a branch of the famous Canberra restaurant) has just opened in Sydney and is getting good reviews.

          1 Reply
          1. re: filterfeeder

            I have to say that I thought Bondi Icebergs redefined the word "bleh"

            Expensive too even for someone coming from London.

            http://majbros.blogspot.com/2007/05/b...

            Very much enjoyed the cocktails at The Bayswater Brasserie though. Exemplary mixing by a young guy called Charlie.

          2. I am a huge fan of Tetsuya's and think he rates better than French Laundry..Tet's loves hearing that!
            We love the Lord Nelson Pub..probably the best pub food...ever! Great Beer too..
            How about Rockpool or Forty One for dinner....Quay's for lunch?
            Sailor Thai is excellent!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Beach Chick

              Rockpool has always seemed a bit tourist trappy to me (not sure where that perception comes from). Will have to check out Forty One, have not heard of it.

              1. re: Muhlyssa

                Icebergs is good. Great food, great view, great bar. Expensive.
                China Doll in Woolloomooloo Wharf. Aisan fusion. People watching. Moderate price. or Salon Blanc on the same strip.
                Guillaume at Bennelong in Opera House. Expensive.
                Est is still hip and popular. Expensive.
                Hugo's Lounge, Lotus - popular with young ones. More bar scene.
                Forty One, great view. Expensive.

                For good food:-
                RQ, Thai fusion. good service. reasonable price.
                Lo Studio, italian. moderate.
                Il Piave in Rozelle (10 minutes from the city) modern italian. moderate price.

            2. Am really surprised noone has mentioned Longrain or La Sala, La Sala is newer, Darren Simpson the chef - is out of this world. Longrain is some of the best Asian in Sydney - make sure to have a cocktail before hand. Do also try billy Kwongs on crown st- combining the amazing talents of two of Australias best chefs, Bill Granger and Kylie Kwong

              2 Replies
              1. re: katea

                I've been to Longrain twice and found it fairly ordinary on both ocassions, maybe it was two bad nights. It certainly wasn't as good as Spice I Am or Sailor's Thai and nowhere near that fantastic Thai that is no more--David Thompson's Darley St Thai, he now has a restaurant in London.

                Billy Kwongs I think is great, but the cooking is all Kylie, the "Bill" part was financial rather than creative.

                1. re: filterfeeder

                  Longrain ordinary? I've died and gone to heaven every time - but aggree Spice I am is just as good for flavour - but hardly has the experience. Agree with xanadu below, Golden Century is the best Chinese in Sydney.

              2. One of our favorites in Sydney is Golden Century Chinese Seafood. Both locations in Chinatown and Fox Studio are good. Fox Studio is newer and a little less crowded. If you like fresh (i.e. swimming in tanks) seafood (king crabs, lobster, mud crabs, etc.) cooked in typical & tasty Cantonese style.
                www.goldencentury.com.au

                If you like Korean BBQ and Wagyu beef, you must try Rengaya. The beef quality is amazing... simply melts in your mouth! http://www.yakiniku.com.au/images/men...

                If you haven't been to Bill's for breakfast, you really haven't experienced true simple Sydney dining.

                Enjoy your trip.

                3 Replies
                1. re: xanadu

                  I asked my husband if we could go to Bill for breakfast at least 5x during this trip. We always go at least twice when we are there. He had no arguements. I love that place. Thanks for the other suggestions. I've been to Golden Century in Chinatown. The Korean BBQ looks great, thanks.

                  1. re: Muhlyssa

                    Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. We will for sure be trying La Sala since one of our Sydneysider friends has been wanting to try. The rest of it, we will play by ear now that I'm armed with a good list. Trying to stay away from the big, fancy places and seak out more ethnic joints.

                    1. re: Muhlyssa

                      I haven't been to Sydney in about three years... but I lived there for two years before that -- I was a student and almost never(no wait) NEVER had money to go to the fancy restaurants or the more CBD type establishments that tend to collect tourist, so I've never heard of most of the restaurants mentioned in this thread-- my experiences were refined to tiny divey type restaurants in Newtown and Darlinghurst... and there are some great ones, all of which the names escape me at the moment -- they're just that Indian place... that Thai place...that Indonesian place...and I expect people to know what I'm talking about.

                      But maybe this has been suggested and I'm not sure about whether season would effect this, goodness we're well into winter now -- I never kept up with it but I remember there being a big hullabaloo over the fish market opening-- anyway, me and my good Aussie mate grabbed two bottles of wine and went down to the fish market one day -- Hand picked our seafood, some of those huge prawns, a nice offerings of Sydney Rock Oysters and some type of tasty fish(can't remember the name at the moment) -- then we took it to one of the establishments around there that had seating right there on the water front and they cooked it for us -- it was a feast, absolutely delicious seafood, cooked simply... we spent hours there...finally staggering away at dusk. A totally enjoyable experience. More of an idea than a restaurant suggestion... I guess it will help to ask around to see which place, can do you up right.

                      Have fun.

                2. does anyone know the name of the steak place in old post office Muhlyssa is referring to?

                  5 Replies
                    1. re: kmh

                      thanks - trying to get a food itinerary for friends who are traveling next week - I've been to Sydney twice, but they are major steak people - is that the best?

                      1. re: gramercyfoodie

                        that's a major can of worms to open! prime claims to be one of the best as do,
                        gaucho grill in kirribilli
                        la grillade in crows nest
                        kelly's steak house in the top of westfield bondi junction
                        kingsleys - wolloomoolloo and in town

                        NEWSFLASH... my supplier also recommends prime hands down

                        for a cheap entrecote parisienne style la brasserie, crown street east sydney is a modestly priced, refreshing break, as is bird cow fish (crown street, surry hills)

                        steak houses aside, all of the top end places have no excuse not to do a good steak either. matt moran at aria (circular quay) has always been a dab hand with meat since his early years, and any of the boys ex-banc stable should be good too (Darren Simpson @ La Sala, Justin North @ Becasse)

                        unfortunately the best steak i have had in years was a 4 week aged, grain fed ribeye from vic's meats cooked by my husband over coals at home.

                        1. re: kmh

                          Thanks so much kmh - I will spare you my friends as guests at your house for your husbands steak and send them to Prime.