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Nov 1, 2008 10:45 PM

Looking for great food Sydney & Melbourne but . . .

I'm looking for suggestions for great food in Sydney and Melbourne, but I'm traveling with 2 kids (4 yrs old and 1 yr old). I'm wondering if any of the top restaurants in the cities would be able to accomodate us with the children. We live in San Francisco and take the kids out for nice, though not formal, dinners. We also travel quite often and have taken them to nice restaurants, usually with no problem. I'm not sure how formal the dining scene is in Sydney and Melbourne.

I'd really appreciate any suggestions for restaurants with excellent food where the kids would be tolerated. I'm not looking for kid friendly like pizza/fish n chips, etc but rather I'm looking for great food where they wouldn't give us dirty looks for bringing 2 kids.

Thanks a lot for your help.

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  1. I was told about the good food guide. I think at least one of the places listed was kid friendly. The question I have is, how good is the guide?

    1 Reply
    1. re: barnaby33

      As Mr Gimlet says the SMH Good Food Guide is pretty good. But this isn't a great link, better to go to the "Good Living Section" of the Sydney Morning Herald website. Or better still buy the guide itself, it isn't expensive. The guide has a notes on all specifically "child friendly" restaurants - there are lots.

      The link above only has the one hats, there are lots and lots of others at higher and slightly lower standards in the book - but all pretty good.

    2. Despite being from Melbourne, I eat out in Sydney top-end a lot and I think most places would be very happy to have two well-behaved children enjoying their food. Dining in Sydney, even at the top end, is not particularly formal. The places I would perhaps advise caution with are some of the up and coming places in the eastern suburbs who are sometimes a bit up themselves.

      Barnaby, the GFG is usually on the nail. One hats can be a bit hit and miss, though often represent good value for those of us with Australian dollars to spend. We can't afford the 3 hats generally!

      ciaotuffy, not sure exactly what you're looking for in terms of the type or style (or price!) of restaurants - in Sydney whether the view is important is a key consideration. If you could narrow it down I (or lots of others) could probably make some suggestions.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mr_gimlet

        Thanks for the suggestions on the guides. I'll have to pick it up when we arrive.

        I don't have anything particular in mind as to cuisine although Australian cuisine would be fun. I've also heard that there is lots of good asian food. The view or decor isn't as important as long as the food is good. I can do a "hole in the wall" type place or a nice place. I was hoping we'd go out for 2 nice, pricier meals (hopefully less than $100 US per person) in each city and then more casual, less expensive restaurants the rest of the time. We're staying about 1 week in each city.

        Thanks again for the help. I really appreciate it.

        1. re: ciaotuffy

          I'm assuming 1 and 4 year olds don't yet have the chilli tolerance for authentic thai...

          A couple for the shortlist: Becasse in Sydney for one of your pricier meals, their serving staff are fantastic, the food is superb and the kids won't faze them; Golden Century for smart seafood-heavy Cantonese (live fish in tanks territory), or BBQ King for that where chefs go after service; Bistrode or Assiette for something a bit different in hat territory.

          In Melbourne, I'd suggest one of the Crown restaurants - although its a casino, in the past couple of years they've lured big names and the location is great on the Yarra. GAS, Rockpool are cracking, and Phillippe Mouchel's brasserie is on the list because their lunch deal is the bargain of Melbourne. Press Club would also be a good hatted kid-friendly place.

          Asian - mainly Cantonese with a sprinkling of Szechuan, there's heaps in the CBD where I assume you are. If you're travelling around at all let me know and I'll come up with some suburb or out of town suggestions.

      2. well behaved children with good table manners are well tolerated nearly everywhere. You will find most of the restaurants referred to here or in the guides have chef / operators with young children. having said that, I can't imagine wanting to take kids to Pier, est. or marque... but... Anyways, there is an excellent range of slightly less formal but equally impressive eateries in Sydney.

        A great choice IMO would be Bird Cow Fish. it's good food cooked excellently and chef Alex herbert has lovely kids of her own that i have occasionally spotted in house. Somewhere like longrain wouldn't be a great choice unless you get there at opening and avoid the cocktail bar.

        I could go on and on, but I think you will find we are quite egalitarian and as long as your kids don't take over the restaurant they and you, will be well looked after.

        Give BBQ King a miss unless you like chinese roulette.

        have a great trip!

        1. Thank you so much for the great suggestions. All of these places sound really good.

          We will also be going to Blue Mountain, any good spots there? Or in Phillip Island?

          And is there any good restaurant in either Sydney or Melbourne for fresh abalone? I don't even know if it's in season or if there's a season for it, but a friend suggested I get some.


          2 Replies
          1. re: ciaotuffy

            the big one in the mountains is vulcan's at blackheath, but I'm not sure how phillip searle feels about kids. in a customer sense, that is.

            ashcrofts, also in blackheath is another great place, as is darley's at lilianfels in katoomba.

            I'd also recommend silk's in leura, although I haven't been there since the silk family completed the handover to the new owners.

            and if you're keen on casual, family-friendly cafe fare, I could always suggest our new place at mount victoria, due to open next month... but of course, modesty precludes me.....

            1. re: ciaotuffy

              Phillip Island is a gastronomic desert. The exception is the fresh fish guy at hebtsnns on the jetty in Cowes is your best bet.

              There are wineries etc on the Mornington Peninsula, which is a minor and worthwhile detour. Montalto used to be good, have a look the gfg

            2. One more question- Are the nicer restaurants like Becasse, Assiette, Bird Cow Fish etc jacket & tie required places? Becasse looks pretty formal on their website but I can't quite tell. (In San Francisco most restaurants are casual and only a few are jacket & tie required.) Just trying to get an idea of what to pack.
              Thanks again for all the help.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ciaotuffy

                the only place a jacket & tie are required in australia is when you're referred to as "the defendant".

                1. re: fooftales

                  LOL foof!
                  jacket & Tie is pretty much clubs and, as our learned friends notes, courtrooms. Smart casual will do but definitely not jeans and trainers at the upper end.
                  I suspect (and have heard) Sydney is quite similar to San Fran...