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Need help for one memorable dinner in Sydney.

We are San Francisco Chowhounds who will be visiting Sydney in a few months for just a couple of days and are looking for help selecting one great dinner. Friends have recommended the following: Quay, Tetsuyas, Aria. Which of these three do you recommend or are there others we should consider. We will be staying at The Four Seasons Hotel. Thanks for any help you can be.

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  1. Fellow SF'er.

    Tets is supposed to be ridiculous. i was in sydney a couple years ago and mistakenly double booked there and Rockpool. I wound up going to Rockpool and, while a great meal, have regretted it ever since.

    1. Its a difficult question because they are all very good but slightly different. Its a bit like saying which 3* should I go to in Paris. Your starting list is the universally agreed top handful in Sydney (a couple slide in and out of this list, but its good for starters) - which are Marque, Tetsuyas, Quay, Pier and est. Aria is realistically in the second tier but it has a fabulous view. Guillaume at Bennelong used to be top tier but has slipped, probably because the chef is fluffing around opening bistors in casinos.

      First question: how important is the location and view to your experience? Quay and Pier are very nice views, Marque and Tetsuya are nondescript and you wouldn't know you were in Sydney. Foodwise, Tetsuya and Marque are technically more elaborate but not confronting in a spanish gastro kind of way.

      I suspect your friends factored in a view as important, hence their shortlist.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mr_gimlet

        Thanks, I always put the food first, but my wife is high on ambience and views so that is important. We're only going to be in Sydney for a short time, so I think we do want a place that feels like Sydney. So, it sounds like our friend's suggestions are good ones.

      2. I havent eaten at Quay or Aria, but I thought Tetsuyas was pretty uninspiring when I went there in May. The produce is first-rate, but the dishes aren't as daring or tasty as I'd have expected. If I were going upscale Japanese in Sydney, I'd eat at Yoshii rather than Tetsuyas - http://www.yoshii.com.au/main.html It's also walking distance from the Four Seasons

        Of the other 'first tier' places in Sydney I've eaten, I also thought Pier was good, but not sensational

        Seems to me that the moderate level eateries are often a better option

        Two of the best meals I've had this year were at Bronte Rd Bistro http://www.bronteroadbistro.com Dave Pegrum is formerly of Tetsuyas, BTW

        Or if you're adamant about a view, North Bondi Italian is pretty amazing too (though they don't take bookings) http://www.idrb.com/northbondi/

        Pilu is the other place I've had amazing food with great views - http://www.piluatfreshwater.com.au/in...

        I just suspect this whole "Top 50 restaurants" list stuff is political, and a bit of a wank. My eating experiences certainly don't concur with the judges decisions

        Oh,....and if you're going somewhere with a view, I'd suggest lunch not dinner

        8 Replies
        1. re: Onara

          You're not the first person I've heard say that about Tetsuya. Certainly the menu doesn't seem to be refreshed very often.

          1. re: mr_gimlet

            Tetsuya's signature dish of trout is still amazing, as were the Crystal Bay Prawns. The rest of the courses weren't especially memorable however

            Interestingly, last time I had lunch at Pilu, Tetsuya was at the adjoining table

          2. re: Onara

            I agree with the Top 50 comment, eaten in lots of them and had as good at other places. However Mr G's recommendations do tie in with the SMH GFG and Gourmet Traveller recs which are good for Sydney and represent the top end well.

            Yet to try NBI (back in Sydney now so will) but what about "Icebergs" for the view and good food?

            Looks like I need to also get to Bronte Road Bistro, I enjoyed Dave's food a lot when he was at Forbes & Burton, and hadn't realised he had moved on.

            1. re: PhilD

              Icebergs and NBI are owned by the same people I think, though I've not eaten at Icebergs

              Co-incidentally, I was in San Francisco last month and ate at the following...

              Zuni - something of an institution from what I can gather. Food was very good, perhaps not hugely memorable

              Nopa - this place reminded me of Bronte St Bistro, just in terms of value, service, attitude & approach to food. I was impressed

              Coi - bit of a disappointment. A degustation that was more miss than hit (many seem to be), and staff that seemed to busy to discuss the dishes (except for the female server - who was brilliant)

              1. re: Onara

                Glad you liked Zuni and Nopa. Zuni just celebrated it's 20th (maybe 30th) anniversary and is sort of an institution. Their roast chicken with bread salad is the signature dish. Nopa is great but very noisy--excellent pork chop. Haven't been to Coi yet--keep reading about it but reports seem to conflict. Some think it's the greatest thing in San Francisco, others are disappointed.

                1. re: bobpantzer

                  Who can not like Zuni? Its roast chicken with bread salad - absolutely unforgettable!! I'd been to SF 10 times the past 2 years, and had dined at Zuni each & every time. BTW, Coi is really, and I do mean REALLY good. Whoops, I'm digressing - we're supposed to be on the Oz/Kiwi board here!

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    love love love zuni, but thought Coi was entirely oversalted. and a little precious.

              2. re: PhilD

                Icebergs is great, much better than you'd expect with such a stunning view

            2. If memorable doesn't necessarily mean extravagant, then I must say the last meal I ate at Chat Thai in downtown Sydney was memorable, wonderful, huge, educational - and surprisingly cheap.

              1. Thanks, all, you have been very helpful. Appreciate it.

                1. I've just been emailed John Lethlean's "50 Great Australian Restaurants" from the Weekend Oz earlier this month

                  He has some interesting things to say, and compiles an eclectic list

                  The basic gyst of it is here...

                  Email me if you'd like the full article - pb@realsurf.com

                  6 Replies
                    1. re: Onara

                      Thanks - interesting reading.

                      Good Thai fix at Spice I am last - it is so good to be back...!

                      1. re: PhilD

                        oh, are you back in Australia at the moment? let me know if you're visiting Melbourne

                        1. re: mr_gimlet

                          Yes, possibly back for good. Looks like I need trip to Melbourne as lots of good food stuff seems available. I will let you know when.

                          1. re: PhilD


                            You have always been very helpful whenever I have posted on here, so I hope this tip comes up trumps. If you visit Melbourne try out Gigibaba, when I was in Perth this guys Lebanese was something of an epiphany, it started off in my top ten eats of all time, but everytime I think back it slowly creeps up the list, helped by an awesome Wyse's 2005 Single Vineyard Donnybrook Chardonnay too!


                            1. re: stanleyk

                              Having been to Eminem in the old days, Gigibaba is a big letdown.

                              It is very expensive nibbles combined with the kind of restaurant arrogance that reminds you all the time of the waitstaffs view that it should be a privilege to be even permitted to enter their doors. The seating is cramped and uncomfortable, and lots of reminders that there are people waiting for your spot. Plus its no reservations, my current Melbourne pet hate.

                              I thought the food was very good, but the rest of it (and the large bill - I've had cheaper tapas meals in Barcelona) doesn't do it for me. I wouldn't recommend it to visitors.

                  1. For something definately memorable, see if Berowra Waters Inn suits your needs

                    Fly in and out via Seaplane, starting from Sydney Harbour....

                    Get some nive views, and some pretty good food


                    1. I'll put a vote in for Tetsuya's. Ate there earlier this year and the evening was seamless and the food wonderful.

                      1. If you are looking for something a bit cutting edge, then Marque would be quite memorable. For the views, you can't beat Aria or Quay. But the best meal I have had in a very long time is actually at Bistro Ortolan in Leichardt. It is about 15 mins away from the Sydney CBD.

                        I blogged about it on my blog so check it out!


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: howardt

                          we weren't so happy with Bistro Ortolan:

                          If I only had one meal I'd go to Tetsuya or Quay.

                          1. re: debbieann

                            Nice review, each to their own but in hindsight I agree with a lot of your comments. There is probably a reason why they have only kept their 1 hat after all.

                            1. re: howardt

                              Certainly a good review, although I must demur from your opinion. A fantastic meal, and great value. Not sure what you mean, Howard, about only keeping one hat. They have had two hats for two years and actually improved their score (up to 16.5 in the SMH 2010 Guide from 16 in 2009) in the last edition.

                        2. We were a party of 4 at Tetsuyers. During the dinner red wine was spilled all over the table & all down the front of my husband's shirt . We were sent to the bar while the table was reset. My husband was offered a replacement shirt..[which he liked better than his own]. At the end of the evening his shirt was returned laundered and pressed. Now that was service. The meal by the way was sensational. It's not cheap but a great experience.

                          1. Sydney really specialises in casual dining, especially for lunch. Try The Wharf restaurant at the Sydney Theatre Company on the Harbour in Hickson Rd. Tim Pak Poy is one of our finest chef's and has moved from his fine dining glory days at Claude's (which I also MUST recommend, yet for an intimate evening) to entertaining in a relaxed open space with the water lapping below and the Bridge close enough to touch. It's also only a scenic fifteen minute stroll from The Four Seasons.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Timfm

                              If you are here from SF, you should eat as much laksa as possible and wonder why there is almost no laksa in SF.

                              1. re: debbieann

                                You're right, debbieann - SF can certainly learn a thing or two from Sydney on laksa! BTW, Straits at the Westfield SF Centre (owned by Singaporean Chris Yeo) offered laksa but it was bleah - Thai green curry sauce used!!

                                I really love Sydney laksa - it's different from Singapore laksa, Penang laksa, Sarawak laksa, etc. but it's got a marvellous & distinct taste & character all of its own, and is every bit as good as other types of laksa. That veritable old dining institution, Malaya (was in George St, now at King St Wharf) was credited with introducing laksa to Australia back in the early-60s. The cook was a Hongkonger, used spices imported from Singapore, and cooked what he thought Singaporeans/Malayans would eat. The rest was part of Sydney's culinary history - the Sydney laksa!

                                One of the most accessible places to try the laksa is at the Malaysian Laksa House, Queen Victoria Bldg:

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  I like the laksa at Malay-China on Hunter St., but the QVB laksa is also well located when you want food in that area.

                                  I said to my partner that trading SF for Sydney was trading Mexican food for Malaysian food - which is not a bad tradeoff really.

                            2. I have enjoyed Marques, Quay, Becasse, Billy Kwok, however for ambience and nice food (more ambience) I would suggest Guillame in the Opera House - food is French and nice but the drawcard is to eat in that beautiful building. It was memorable. For food my favourite in Sydney is Yoshi as the food is visually gorgeous and taste is memorable tho service and ambience are only ok. Worth it for the food however.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Kahu

                                These forums are wealth of information. I am in a similar situation to the OP. I'm heading to sydney from the 25 of mar -28 of mar. The 26th will be my fiancee's birthday and I'm looking at going somewhere nice for dinner. We're staying in the city and don't have a car, so I'd prefer a short walk/taxi ride.

                                From the comment's and considering locations, I've sort of narrowed it down to Quay or Yoshii. To be honest I like the sound of the menu at Yoshii, but Quay seems to offer better views?

                                Any further suggestions? I'm looking around a budget of $150 per person

                                1. re: hazna

                                  Yoshii is superb, but I wouldn't go there for a special occasion meal

                                  1. re: hazna

                                    Hazna - Quay is definately a big night out restaurant and good and central. But it is expensive with the set menu at $155 a head (it isn't ALC) and the tasting menu at $210 and a bottle of wine will be at least $60 minimium. It could really blow your budget.

                                    A taxi to the inner suburbs won't cost a lot $20 (?) and so all those on my list are accessible apart from Bondi ($35 in a cab)

                                  2. re: Kahu

                                    You meant Billy Kwongs? The food is great, but it's a pain to get a table there. They don't accept reservations & you'll need to join queue just after 5.30pm to snare one of those hard-to-get tables when the restaurant opens at 6pm. If you miss that, then you might be told to come back around 8.30pm.

                                    If you're lucky enough to get in, you get to sit on small, round stools around tables not much bigger than those you find in Parisian al fresco cafes. So, if you're after ambience or views (nothing much to see outside along Crown St, Surry Hills), go elsewhere. Else, give it a try to see what all the hype is about:

                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                      thankfully you can put your name and mobile phone number on the list and walk to mille vini and wait there at a table while drinking wine.