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Time Out Sydney's Top 10 - Do you agree?

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So, Time Out Sydney's just came out with its Top 10 restaurants for 2010:

1. Rockpool - YAY!!
2. Marque
3. Berowra Waters Inn
4. Est.
5. Quay
6. Tetsuya's
7. Guillaume at Bennelong
8. Becasse
9. Universal
10. Bentley

Personally, I think they've got the list down pat. Can't comment on Universal - the only restaurant on the list I'd never been to, but heard good things about.

Do other CHs agree? Are there any deserving restaurant which had been overlooked but should have been on the list?

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  1. I had the worst dining experience of my life at Rockpool (to which Neil Perry wrote back to our complaint that "we obviously didn't understand what he was trying to do at Rockpool") so I can't agree with that, and like you klyeoh I haven't been to Universal (would love to), however the rest of the list sounds about right. Glad Marque is right up there, my personal favourite.

    15 Replies
    1. re: soisbelle

      Sorry to hear about your bad experience at Rockpool, soisbelle! What happened?
      Like you, I love Marque - great food, and great service as well, I might add.

      1. re: klyeoh

        Marque sounds like a very unique experience, but it's very pricey at $150! I wish I could make it for the Friday Prix Fixe but alas, my flight gets in at 10:30AM and with customs and all...I doubt I could make it. Toronto is really lacking in good French food (so I've been told anyways, and I've never had any that really impressed me!) so this is very tempting.

        1. re: ekim256

          You should be able to make it to Marque for Friday lunch if your flight is on time. Surry Hills is quite near the airport. Say it takes you an hour to clear customs, it will take you probably 20 mins to get to Marque from the airport. You still have time to spare.

          1. re: mikey8811

            I just realized that too - this is quite last minute, but would anyone be interested in a chowdown on Friday at Marque for lunch?
            I'm going to remain optimistic that my flight will arrive on time. If I get out of the airport at 11:30AM, and to the city by 12PM, I should be able to drop my stuff off and have a late lunch. To play it safe, let's say 1:30PM and I will check my email ASAP once I arrive. I hope to pick up a SIM card at the airport, so I can call/text you if you're comfortable enough to send a number to me, but if you have a smart-phone I can just email if that suits. Promise that I'm not crazy! I just really like sharing food!
            I'm not sure if it's popular on this board, but the Toronto chowmeets have been a good time. Once I get my bearings I'll be better organized for later ones, if people are interested during my travels.

            Okay! I'm literally running home now to pack my bag in an hour and then I'm off to the airport! I can't wait to visit your lovely city :-) my eyes are set on Marque, Chinese Noodle House, and Harry's for meat pie this Friday!

            Erin :-)

            1. re: ekim256

              Erin - If you don't already have a reservation for lunch at Marque you are probably going to miss out. I understand the Friday lunch is pretty tricky to get and it books out weeks/months in advance.

              Let us know if you do there is a possibility that I could make it.

              1. re: ekim256

                If you want french and don't get to go to Marque, I like Bistro Moncur, also good window shopping in the neighbourhood and world's fanciest butcher ever very close by. It could be a very nice afternoon thing.

                1. re: ekim256

                  Not in Sydney 'fraid.

                  Bistro Moncur is a good choice although it's getting pricey like everything in Oz especially given the currency strength. But there's no need to venture to Woollhara. I'd go to nearby Bills 2 in Surry Hills if that's still there. Bird Cow Fish is also in the same area.

                  1. re: mikey8811

                    Well I've landed. It's 2:20AM and I'm exhausted but I thought that I'd give an update anyways. I quickly checked my email on the hostel computer (data is not supported on my blackberry here...sigh) and seeing no emails I wandered down there myself. They really did discuss and try hard to look through their books to give me a spot on the fly - I was genuinely surprised and pleased with the efforts of all 3 people (so nice!) but they were absoluately booked and I made it there at 1:30pm (lunch ends at 2pm). Ah well. I ended up getting a yummy sausage-fennel roll at a nearby bakery (Bourke St Bakery) then wandering down a bit further. Had an entire pide to myself at Erciyes, then a nice flat on Crown Street. Wandered up and looked around The Rocks where I tried another turkish treat, the name escapes me at the moment - a spinach, cheese, chicken crepe thing. Then I wandered down to Chinatown and looked around the night market (Taiwanese BBQ jerky thing was tried), found a nice Taiwanese dessert shop on Gouldburn, was a little put out to find that Chinese Noodle Restaurant closes earlier than expected (9:30pm) but was pleased to find Mamak for a murtabak which was very different than the murtabak that I eat in Toronto. Day 1, Mission Eat-Through-Sydney complete :P

                    Debbie and Mikey - will look into these. I would really like to have good French food if it's available here since TO doesn't seem to offer much. Perhaps Adelaide/Melbourne will have some instead. Thanks!!

                    1. re: ekim256

                      Good job! nice day of eating in Sydney. hope you get some kanom krok
                      at Chat Thai and Laksa at Malay Chinese next.

                      you had a flat white - some great coffee in Sydney - Mecca in the CBD, single Origin near Central train station, Toby's on City Rd near the broadway shopping ctr. even more great coffee in Melbourne - Cup of Truth and Proud Mary and 3 Bags Full and Seven Seeds and Brother Baba Budan and St Ali.

          2. re: soisbelle

            I think that the list is pretty much spot on. There are a couple of things that I'd mention, though. Soisbelle & klyeoh, Universal is certainly something special. The food was great. We did find that the service was a bit pretentious, and I honestly am not a fan at all of the location/ambiance - Universal sits in an apartment courtyard shared with a couple of other restaurants (Phamish & Lucio Pizzeria); neither of which you'd spend more than $20/head. For me, since it's almost a shared dining room - it cheapens the Universal experience. Aside from the service & location, it's still good enough to deserve its place on the list.
            I'd include Bodega. I think that what Ben & Elvis pull off on Commonwealth Street is nothing short of spectacular. For me, it beats Bentley - especially when you consider the impact to your bank account. Along those same lines, I reckon Assiette is pretty great, too. I'd rate Assiette higher than Guillame. I also would have put Becasse (YAY! I've got a booking for tomorrow night) above Est. Justin North's restaurants seem to all run with Swiss precision - just wonderful service. Worth a mention might also be Oscillate Wildly in Newtown. Probably not top 10, but definitely worth a mention.

            1. re: Syd.FoodGuy

              Am I the only one who doesn't "get" Bodega?

              I've been there a couple times and I don't see what all the fuss is about.
              Queue up or wait in the bar for an hour; only to be seated in a loud, cramped, lowly-lit dining room. Food is good, but nowhere near top-level. Fish fingers are good, though.

              Anyway, it's a good list. It's good to see some recognition for Rockpool at the moment (Gourmet Traveller also put it as #1 in Sydney). Marque, Quay, Tetsuya's and Universal are also worthy of the list. I haven't been to Berowra Waters, but I've heard great things.

              1. re: anarcist

                I think its just the style of the thing, Sydney is really only just coming to terms with the style of eating that Bentley and Bodega embody. (And I mean that in a structural, licensing laws kind of sense).

                I feel the same way about Movida, I feel as if I have been pickpocketed whilst having a drink and nibbles.

                1. re: anarcist

                  I really enjoyed it (Bodega) and I think we chose well. However, why is it so special? This should be a standard not an impossible to get into place. It should also be cheaper.

                  I see Durack gave top marks to "Porteno" in today's SMH - it does look good. I will need to venture down there to check it out - if I can brave the no bookings policy.

                  1. re: anarcist

                    I worked across the road from Bodega when it opened. I didn't get it then, and I still don't get it. I no longer live in Sydney, but I certainly won't waste a meal there when I do go back. It's very average (in my humble opinion).

                    1. re: jre

                      I really liked the food, but couldn't really understand why it is such a difficult table to get, as it is good but so are lots of places. I put it down to the combination of the fucky/rockabilly staff, good music and small size. If I could book I would return but I am not so keen on getting to a restaurant by 6:00 to score a table then possibly sitting in a bar whilst I wait (OK the second part isn't true).

                      Porteno their new place is better (IMO), and as it is bigger it may be easier to score a table.

              2. List looks pretty good in the fine dining sphere. I've been to all of them except for Berowra Waters Inn.

                Universal didn't really float my boat but that was a couple of years ago now and there has no doubt been change.

                I really liked Aria a few weeks ago, but it would probably sit just outside the top 10, maybe top 15.

                Was at Rockpool last week and it was definitely at the top of the tree. Food blew away Aria which I had enjoyed a lot.

                Berowra Waters Inn is to be visited sometime this year, looking forward to it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Camw

                  Finally visited Berowra Waters Inn and it was great - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/746988

                  Re-visited Universal last week and it was good, still not really top 10 for my taste though.

                2. We'll be in Sydney in a few months with our 4 year old. She's used to dining out in nice places, but we're looking for places with great food but not stuffy atmo (as much because it will make lots of diners uncomfortable to have her there as because we're not huge fans of stuffiness) - do any of these fit that bill? Sounds like I should strike Universal off our list. Thanks in advance.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Sorry, I took a look at the top 10 again, and they all don't look quite suitable for 4-year-olds actually :-(

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Too bad. Really stuffy, huh? She's eaten in very good (but non-stuffy) places all over and is both very willing to try new foods and very well behaved. But we definitely don't want to make other diners or her feel uncomfortable. Thanks for the input.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        The Top10 (above) are a bit up themselves, they sniff at me in jeans regularly so don't feel excluded. The only one I would exclude is Becasse, I bet they would be very welcoming of anyone well behaved.

                        1. re: mr_gimlet

                          Thanks Mr. G., good to know. I know how places in Paris are/can be. Some are really actually very comfortable, but others, even 2 adults can end up feeling like they shouldn't be having a conversation. Wouldn't have guessed it of Sydney, I have to admit. But I'll def. look into Becasse.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Once you move off the top ten it becomes a lot friendlier - it is less about stuffiness and more about being perceived as hip and trendy.

                            1. re: mr_gimlet

                              There is nothing trendier than having a 4 year old on your arm (kidding!).

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                I agree on Becasse (they are just nice people) and I think Bentley would be ok too. For good dining with 4 y/o, maybe try Seans, Bodega (a bit hectic though), Pendolino, Bistro Moncur or the Four in Hand.

                                1. re: panaroma

                                  Thank you so much panaroma. This is a great list to have.

                                  1. re: panaroma

                                    bodega is dark, loud and cramped. might not be good for a 4-y/o.

                                    1. re: anarcist

                                      As I said, Bodega is hectic but the atmosphere is casual and the staff don't mind a child being there, so we didn't feel unwelcome. Whether the kid likes it depends on the kid (mine likes crowded noisy places).

                                      1. re: panaroma

                                        Yeah, Lulu's been to lots of different kinds of places, and basically just likes going someplace new with good food. I'm glad to hear from another parent - helps a lot.

                    2. This year's list:

                      1. Berowra Waters
                      2. Rockpool
                      3. Tetsuya's
                      4. Bilson's
                      5. Quay
                      6. Est.
                      7. Gastro Park
                      8. Becasse
                      9. Marque
                      10. Porteno

                      TimeOut has the usual suspects, but they always change up the order. I think TimeOut has a soft spot for the young chefs doing good things at Tetsuya's and Rockpool.

                      * Good to see Berowra Waters at the top. I finally went there, and it really is a destination restaurant.
                      * Good to see some recognition for Tetsuya's. Despite its (perhaps unfair) demotion last year in the Good Food Guide, it still remains a consistent crowd-pleaser.
                      * The big "discovery" for the year was perhaps Bilson's, with its new head chef.
                      * The big "surprise" was to see Marque slide down. It took out Gourmet Traveller's Restaurant of the Year.
                      * It was also surprising to see that Becasse neither went up nor down, despite relocating and taking a new direction.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: anarcist

                        I'm going to be in Sydney the beginning of December. I see on Tetsuaya's webpage that they only take reservations 4 weeks in advance. Do I have any chance of getting a reservation if I do it online? Or is it like the French Laundry where there's a 15 minute window for phone calls? I don't think I'm going to try to call Australia!

                        1. re: Gypsyfish

                          I don't see where on their site it says reservations only 4 weeks in advance, I have always booked months in advance. Email them the form from the following page and you should be fine - http://www.tetsuyas.com/page/reservat...

                          1. re: Gypsyfish

                            It's normally months in advance. You will need to be looking at a weekday night I suspect, but they will quickly reply by email

                            1. re: Gypsyfish

                              I was able to get a reservation the day of on a Thursday back in January/February. There were plenty of tables open around us to.

                              1. re: BeanTownGolfer

                                Sorry, I should clarify I meant a weekend booking. It's downgrade in the GFG has taken a bit of pressure off bookings generally

                            2. re: anarcist

                              Both my experiences at Tetsuya's were disappointing, so I wouldn't put in in a Top 10
                              Both my experiences at Pendolino were spectacular, so I would put it in a Top 10