Sydney’s coolest restaurants for winter

Far from retreating indoors for the winter, the Sydneysiders are booking upscale restaurants for a big night out with heightened excitement.

According to restaurateurs, since the port city resumed dining after COVID-19 restrictions eased, something has changed in the behavior of people to eat.

Prices are high but demand is higher, with many restaurants enjoying an increased fondness for luxury goods such as cellar wine and caviar.

GOOD FOOD: Nobu, Crown Sydney, Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo. May 20, 2021, Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sydney Morning Herald. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The Rose Bay Catalina institution has extended its opening hours to include Sunday evenings to meet table demand. Catalina manager Judy McMahon said while the restaurant has always been a favorite with frequent travelers, there has been a significant shift in dining habits across the city.

“We are now doing two sessions per department, sometimes doubling what was available before the pandemic, and we still cannot meet the demand,” she said. “I think people are enjoying food experiences a lot more now because they’ve been taken away from them.”

Fink Hotel Group CEO Jeremy Courmadias said restaurants in his employer’s portfolio – including Quay, Bennelong, Otto and Surry Hills’ Firedoor – have seen an increase in demand for tables, especially on Saturday nights. . People are now comfortable preparing their meals a month in advance, he says.

Catalina, Rose Bay, where owner Judy McMahon has observed a change in the amount spent by diners.

Catalina, Rose Bay, where owner Judy McMahon has observed a change in the amount spent by diners. Photo: Paul McMahon

“With off-the-table travel, people are looking for ways to experience this city and luckily our restaurants can provide a great backdrop.”

It is not difficult to indulge in a fink restaurant. Bennelong’s three-course menu at the Opera costs $ 170 a head and features Tasmanian lobster as a complement. Patrons who eat across the pond at Quay have a choice of a six-course menu for $ 240 or eight-course for $ 290.

Couples looking for a Saturday night table can expect a wait time of around six weeks. A long time, yes, but nothing compared to the waiting list of almost 12 months for a place in the kitchen at Firedoor.

Run by Chef Lennox Hastie, the two-hat restaurant has become so popular that some people with reservations forget about it by the time their dining date arrives. Courmadias attributes Hastie’s appearance to popular Netflix show Chef’s table last year for the long waiting list.

“Often, we surprise guests surprised by their pre-organization,” he says. Courmadias advises future guests to try a midweek session, or to book in groups of four or six to score a weekend reservation due to the way the tables are set up.

A close second for the hardest reservation to score in Sydney goes to Nobu at Crown. With its American sister restaurants frequented by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, the Sushi Temple has no room for dinner on Fridays or Saturdays for at least two until October, with the exception of a few. hours of rest after 9 p.m.

Nobu's deluxe sashimi platter with bonus caviar.

Nobu’s deluxe sashimi platter with bonus caviar. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“Nobu has been incredibly popular – and we hear people say they can’t get in,” says Mark Holmes, non-gaming executive general manager of Crown Sydney.

“We encourage people to watch at different times, consider a midweek location, or visit the drop-in bar for after-work drinks. This is probably one of the best kept secrets that you can introduce yourself and sit down at the bar.

The most exclusive part of Nobu’s offering is Yoshii’s Omakase, a ten-seat dining experience for $ 350 per person. All seats are currently filled until August.

Chef Firedoor Lennox Hastie chats with patrons with a ringside seat at the bar.

Chef Firedoor Lennox Hastie chats with patrons with a ringside seat at the bar. Photo: Nikki To

At Catalina’s, McMahon has also observed a shift in the amount people spend at restaurants. “Our wine list and other big ticket items, such as cocktails, sell off the charts,” she says.

“We also introduced the caviar in small and large portions and that [has not traditionally] was something we thought we could do. We always thought we would end up with all the luxuries that people weren’t willing to pay for, but the opposite turned out to be true.

“Maybe people have nothing else to spend their money on right now, so they’re spending it on quality experiences at restaurants like ours.”

With a fixed cost of $ 130 per person for Catalina’s three-course a la carte menu, McMahon was also surprised by the number of people who choose to use their Dine & Discover vouchers provided by the state government in establishment.

“I guess when you think of someone spending, say $ 200 at Catalina, $ 25 is always more than 10 percent off their bill.”

Five restaurants for a big evening (or a day)

Aria 1 Macquarie Street, Sydney

With Chef Joel Bickford in the kitchen for three years, the food on Matt Moran’s flagship harbor side has grown steadily. The views of the bridge and the opera house are the backdrop to a $ 180 four-course menu with the option of rare wines from one of Australia’s best wineries. Expect a table Saturday for two: there are a few seats left for tonight at the time of publication.

Bert Bar and Brasserie 2 Kalinya Street, Newport

While Mimi’s attracts all the attention on the east side for its Coogee Pavilion caviar bumps (see Terry Durack’s review in Have a nice week end), Merivale’s fine dining restaurant Northern Beaches also has no shortage of fancy fish roe, hand-picked mud crab, and live lobster. Non-locals should consider booking an Airbnb and familiarizing themselves with the champagne menu. Expect a table Saturday for two: reservations are open today for lunch and dinner.

Catalina Lyne Park, New South Head Road, Rose Bay

Still going strong after 26 years of oyster, sashimi and seaplane arrivals. Bettors really keen to get the superyacht out might consider the $ 80 roast suckling pig supplement associated with the 2015 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache for a price of $ 6,000. Expect a table Saturday for two: currently two weeks, but it never hurts to call and check in on the same day.

Dock Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks

Sydney’s Ultimate Three Hats, Bells & Whistles Experience, Big Night Out. The continued absence of docked cruise ships ensures that the Opera House is always in full view for Peter Gilmore’s mind-boggling dishes, such as pasture-raised Maremma quail, purple corn, orach and grapes from Corinth. Expect a table Saturday for two: a fortnight for lunch, six weeks for dinner.

Silks Level 3, Crown Sydney, 1 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney

Crown’s jade-on-gold sanctuary of Cantonese cuisine offers high-end yum cha during the day and a la carte at night with all the hits: whole roast duck, lobster with truffles, coral trout from the reservoir and sautéed shrimp with pearl meat. If you’ve always wanted to drop $ 168 on the “Boiled Bird’s Nest with American Ginseng”, this is the place. Expect a table Saturday for two: there is availability for lunch and late dinner this weekend.

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