Showcasing the finest of Sydney's food, wine and entertainment, the Little Sydney precinct at Royal Randwick served up the perfect trifecta, writes Maya Kerthyasa.
The fascinators were out in force at Royal Randwick racecourse when Little Sydney popped up in April. The festival, now in its second year, gives Sydneysiders an echo of Flemington's Birdcage with deluxe restaurant marquees, a private courtyard for mingling and a whole lot of glamour.
Returning participants Icebergs and Chiswick were joined by newcomer China Doll. The marquees, set on the Rose Garden Lawn, were bigger and better than last year - Icebergs and Chiswick with a capacity of 300, China Doll's up to 150 - and also included a pop-up bar by the Keystone Group's Gazebo.
The brief at Icebergs, says owner Maurice Terzini, was for "urban warehouse farmhouse". "We tried to create a not-too-perfect environment," he says. And they hit the target with a blonde timber bar, bright low lounges and beachy hues.
The look at China Doll drew inspiration from the restaurant's signature blue and white mural. "We decided to take that idea and instead of dotting Chinese men around, we dotted horses," says chef Frank Shek.
Chiswick took an earthy approach with ceiling-mounted rocking horses, vegetable arrangements, rustic tables and olive-green walls. "We wanted guests to feel like they were walking into Chiswick," says chef Matt Moran, "but still know they were at the races."
Having a punt, of course, was the main draw, but whether or not the horses were the stars of the show is a moot point. Some guests were more excited with the prospect of black garlic fried rice, roast duck and bowls of sago pudding at China Doll. The eating at Chiswick kicked off with snacks such as lamb filo cigars and scallops with burnt eggplant purée, followed by a hearty feast of Moran Family lamb, honey-roast chicken, fillets of pan-fried ocean trout, steamed broccolini and heirloom tomato salad.
Squares of pizza evaporated from trays faster than you can say "salami" at camp Icebergs, while porchetta and a DIY antipasti counter replete with salumi, mozzarella and a spread of bright salads were also on offer. Terzini says he was aiming for a vibe that was "like going to lunch in a big farmhouse."
At the bar, glasses of Cîroc vodka topped with sparkling blood orange and Campari kicked the frivolity into top gear, while Pimm's cocktails at Chiswick were as bright and bubbly as the colourfully clad crowd.
In short, it was a day of great eats, fresh drinks and plenty of fun on the track. The perfect trifecta.