Restaurant News

Now open in Sydney: Oncore by UK chef Clare Smyth

The jewel to the Crown Sydney has finally opened in a stunning dining room on the 26th floor of the casino complex’s Barangaroo tower, with 180-degree views of Sydney and its harbour. It’s one of the biggest openings of the year.

By Karlie Verkerk
Oncore is located on level 26 of the Crown Sydney tower in Barangaroo. Photo: Oncore
Clare Smyth of restaurant Core in London is one of the greatest chefs working today, and Sydney is home to her much-anticipated follow-up, Oncore. And if the opening act is anything to go by, it's set to make a big impression on the local dining scene.
Oncore – her first restaurant outside the United Kingdom – was originally set to open back in February, but the début was pushed back due to COVID. It's located on level 26 of Crown Sydney's towering glass building in Barangaroo, and it effortlessly combines Smyth's Northern Irish heritage and mod-Brit culinary sensibilities within an Australian context.
It's fine-dining in a calm yet polished setting, bolstered by 180-degree views of Sydney Harbour and its surrounds.
The "beef and oyster" with Highland wagyu beef and Porthily oysters, as served at Core. Photo: Food Story Media Ltd
In the dining room, it successfully translates via neutral tones, natural timber and petite vases filled with soft pink roses and Geraldton wax flowers. Leather-topped tables and well-cushioned bucket and love seats further soften the overall experience.
Experienced waitstaff, selected by restaurant manager Michael Stoddart (ex-Bennelong), move in unison to deliver dishes to each table. It could be one of Core's signatures, such as "potato and roe", which heroes a humble spud from the NSW Southern Highlands that's topped with herring and trout roe and doused in a sinful seaweed beurre blanc; or the "Core apple", the restaurant's take on a toffee apple made with Lobo apple brandy from the Adelaide Hills.
The food, while technically faultless and precise, is still wonderfully playful and whimsical. Snacks and petit fours are served on sculptural vine offcuts that have been decorated with moss and flowers. An edible oyster shell and "Core-teser" dessert, inspired by the flavours of a Malteser, only add to the restaurant's overall charm.
The bar area at Sydney's Oncore. Photo: Supplied
Oncore marks another milestone in Smyth's career, which includes catering for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, time at Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV in Monaco, and a head chef gig at London's Restaurant Gordon Ramsay aged 28. There, she became the first female chef in the United Kingdom to retain three Michelin stars before opening Core in Notting Hill in 2017, and repeating the triple-star achievement in 2021.
Chef Clare Smyth
Although Smyth won't be arriving in Sydney until February 2022 due to unpredictable border restrictions, Smyth has undeniably put her stamp on everything at Oncore (literally in some cases – many of the plates are subtly ridged with Smyth's fingerprints). She also curated a book selection on surrounding shelves that reference her culinary influences (see The Irish Cook Book, Australia: The Cookbook, and a thick Escoffier tome), and programmed a restaurant playlist that features Cyndi Lauper, Smashing Pumpkins, Aerosmith, Oasis and Coldplay.
Head chef Alan Stuart (Core, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Eleven Madison Park) leads a team of accomplished chefs, with sous chef Amanda Healey at his side. For the wine list, head sommelier Remon Van de Kerkhof has selected an impressive range with an equal focus on Australian and international labels. The cocktails are worthwhile too – when you visit, make sure to allow time for a drink in the bar before your meal. If only so you can have a little bit more time to soak in that peerless view.
Level 26, Crown Sydney, 1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo, Sydney, NSW
Wed-Thu 6pm-11pm; Fri-Sun noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm