This long weekend enjoy carefully considered wine pairings, find out what the hype surrounding katsu sandos is about, delve into Sri Lankan food with a contemporary twist or visit Gourmet Traveller's Restaurant of the Year, Quay.
No exotic holiday plans? No problem: among Sydney's newest restaurant openings you can experience the flavours of Thailand, Greece, Korea and Japan without even having to leave the city limits.
Newly refreshed, Bentley consolidates its position as the rare restaurant where wine and food meet on an equal footing. The menu isn't a dare, but nor is uncomplicated delight chef Brent Savage's goal. He likes to zig where others zag, to weave where other chefs might duck. Pulling bottles from a list that is deep, wide and full of personality, sommelier Nick Hildebrandt and his team pick the hits time and time again, pushing what's on the plate to another level.
27 O'Connell St, Sydney, (02) 8214 0505, thebentley.com.au
Good Greek dining remains surprisingly thin on the ground in Sydney. Happily Ble, a newish restaurant in Ramsgate, lands on the right side of the ledger. Chef Natalia Gaspari, an alumna of the kitchen at Alpha, enlivens her menus with regional references, chiefly from Kefalonia. That could mean octopus and black olive in a fillo pie stained with squid ink, lobster ravioli with a haloumi cream and mussels, or a chicken pastichada with kokkinisto macaroni.
Shop 2, 203-207 Ramsgate Rd, Ramsgate, (02) 9529 4335, blerestaurant.com.au
Co Ba Quan
Good examples of banh xeo aren't that hard to find in Sydney, but,what about the crisp yellow crêpe's lesser-known cousin, the banh khot? Get your hit of these savoury pikelets topped with pork, prawn and split peas at Co Ba Quan. The new Vietnamese kitchen, set on a block of Pitt Street better known for its Korean eats, breaks with the cookie-cutter style of many a CBD Vietnamese eatery, offering grilled scallops, crab noodles and an oyster gratin alongside its very decent pho.
377 Pitt St, Sydney, (02) 7901 0393
Former Yellow head chef Adam Wolfers has brought Ételek, the floating pop-up he runs with Marc Dempsey, to Potts Point, taking over the site recently vacated by Antipodean. This instalment runs till October, and continues to celebrate the food of Hungary and Ashkenazi Jewish traditions with the inventive likes of a one-bite "everything bagel", a parsnip schnitzel, and a rib-sticking take on lángos.
5-9 Roslyn St, Potts Point, (02) 8354 0766, etelek.com.au
Bentley alumnus Thomas Gorringe has given the menu at The Gantry a shake-up and the results are pleasing. The food has ambition (especially for a restaurant in a hotel) but has more flavour and less tizz than menus past. Agnolotti burst with sheep's milk ricotta, for example, while the roast sweetbreads and veal tongue, teamed with black lentils and salsify, are perfect for a cold night.
11 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay, (02) 8298 9910, thegantry.com.au
Tradition is the name of the game at Kimsakat. The Eastwood standby, tucked away in a mini-mall opposite the local Aldi, has quietly established a following among deep-diving fans of Korean food for its naengmyeon. If you like your noodles long, stretchy, served chilled and dressed with mustard and vinegar, this is your new happy place.
76 Rowe St, Eastwood, (02) 7901 3393
Lankan Filling Station
O Tama Carey made her name cooking Italian at Berta but the food at Lankan Filling Station, her first restaurant of her own, is all about her Sri Lankan heritage. Hoppers are the centrepiece, accessorised with superb curries, fragrant sambols and inspired vegetable sides. The thread that connects the teas, filter coffee, sakes and Loire gamay on the drinks list, meanwhile, seems to be that they are all things Carey enjoys drinking. (Hey, it works.)
58 Riley St, East Sydney, (02) 8542 9936, lankanfillingstation.com.au
Mat Lindsay's dish descriptions are as blunt as his plating is artful. At his new venture, Poly, a Surry Hills sibling to his restaurant Ester, "yabby on a stick" shares menu space with "blood pie", and "chicken toast". While the menu is substantial, Poly is being billed as a wine bar, and with Ester sommelier Julien Dromgool as a partner, it's a must for lovers of natural-leaning drinking.
74-76 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, (02) 8860 0808, polysurryhills.com.au
Quay 2.0 bridges the gap between luxuries old and new like no other fine diner. Peter Gilmore's brilliance is undimmed. It's the radical accomplishment of his food that, along with the remarkable setting, has always put this place in a class of its own. Now, with a new intimacy and a fresh focus on service, the dream of making Quay Australia's biggest little restaurant is becoming real. And it's just picked up the title of GT's Restaurant of the Year. All roads lead to Quay.
Upper level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, (02) 9251 5600, quay.com.au
Sydney's ramen scene has a significant new player in the form of RaRa. A crisp build rendered in concrete and accented with plywood and neon is the backdrop for carefully crafted Hakata-style thin noodles, tonkotsu broth, and exceptional chashu pork grilled to order over coals. Oh, and there's a worthy vegan option to boot.
66b Regent St, Redfern
With prawns in the pad see ew, bone marrow among the appetisers and a kingfish poke on the lunch menu, it's clear that the team from Restaurant Moon is less interested in Thai tradition than chasing flavour beyond borders. Fans of Darlinghurst landmark Onde, which occupied the site for more than 20 years, may be cheered to see duck confit still on the menu – albeit with five-spice and pumpkin in a Penang-style curry.
346 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst, (02) 9357 6084, restaurantmoon.com.au
Sydney's mania for the katsu sando: social media-fuelled food fad, or a natural step for a city that loves a schnitty? Explore the question in person at Sando Bar, a Surry Hills café dedicated to the worship of the Japanese fried pork sandwich. The house special is served with a slaw of cabbage, apple and fennel, tonkatsu sauce and lotus-root chips, but there's also a curried egg sando, salads and a grilled chicken rice bowl for the non-believers.
1/226 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, sandobar.com.au
Steam Mill Lane
Where some apartment developments come out swinging with fancy restaurants in their ground-floor tenancies, Steam Mill Lane, which is on the piece of land linking Chinatown, Darling Harbour and Ultimo, is all about the snacks. Now that all its venues have finally opened, the clear wins for locals are proving to be the coffee at a smart new branch of Edition, the gyros from Gyradiko and, above all, the brilliance of the banh mi at Marrickville Pork Roll, which some local wags have taken to stuffing with hot chicken from the neighbouring Belles outlet.
Steam Mill Lane, Sydney, darlingsq.com