Welcome to March 2020, where you’ll find the world’s gone a little bit mad—big-time music festivals have been postponed, European holidays have been cancelled, offices abandoned and aisles of toilet roll plundered. These are, without doubt, twisted times.
Even so, Sydney’s restaurant scene kicked off the decade with new energy— countless new restaurant openings have been flying across our desk on the daily. Vegan croissants? Sydney has some. Multi-venue super restaurants? Now a thing. Micro-dining precincts hidden in historic basements? Yes. Queue-worthy soufflé pancakes, a swamp rock bar and a licensed gluten-free bakery—look, there is a lot to get out and try right now and, in spite of the state of the world, we hope you can find a little solace and respite in a fun food adventure in the weeks to come.
Stay safe out there everyone—here are nine new restaurant openings you need to add to your list.
Naming your bar after that Credence Clearwater Revival song is definitely a good start. Where ever you are right now, fire up Spotify and hit play on the tune Fortunate Son—and that’s the Southern-style Mississippi River rock vibe you’re going to encounter at this brand-new Newtown bar (side note: despite their swamp rock style, CCR were actually from sunny San Francisco).
Just a stone’s throw from the Enmore Theatre, owners and bar legends Jason Crawley and Dylan Howarth have built a neighbourhood bar concept based on the romance of great music. Under a neon red glow you’re in for a 300 strong collection of mezcal (hell yes), tequila and whisky, and cocktails like fresh juice highballs and upgrades on classics like the Negroni and (Sydney’s big-time favourite) the Espresso Martini. Go here. ASAP. Even with that Bad Moon Rising.
Gram caused a major (major) stir when it threw open its doors a few weeks back. Why? Because these guys are a bit of an authority on Japanese soufflé pancakes, the Instagram-famous delicacy that’s been taking the dessert world by storm over the past few years.
Served in fluffy, puffy stacks of three and likened to floating on a cloud—the Gram pancakes’ ultra-light to melt-in-your-mouth consistency is achieved with whipped egg white batter, that’s then steamed under metal domes and cooked until golden. At the Chatswood outpost, you’ll have eight flavours to choose from, including tiramisu, matcha, caramelised banana and honey apple with earl grey cream.
Oh My Days
Glebe’s new 100 percent plant-based bakery and café Oh My Days is claiming to be the only Sydney spot serving a vegan croissant. Made with whole-wheat stone-ground flours, which are folded with vegetable fat instead of butter and baked in-house daily, we can attest the pastry’s air to crunch density is (almost) as good as the real deal.
Led by chef and owner David Rigby, Oh My Days is more than just stand-out vegan pastries—here you’ll also find a sunny courtyard, all-day breakfast and lunch and house-roasted coffee. The menu is largely South American-inspired, and ingredients are mostly organic and preservative-free too.
Also playing the plant-based game is Calle Rey—Newtown’s brand-new Peruvian-leaning eatery complete with dedicated Pisco bar. You might be wondering how a vegan Pisco sour works, but rest assured Calle Rey has figured it out with foam and flavour intact. The menu is based on cultural Peruvian fusions, like super-popular Nikkei (Japanese Peruvian), Chifa (Peruvian Cantonese) and Cevicherias (Peruvian seafood). Standouts include cauliflower buffalo wings drizzled in a smoked BBQ sauce, flavour-stacked mushroom quesadillas and yellow chilli jackfruit with vegan cheese, pecans, rice and your choice of corn tortillas or lettuce cups.
When you think of a hotel bar, you probably think of some kind of swanky cocktail situation with leather booths and a lengthy whisky menu. Housed within the recently refurb’d Crowne Plaza on Coogee Beach, Estate is not your standard hotel fixture. It’s a three in one mega venue, with a seaside terrace bar, a dedicated taqueria and a fancy seafood-centred eatery.
Raphael Place is Sydney’s brand new mini-dining precinct. Hidden in a courtyard at the end of an unsuspecting laneway near Circular Quay, it features just two restaurants—and our favourite for right now is Raphael’s, an all-day Italian eatery, cocktail and wine bar.
In the courtyard, there’s alfresco seating and a huge blue-lit bar, but Raphael’s also continues into the sandstone basements of a row of historic terraces. Plush wine-coloured velvet banquettes set the tone in this stylish and secretive subterranean section—let’s just say, it’s a mood. Start your feast with antipasti (like calamari fritti, diamond clams served cold and fluffy focaccia), charcuterie boards (or tagliere), before graduating to Raphael's perfect, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin and macadamia ravioli. Served with Reggiano, sage and burnt butter, it might be the best we've ever had.
Wholegreen Bakery has a lot of GF clout in Sydney. The story goes, back in 2014 nutritionist Cherie Lyden and her daughter were both diagnosed as celiac. Faced with a lack of actually tasty gluten-free food, Lyden decided to do it herself, developing recipes that weren’t just gluten-free, they were also delicious, low on the sugar factor and made with zero additives. And this month Lyden opened her second outpost in the CBD—a larger, licensed spot where you can sip natural wine as you appreciate the perfect crunch of your croissant, or wash down your sausage roll with a gluten-free beer. Swoon.
Fans of SoCal-style Mexican vibes will be stoked to meet Don Pedros, a new no-frills backstreet cantina that is, maybe a bit surprisingly, located in Paddington. Expect hanging sombreros, basket lights and flamingo decals alongside re-fried beans, crispy prawn, mushroom and fish tacos, a build-your-own taco platter, Corona buckets and Mexican beers by the bottle.
We’re very into the weekly specials—taco Tuesday is $5 tacos and $5 beers, but come Friday knock-off time, the moment you rock up sets the price: arrive at 4pm and pay $4, arrive at 4:30pm and pay $4.50, arrive at 5pm and pay $5.
Two things we know are bound to spark controversy: whether Sydney is, in fact, a better city than Melbourne and, separately, who makes the best pizza in Sydney. This month, D.O.C Pizza arrived in Surry Hills to fire up a bit of debate on both topics.
The famous Melbourne pizza institution’s first Sydney outpost features Melbourne favourites, like the "Pizza Ai Porcini", which is smothered in wild mushrooms, truffle oil and mozzarella in bianco with grated DOP pecorino, and the "Pizza San Daniele", with San Marzano tomato, DOP buffalo mozzarella and San Daniele prosciutto. There'll also be rotating pizza specials, with two new toppings coming along every week.
Simplicity and authenticity are key to pizza at D.O.C. “To ensure D.O.C translates to Sydney, we have relocated our long-standing Lygon Street Carlton restaurant manager Andrea Colosimo along with our Melbourne based pizzaiolo to run Sydney,” explained Michael Costanzo, co-founder of D.O.C Group. But how will you weigh in on the debate? Well, you’ll just have to drop in and try a slice.
For more fun things to do in Sydney this month, head over here.
Image credit: Gram, Gram, Oh My Days, Estate, D.O.C Pizza