Feed me. That probably ranks in the top five phrases I use on a daily basis, closely followed by I’m hangry and what’s for lunch. But for those that know me, I’m also one of the most indecisive people around and when Sydney’s restaurants are just so damn good, choosing an entrée, main and dessert can feel like I’m trying to solve world peace or something. Anyone else?
Thankfully, Sydney’s best chefs have heard our distress signal and have lent their well-trained tastebuds to my plight. With these specially designed set menus, you get to experience all five taste sensations at some of the best restaurants in Sydney without having to lift a finger. Genius.
Now all together guys: three, two, one… Feed me!
Ever since Ester made its debut, Sydney foodies haven’t been able to stop raving about the wood-roasted delights produced by this Chippendale star. And on their $72 a person set menu you get treated to a range of greatest hits and seasonal offerings. The blood sausage sanga, which has been known to bring tears to diners’ eyes they’re so good currently features, as well as the flank steak with fermented rice that has that umami something-something going on.
Oh Nomad, how my waistline hates you (but my tastebuds love you). And the fact that their $85 shared menu has no less than nine dishes (plus your choice of side) just adds to this love-hate relationship. The jersey milk haloumi is so creamy it’ll fuel your cheese dreams for days and, of course, we couldn’t leave without digging into their charcuterie board. Made in-house, while you’re never 100% sure of what’s going to end up on your table, it’s guaranteed that whatever ends up there will be deeeelicious!
Cho Cho San
I’d choo choo choose Cho Cho San any day of the week. This Potts Point restaurant reimagines the whole traditional Japanese izakaya experience with its boutique art gallery feel that really allows the food to shine. There are two banquet options to cater for all hunger levels and both feature the house-favourite petuna ocean trout that comes with a refreshing black pepper twist. Bonus: for just $5 extra you can add some sake to your feasting.
Every time you visit this Italian restaurant, you immediately feel like you’re one of the family. With three variations, there’s a set menu for every budget. Each includes plenty of crispy crumby fried goodness courtesy of the arancini balls as well as the must-have burrata with prosciutto to balance it all out. And the pizza, oh the pizza. Seriously no matter what topping you get, each bite feels like a big hug from Nonna. Warning: food babies are inevitable.
One Ford Street
One Ford Street made me break my rule about going within 100ft of any place that has cricket in its name (sorry, cricket lovers). Breaking new ground in the recently reno’d Cricketer’s Arms, this new Balmain restaurant brings the taste of Italy to our shores. And for some added excitement, their $65 “No Fussypants” sharing menu features only what’s seasonal and fresh with the chance that some of the dishes that land on your table may not even be on the menu.
While actual Greece is doing it tough, The Apollo in Sydney’s Potts Point is a restaurant that’s firmly on the up. The only way to get your Greek on is to indulge in either their Full Greek or Apollo’s Feast set menus. You’ll get pita bread and the mullet roe dip for starters but it’s all in preparation for the big kahuna that is the slow cooked lamb. Incredibly tender, the lemon Greek yoghurt keeps this dish from being overly heavy. Hot tip: Come hungry.
Leave your tight-fitting jeans at home for this one. Just $65 will get you a five-course degustation at this Parramatta gem. And The Emporium’s menu reads like a dream. Seared scallops with cauliflower and black garlic? Yes please. Potato gnocchi with king brown mushrooms and parmesan? Be still my beating heart. Smoked chocolate cremeux with vanilla mascarpone and mandarin you say? Sign me up.
Acquiring two chefs hats after its first year, new kid on the block, LuMi Dining has cemented itself as a must-do for any discerning foodie. With a chef that’s had experience with both Italian and Japanese cuisine, what you get is something you’ve never tasted before at this Pyrmont restaurant. The perfect example of this? Their eight-course degustation, with the highlight being the ravioli with gruyere and porcini butter.
When we think beach, smoked meats don’t immediately come to mind. But Papi Chulo has taught us that the only way to really take in those beautiful Manly views is with a seemingly endless meal. That’s where their set menus come into play. There’s a mix of lighter starters like the pea guac and jumbo prawns followed by their mouth-watering BBQ platter or smoked suckling pig if you’re here to play the big game. Slip, slop, slap and get ready to salivate.
If you've got room for more, be sure to check out our team picks for the best meals we've ever had.
Image credit: Tanya Lee at Ester