Have a mate who for the life of them can’t make a decision? Well, we’re pleased as spiked punch to welcome you to the world of set menus.
Not only are set menus carefully curated by chefs and restaurateurs to blow your damn mind, but they also take a lot of the umming and ahhing out of the ‘what do you want for dinner?’ equation.
Here are the best set menus in Sydney. Now go forth and prosper.
It seems strangely fitting that Nomad be on the list for best set menus. After all, who hasn’t been a hungry wanderer at the mercy of an indecisive mate? Nomad has been gracing us with their delectable presence since 2013 and offer two set menus, the shared menu ($69 per person) and chef’s premium shared menu ($89 per person). Both include house made wood fired sourdough with black olive butter and charcuterie, but we must take our hats off to the shared menu’s zucchini flower (finished with truffle honey and pecorino) and ice cream sandwich (olive oil parfait, halva crumble, pistachio and of course, honeycomb). Those opting for the chef’s premium can expect Jersey milk haloumi (wood roast tomato with oregano) and Valrhona chocolate (rose water and raspberry).
Casoni are the kind of beautiful, wonderful, altruistic people who do a pasta of the week and while this has made us admittedly bias (regular pasta fosters goodwill no PR can parallel), we can’t help but add their lunch set menu to this list. At $49 per person, Casoni diners can expect a baby cos, oyster emulsion starter followed by premium tartare di manzo, pumpkin ravioli and potato gnocchi.
Like any good Greek restaurant, The Apollo offers two options: one with ouzo and one without. And like any good human, we always pick the former. Aside from an ouzo option, The Apollo provides two set menus to choose from, the full Greek ($60 per person) and Apollo’s feast ($75 per person). Both will get you olives, pita bread, slow cooked lamb (lemon Greek yoghurt) and roast chat potato among other goodies, but the Apollo’s Feast will take you next level thanks to fried king prawns and saganaki cheese with poached rhubarb.
The Ester set menu rings in at $82 per person and is, thankfully, leagues from the ‘will I still be kind of hungry?’ woes that sometimes plague a set. Those who dine at this Chippendale location can expect fermented potato bread (kefir cream), roasted oyster, blood sausage, potato pasta, flank steak and a three milk, sourdough ice cream (yes, that’s a thing and yes, you should try it). Ester regularly makes best restaurant lists around the city so embrace your curiosity for the finer things and head on down to the Chipp.
After a successful run of vegan month in March, Shuk are keeping the veggie party going with Wednesday night vegan set menus from April 14 onwards. Enjoy a mezze platter, entrees like beetroot carpaccio, and a main of slow roasted pumpkin (chickpeas, pumpkin puree, seeds, and greens), potato dumplings (Kubba sauce with sage pesto) and so much more. The best part? It’s $50 per person. It’s true what they say; sometimes good things do happen to good people.
This one goes out to the set menu aficionado keen on modern Asian cuisine (that’d be everyone). Curated by head chef Kristian Vale, China Lane offer a set menu for two people at $62 per person which includes crispy master stock pig’s ear, prawn san choy bao, soy braised crispy pork belly and more. Tables with three or more can select from the $77 per person or $92 per person set menus (because choice) which include dishes like saikou salmon sashimi, Harvey Bay scallops and Wagyu beef massaman.
Bronte and Surry Hills
Ah, Vacanza. What would we do without you? This Surry Hills and Bronte favourite offers three set menus. Try the Positano set menu at $30 per person for focaccia (rosemary, garlic and mozzarella), Sicilian olives, as well as pizza and salad. The Capri ($40 per person) set menu will earn you all that plus a meat and cheese platter and everyone’s favourite, arancini. Finally, the Amalfi set menu ($45 per person) includes a delish Nutella calzone that you need, nay deserve.
The Efendy set menu knows what’s up; they offer Vinkara and Sevilen wine pairings as an optional extra. Halle-freaking-lujah. The charcoal feast rings in at $68 per person ($98 per person for the accompanying wines) and includes a meze tray (cig kofte, pomegranate hummus and eggplant salad) followed by a charcoal board of lamb shoulder tandir, beef and pistachio kofte, and grilled sujuk. The whole thing is topped off with something marvellous called a Turkish mess which we used to call spilling Turkish delight choccies in bed, but is actually merengue (one of the best we have ever tasted), and finished with Turkish delight, berries, and pistachio.
Mercado’s philosophy involves the merging of old and new with a focus on the seemingly simple—meat, bread and cheese—but with an attention to detail that screams modern (they’re our type of people). Mercado’s set menu ($80 per person) involves 12 dishes with high praise going to the house made pickles, cold cuts (cured in-house), Turkish pumpkin ravioli, roasted prawns (chilli oil and romesco), hand-cut chips smoked in beef fat, and hazelnut mousse cake (Pedro Ximinez and gold leaf).
Cards on the table, Papi Chulo is fun to say and we’ve spent valuable hours in loyal recitation but of equal (admittedly different) value is their we-kid-you-not suckling pig set menu ($100 per person, minimum eight people). This set is a combination of two standard banquet menus (Tasmanian salmon poke, smoked hot wings, cuttlefish and more) but with an additional smoked suckling pig and dessert. A standard or suckling pig set menu will please regardless, but we recommend adding the chocolate chip and macadamia cookie (marshmallow, butterscotch, vanilla ice cream) to top the evening off.
It is our greatest pleasure to introduce to you the one thing that’s been missing from your life: the Acme set menu. Acme’s crush me set menu rings in at $65 per person and includes the always-lucky dip of four snacks and four pastas at chef’s choice. The banquet menu, at $80 per person, includes poached rhubarb, BBQ octopus, black garlic and burnt chilli linguini and the stand out, believe it or not, macaroni with pig’s head and egg yolk. Dessert follows with options like star anise ice cream (with pineapple and mandarin), or how about the sweet potato waffle (finished with mascarpone and cinnamon), we know you want both.
Thievery is equally parts pretty, delicious and… well, Glebe (cocktail names include baby got baklava and pimp my colada). Those enticed by creativity should head in for a vegetarian feast at $52 (nine courses) or $68 per person (eleven courses). Dishes include classics like baba ganoush and falafel salad, as well as Thievery specials like Cloudy Bay clams and charred Hokkaido scallops.
Indian cuisine is so much more than a greasy naan (no offence to the classics). The Indu Feast ($65 per person) includes six dishes, one from each section of the menu at the diner’s choice. Favourites include village mullung salad (kale, fresh grated coconut, green chilli and red onion), sesame-rolled beetroot croquettes, and five-spice crusted barramundi. Those looking to take things to the next level can add a signature lamb raan to the feast for $80 per person.
If you've made your way through the list, move onto Sydney's best hidden foodie gems.
Image credit: Thievery