No doubt, 2020 has been nothing short of a wild ride so far. There’s a lot to keep track of—like your toilet paper stash, maybe—but on the lighter side of things, Sydney’s restaurant scene is moving at lightning speed with tasty, exciting new spots opening here, there and everywhere. Honestly, it’s hard to keep up. But, you know, that’s where we come in.
As well as wading your way through Sydney’s best new eats (look, someone’s got to do it), March is especially stacked with art: Art Month kicks off this weekend, which means ample art to discover and plenty of complimentary gallery wine to sip; there's an incredible bushfire relief exhibition (featuring Shepard Fairey) set to hit Carriageworks, and White Rabbit Gallery will reveal the second part of a retrospective show set across two years.
We've also found a pretty insane hangover cure if you're game, a Sri Lankan all-you-can-eat buffet and an energy-free banquet for Earth Hour. So what are you waiting for? Here’s everything I’m excited to get out and do, drink and eat in March.
Top Pick: RISE
Across the last few months, Sydney’s creative community has really shown up to support bushfire relief—it’s heartening and it’s one thing that makes me proud to live in this city as we move into the future. The latest, and maybe one of the most inspired, is RISE—an exhibition of about 100 artists and designers who have created new works using charcoal from the fire grounds as their primary medium.
On the bill is American street art icon Shepard Fairey and local legend Reg Mombassa, and proceeds from the silent auction and opening night event will go to bushfire relief charities, including the NSW Rural Fire Service, Wildlife Victoria, BlazeAid, WIRES, Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Wildlife Victoria and Kangaroo Island Wildlife Fund. The opening night will also feature a wine list curated by Mike Bennie, who’s selected vino from fire-affected wineries. More info is here.
Sri Lankan All-You-Can-Eat Buffet
Dish: Sri Lankan Street Food
More than ever, Sri Lanka is one of the holiday destinations of choice for so many of us out there trying to decide how to burn through this year’s annual leave quota. I haven't been, but it's absolutely on my hit list. For now, I'll be hitting Dish: Sri Lankan Street Food's brand new all-you-can-eat brunch buffet. Designed to take you on a trip around Sri Lanka's regional flavours, the $35 bottomless feast features black pork curry and biryani from the Colombo region and Gotu kola sambol and white fish curry with mustard from the scenic Hill Country. Brunch sessions kick off as of Sunday 8 March. Suss it out here.
Art Month is one of my favourite festivals in Sydney. It's the city's biggest festival of contemporary art, taking in a massive 100 galleries. The famous after-dark Precinct Parties are on the come back this year—where galleries open up late in a different part of the city each Friday night. This year, for the first time, Paramatta and the awesome Paramatta Artist Studios have been included (Friday 27 March). Also on the program is a vegetarian degustation at Galerie Pompom, a ceramics class, a climate change panel and the op to peep inside the private collections of some of Sydney's most baller art collectors. Basically, if you're curious about Sydney's art scene, this is a great opportunity to take a deep dive. The full program is here.
Try This Mi Goreng Bloody Mary
Old Mates Place
I know, I know. Mi Goreng Bloody Mary. Sounds gross. But I like to think we’re in safe hands with this one, so hear me out. Personally, I’m not much of a Bloody Mary fiend (it’s the tomato juice), but after chatting to Andres “Dre” Walters at Old Mates Place (which is where you’ll find said cocktail/elixir/abomination), I think these guys are onto something. Head chef Harry “Barry” Saunders spent some time perfecting the balance of mi goreng spice, adding pickles as a garnish for a touch of acidity.
WWF's Earth Hour is all the more important this year. As well as switching off your own lights from 8.30pm on Saturday 28 March, you can partake in an extra-special energy-free dinner. Hosted at Bondi's Isabel and created by its general manager and creative lead, multi-award-winning bartender and mixologist Kate McGraw, no food in the banquet will be prepared using electronic devices or technology. Everything will be cooked over bushfire wood, or look to other forms of flavour manipulation that do not require heat or extended cooking (like fermentation, brining, pickling, crushing, hanging, air drying or sun drying etc). Pretty cool, right?
As for what's on the menu, you're in for a selection of Isabel's incredible cocktails (boozy or alcohol-free), alongside chicken kushiyaki skewers (cooked over charcoal), angus rump cap with pepper berry, octopus with pickled quandong and a whole lot more. Book your spot here.
And Now Retrospective Exhibition
White Rabbit Gallery
Split into two parts and across two years, White Rabbit Gallery's retrospective celebrates its 10 year anniversary and reflects on 10 years of absolutely mind-blowing art. And Now is the second half of the exhibition (the first was called Then), and it's due to open to the public on Wednesday 11 March. The gallery is one of my favourites, firstly because you're guaranteed to encounter an installation, painting or towering sculpture that'll make you feel something. Secondly because each hanging is a rare glimpse into the beating creative heart of China (the gallery's specialty is contemporary Chinese art). And lastly, because White Rabbit is a rare gem of art philanthropy—the gallery is owned by Judith Neilson, each artwork is a part of her incredible personal collection. More details on And Now are here.
Get A Bit Romantic At This Brand New Basement Italian
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—but my favourite for right now is Raphael's. It's inspired by Milan in the 60s and 70s, it features alfresco-style seating in the courtyard and, in the sandstone basements of the surrounding Philip Street terraces, plush red velvet banquettes that totally set the tone for a bit of romance, or a decadent feast.
Start your feast with antipasti (like calamari fritti, diamond clams served cold and fluffy focaccia), charcuterie boards (or tagliere), before graduating on to Raphael's perfect, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin and macadamia ravioli. Served with Reggiano, sage and burnt butter, it's one of the tastiest I've had.
Mozzarella And Burrata Workshop With Kristen Allan
Two Good Co
I've done two of Kristen Allan's cheesemaking workshops—and, being a big-time fan of burrata, ricotta and other cheeses in the creamy, squishy, stretchy category—let me tell you, they are a damn good time. Allan is hosting her epic mozzarella and burrata workshop this month at Two Good Co in Eveleigh (next to Carriageworks) and your ticket includes hands-on cheese skills, including stracciatella, discussions on milk, ingredients and the like, and a delicious feast featuring produce from Moonacres Organic Farm and wines produced by local winemaker Brendan Hilferty. Sign. Me. Up. Details and tickets are here.
Taste Obsession Singapore
If you’re after an exclusive dining experience like no other this month, then we’ve found just the thing. Taste Obsession Singapore, taking place this March and April at the beautiful Cirrus Dining, is all about transporting the most tantalising flavours of Singapore to our Sydney shores. Kicking off the six-week pop-up, from 3 to 5 March, Brent Savage, Co-Owner and Chef at Cirrus Dining has buddied up with Wayne Liew, Chef at third-generation Singapore eatery Keng Eng Kee, to design a nine-course degustation that tells the story of their Singapore. The totally drool-worthy menu will combine Chef Brent’s flair for refined Aussie flavours and Chef Wayne’s Zi Char-style of cooking.
For those who miss out, Cirrus Dining will be serving a special Singapore-inspired menu from 6 March to 12 April. The dishes on this special, one-time-only menu include mouth-watering Singaporean Chili Crab with a Fried Bun and Glazed Duck Breast with Sichuan Pepper. The shared tasting menu will set you back $90 per person, which, just quietly, is a whole lot cheaper than a plane ticket.
On a budget? Here are some epic free things to do this month.
Sammy Preston is the Editor at Urban List Sydney.
Image credit: Isabel, Pudler, Art Month, Rocket K Weijers, Isabel, Getty