Sydney has now left summer behind (I assume anyway – climate change) and we’re now getting to that point where hiding away in a restaurant or bar for an absurd amount of time is perfectly acceptable. Extended breakfasts, long lunches, endless dinners – all totally reasonable as the weather turns to shit. That’s why we’ve taken a look at five new restaurants you should definitely be checking out, whether it’s testing your spice tolerance in a Chinese garden, or supporting one of the CBD’s only social enterprise cafes.
The Gardens by Lotus
Surely this is now Sydney’s most picturesque Sichuan restaurant. Lotus Group have officially opened The Gardens in the iconic Chinese Garden of Friendship: Darling Harbour’s immaculate and historic traditional gardens. Adding greatly to the ever-changing face of the precinct, the restaurant is a modern interpretation of a traditional Chinese Teahouse by the day, doubling as a lively events space at night (from 6pm).
Wok dishes like Cured Duck with garlic shoot and celery, and a signature Fried Chilli Mud Crap are being offered on the menu alongside highlights like Squid Ink Dumplings, Pork Xiao Long Bao, and Hainan Chicken.
Address: Pier Street, Cnr Harbour St, Darling Harbour NSW 2000
Chatswood’s superstar of the moment is the newly opened General Chao, immediately thrust into the spotlight with it’s mod-Asian menu that showcases how award-winning Australian produce like Spencer Gulf prawns, Queensland mud crab, and Jack’s Creek wagyu can be used to elevate dishes from all across Asia. Additionally, there’s a big focus on special blends of XO Sauce, including the signature house-made iteration made with abalone, truffle and gold leaf.
PS40 hotshot Michael Chiem is also on cocktail duties, so that means there are plenty of quality concoctions to go along with dishes like sashimi grade Hiramasa Kingfish, Jasmine Tea Smoked Duck Dumplings, a signature twist on classic Prawn Toast.
Address: District Dining, Chatswood Interchange, 436 Victoria Ave, Chatswood
The Pure Collective, who are best known for their social enterprise venues Folonomo in Surry Hills and Symbol in North Sydney, have taken up in the iconic building at No.1 Martin Place for their latest venture. Titled Portal, the daytime cafe is a continuation of their charitable philosophy, with 100 per cent of profits going straight to selected charities and the floor team populated by refugees who are hospitality trained as part of the group’s “Symbols of Hope” programme.
Shaped into the mezzanine level of this historic building, the cafe is driven by Chef Michal Suideja (of Mecca) who has put together a menu highlighting ultra seasonal ingredients sourced from local suppliers, worked into a range of breakfast treats (like a roll with maple bacon, fried egg, manchego and smoked tomato chutney for $11) and lunch essentials like salads, greens, free-range proteins and sandwiches.
City workers should also note that the venue has free Wi-Fi and hopes to become as much a communal space as a lunch destination.
Address: Mezzanine Level, 1 Martin Place, Sydney
Went to See the Gypsy
Spring-boarding off the success of their flagship Potts Point café, Gypsy Espresso, young hospitality hot-shots and coffee experts Will Smallbone and Mario Szucs have opened the curiously named – probably for the Bob Dylan song – Went to See the Gypsy. Located in Alexandria, the fresh new 220sqm coffee bar and café has given new life to its hosting warehouse space, flexing considerable aesthetic muscle with a state-of-the-art custom-build ‘mod bar’ which allows customers to experience the entire specialist coffee making process up close.
Then there’s the food, of course. Ex-Devon Chef Bryan Loong caters to Sydney’s hip inner-west foodies with the likes of banana loaf with coconut milk sorbet and salted caramel, and a colourful miso glazed salmon with wakame, cucumber and raw vegetable salad with furikake.
Address: Shop 1/76 Mitchell Rd, Alexandria NSW 2015
Ex-Queen Chow chef Jason Chan has gifted Castlecrag’s Quadrangle Shopping Village a brand new Cantonese eatery, simply named Canton Kitchen. Mod-Chinese rules the menu, so there’s plenty that Chan is adding to the curated foodie precinct, pulling on traditions and contemporary flair to try and set Canton Kitchen apart from the noise.
And it sounds like what he’s offering is definitely worth a look. Silken tofu with vegetarian XO sauce is topped with soy bean floss and crispy wonton skins; roasted Aylesbury duck is served Peking style with steamed pancakes; Mapo tofu is mixed up with lobster, Alaskan crab, and puffed rice; and a signature Alaskan crab fried rice plays with prawns, char sui and corn.
Address Shopping Village, 100 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag NSW 2068
Feature image: General Chao / Anna Kucera