From humble and wholesome roast dinners to traditional Japanese yakitori, here are our Top 10 dishes that deserve to be devoured.
1. Glazed beef brisket “narnie” with slaw, gherkins and chipotle mayonnaise at Three Williams Café
Redfern newcomer Three Williams Café has garnered a reputation for their “narnies”. What’s that, you ask? A sandwich made from naan bread. D’oh! Go for the glazed beef brisket with slaw, crunchy gherkins and mayo – this dish is a game changer. Move over Mexican, “narnies” just might be the next foodie trend.
Three Williams Cafe, Redfern
2. Falafel, hummus, tabouleh, mint, schiacciata bread at Kepos Street Kitchen
More than a café, Kepos Street Kitchen delivers inventive Middle Eastern fare that pleases from breakfast to dinner. It’s hard to choose a favourite but Israeli-born chef Michael Rantissi combines crunchy morsels of falafel with a smooth, not-too-garlicky hummus, and a piquant tabouleh to create a winner dish.
3. Yakitori stuffed chicken wings at Sepia Wine Bar, Sydney
Sepia may be renowned as one of Australia’s best degustation restaurants; but there is more to the 2014 Sydney Morning Herald Restaurant of the Year than meets the eye. Sepia Wine Bar not only boasts a drinks list that spans over 40 pages, it’s also home to a yakitori menu that rivals the best in the world. Order the deboned and stuffed chicken wings ($22 for two) and let Chef Martin Benn prove how special this ancient cooking method really is.
4. Wood roasted Moran family lamb at Chiswick, Woollahra
Straight from the Moran family farm in the Central Tablelands, just south of Bathurst, the lamb here is the best in town. The process of wood roasting for four hours infuses a rich, smoky flavour and the meat literally falls off the bone in strings. Doused in a vibrant mint sauce, with a side of roasted pumpkin and baby carrots ($66, to share), this epitomises the perfect Sunday night meal.
5. Margherita ‘extra’ at Da Mario, Rosebery
There will be no “hold the basil” here; customers are not allowed to make any modifications to the menu as Da Mario has received the official seal of approval by Verace Pizza Napoletana. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry – all you need to know is that you’ll be getting authentic pizza, just like you would in Napoli. The margherita ‘extra’ involves tomato, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil ($25).
6. Alaskan Snow Crab at House of Crabs, Surry Hills
Forget your dining dignity, a bagful of snow crab ($38 per 500g), doused in oriental sauce is far too delicious to waste time on manners and etiquette. Don your gloves and bib and be prepared to get dirty. Please note: House of Crabs is probably not the most sexy location for a first date (or second or even third, for that matter) – but it will certainly break the ice.
7. Squid ink tagliatelle at Popolo, Rushcutters Bay
The squid ink tagliatelle, cooked to textbook perfection, involves just a few ingredients, as the best Italian dishes do, with hunks of spanner, king and blue swimmer crab, a handful of sun ripened cherry tomatoes and torn shreds of basil ($29). A classic flavour combination – this dish is a reminder that simple is often the best.
8. Pan fried duck egg, black pudding, ham hock and red pepper at 4Fourteen, Surry Hills
Don’t turn your nose up at black pudding (blood sausage) until you try this dish. Fassnidge, who embraces a nose-to-tail eating philosophy, counterbalances the richness of the black pudding with a sweet capsicum relish and a fried duck egg, with the runny yolk forming a sauce for the dish ($22). Throw in some salty sweet chunks of ham hock and some watercress springs to garnish and you’ve got texture, saltiness, sweetness, freshness.
4Fourteen, Surry Hills
9. Whole wood roasted Holmbrae chicken at Hotel Centennial, Woollahra
Once only used by Italian restaurants serving authentic pizza, wood fire cooking is now popping up in some of Sydney’s finest establishments, including newcomer Hotel Centennial. Unbeknown to many, the wood fire is tricky to use but once mastered, it’s a formidable tool. You can’t go past this old favourite: roast chicken, complete with roast gravy, greens and thyme (serves 2-3 people, $54)
10. Steamed black mussels with sofrito and chorizo at The Potting Shed, The Grounds of Alexandria
Steamed black mussels (small $12, large $18) swim in a fragrant tomato sofrito with chunks of chorizo that provide an unusual contrast to the slipperiness of the mussel meat. The sofrito itself is a little too sweet especially with the mussels but the saltiness of the chorizo and the sharp garlic bread counterbalance the dish with an aftertaste that leaves you wanting more and more and more. I want to eat the dish twice as fast as I physically can, a sure sign it’s a winner?