The best Sydney restaurants that have clocked up ten years of dining excellence
NEW RESTAURANTS ARE often in the spotlight, ready for their Instagram close-up. But Sydney is also home to a host of longrunning venues that are still at the top of people’s dining hit lists – hell, Time Out has been writing about them since 2007. These establishments have stuck to their mission statement, offering great food with polish and personality. They are the restaurants that have stayed vital over the last ten years and belong on the Sydney dining honour roll.
Bentley Restaurant and Bar
In 2013, when Bentley relocated from Surry Hills to the Radisson Blu in the CBD, the team transported $500,000 worth of wine themselves – mostly in GoGet cars. It says a lot about the restaurant: serious, but not above the DIY approach. Bartender Phil Gandevia tends a list of booze-free drinks that’s ambitious and fun. Nick Hildebrandt’s 1,000+ wine library is forward-thinking, while Brent Savage’s menu showcases technical wizardry. à 27 O’Connell St, Sydney 2000.
Sydney’s most famous mod-Chinese restaurant ditched the uncomfortable stools and cramped Crown Street site three years ago – and the current location is a roomy upgrade. What hasn’t changed is Kylie Kwong’s commitment to cooking honest food that reflects her background and beliefs. Her Chinese menu is powered by native ingredients and sustainable produce: think red-braised caramel wallaby tail and crisp organic saltbush cakes with chilli and tamari. à 1/28 Macleay St, Potts Point 2011.
This all-day Italian eatery is so charming, the owners had to export a branch to Tokyo. The Potts Point original presents a good case for world expansion: there’s an enticing chalkboard menu, trays of baked goods, a wine list highlighting local champions (Tom Shobbrook, Lucy Margaux) and the best of the boot, plus – most importantly – cheery waiters delivering Bolognese lasagnetta, scampi spaghetti and other carby hits. à 12-16 Challis Ave, Potts Point 2011
These places have stuck to their mission statement
Golden Century In an era of lockout laws, there’s even more reason to be grateful for Golden Century’s 4am closing time. It’s not just a refuge for people up past curfew – this Chinatown establishment has over 200 dishes on the menu that covers all bases (and appetites), from steamed dim sum and seafood netted fresh from the tanks to pippies with XO sauce on fried vermicelli that Momofuku’s David Chang says is “the best dish in the world”. à 393-399 Sussex St, Sydney 2000.
Renovated in 2011, this 40-seater may be small, but Karl Firla’s imagination is outsized. He took over in 2008 from Daniel Puskas (Sixpenny) and while some major chefs have spent time in Firla’s kitchen (Café Paci’s Pasi Petanen, Restaurant Hubert’s Daniel Pepperell), this restaurant is keenly focused on elevating the food, rather than anyone’s name. Firla’s degustation currently includes a finedining take on fish and chips, served with a sauce of roasted potato and tater-skin stock. à 275 Australia St, Newtown 2042.
This wharfside institution once tried to remove its barramundi, strozzapreti and carpaccio dish from the menu and a riot almost ensued. Another non-negotiable: Otto’s vegan menu (a welcome fixture for more than a decade) and the fact that it has a dedicated BYO group share menu – just in case you need a good excuse to raid your cellar (or bottle shop). à 8/6 Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomooloo 2011.
Yes, the snow egg is over ten years old. And its ever-changing versions range from strawberry and rhubarb to jackfruit and custard apple. What’s fixed is the star power of that dessert, and its harbourside home. You may need to book a weekend dinner six months ahead, but Quay is so determined to ensure everyone has a good time it has menus for many diets (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and shellfishfree, to name a few). à Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks 2000.
How many Sydney restaurants have a sandwich created in their honour? At Brickfields in Chippendale, there’s a roasted broccoli number inspired by the pasta rags with shredded rocket, lemon and chilli that co-owner Simon Cancio first made at Sean’s Panaroma as an apprentice in 1995. This pasta still appears at the Bondi restaurant. But that’s Sean’s for you: its dishes earn steadfast loyalty – and longevity. ■ à 270 Campbell Pde, Bondi Beach 2026.