Sydney is just built for a long weekend getaway, especially when the weather is fine and you are staying in the heart of things…The Rocks. Just add foodie friends, some destination dining and a visit to the Opera House and the weekend easily fills with fun things to do.
I love staying in The Rocks because it blends a unique historic setting with the backdrop of stunning Sydney Harbour and everything is within walking distance or a short ferry ride away. It is the perfect spot for both Australian visitors and International tourists alike. We settled into a boutique hotel and walked everywhere, from morning to night. If you are in the area, be sure to drop into La Renaissance Patisserie for flaky and buttery croissants and coffee to start your day.
The best of Sydney is surely getting out on the Harbour, so catch a ferry to one of the many beaches or coves for the loveliest way to spend the afternoon. A short ferry plus a bus ride will land you in spectacular Balmoral Beach where the majestic Bather’s Pavilion holds pride of place on the beach. There is a choice of formal restaurant or breezy cafe, where we ate on this sunny day. A seaside plate of seared whiting with prawns, cuttlefish, sea succulents and caper mayonnaise, ceviche of salmon and an excellent Margherita pizza with a jug of Pimm’s on the side and everyone was happy.
Every Australian needs to not only visit the Opera House, but attend a performance there at least once in their life! We treated ourselves to Opera Australia’s EVITA and started the evening with champagne, cocktails and oysters at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar for the unbeatable harbourside view.
Neil Perry’s Bar Patrón in the CBD brings authentic Mexican food to life, with vibrant flavours that are perfect to share and all your favourites are there – good guacamole, ceviche, tasty tortillas, plump empanadas, crispy tostadas and quesadillas all washed down with tequila based cocktails. It’s the perfect place for a post-theatre supper. Si si!
Venture out to Woolloomooloo for a stroll where bars and restaurants spill out onto the beautifully refurbished wharf when the sun’s out. Lots to choose from here to while away an hour or two. And just down the road, the famous Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, possibly one of Australia’s oldest food trucks, still serves up Pie Floaters – Aussie meat pie swimming in thick green pea soup and topped with tomato sauce – to many a tourist… (who often take one bite and then deposit it into one of the large bins nearby, truth be told! And no…I didn’t have one…)
Barangaroo, the brand spanking new waterfront precinct of Sydney, is adjacent to King Street Wharf in the bay that curls around to Darling Harbour. It’s busting with new restaurants, bars and cafes with tall apartment buildings sprouting up from behind. Well serviced by ferry, and with lots to choose from, from casual bites to high end meals in every flavour of cuisine.
Also located in the Barangaroo precinct, is Nola, a New Orleans style smokehouse offering slow cooked brisket, pulled pork and southern sides. It’s hearty fare good for when you want that meat fix or big food to share with a group.
Innovative yet warmly approachable, The Bridge Room revels in vivid seasonal Australian produce presented with an edge. Each dish will surprise you on some level…be it visual, textural or taste…and so, will the excellent wine list. Our group nestled into the round chef’s table at the back of the restaurant for an evening of what is truly good food at its best.
Saving the best till last, I present Quay, which is surely the best restaurant in Australia, particularly when you combine the flawless food and impeccable service with that stunning view of our iconic harbour bridge. It is also possibly the most reviewed, photographed and instagrammed menu of the moment, so, as much as I have copious notes on each dish that I tasted, let me just leave you with this.
Chef Peter Gilmore is surely the high priest of sophisticated tastes, textures and techniques…and Quay is more than a restaurant, it is a place of worship. This is a zen experience of layered food with everything in concert and supreme balance. Presentation is sophisticated with a touch of whimsy thrown in every so often, which is quintessentially Australian – let’s not take ourselves too seriously now! Whether you choose the 6 or 10 course menu, you are in for an unforgettable journey for Quay over-delivers at every level – food, setting and service. There are plenty of little extras thrown in to make you smile and it’s worth every cent.
Perfectionism on a plate…
So Sydney may be known for being fast and flashy and in your face, but gee, it really is a great place for a good time…