This year, we’ve seen a huge change to dining out, a result of the rise of Covid19 and lockdown measures, the re-introduction of dining out with regulatory measures and businesses having to adapt their business models to succeed. This has resulted in us getting a lot more takeaway than dining in, as well as supporting our favourites to help them stay afloat. As a result, we’ve visited less venues, but still a decent amount, totalling 168 (and that’s just the ones we blogged and visited for the first time, not re-visits).
The reason for spending time writing this particular blog each year is that so often people ask of our favourite recommendations. This is quite a hard question since there are plenty of different factors; what cuisine are you after? What area? How much do you want to spend? Hence this blog has been broken down into our 2020 favourites of fine dining, bars, casual restaurants, cheap eats and coffee which will hopefully make that question easier to answer and easier for you to find what suits you best.
It’s nice now and again to have a fancy meal for that special occasion. If you’re going to spend your hard earned dollars on dinner, you want to make sure it’s worth it. Here’s our list of our favourites for the year. We pretty much will try anything and this list showcases French, Japanese, Modern Australian as well as some fusions. A trip over to Elanora Heights saw us consume a brilliant 3 course French dinner at Frenchies Brasserie, with an outstanding Souffle amongst the dishes and an incredible Tarte Tatin. We are lucky to have visited Noi in Petersham recently with a group of friends and sampled much of their amazing and also reasonably priced sophisticated Italian inspired menu. Their Kangaroo Tartare was a highlight of the year.
We also experienced one of the most highly rated and hard to secure tables at Six Penny. Their menu saw a 10 course degustation with each dish showing amazing skill and technique of the chefs. One of our out of town favourites is Raku in Canberra for a fine dining Japanese meal.
The drinking scene has been pretty dead for a few months, and many bars had to shut for a good period of time (or sadly, forever) and when many re-opened, there were strict sit down measures in place. That said, we haven’t frequented too many bars. However, in Surry Hills, Four Pillars Gin Distillery, which opened this year has outstanding cocktails, primarily gin based. We also found Maybe Frank in Surry Hills to have a hidden gem of a bar, with the barman whipping up a few cocktails, only asking our favourite flavours. Award winning Maybe Sammy in the Rocks deserves inclusion, as does the great cocktails at Seargant Lok (also a restaurant) in the Rocks. Our locals, One Drop is for a good beer and Archie Rose for whisky. Molly Bar in Canberra is also a standout!
This casual dining list includes a bunch of great restaurants that you will find at mid range price across Sydney featuring a number of different cuisines. We loved Fich in Petersham for excellent seafood, Via Alta in Willoughby for brilliant and authentic Italian, XOPP in the city for Asian Food and Porteno in Surry Hills for their meats (though at the price probably needs to fit into the fine dining section).
Two highlights for us this year were out of town. Rick Stein at Bannisters, which we’ve visited at Mollymook numerous times, has also opened a venue in Port Stephens. Their menu is incredible, and despite not having the famous fish pie at this location, we enjoyed a grilled tuna and the best olive oil chocolate cake around.
A visit to Bells at Killcare saw us dine at their Wildflower Bar and Dining. Everything here was 5 star. From an octopus carpacchio to a whole snapper, we cannot believe how good the food was for the price. This is certainly a standout of the year.
Cafes is probably a category we dine at the most for we love a good catch up with friends over food and coffee and we’re always on the hunt for places with interesting menus.
Barbetta is both a trattoria / Italian restaurant at lunch and dinner, but we loved their brunch menu – a great breakfast Pannacotta (v) and their carbonara eggs are amongst the fondest dishes this year. A recent visit to Happyfield in Haberfield certainly put a smile on our dial. Pancake stacks are their thing, and for good reason. But you must also order the McLovin’ Muffin with a homemade potato hash.
Monstera at Mosman wharf has beautiful food and views and so impressive to come out of such a small kitchen. Their sister café, Celsius Coffee co also does a phenomenal coco pops pannacotta. New from Room Ten, Pina Café in Potts Point presents some creative dishes using high quality ingredients, and a banging cup of coffee to boot. We also liked Carpenter Café in Leichardt, Brew Ha Ha in Annandale, Exclesior Jones and Outfield in Ashfield and West Juliett in Marrickville.
Brew Ha Ha
Highroad by Ona, in Canberra was also brilliant.
Whilst we love fine dining and a glass of champers, you don’t always need to spend a fortune to have a great meal. Here is a list our favourites offering great food on the cheap.
We have recently found some great dumplings, of a outlandish size and cheap price in Alexandria at Chinese North Dumpling House.
Ricos Tacos had a pop up truck in the Messina Carpark and a weekly pop up at Rocker in Bondi. Ricos have the best tacos going around, and just as good as those we had in Mexico.
The sandwiches at Scouts Honour are amazing as well, on a soft Sonoma bread, packed with your choice of filling. Take our word for it, the chicken with potato crisps is unreal.
We always love Charcoal Kingdom in Rockdale, where we visit almost once a week. They do Lebanese Charcoal Chicken and the marinade on the fresh BBQ chicken is out of this world, add the pita, pickles and garlic sauce and you have the perfect combo. Add a salad, some of their amazing fries and you’ll thank us later. They do some pretty good burgers and wraps too.
A stalwart for us is Suzuya, our go to Japanese. We also visit here once a week and love the vibe, the absolutely delightful staff and amazing food. The food is tasty and the portions are generous. We recommend trying their sashimi salad, a huge plate full of cabbage, carrot, seaweed and topped with super fresh sashimi. Their agedashi tofu is also the best we’ve tried.
Not to forget Stix and Pita for some Greek wraps with meats cooked over the coal, Filante in our local area of Botany for wood fired pizza, Small Talk in Dulwich Hill for bagels. As for more bakeries, Banksia Bakehouse in the city is high quality and super creative, as well as Tuga in Clovelly for their Portuguese Tarts and Donuts, Flour Shop in Turramurra and Humble Bakery in Surry Hills are also great.
Our go to for dessert is Ciccone and Sons, for their gelato is arguably the best and flavours change regularly. They do some quality sundaes and a cracking cannoli.
Our local Panivore does our favourite in Sydney. We pretty much visit here daily, they do a mecca bean and the food is darn good too, especially the sandwich on a wholemeal country loaf.
In addition, we love the coffee at Primary in Potts Point, Terracotta Roasters in Darlington, Artificer in Surry Hills, Alchemy in Marrickville, Haven in Rosebery, Double Tap in Marrickville and Royale Specialty in Surry Hills.
I’m sure we’ve missed some here, but there’s a good overview for you and hope it gives you some tips for 2021. Enjoy