Best of 2022
2022! What a crazy year – coming out of lock down and back to kind of normalcy, a new normal might we say. With the added freedom available, we made sure we had a few getaways for some overnight stays and weekends up and down the coast. It has been great to explore NSW and some of our favourite meals this year were at regional restaurants and cafes.
Our overall favourite dining experience of 2022 was the fire feast at Osborn house in Bundanoon in the Southern highlands. This feast was a spectacular venue with the scenic surrounds, whilst your food is cooked ourdoors Argentinean style over an open fire pit. Think all the meats; chicken, beef, salted fish and incredible empanadas. The food was delicious and the dining space inside the boutique Osbourne house was divine.
Another favourite meal this year was at Paste Restaurant, also in the Southern Highlands in Mittagong. Paste comes to Australia from acclaimed Michelin Restaurant in Thailand. We stumbled across this restaurant on a golf trip to the area. The food is exquisite, utilising premium ingredients and techniques to elevate Thai cuisine to fine dining.
Other dining venues of note include the newly reopened Imperial at Clifton, just south of Sydney overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a stunning outlook and some great pub food.
One of our favourite breakfasts this year was in Wollongong at Opus coffee, the food was delicious, and lots of aspects of the dishes are made in house. They’ve got awesome scrambled eggs, donuts and bagels. Their service was impeccable, accommodating an antsy one year old, oh and the coffee is great too.
The Guild Milton on the mid south coast of NSW was a return visit and it was even better than we remembered, serving farm to table rustic Italian cuisine and a great wine list. Another great spot in Milton is Altar wine bar, with a picturesque farm setting, we had a lovely lunch outdoors enjoying the surrounds.
Rounding out the end of the year, the Roundhouse restaurant in Newcastle has outstanding quality modern Australian food and cocktails, with a panoramic view of Newcastle’s surrounds.
As you can see, there are plenty of great food options outside Sydney, but we also had many great meals here too. With a new addition to our family, it has made it hard to get out as often for dinner, so many of outings have been cafe centric. Many of these cafes are new, but also offering something a little different, beyond your typical eggs on toast or B&E roll.
The Cafe that most stands out for us is Ellen, a new addition to the Alexandria area. Their coffee is amazing, especially a refined cold brew. For a cafe, their meals are next level, they are sophisticated and delicious and could pass in a fine dining establishment. We love that they’re also dog friendly.
Tento is a Japanese Cafe in Surry Hills, providing nicely refined meals and good coffee in an outdoor setting. Their specialty is Ochazuke – salmon with rice in a tea broth and this is outstanding. No wonder there’s always massive lines waiting.
Bills, whilst it’s a stalwart in the cafe scene and it’s not by any means new but we had excellent meals here, especially their tofu scramble. In the Darlinghurst area, we also enjoyed Theeca, neighbourhood cafe serving up incredible brunch spreads and Italian based tapas style dishes in the evening. They’ve also got live music.
Little West is another new cafe this year and it was one of our favourites with its interesting menu including choc chip damper, and the most amazing Muffaletta. This in particular had to be one of the best sandwiches.
AP was newly opened above one of our favourite cafes Paramount coffee in Surry Hills, we visit quite often. AP Bakehouse offers great baked goodies, breads and breakfast in a relaxed rooftop setting. Be prepared for a wait and also possibly having sold out of your faves.
Lion and buffalo is in Coogee, another great cafe with an interesting brunch menu. Their Ottoman eggs are a must order.
BTB Kirribilli was a cafe we visited earlier in the year and it remains in our memory positively with great dishes that incorporate the use of native Australian ingredients.
In addition, of course, our regular Panivore stays on our list. They make the best coffee and do some great sandwiches. We don’t know what to do with ourselves when they close over Christmas/NYE.
Our favourite of the cheap eats has the usual suspects, Suzuya – a great value Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills that we have been visiting for years, albeit a bit harder to get to these days. Charcoal Kingdom in Rockdale do the best Lebanese BBQ chicken and the chips are the goods. These two remain on our list each year. A new one to the list is Intu Laksa at Mascot, it has been a revelation, the satay chicken laska is all time.
Our favourite pub meals are coming from the Dolphin Hotel in Surry Hills we love the wood fired pizza, Italian fare and the options are also quality.
A standout restaurant is Odd Culture in Newtown, the food is great, they are experimenting with fermentation, and evident through both the food and drink menu.
Mille Vini in Surry Hills is somewhere we visited multiple times and recommended often. It has great Italian food, drinks service and ambiance. Rocker in Bondi is also amazing for a weekend bottomless brunch. Grab a bunch of friends and book in for this for sure.
Our top picks for something a bit more upmarket are Kazan in the city, this is a suave venue with sophisticated Japanese food and some excellent cocktails.
We also enjoyed the Peruvian Japanese fusion at Nikkei, both trying the ala carte and tasting menu. This is refective of the quality Japanese cuisine that can be found in Lima.
Sydney has some amazing bars, for us Dean and Nancy’s is a clear standout, the cocktails are innovative, the venue is sleek, the staff are engaging, we always have a great time with live singing and piano. You must go here to also check out the incredible views. Maybe Sammy is also another favourite, for the same reasons as Dean and Nancy (and brought to us by the same owners so this makes sense why it’s so good). Maybe Sammy is more casual, but a great time to be had at this venue, with Bar Staff showcasing their showmanship skills; throwing bottles, dancing and playing some musical tunes. The drinks are unique – served in lit up disco balls, served with bubbles on top and even with matching hand cream.
Jolenes is another awesome bar, the venue is super cool, a Nashville inspired cocktail, whisky and country music bar. They have quality drinks, the bar staff know their stuff and they also have live music, perfect for a fun night out.
And if you want the full package; food, drinks and the best night stay ever, it has to be the Langham. They’ve got an amazing buffet in Kitchens on Kent, High tea, the Observatory Bar, 5 star accommodation, a day spa and even Pet Friendly rooms.
As you can see here, we’ve provided some favourites to get you started from Sydney and surrounds. There’s plenty more great venues so please reach out if you want any other recommendations based on price, location or cuisine.