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Memorable Meals
Sydney has lately evolved into a terrific restaurant town, with a good range of dining options for any budget. The tremendous diversity of culinary styles reflects the city's rich blend of immigrant cultures, and there's a homegrown version of nouvelle cuisine known locally as "modern Australian" (a.k.a. "Mod Oz"). Top choices for a special-occasion meal include:
One of the first fine dining restaurants to open in The Rocks district in the late 1980s, features a choice of set menus overseen by chef Neil Perry, an influential pioneer of modern Australian cuisine. Perry's inventive style highlights fresh local produce, meat and seafood prepared with Asian and Mediterranean influences and served in a handsomely restored 19th-century stone commercial building near Circular Quay.
Information: Rockpool, +61-2-9252-1888
The renowned signature restaurant of Japanese immigrant chef Tetsuya Wakuda, features a pricey ten-course set menu served in a series of intimate dining rooms facing a traditional Japanese garden. Wakuda's artistic and technically demanding Asian-fusion small plates might leave some hearty eaters feeling hungry, but serious gourmands typically come away raving about every precious morsel.
Information: Tetsuya's, +61-2-9267-2900
An upscale brasserie at the recently reopened (and extravagantly renovated) Hilton Sydney, has all the makings of a big night out - a fancy interior by internationally renowned restaurant designer Tony Chi, a constantly evolving wine list crafted by Master of Wine Dr. Ron Georgiou, and a contemporary French menu by Luke Mangan, one of Australia's most celebrated contemporary chefs. The name of the restaurant refers both to a dramatic wall of glass that frames a view of the historic Queen Victoria Building, and to the restaurant's extensive wine collection, much of which is displayed in a towering trio of 42-foot-tall wine racks.
Information: Glass, +61-2-9265-6068
For a privileged view across Sydney Cove to the city's famous opera house, head for The Rocks and take a table at the Park Hyatt Sydney's Harbour Kitchen & Bar, which stands right on the waterfront at Dawes Point. Folding floor-to-ceiling windows open onto the seaside promenade, providing a dramatic backdrop for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Information: Park Hyatt Sydney's Harbour Kitchen & Bar, +61-2-9256-1661
Alternatively, you can enjoy the view inside the opera house at Guillaume at Bennelong, an upscale French-Australian restaurant that occupies the smallest of the iconic building's vaulted concrete shells. Before taking over this high-profile venue, chef Guillaume Brahimi worked in Paris with Joel Robuchon and later earned a solid reputation in Sydney at two successful restaurants. Pre-theater set menus are available.
Information: Guillaume at Bennelong, +61-2-9241-1999
In the Surry Hills district southeast of downtown Sydney, a 100-year-old warehouse has been artfully converted into a contemporary Asian restaurant called Longrain, where chef Martin Boetz offers distinctly modern interpretations of traditional Thai and southern Chinese cuisine. Diners sit at three long communal tables in this stylishly industrial space, and the lively bar is a great place to meet the locals.
Information: Longrain, +61-2-9280-2888
A favorite dining destination for Sydneysiders who are entertaining out-of-town guests, is a delightfully repurposed Spanish-Moorish building erected in the late 1920s on Balmoral Beach in the northern suburbs. The former changing rooms have been converted into a classy waterfront cafe and restaurant with lovely harbor views, serving set menus and a la carte fare under the direction of French-Canadian chef Serge Dansereau. Balmoral Beach is about 20 minutes from the central business district by car, or catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Mosman and continue by taxi to the beach.
Information: The Bather's Pavilion, +61-2-9969-5050
For a unique modern take on humble Australian "bush tucker," phone ahead to the Deep Blue Bistro at Coogee Beach in the southeastern suburbs. In addition to more conventional Mod Oz cuisine, chef Thomas Heindrich presents a degustation menu highlighting native Australian ingredients, including crocodile carpaccio, grilled emu, olive oil poached kangaroo and wattleseed crème brulee.
Information: Deep Blue Bistro at Coogee Beach , +61-2-9315-8811