Theatrical fine dining experiences to be enjoyed over time (and with plenty of wine)
When it comes to fine dining, Sydney offers a smorgasbord of mouth-watering culinary delights. The city is awash with talented chefs well-versed in serving up the fanciest of hatted cuisine.
But when you're presented with a menu that's as captivating a read as the latest Miles Franklin winner, whittling down your final food choice (or getting the waiter to transcribe it) can be a difficult task, to say the least.
So, if like us, you find it impossible to choose between the seared scallops or the chargrilled Wagyu sirloin, then a degustation menu is the only way to go. That way, you get to try a little taster of the restaurant’s signature dishes, to be enjoyed over time (and with plenty of wine). To help with your decision making, we've compiled our pick of the most standout degustation menus from Sydney’s best fine dining restaurants. Bon appétit!
Set in a bunker-esque space in Sydney CBD, at this acclaimed eateryall you need to worry about is choosing what to drink – then simply let Head Chef, Nelly Robinson, take care of the rest. The inventive, modern Australian degustation menu ($128) with matching wines (plus $95) changes every six weeks to showcase the best seasonal produce Australia has to offer. The wine list is extensive, but a visit to nel. would not be complete without a look in at the cocktail offerings. You won’t be disappointed.
75 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney
Firedoor serves up Australia’s first fully fire-powered menu. Every dish is cooked to order, and the chefs choose a wood that will bring out the best flavours, like native barks, chestnut, and cherry. The ten-course chef’s menu ($160) showcases the best of the best. Tuck into the pipis – they’re plucked from the restaurant’s tank, grilled over an apple-wood coals, and finished with karkalla (beach bananas), wild garlic, lemon and chilli.
23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills
Focussing on vegan cuisine, every plate at Yellow features produce grown by local suppliers. Set inside a converted 1950's art gallery, this achingly cool eatery is as hip as it is healthy. The restaurant is a-la-carte during the week and offers five- and seven-course vegan tasting menus on Saturday nights. Save room for dessert as the Honeydew Sorbet with Yuzu Curd and Peppermint will convert even the most fervent dairy lover.
57 Macleay Street, Potts Point
This two-hatted stalwart delivers ‘haute cuisine’ with a gastronomic artistry rarely matched in Australia. Just steps away from the Opera House, Aria champions local produce, and in every dish, expect full flavour and impeccable presentation. While two-, three- and four-course options are available ($85-$175), the tasting menu ($210) is the sensible option for those looking for the full experience – think Maremma duck with pumpkin, prune and burnt onion, sitting alongside lamb with sunchokes, grilled lettuce and mustard oil.
1 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Hatted waterside venue, The Gantry, provides endless drinking and dining options for those vying for an elegant degustation experience. Serving up three different six-course tasting menus (depending on your dietary preferences), there's plenty to choose from. For meat and seafood lovers look forward to the likes of kingfish, Murray cod, duck and kangaroo, whilst the vegan and vegetarian option comes laden with wholesome nourishment. The desserts are the highlight however – they provide the perfect sweet note to finish.
11 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
A highly sought-after dining destination, Momofuku Seiōbo's hatted restaurant specialises in Caribbean-fusion cuisine. The menu is edgy and exclusive, with crowds lining up to sample Executive chef Paul Carmichael’s showstopping ten-course tasting menu ($185). Expect to be wowed from the very first dish, as the menu takes you through the restaurant's well-loved signature creations.
The Star- Level G, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Voted one the world's top 50 restaurants, (it's secured a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List every year dating back to 2009), this fine dining mainstay is situated in one of the city’s most impressive locations. Quay teams incredible vistas with exceptional cuisine, for an entirely indulgent experience. Helmed by local legend Peter Gilmore, the menu is inventive and nature-focussed, and the dishes that sail out of his kitchen are truly works of art.
To sample a taste of everything, the six-and ten-course tasting menus offer an exclusive insight into Gilmore's culinary world. Start off with hand-harvested seafood and finish with his signature dessert White Coral. Each course will work its magic to excite your taste buds and imagination.
Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks
Waterfront views, a chic dining space and modern Italian cuisine, OTTO has it all. There’s no better way to linger over a leisurely seven-course degustation ($168) at their wharf-side terrace. Sample delicious morsels of Angus beef carpaccio with truffle dressing, aioli, capers, parmesan and rocket, and then move onto Hiramasa kingfish with smoked eggplant, capers, pine nuts, raisins and preserved lemon. Do it right and add the matching sommelier selected wine list for $86. You won't regret it.
Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomoolooo
A flavour-filled romance that marries European flavours with Japanese cooking – Finnish chef Tomi Björck and Australian Samuel Cole are the talented chef duo behind the enterprise. While all the food on the menu is designed to be shared, Blanca’s ten-course tasting menu ($93) allows guests to tuck into the chefs’ favourite dishes. From Sydney Rock oysters and raw beef and sesame Leaf, to the signature Blanca black bun and grilled Fremantle octopus, there's so much to love about this inventive menu. If ten courses are too much, opt for the seven-course feast ($77) instead, and for herbivores, there are vegetarian variations of both tasting menus.
75 Hall Street, Bondi Beach
Monopole has gained a reputation for having one of the best well-priced degustation menus in the city – a seven-course ($75) offering of elaborate flavours and plenty of meats. It would be a shame to miss out on the wine pairings ($70), particularly when Monopole has 500 to choose from – a lengthy list that's won the venue more than a few awards (as has the food).
71A Macleay Street, Potts Point
The fanciest of degustations along Kensington Street, Automata, in the Old Clare Hotel, offers an elaborate five and seven-course tasting menu. Each dish draws on local, seasonal produce, which encourages constant innovation in the kitchen. The restaurant’s fit-out is industrial and minimalist, leaving experimentation and colour for your plate. Get your taste buds around the pink snapper tartare, with green asparagus, preserved lemon and caper, and be sure to add the beverage pairing.
5 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Italian with an elevated Japanese twist, LuMi overlooks the rippling waters of Pyrmont Bay. With only degustation menus available, commitment to the meal is mandatory – and honestly, this is a relationship anyone would be desperate to marry into. Each dish is nothing less than a work of art (yellow fine tuna is where it's at), and do we even need to remind you to add the wine pairings?
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
A must-visit for Japanese food lovers. Head Chef Tetsuya Wakuda knows his stuff when it comes to Japanese fine dining. He's created a degustation menu ($240) using natural, seasonal Japanese flavours prepared using classic French techniques. The roasted scampi tail with vanilla kick starts your culinary adventure; indulge in beautifully prepared dishes like tuna with daikon and wasabi, Wagyu beef sirloin with chestnut mushroom and WA truffle, and sudachi and fennel sorbet with fennel snow.
529 Kent Street, Sydney
Housed in a corner terrace near Stanmore station, Sixpenny oozes elegant dining with its a cosy venue and array of innovative dishes. The ever-changing menu plays on seasonal produce, with diners making their way through the degustation menu; delivering thoughtful and aesthetically pleasing dishes. Make the most of the experience and include the matching wines.
83 Percival Road, Stanmore
A true culinary experience by Chef and Restaurateur Luke Mangan. Housed in Hilton Sydney, Head Chef Peter Cassidy has created a seven-course degustation menu that uses local and seasonal produce, prepared using classic French techniques. From the signature crab omelette to the sheep’s yoghurt cheesecake, everything on this menu is utterly divine.
Level 2, 488 George Street, Sydney