For foodies with their finger on the pulse, the annual release of the Australian Good Food Guide’s Chef Hats is a pretty big deal. For chefs and restaurants, getting a ‘hat’ is the highest honour. To score a hat, a restaurant needs a minimum grade of 15 out of 20, which takes into account factors like ingredients, taste, presentation, technique, value and consistency. As for two or three hats, the competition is stiff.
So for food with all the frills, tip your hat to these award-winning restaurants – which ones will you be booking?
Headed up by celebrity chef Peter Gilmore, Quay has held onto its three Chef’s Hats for the 18th year in a row. The menu is imaginative and indulgent, and every dish is a work of art. For the ultimate Sydney dining experience, the ten-course tasting menu is one to add to the bucket list.
Overseas Passenger Terminal, Hickson Road, The Rocks
Helmed by Daniel Puskas, the restaurant itself won three Chef Hats, for a second year in a row, thanks to its ever-changing Modern Australian menu. It’s famous for its venison tartare, but the Rangers Valley chuck tail with mushroom and masala is just as good.
83 Percival Road, Stanmore
Housed on the grounds of Merivale’s The Newport, Bert’s Bar and Brasserie, with its upscale cuisine and cocktail offering has retained it two hat status. The premium wine list and European-inspired menu pay homage to grand hotel dining of the 1930’s. With beautiful views of Pittwater and grand vintage-styled interiors, Bert’s is one of the Northern Beaches' premier fine dining destinations.
2 Kalinya Street, Newport
Another Paddington gem, Fred’s scored two Chef’s Hat for its innovative French fare. The kitchen is led by farm-to-table legend Danielle Alvarez, who sources her ingredients from local farmers. Here, almost everything is cooked with fire (courtesy of a custom-made hearth) for the utmost flavour. Think grilled butterflied King George whiting with curry leaf butter, and deliciously tender lamb shoulder served with roasted carrots, mint salsa verde and broad beans. Be sure to order the dark chocolate mousse for dessert.
380 Oxford Street, Paddington
In Mosman, Ormeggio has two coveted Chef’s Hats to its name. That’s thanks to Executive Chef Alessandro Pavoni, whose menu leads diners on a culinary tour around Italy and Spain. There is a five- or seven-course degustation menu featuring Ormeggio’s signature dishes, along with BYO wine for lunch bookings.
D’Albora Marinas, Spit Road, Mosman
In Pyrmont, LuMi Dining dishes up delicious Italian/Japanese fusion, and it has the accolades to prove it. Dining here is a commitment – there are only tasting menus available, and they’re worth every course. While you admire the waterfront views, chef Federico Zanellato will send your taste buds soaring with the help of exotic dishes like chawanmushi and toasted white chocolate and sudachi.
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
In the back streets of Surry Hills in a heritage-listed building, Firedoor has a well-earned reputation for their woodfired cooking. So much so, that head chef Lennox Hastie was awarded Citi Chef of the Year 2020. Here, everything is cooked over wood coals - they burn a collection of different woods to create coals that bring out the foods natural flavours. Trust us, you’re in for a real treat here.
23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills
From the dream team behind Bentley, Monopole and Yellow, Cirrus is a standout on the Barangaroo strip. The fine-dining restaurant retained its two Chef’s Hat for its sustainable seafood menu. If you’re feeling as flush as the harbourside location, start with a serve of caviar, before moving on to the Queensland mud crab with housemade XO and fried bun. The Jerusalem artichoke, date and walnut ice cream, albeit strange, is definitely worth saving room for.
23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
Unlike the other hatted venues, this communal motorcycle workshop and café leaves pretentiousness and the door. Serving up some of Sydney's best ramen and dripping with cool vibes, this inner west hangout has a cult following. With three options; ‘The Darkness’, ‘The Light’, and ‘The Monk’ you’ll be tempted to return and sample each ramen variation, especially if a Katsu Burger makes you weak at the knees.
1C Whateley Street, Newtown
Newcomers to the chef's hat club, Alberto's Lounge is the neighbourhood Italian restaurant and wine bar from the team behind local favourites Hubert and Baxter Inn. Stylish, yet warm and inviting, Alberto's Lounge features a heavily curated menu of hero dishes and classic eats from pappardelle alla bolognese and Bistecca, to burrata caponata and prosciutto e parmigiano. All of which are delectable. Intimate and refined, you need to get in early to get a seat.
17-19 Alberta St, Sydney
Not your average pub, Hotel Centennial does relaxed sophistication faultlessly. Overlooking Sydney’s Centennial Parklands, this hatted gastropub boasts beautiful interiors and a cracking menu to match. Showcasing modern comfort food with that fine dining flair Sydney has come to adore, Hotel Centennial opens its arms to those looking for a touch of gastronomical TLC.
Corner of Victoria Ave and, Oxford Street, Woollahra
The Dolphin Hotel provides the swish setting and restaurant quality food without the price tag. For fuss-free eats, the Public Bar is where its at... chicken ‘Cotsu’ burger anyone? Head deeper and you’ll find the Dining Room serving dishes like Randall Family risotto of saffron, slow-cooked beef cheek and bone marrow vinaigrette. You need to visit the Wine Room - a beautifully intimate setting that offers fine wine and charcuterie boards.
201 Sussex Street, Sydney