Sydney Weekend

By Melanie Reid

I've lived in Sydney all my life and am passionate about my home city's incredible foodie scene.  Here are my local tips on the hottest places to wine and dine in style Down Under…

Friday night is the best time to visit the CBD area of Sydney, as it's bustling with corporates ready to let their hair down. First and foremost,  toast your time in Sydney with a glass of bubbly at the Opera Bar overlooking the Harbour Bridge.  Enjoy dinner at the recently opened Bentley restaurant, a very contemporary restaurant that currently has everyone talking. If you fancy glamour,  drinks at The Loft facing Darling Harbour is a must, then head to The Ivy, Sydney’s only rooftop pool bar. 

 

If you’re looking for something more intimate, there are cool CBD bars such as Palmer & Co, Grandma's, Baxters Inn and The Bulletin. If you want to team up the small bar with dinner go for Stitch Bar where you can eat a very decent gourmet burger or hot dog. If you fancy a long night, Frankie's pub keeps the tempo up with a rock bar theme and serves very tasty pizza till 3am.

On Saturday, start at Cowbell 808 in Surrey Hills for a unique brunch - I love the awesome ricotta hot cakes with bacon favoured ice cream! Spend the day exploring the urban hub in and around Surry Hills and Alexandria for cool boutiques, artisan shops and art galleries. For lunch, check out The Grounds and Kitchen by Mike. The Grounds includes a large restaurant and gardens complete with home grown fruit/veg/herbs, resident farm animals (the pig's name is Kevin Bacon) and food stalls selling fresh goodies. It's a big tick that all these entertainments are here because you usually have to wait to get into the restaurant - but it's worth it!  Kitchen by Mike is a big gourmet cafeteria adjoining Koskela furniture store. The menu evolves everyday based on seasonal and fresh produce. You work your way through the line up collecting your foods of choice, then select a table inside or out where you can sit unbothered for hours.

In the afternoon, treat yourself to ginger brûlée or chocolate tart at Bourke Street Bakery. If you’re more a savoury person, Formaggi Ocello cheese house is heavenly!

After a rest in the afternoon, it's time for an early dinner at Porteno - for the simple reason that if you're not at this restaurant for the 6pm sitting, the house special will be gone! Porteno, is an Argentinian style restaurant which does a 6 hour slow roasted pork that's worth going out of your way for.  Also try the fried brussell sprouts - much tastier than you think!  Afterwards explore the small bars of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst; you could start with Gardels Cocktail Bar above Porteno, then make your way to Sticky Bar, Tios Tequilla bar, Shady Pines Saloon. Your last stop is The Commons, an underground bar with low ceilings and live jazz. Enjoy their Americano digestive cocktail.

On Sunday it’s finally time for Bondi! Have breakfast at Bondi Icebergs, perched on the edge of the end of Bondi Beach.  Afterwards head to Vaucluse for a walk in the Sydney Harbour National Park, allowing about three hours to walk to the lighthouse and back. There is a crest near The Gap lookout which has to be one of the best 360 degree views in the world; Sydney to west and straight out to the magnificent Pacific Ocean to the East. Then settle into a chair on the veranda of Doyles Restaurant in nearby Watsons Bay. This famous seafood restaurant opened in 1885 and overlooks the harbour toward the city. Catch the ferry back to Circular Quay from Watsons Bay.  You can take advantage of the amazing sushi Sydney has to offer at the Hemmesphere Bar on George Street. Then top off the perfect Sydney experience by catching a show at the Opera House, and back where you started - drinking bubbles at The Opera Bar and savouring the awesome view.

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