Essential food and wine experiences: Sydney

This article represents the personal favourites of Foodtourist’s editors Sue Dyson and Roger McShane. These are the places they haunt on their regular visits to Sydney.

In the past five years Sydney has been catapulted into international recognition for the quality of its restaurants. It now stands head and shoulders above any other city in Australia and can match San Francisco and Paris for the sheer quality of the produce and the inspiration of the chefs.

At the top end of the market you have some real treasures.  One of our all-time favourites is Bentley Restaurant + Bar which is located in the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel building and you can try their food in more informal surroundings at Monopole and Yellow in Potts Point (where the food is now vegetarian). They now have a restaurant in the massive Barangaroo complex called Cirrus Dining which sensibly for the site concentrates on seafood dishes - we have thoroughly enjoyed all our meals there.

Sixpenny in Stanmore (which is a short train ride from the CBD) is a favourite for clever food accompanied by some stunning wines. It is a seriously good restaurant that should be on everyone's MUST DO list.

Another place serving beautiful, modern food packed with flavour is Ester in Chippendale. They also have a very good wine program. This is a restaurant we return to time and time again.

Chippendale is also the home of Automata in the Old Clare Hotel complex. The food here prepared by chef Clayton Wells is delightful and the wine program exciting. Over in Elizabeth Bay is everyone's favourite restaurant, ACME, where chef Mitch Orr serves up exemplary pasta dishes and interesting snacks.

One of the most exciting seafood restaurants in Sydney is Saint Peter in Paddington where talented chef Josh Niland plies his trade with some very interesting dishes. We also thoroughly enjoy the clever food at nearby Fred's where Danielle Alvarez is attracting a lot of favourable reveiws.

For a unique dining experience take the time to head to the quirky Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco where talented chefs Jemma Whiteman and Mike Eggert serve up Italian-accented food. A recent meal we had here was outstanding.

Restaurant Hubert where Dan Pepperell (formerly of 10 William Street) is now cooking is  a very large venue but the food is excellent and the service attentive. Mercado where the talented Nathan Sasi is at the helm in the kitchen is also a good place to try for innovative food.

Whenever we have been away from Sydney for more than a couple of weeks, we start to crave the vibrant food at Sydney's Asian restaurants such as the lovely Chat Thai where we happily line up to wait for a table. And, of course, Mr Wong where the food is prepared with care and skill despite the massive number of diners who go through this restaurant each day.

Of course there is also a Sydney institution which is beloved by restaurant inductry insiders because it is open very late. If you are hungry after midnight the only place to go for expertly prepared seafood is Golden Century in Sussex Street. Here we always have the clams which you can order by the kilo.

Top end favourites are Quay where the food just keeps getting better all the time. We also had a very nice meal at Bennelong (in the bar) and are looking forward to another visit to try more of Peter Gilmour's exciting food.

We also love the food at Billy Kwong in Potts Point.

The Bridge Room in Bridge Street in a charming, light-filled room where a recent meal  confirms that Ross Lusted's cooking is as deft as ever.

Sydney is also developing a vibrant wine bar scene despite the absurd rules about closing times with places such as the incredibly popular 10 Williams Street in Paddington, The Dolphin Hotel in Surry Hills, the tiny 121BC in Surry Hills, Banksii in Barangaroo and Love, Tilly Devine in Darlinghurst all providing interesting wine in convivial surroundings. The boisterous Mary's in New Town combines a great beer selection with some well-chosen natural wines to accompany down-home southern USA-style dishes.

Start the day with breakfast at Boon Cafe in the city where the congee dishes are our go-to favourites and the coffee is good too. Also good for breakfast are Paper Bird and Yellow in Potts Point. Another Potts Point favourite for breakfast or a lazy lunch is Fratelli Paradiso where the coffee is great, the food tasty and the service highly professional.

If you are in the Bondi area then Icebergs is a must! If you can't get in, wander to the other end of the beach and try Sean's Panorama where the food is prepared with care and cleverness.  

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Our book recommendation

We thoroughly recommend the excellent book by Marco Canora, a chef whose food we admire having eaten his food at Hearth and Terroir.