EAT THIS CITY is your weekly tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by top chefs. This week, we cross the seas to the land down undah! Sydney, Australia!
If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you’ve probably found yourself alongside a dozen backpacking Australians. A year gap on an Australian’s resume isn’t frowned upon — in fact, it’s encouraged. How cool is that? And think about the fact that Australia is an island and a continent, meaning you must get on a plane (or a boat) to leave. This speaks to the adventurous and intrepid spirit of its inhabitants. But even within its confines, there is a melting pot of culture. Land of the kangaroo, meat pies, Vegemite, Ugg boots, AC/DC, the Great Barrier Reef, the wild outback, didgeridoos, and shrimps on the barbie. Right? But wait! There’s more!
Meet Chef Lennox Hastie. He’s a traveler himself, who landed in Australia instead of starting there. He’s from London, but half Australian by blood, and traveled through France, Germany, and Spain to study his craft. He says that the key for a chef is to travel and master new techniques at each landing. It was in San Sebastian that Hastie fell in love with the grill and cooking with fire, which led him to open Firedoor when he moved to Sydney.
The restaurant — which has gained wide acclaim in a short time — has no gas line. Everything is cooked over coals. UPROXX Life Editor, Steve Bramucci, recently visited the restaurant and claims that Hastie made him the best steak he’s ever had. (And the dude eats a lot of steaks.)
Chef Hastie says that Australia doesn’t have an extended history in terms of cuisine. It’s a mishmash of wide-ranging influences and there are a lot of flavors in the melting pot. You’ll see these eclectic offerings all on display in the chef’s answers — so let’s dive in!
Lucio’s Pizzeria, Sydney
I adore the traditional Margherita pizza from Lucio’s. It is the closest thing to Naples I can find without leaving the country.
I don’t eat a lot of Mexican, but when I do, there is nothing like a spicy margarita and taco from SoCal on a hot summer’s day.
This traditional izakaya is a tiny hole in the wall, great for authentic yakitori cooked over binchotan. There’s an intimacy and an immediacy to this eating experience. The kitchen is right in front of your face. All the food is on sticks and goes directly from the grill to your plate. There are beautiful grilled chicken livers and yakitori style beef that shouldn’t be missed.
It’s hard to go past Kylie Kwong’s stall and not order her organic pork dumplings with house made chili sauce. There’s not a large street food culture in Australia, but I love going to the markets. There are beautiful stalls where everyone sets up their burners and steamers and produce one or two things (that always sell out). You eat surrounded by the noise and the comings & goings of the market environment.
I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I can’t resist the panna cotta soaked lamingtons from Flour and Stone Bakery.
Excellent Modern Australian Food with an Asian twist. Ross Lusted is passionate, pays incredible attention to detail, and, most importantly, stays true to his ingredients.
Ester offers mighty tasty food in a laid back, but fun atmosphere. Although different in cooking methods, I relate to it because the core of the menu centers around cooking with fire. It’s also got a killer wine list.
Yellow, Pott’s Point
It is great to see Brett Savage now offering a solely vegetarian menu, showcasing seasonal Australian produce. There are familiar flavors, but with a different style and a wide variety of beautiful produce—little watermelon cucumbers white carrots, watermelon radishes. Everything is enticing.
This is a restaurant doing something different, outside the usual bacon and eggs. You can get your hot cakes, but you can also get your Asian breakfast, like bibimbap. There are many different flavor influences here.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
I think you’ll find every chef in Sydney enjoying the Pippies at Golden Century after service on a Saturday night. Pippies are an Australian clam. Everyone remembers back to childhood, shuffling their feet in the sand and finding pippies. They are a great and undervalued product. A really good one is beautiful and plump with juicy meat. The shell is white on the outside, and purple on the inside. And Golden Century is one of those late night haunts that caters well to a chef’s schedule. They have live seafood tanks, so everything you eat is super fresh.
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE
El Topo, Bondi
The crunchy Crickets fried with chili at this rooftop Mexican place were quite odd, and best washed down with tequila.
Frankie’s Pizza, City
Late night pizza from Frankie’s always hits the spot after a busy week at the restaurant.
City Edge Café, Surry Hills
One of Tommy’s Bacon & Egg rolls always does the trick, just around the corner from Firedoor, these guys are always pumping, but the service is super friendly and fast.
Bennelong, Sydney Opera House
Peter Gilmore’s new restaurant at the Sydney Opera House captures where the Australia food scene is at the moment. The cooking is robust, produce-focused with direct flavours. And of course there is no better place to celebrate Australian produce than within the Sydney Opera House. An impressive date night.
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
LuMi Dining, Pyrmont
This is Italian meets Japanese. It’s a refreshing, inventive, and entirely welcome combination. My wife and I are regular diners, the chef Federico has become a close friend.
Thanks for the recs, mate! Cheers!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier-level chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston and Detroit.
Next week we’re back in the states and over to the city by the bay, San Francisco!