Travelling brings many joys — sightseeing, cultural experiences and new landscapes. But we'd argue the best part is sampling all the delicious local food. However, in the current climate of COVID-related closed borders, heading overseas to indulge our global culinary fantasies won’t be an option anytime soon. Thankfully for lucky Sydneysiders, there is an alternative.
Serving some of the most delicious and varied menus in Australia, eating out in Sydney isn’t just a pastime, it’s a religion. And thanks to a diverse population of nationalities (nearly 40 per cent of locals were born overseas) it’s unsurprising that Sydney is a literal melting pot, a melting pot that offers hungry residents a tasty international smorgasbord.
Whet your appetite and read on for our pick of overseas-inspired eateries where you can eat your way around the world without leaving the city limits.
Transporting you straight to an Italian big city — no passport required — Elva brings slick Italian food to Bondi Road.
Named after Bondi native Elva Tesoriero, whose family ran a fruit shop at the site in the 1950s, this restaurant, wine bar and deli is far from your typical pizza and pasta joint. For a start, there’s no pizza. Instead, you’ll find authentic handmade in-house pasta and traditional small plates all utilising fresh local produce and quality imported ingredients (think Italian black truffles) accompanied by a range of classic cocktails and imported Italian vino.
Standouts on the small, yet perfectly formed, menu include rigatoni con ragu made with veal and porcini mushrooms, Aperol-cured salmon with blood-orange sorbet, arancini, fritto misto, and homemade meatballs with tomato and basil.
Bargain-lovers can take advantage of Pasta e Vino evenings every Monday which features a different pasta dish each week that is expertly matched with a delicious glass of vino for a wallet friendly $25.
With outlets in multiple locations in the city (in addition to a sprinkling in both Melbourne and Brisbane) Sake is a favourite go-to for authentic Japanese cuisine in a fun, bustling setting. Here, you can blink and pretend you’re at a restaurant set amongst the high rises of Tokyo.
Set under the famed InterContinental Hotel in Double Bay, diners can choose between bar seating, long communal table, and a funky covered outdoor terrace, all set amongst a standalone sushi and sashimi counter, and custom-built robata (a traditional Japanese grill that reaches scorching temperatures).
Fusing quality produce with traditional Japanese cooking techniques the menu includes gems such as the ash seared scampi and tuna sashimi, contemporary sushi, Nobu-inspired shrimp popcorn, tooth fish baked in banana leaves with miso butter and premium steaks of pure bred master kobe beef. If this wasn’t enough to leave your mouth watering, there’s a mind-bending sake list to work your way through too.
I’ve you’ve struggled during the pandemic without your annual European getaway, fear not. You can visit an authentic Parisian brasserie in the Harbour City.
As a glutinous gourmand, the culinary capital — along with its classic brassieres — is a tasty standout on any visit. And while the real thing is off limits for the time being, Sydney has the perfect venue to get your Francophile foodie fix: the newly opened L’Héritage in Mosman.
Inspired by the local bistros of Paris and founded by a French native, the brand new eatery serves quintessential, home cooked French favourites, including chicken liver pate, escargots (snails), duck a l’orange, scotch fillet with chips, and bouillabaisse. All expertly paired with yummy imported French wines. This mouthwatering menu is also matched by its beautiful location overlooking the harbour.
Open seven days a week, if you want a virtual getaway to the City of Lights, simply pull up a seat and you can blink and pretend you’re on a side street local hotspot in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Magnifique!
If you’ve got a sensitive palette, don’t let the ‘spice’ in Spice Temple put you off — in this modern Chinese fine dining venue there’s options for everyone.
Helmed by celebrity chef, Neil Petter, the restaurant is an institution amongst the city’s lunch set thanks to its unique focus on China’s lesser known regions (including Yunnan, Jiangxi, Hunan and Sichuan). Serving up classic Chinese cuisine with a culinary twist, the a la carte menu is designed to be shared and enjoyed banquet style.
Sgnature dishes include Nanjing pork hock, steamed eggplant with three flavours, white cut chicken with strange flavour dressing, and kung pao chicken with Sichuan peppercorns served on a bed of fiery hot chillies and cashews. As for drinks, there’s a 100-strong wine list, each carefully chosen to match the food, but if you prefer a more creative concoction the cocktail list is the place to go. There are 12 zodiac cocktails meaning that you can simply order the one that matches your birth year.
Want to get a taste of the New Orleans French Quarter? At the newly-opened The Big Easy, you can squint and make believe that you’re drinking on Bourbon Street.
Taking inspiration from the Louisiana capital, this two-level space on Darlinghurst’s Stanley Street comprised a bustling downstairs bar, outdoors courtyard, upstairs mural decorated ‘Hoodoo lounge’, and open air terrace. It’s also a new Mecca for cocktail enthusiasts. The expansive drinks lineup nods to NOLA classics, including the signature Big Easy Fizz (a fusion of rye, Southern Comfort Black, burnt orange, Peychaud's bitters and ginger ale, finished with a sprig of rosemary) and then there’s a raft of American beer options.
While a menu of Cajun- and Creole-inspired favourites (perfect for soaking up the alcohol-heavy drinks) is small, yet perfectly formed. From snack-sized items like the charred giant prawns and homemade beef jerky, through to more filling dishes such as the jambalaya with andouille sausage and shrimp, and the mouthwatering blackened Atlantic cod sided with corn cream and toasted buckwheat.
Sipping wine alongside the turquoise waters of the Med on an idyllic Greek isle may be off the cards at the moment. But at Sydney’s newest CBD wine bar, Vini Divini, you can enjoy warm European flair - think striking interiors featuring wall-length prints, velvet armchairs, and plush rugs - right in the heart of the Harbour City.
The Mediterranean-focused venue serves a menu of delicious mezze-style plates, including a signature babaganoush made fresh each morning, beetroot-marinated artichokes with toasted almonds, slow-cooked lamb shoulder with fregola salad and caramelised apple, and a selection of delectable salumi and formaggi. But undoubtedly Vini Divi’s crowning glory is its wine wall — a wall that holds more than 1,000 bottles curated by Rockpool’s former head sommelier. In fact, the venue now contains one of the city's largest by-the-glass wine lists with a geographically diverse selection from ten wine regions, including a strong focus on Greece. Right now you can visit the country via your tastebuds with one of two wine flights available — that’s three glasses for a very wallet-friendly $30!