Food / Wellbeing

For special occasions and everything in between, here are 14 of the best fine dining experiences in Sydney

Whether it's to mark a special occasion or to simply take pleasure in la dolce vita, when it comes to Sydney's fine dining scene, here at RUSSH we've got you covered. While we've taken a little liberty with what constitutes fine dining, you can be sure that every restaurant on this list will have you salivating even after your ninth course. Because when the brief is fine dining in Sydney, these are the people who understand that the sky is the limit but will try to reach it anyway.

So for the crème de la crème in service, plonk and of course, fare, below we've rounded up 14 restaurants in dear-old Sydney that put the fine in dining.

 

Sixpenny

 

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Sitting in Sixpenny on a Sunday afternoon with the gentle tinkle of silverware on plates, wine glasses glistening with the last rays of sunlight and water goblets bubbling with sparkling water is as close as we'll get to heaven in this life. This tiny pocket in Stanmore is light and melodic and the plates of food are just as exceptional as the service. There's only one pathway here and it's the tasting menu; starting with a round of crispy and flakey snacks like Cruller with Mascarpone & Smoked Carrot and Hempseed Tart with Pear & Artichoke. You'll then move onto various courses celebrating small-scale, local farmers, fishermen and producers with the pièce de résistance, an assortment of zingy and biscuity desserts.

 

Kuon Omakase

 

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A chair at Kuon Omakase is notoriously difficult to book. Not least because this purveyor of omakase - a series of dishes curated by the chef - is tiny. We mean it! There are only eight seats at this joint. As a result, meals at Kuon Omakase are intimate affairs where chef Hideaki Fukada selects seasonal produce with fruts de mer so fresh they practically swim onto your plate. Think uni, slow-cooked baby abalone and turban snails. But as previously mentioned, you better bring the same zest and killer instinct to reserving a place at Kuon as you would Coachella, a months worth of bookings are snatched up in a matter of minutes.

 

Restaurant Hubert

 

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As you descend into Restaurant Hubert all airs and graces melt away and almost anything goes. Maybe it's the live jazz led by drummer Calvin Welch or the excited whir of section waiters as they glide around the dining room filling flutes with champagne, but the general feeling is that of a giant theatre performance. It's fine dining sans the stuffy service and complicated menu. In fact, the menu is a tongue-in-cheek take on French classics. That's not to say it's a gimmick - Restaurant Hubert's love for french cuisine is well-documented - but what escargot was harmed by lashings of XO sauce? None, we say. During lulls in conversation (although we doubt there'll be any) take the time to marvel at the wood-panelled walls embellished with empty wine bottles and an enviable collection of art.

 

Ester

 

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Don't be fooled by the science-y name, Ester is not one to dish up alien and soulless fare. Quite the opposite in fact. At this Chippendale haunt you'll find the food revolves around its wood-fired oven. Unctuous bbq beef rib is just as steadying as the clay pot cauliflower and it's not a trip worth having unless your ordering the melt-in-your-mouth bone marrow with a couple of blood sausage sangas on the side. To cut through all that fat, you're going to want a helping of the feijoa sorbet or better yet, a glass of Matthieu Barret syrah...maybe even a bottle?

 

Rockpool

While we're chomping at the bit for a booking at Margaret, when it comes to Neil Perry's Sydney dining institutions, we can never refuse a night at Rockpool Bar & Grill - or a lunch for that matter. Be it the dry-aged beef, imposing marble stone interiors or simply the thirty-plus year long reign, Rockpool is a fine dining experience for the ages. Little else will get between you and your company as you dig into the wood-fired Paspaley pearl meat, Bangalow pork and frosty vacherin Rockpool has to offer. And as always, the staff here are more than happy to keep you well lubricated during your evening, with an extensive wine list and cocktail knowledge to boot.

 

Chaco Bar

 

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Say what you will, but when it comes to Japanese cuisine in Sydney, Chaco Bar should be the restaurant hot off your lips. Masters of all things fresh off the robata and yakitori, the chefs behind Chaco Bar know how to handle everything from gizzards to tender chicken cartilage. Growing from humble beginnings in a teeny ramen joint along Crown street, Surry Hills, the restaurant has extended into a dark and cosy, 75-seater haunt along Victoria street, Potts Point. It offers intimate omakase or communal dining if that's more your speed, noren curtains and a variety of Japanese beverages on offer like yuzu highballs, Suntory beer and naturally, plenty of sake.

 

Saint Peter

 

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If there's anything chef Josh Niland has drilled into our brains, it's that there's so much more to fish than its' fillet. While you may be familiar with the concept of nose-to-tail cookery, you may not of heard of its slippery sibling, fin-to-scale. Embraced by Newcastle-born chef Josh Niland, he applies the same techniques used in preserving meat to that of the seafood variety. The result? A carefully curated menu of seasonal and line-caught fish. Think swordfish bacon, coral trout, Murray cod and of course as the name suggests, John Dory. Despite the Fish Butchery and Charcoal Fish capturing our attention over the past three months of endless takeaway, nothing will halt us from returning to the Niland's OG, Saint Peter.

 

Quay

 

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Restaurants come and restaurants go, but Quay will always remain a quintessential, Australian fine dining experience. At its core lays a penchant for local Aussie ingredients and a stomach for the experimental - the unknown. It's for this reason that Peter Gilmore has become a household name when it comes to his elevated desserts like the iconic 'Snow Egg' or its' more modern sister, the delicate and otherworldly 'White Coral'. Choose between a six or ten-course set menu to commence your evening, beginning with oysters boasting globs of oscietra caviar, and followed by Rottnest Island scallop, baby Coffin Bay octopus and hand-gathered Eyre Peninsula vongole. What a treat! One only matched by Gilmore's other fine dining restaurant, Bennelong.

 

Porcine

 

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When Nik Hill ended his successful stint at The Old Fitz, we were shattered to say the least. Rarely do you find a pub that offers a frothy pint, evening theatre and a hatted kitchen all at once. So when we found out he was joining ranks with ex-Don Peppino's chef, Harry Levy to open a bistro above P&V Paddington, we saw fireworks and beef dripping on the horizon. The doilies may have disappeared, but Porcine is still serving up the same hearty fare that has been so dearly missed at The Old Fitz, albeit much neater around the edges. It's classic nose-to-tail fine dining that would bring a tear to Fergus Henderson's eye.

 

Icebergs Dining Room & Bar

 

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A spot that needs no introduction. At Icebergs it's all about long, drawn out Sunday lunches. Or if you've got the luxury of time and ample funds, long, drawn out mid-week lunching accompanied by multiple bottles of Chablis and Aligoté. Where else can you visit that allows you to take in spanning views of Bondi beach at the same time as you spoon celeriac agnolotti and XO scallop and oxalis risotto into your feverish mouth? I'll let you sit with that one for a while.

 

Bistrot 916

 

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The "old Lotus site" in Potts Point was somewhat of a revolving door until Bistrot 916 took over the space earlier this year. Now, it stands proudly, pink tablecloths and all. At the helm is Dan Pepperell, the force who delivered us snails in XO at Restaurant Hubert and Trippa alla Romana with a hint of masala spice at Alberto's Lounge, Andy Tyson the ex-head sommelier of Swillhouse and Michael Clift a stalwart of Rockpool for over 8 years. Between these three, we're in safe hands. Dine here for French bistro food, but you've been warned, as with all of Pepperell's dishes, it's not always what it seems. Boudin noir has been given the Vietnamese treatment, thin and crispy, made to be wrapped in mint and devoured in one bite. While the humble steak frites is grandstanded by its' more opulent table mate, lobster frites.

 

Sean's Panorama

 

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Before farm-to-table cooking became a senseless buzzword, Sean Moran was spearheading the movement in Australia. With produce sourced directly from his property in Bilpin, Sean Moran makes the simplest of ingredients - persimmons, perfectly ripened figs, sweet baby carrots - sing by treating them well. The food that comes out of this kitchen is a joyful celebration of the seasons and perfectly accompanied by its beachfront location. Feel at ease as you sink into your charming surrounds of mismatched furniture, linen tablecloths, freshly cut flowers, shell-encrusted decor and stare at the hand-painted ceiling above you - a reminder that the sky is always blue and spirits are always high when you're dining at Sean's.

 

Tetsuya's

 

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For those among us who hear the phrase "fine-dining" and immediately think a 12-course degustation, then this is the place for you. In the thirty plus years since Tetsuya Wakuda opened his restaurant on Kent Street, the menu has changed but a little. Having polished off the signature confit ocean trout with kombu and crunchy fronds of celery and apple for the first time at age 11, I can confidently say all these years later that the current dish is identical. The age old adage is fitting here, that if it's not broke, don't fix it!

 

Fred's

 

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If you depart Fred's in Paddington convinced that you'd just spent an evening in Berkeley, California we'd forgive you. After all, it was not so long ago that head chef Danielle Alvarez cut her teeth at Alice Water's famed restaurant Chez Panisse. One only need tuck into the lovingly charred lamb shoulder or nutty slivers of Jerusalem artichoke to pin down Alvarez's precise flavour of farm-to-table cooking. That is, her Californian sensibility of high quality produce handled simply and with the kind of attention to detail that one attributes to French cookery. It is comfort fine-dining and you're all invited.

Fine-dining in Sydney doesn't always equate to romance. So here are 10 restaurants in Sydney turning on the heat so you can get swept up in your amour.

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