While Australia may be famous for its beaches and nature, it’s also one of the biggest culinary tourism destinations in the region.
According to new research by Tourism Australia, Australia is now ranked as the number one destination for food and wine for visitors from China, USA, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the UK and South Korea. In fact, the third highest ranking reason that visitors come to Australia is actually ‘great food, wine, and local cuisine’, coming in just behind ‘world class beauty’ and ‘natural environments’.
In a country of fresh produce and outstanding cuisine, Sydney has long been one of Australia’s finest destinations for eating out.
This dazzling city combines restaurants by world-class chefs with gorgeous views of the harbour and some of the country’s leading culinary schools. It’s no surprise that this year offers yet another delectable mix of new and established dining experiences.
Oncore by Clare Smyth
Oncore is one of the most exciting new additions to the Sydney dining landscape. After two years of delays, renowned British chef and restaurateur Clare Smyth finally opened her first international restaurant in December 2021. The world’s first female chef to receive three Michelin stars and creator of the world renowned Core restaurant in Nottingham, Smyth brings all her considerable creativity and expertise into this Barangaroo venture.
Overseen by her trusted Head Chef Alan Stuart, the restaurant offers a three-course À La Carte menu at $210 per person or a seven-course tasting menu at $300, both featuring Smyth’s famous signature dish from Core, ‘Potato and Roe’. Among other delights on offer are ‘Demeter Farm's pearl barley with asparagus and wild garlic consomme’, or ‘Maremma duck and red grape with thyme, honey, and Tasmanian mountain pepper,’ all presented exquisitely of course.
Situated on the 26th floor of the Crown Casino building at Barangaroo, the beautifully designed, botanical-themed interior looks out onto the harbour with views of the bridge and Opera House. Although it’s just opened, Oncore has all the hallmarks of a restaurant set to become a Sydney institution.
Aria by Matt Moran
Speaking of Sydney institutions, any review of Sydney’s best restaurants has to include at least one of the many establishments under the name of celebrity Chef, Matt Moran. Aria may not be the newest of his establishments - he’s recently taken on the new bar and restaurant at Barangaroo House - but it may well be his greatest.
Opened in 1999 on the farm-to-table model, Matt Moran brought his passion for local, sustainable produce into an incredible harbourside location at the Circular Quay waterfront. Today, the restaurant's executive chef is Tom Gorringe, however, Moran still creates a new menu every season using only locally sourced, seasonal produce.
Some mouth-watering items include the ‘slow cooked pork jowl with hawkesbury squid, radish & wombok,’ ‘Murray cod with purple artichokes, diamond clams & parsley,’ and ‘lightly cured paroo kangaroo with beetroot, mulberries & juniper.’ Of course, everything can be paired with local wines. Even though it’s now become a harbourside institution, the regularly changing menu keeps Aria fresh, cutting-edge and delicious, giving newer establishments a run for their money.
Margaret by Neil Perry
Another Sydney veteran celebrity Chef, Neil Perry has been opening iconic restaurants in this town for decades including the famous Rockpool, Spice Temple and Saké Restaurant & Bar. All of his restaurants are worth a visit but his newest addition to the landscape, Margaret, deserves a special mention: not least because he announced it’s going to be his last venture, despite being his first solo investment.
Named after his mother, the exquisitely designed Margaret in Double Bay came with a no expense spared, five million dollar price tag for setup. Every detail is beautiful, from the choice of building materials like limestone and terracotta, to the exquisitely designed, minimalist menu based around Perry’s favourite culinary theme: the open fire.
Perry has staffed Margaret with a great team of experienced veterans including Executive Chef Richard Perdue from Rockpool and Rosetta, as well as Perry’s eldest daughter Josephine Perry Clift running front of house, and Richard Healey in charge of wines.
The very reasonably priced menu showcases Perry’s diverse influences from Asian to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, offering ‘Maremma duck tagine pie with fresh harissa’ alongside ‘spinach, pine nut and raisin torta with cherry tomato Salad,’ and ‘sashimi of Luke’s bonito, avocado and nori with kombu and brown rice vinegar.’
Saint Peter by Josh Niland
Established in 2016, Saint Peter in Paddington is a fish restaurant unlike any other fish restaurant. Winner of numerous awards since its establishment including the 2022 GT Restaurant of the Year Award, the restaurant and associated Fish Butchery next door are built around the twin ideas of sustainable ‘whole-fish’ cooking and fish being treated like red meat: cut, aged, cured, and paired with sauces.
Founder and Head Chef at Saint Peter Josh Niland is on a mission to redefine how we eat seafood. In 2020, Niland became the first Australian ever to win the James Beard Book of the Year Award for his debut publication, the ‘Whole Fish Cookbook,’ which details the approach he takes as Head Chef at Saint Peter and as founder of the Fish Butchery.
Niland’s approach to fish has been described as ground-breaking, with pastry chef Chad Robertson telling Eater magazine in 2020, “Lots of us in the industry are saying the same thing about this book: general fish cookery will be thought of differently, divided into ‘before’ and ‘after.’ That means, before and after this book got into the hands of cooks and chefs around the world.”
If that’s not incentive enough to try some of the unique offerings at Saint Peter, take a glimpse at a few things on the menu; the ‘raw pink snapper with Ian’s finger lime and tapioca ponzu,’ ‘hand line caught coral trout with Dylan’s hand harvested corn & curry butter,’ and the ‘bacon rolled swordfish belly with Moonacre Farm coronet cabbage, sage & Ananda capers.’ Yum.
Sixpenny by Dan Puskas and James Parry
There are only two three-hatted restaurants in the whole of Sydney: one of them is the famous Quay, and the other is Sixpenny. Located in the humble inner west suburb of Stanmore, Sixpenny is more than a restaurant; it’s a journey into history and a staged culinary performance all rolled into one.
Established ten years ago and winner of multiple awards since, Sixpenny still offers a completely unique dining experience in the Sydney food landscape. Every detail is considered from the minimalist decor to remove all distractions, to the weird and wonderful presentation of the food. The brainchild of former Head Chef James Parry and remaining Head Chef Dan Puskas, it’s a degustation-only restaurant where the chefs themselves bring a series of small and astonishing dishes to the table.
The chefs use local, seasonal produce to create ethereal little works of art that celebrate Australian history and cuisine. Each dish is developed in collaboration with small-scale farmers, fisherman and producers, and the set menu is constantly changing. It’s not published online, so to find out what’s on it you will have to go check it out yourself.
If you have a passion for food, wine and culinary travel, why not consider a career in tourism? Check out the full range of online and in-person tourism courses on offer here at Torrens University Australia.