If you like your meals served with a healthy helping of postcard-perfect views, these restaurants fit the bill.
By Ute Junker
There are two things Sydneysiders love above all else: a superb meal and a stunning view. So you can imagine how excited they get about a restaurant with an amazing outlook. At these much-loved eateries, the view through the window is just as appetising as what’s on the plate.
Sydney's dining hot spots
Quay, Sydney CBD
Perched on the western side of Circular Quay, Quay is not just Australia’s most awarded restaurant, it also has the best harbour views in Sydney. Chef Peter Gilmore uses only the finest ingredients, from hand dived scallops to uni (sea urchin), in his delicately constructed dishes. Gilmore's signature dish, the smoked pig jowl, gets regular makeovers: the current version is a mash-up of flavours and textures, teamed with black barley, roast koji rice, egg custard, sesame and scallop. Finish your meal with the snow egg, Australia's most famous dessert.
Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Bondi Beach
If there were an award for Sydney's sexiest dining room, Icebergs would win hands down. Settle in at your table with one of Icebergs' signature cocktails and let yourself be mesmerised by the endless rows of waves rolling in to the beach. The Italian-influenced menu has plenty of appetising options; start with one of the superb pasta dishes, such as fresh gnocchi with a ragu of suckling pig, olive and sage, and follow it up with the grilled fish of the day, perhaps teamed with one of the restaurant's most favoured dishes: a salad of peas, farro, mint and ricotta.
Bennelong, Sydney CBD
Bennelong delivers the whole package: superb food, wonderful service, and a gorgeous view of the city and the harbour. All this, and you also get to dine inside one of the Opera House sails. You don't have to spend a fortune, either: book a seat at the Cured & Cultured counter to enjoy small plates such as the Bruny Island cheese soufflé and the superb salad of roasted organic carrots.
Cottage Point Inn, Cottage Point
It doesn't get more romantic than this gorgeous waterside restaurant. Just 50 minutes from Sydney by car (or 20 minutes by seaplane) and surrounded by national park, Cottage Point Inn is a place where kookaburras show up at lunchtime to feed on kitchen scraps. The sophisticated menu includes inventive dishes such as raw snapper teamed with strawberry vierge, finger lime and basil; and veal tartare supercharged with oyster and lemon dressing.
The Butler, Potts Point
Check out a different side to Sydney at The Butler, a sleek diner tucked away in the trendy neighbourhood of Potts Point. Come early evening to see the Manhattan-style skyline views at their best, with city lights twinkling against a blazing sunset backdrop. Highlights of the French-Caribbean menu include the duck sausage teamed with duck confit and beetroot.
Catalina, Rose Bay
Some diners arrive at Catalina, set on a gently curving bay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, by ferry; others come by seaplane. Most restaurants would find it hard to live up to such an entrance. Fortunately, this Sydney stalwart fires on all fronts, from the superb seafood to the extensive wine list. Top tip: save room for the lemon tart, which is justly famous.
Jonah's, Whale Beach
It's an hour by car from the centre of Sydney to Whale Beach (or 25 minutes by seaplane), and Jonah's is worth the journey. The fact that this restaurant-with-rooms belongs to the prestigious Relais & Chateaux organisation gives you some idea of the standard at which it operates. The seasonal menus hold their own against the glorious sea views. Try zucchini flowers stuffed with prawns, or a combination of burrata and peaches, lifted to the next level with the zing of yuzu and the crunch of chicken skin.
Aria, Sydney CBD
Aria is known both for its gobsmacking views of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour, and for its flexible menu. If you don't feel like a degustation dinner, you can mix and match plates of various sizes, from shelled Pacific oysters with keriberry and beach banana, to Iberico jamon with white beetroot, macadamia and salt bush.
Ormeggio at the Spit, Mosman
Tucked into the D'Albora Marina at The Spit (20 minutes north from the city centre by car), Ormeggio is surrounded on three sides by bobbing yachts. This friendly fine diner serves up some of the best Italian food in Sydney. Chef Alessandro Pavoni excels at everything from tuna crudo with pistachio and ocean trout roe to wonderful bottoni pasta served with parmigiana reggiano.
Doyle's on the Beach, Watsons Bay
Take the ferry to Watsons Bay and send the children off to play on the sand while you settle in for a long lunch at this family favourite. As you admire the magnificent water views back across to the city, feast on house smoked salmon, snapper, scallop and prawn pie, or – if you are feeling hungry – the seafood platter, laden with oysters, blue swimmer crabs, prawns, a whole lobster and more.
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