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 is just as appetising as what’s on the plate.
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. This acclaimed restaurant recently underwent a major redesign and now boasts a fresh dining room and state-of-the-art kitchen. Chef Peter Gilmore has built a signature 10-course tasting menu, with highlights including an oyster-inspired starter served in a hand crafted ceramic oyster shell, filled with a silky oyster cream and topped with oyster crackling and Ossetra caviar. Finish your meal with the "White Coral” dish of a light white chocolate ganache that is aerated under vacuum and then frozen with liquid nitrogen, creating a porous structure resembling white coral.
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 fusilli with a ragu of suckling pig, 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 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.
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.
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 Pork Belly pastor tostada teamed with pineapple crema.
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.
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 seasonal menus hold their own against the glorious sea views. Try grilled Mooloolaba king prawns, or the Australian burrata and heirloom tomatoes.
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.
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 bottoni (tiny buttons of pasta) filled with eggplant parmigiana to the textures of pumpkin dessert.
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 - Doyle's. As you admire the magnificent water views back across to the city, feast on 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.