A night out for dinner with friends starts at home with the usual ritual. Keys, handbag, coat? Check. Wallet, phone, cab-fare? Check. Then you get to the restaurant and its waiting for your table, sparkling or still, nibbling on bread and catching up on gossip while snatching glances of the menu. But what if you want something a little less ordinary for your dining experience?
Don’t get me wrong, these rituals are wonderful. They bring comfort and satisfaction, and studies have shown that sitting to eat your main meal with company is good for your heart health (although clearly, tedious workmates and uptight clients do not count here). And many an impromptu dinner with friends has turned into a long night of good vino and up-late chats. But every once in a while, you may want to really spoil yourself. Splash that extra cash on a special venue for a special occasion, a special someone or just for a guaranteed dining experience to remember.
- Quay Restaurant
A favorite of mine for just such occasions is Quay. A friend took me there nearly 10 years ago for a remarkable lunch, and since then Quay has continued to raise the bar higher and higher. Under the stewardship of chef Peter Gilmore, it has consistently been ranked in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants since 2009 and in 2013 was crowned Restaurant of the Year by both Australian Gourmet Traveller and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. Located on the western side of Circular Quay, it has commanding views of the harbour and Opera House and is becoming an Australian icon in its own right.
- Momofuku Seibo
Bursting onto Sydney’s fine dining scene in recent times is Momofuku Seibo, scoring 3 Hats and Best New Restaurants in the SMH Good Food Guide. This Japanese/Korean inspired restaurant will wow even the most hardened foodie. Treat yourself to a 15 course (yes, you heard that right) tasting menu which the expert chefs will cook and plate right in front of you, including chef David Chang’s internationally famous steamed pork buns. With a dining room seating only around 30 people, Momufuku at the Star offers an intimate dining experience but you will want to book ahead.
- Aqua Dining
Aqua Dining on Milsons Point has to be the finest spot to enjoy lunch on a beautiful Sydney day. The restaurant design takes maximum advantage of its views across the glistening harbour back to Circular Quay. Sip wine and enjoy the sun while lazily watching swimmers do laps in the aqua water of North Sydney Olympic Pool below – you’ll be surprised how relaxing this can be! The Italian menu is one of the best in Sydney. And with a wine list to match you’ll want to make sure your lunch is a long one.
- Front Restaurant
If you are looking to show off the city to out-of-town visitors, then you can’t go past amazing Pier Front dining at Front Restaurant at The Sebel Pier One. With lights dancing on the water as you look back across Circular Quay, this place has some of the best views of the harbour at night and a stunning modern-Australian menu to match. This picture perfect setting is also a great spot to grab a pre-show cocktail or late night dessert.
- Hills Lodge
If you are looking for a special dining experience in Sydney’s north-west, enjoy fine dining and an extensive wine list at The Hills Lodge Hotel in Castle Hill. Perhaps you have been cellaring a special bottle of wine to enjoy on that very special occasion? Everyone knows the best wine list in the area can be found at Hills Lodge.
- Burnt orange
Nestled in beautiful sandstone mansion in the stylish suburb of Mosman and overlooking Sydney Harbour is Burnt Orange café. This unique restaurant is combined with an award-winning boutique retail store, making it an ideal location for breakfast or lunch with girlfriends. Satisfy your cravings with buttermilk pancakes and fresh juices, and satisfy your retail urges browsing their eclectic range of gifts, clothing, jewellery and homewares. This is the perfect spot for those wanting something a little more low-key but equally memorable. Definitely worth making the trip slightly out of the city for a beautiful day out.
There are so many unique and sensational restaurants in Sydney, its wasteful not to go out and try them every once in a while. So break out of your usual dining ritual and try something out of the ordinary for a truly wonderful and memorable experience. Whether you are dining with a group of friends or a special loved-one, it will be sure be a night to remember.