In New South Wales even the most unassuming café is likely to wow you with a richly roasted flat white and a slice of warm and crumbly banana bread. From simple beachside shacks serving incredible breakfasts and bustling budget joints dishing up big bold Asian flavours, to sophisticated kitchens where world-class chefs are pushing creative boundaries, eating out in New South Wales is always an unforgettable experience.
One of the best ways to sink your teeth into the state’s myriad gourmet offerings, beyond the city streets, is on a New South Wales road trip. Make your first stop the Hunter Valley. Australia’s oldest wine-growing region is an easy two-hour drive north of Sydney. As well as scores of wineries, the region is renowned for its bountiful food scene.
There are farm shops crammed with tempting artisan produce, cellar doors that serve platters piled high with local cheeses and cured meats alongside their wines as well as award-winning fine-dining restaurants set prettily amid the grapevines.
Many wineries grow their own produce too, such as small-scale, family-run Tinklers in Pokolbin. Here table grapes, peaches, nectarines, avocados, figs and lemons tempt customers alongside bottles of their fantastic viognier and shiraz. Put together your own picnic to fuel your explorations – a stop at the nearby Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop will add the finishing touches to what promises to be a seriously gourmet roadside feast.
Or book a table for a memorable lunch with stunning views at Margan in Broke Fordwich, one of the pioneers of agri-dining in the valley. The eggs, honey, olive oil, lamb, most fruit and vegetables, and wines (of course) are produced on the estate with the rest sourced locally. Muse Dining in Hungerford Hill Winery, and Bistro Molines also dish up exceptionally good food within picturesque settings.
Wherever you dine, it’s a wise idea to hire a local driver or join a winery tour so you can really enjoy the region’s renowned wines as you graze your way around the fertile valley.
Mudgee and Orange in the Central West region are other wine-growing communities fast garnering a reputation for their food scene. The former – a charming country town with historic buildings, boutique hotels and B&Bs, cosy cafes, bustling bistros and scenic cellar doors – is around four hours north-west of Sydney.
In Mudgee, be sure to book a table in advance to get into the much-lauded Zin House restaurant, where Kim Currie cooks refined rustic food using mostly home-grown produce. The wines are supplied by neighbouring organic and biodynamic winery, the Lowe vineyards, which is run by her partner David Lowe. A proud paddock-to-plate philosophy is evident at Pipeclay Pumphouse on the Robert Stein Vineyard too – another Mudgee must-do. The town even has a microbrewery, Mudgee Brewing Company.
Loop two hours down to the south west and you’ll stumble across another appealing country town punching well above its weight in the food and wine stakes, Orange. With more than 30 cellar doors and a clutch of creative food producers and chefs devoted to simple seasonal cooking to discover, you’ll never want your gourmet odyssey to end.
And it doesn’t have to. More rolling countryside, vineyards and historic villages, complete with charming eateries and gourmet food stores, can be found down in Bowral and the bucolic Southern Highlands region.
Sydney has one of the world’s most diverse and exciting dining scenes with new places popping up all the time. Here are a few newcomers with which it’s well worth getting acquainted.
This all-day dining destination from acclaimed chef Clayton Wells makes even more reason to visit Chippendale’s restaurant-packed Kensington Street. The canteen-style venue delights from breakfast through to lunch and onto dinner.
Another of Sydney’s most exciting chefs, Mat Lindsay, has just opened his second venture, Poly in the Paramount House Hotel on Commonwealth Street. The lovely looking wine bar serves a concise, creative menu including grilled yabbies and tea-smoked quail.
This large, open-plan restaurant near Central Station is a modern Thai eatery housed in the exotic Griffiths Tea building. Expect big flavours and a bustling stylish crowd.
If you’re big on steaks, this meaty newcomer on Bridge Street is the place to be. It is dedicated to Tuscan speciality bistecca alla Fiorentina, using prime New South Wales beef. There are also veggie options and Italian-inspired bar snacks to complement the strong Italian wines and classic cocktails.
Super-chef and restaurateur Matt Moran’s new modern Australian dining room in Barangaroo House offers extravagant harbour views and food to match. The vibe is luxe-casual with chef Cory Campbell’s (ex-Noma and Vue De Monde) menu studded with locally grown produce and native ingredients.
Pinchos, Mediterranean-influenced sharing plates and fantastic European wines are on the menu at this delicious and surprisingly intimate new wine bar. It’s based in the lobby of Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour hotel.
The latest opening from the prolific Merivale group brings an oyster bar and Basque-style grilled meats and fishes to Sydney’s northern beaches. The stylish brasserie is on the top of The Newport and has stunning Pittwater views.
Sydney is renowned for its excellent Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants and now Lankan Filling Station is bringing in Sri Lankan food with queues forming as the locals get hooked on hoppers, fiery curries and sambols in this sleek new space.
Sydney is the star in the New South Wales crown – a fabulous, lively city with so much to see and do. But there’s a lot more to explore in other parts of New South Wales, at whatever time of year you choose to visit. On a two-week trip you could mix city sightseeing with trips to unspoiled beaches and spotting wildlife, wine tasting in the Hunter Valley and relaxing in the Blue Mountains. It’s time to start planning your next visit to explore this fantastic and fascinating destination.
Visit uk.sydney.com for more information and to start planning your trip.
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