For a while it seemed embarrassing that Sydney had started to try to compete with Melbourne for laneway cache, but bar-restaurants like Berta are proving the city might be cool after all. Small and cosy, and with a picture window looking onto an alleyway, Berta’s sharing-plate menu is great. Whole snapper with leek, fennel and capers, $35.
17-19 Alberta St. (02) 9264 6133; berta.com.au
2 Concrete Blonde
Regional produce is given star treatment in this architecturally pleasing restaurant. The drama of the industrial interior is heightened by an open kitchen complete with open-flame rotisseries. Ranger Valley Wagyu hangar steak with Aztec spices, papaya mojo, posole of corn and ox tail tamale, $40.
33 Bayswater Rd, Kings Cross. (02) 9380 8307; concereteblonde restaurant.com.au
3 Food Society
Inspired by Eastern European home cooking, this below-ground eatery’s specialty is sharing plates: beetroot and vodka-cured ocean trout blini with dill cream, $16; baked, spiced pork stuffed cabbage (golabki) with roasted tomato sauce $13.
91 Riley St, Darlinghurst. (02) 8090 3462; foodsociety.com.au
4 The Duke Bistro
The Duke Bistro wouldn’t feel out of place in London’s Soho. Royal green and rich red décor gives a cosy atmosphere, while the food
is some of the most inventive in Sydney thanks to chefs Tim Orr and Thomas Lim (ex-Tetsuya’s). Radish with dashi butter and bread rolls is phenomenal ($15 entree/$20 main).
65 Flinders St, Darlinghurst. (02) 9332 3180; dukebistro.com.au
5 Love Tilly Devine
Not long after this oddly named bar-restaurant opened, the latest instalment of Underbelly explained who it was named after. It lies in East Sydney’s historic gangland epicentre. Macleay River rock oysters, $3.50ea, opened to order.
91 Crown Lane, Darlinghurst. (03) 9236 9297; lovetillydevine.com
6 The Local Taphouse
Beer lovers will enjoy The Local Taphouse, which has some of Australia’s best beers on tap. We tried Dogbolter (Vic) and James Squire Amber (NSW). Choose from sharing plates (meatballs with Napoli sauce, $14) or mains (barramundi with orange, fennel and watercress salad, $29).
122 Flinders St, Darlinghurst. (02) 9360 0088; thelocal.com.au
7 The Carrington
Formerly dark and dingy, the reborn Carrington Hotel is now a touch of Spain in Surry Hills. The menu is all about tapas and pintxos (Basque for nibblies). Think jamon croquettes ($12), bull’s tail empañadas ($12) and kingfish pastrami, kohlrabi and fried bread ($4ea).
565 Bourke St, Surry Hills. www.thecarringtonsydney.com
8 Gardel’s Bar
If you can’t get a table at Porteño, the much-acclaimed Argentinian-style restaurant that is the talk of the town, grab a seat in the bar upstairs. The music is fun, the décor dark and theatrical, and the bar menu includes sample-size plates with the slow-cooked meats that make Porteño worth the hype.
358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills. (02) 8399 1440; gardelsbar.com
9 Ms G’s
An Asian inspired venue with a great menu by young chefs Dan Hong and Jowett Yu. A main of Queensland spanner crab meat, dashi custard, broccolini, shellfish sauce costs $24. There are also great cocktails.
155 Victoria St, Potts Point. (02) 8313 1000; ms-gs.com