Straight from the Moran family farm in the Central Tablelands, just south of Bathurst, this lamb tastes like the type of lamb that my Dad produces. The lamb is wood roasted for 4 hours, infusing a rich, smoky flavour and the meat literally falls off the bone in strings. Doused in a vibrant mint sauce, with a side of roasted pumpkin and baby carrots ($66, to share), this epitomises, to me, the perfect Sunday night meal.
Don't turn your nose up at black pudding (blood sausage) until you try this dish. Fassnidge, who embraces a nose-to-tail eating philosophy, counterbalances the richness of the black pudding with a sweet capsicum relish and a fried duck egg, with the runny yolk forming a sauce for the dish ($22). Throw in some salty sweet chunks of ham hock and some watercress springs to garnish and you've got texture, saltiness, sweetness, freshness – tick, tick, tick.
There will be no "hold the basil" here, customers are not allowed to make any modifications to the menu as Da Mario has received the official seal of approval by Verace Pizza Napoletana. If that doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry – all you need to know is that you'll be getting authentic pizza, just like you would in Italy. The margherita "extra" involves tomato, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil ($25).
Forget your dining dignity, a bagful of snow crab ($38 per 500g), doused in oriental sauce is far too delicious to waste time on manners and etiquette. Don your gloves and bib and be prepared to get dirty. Please note: House of Crabs is probably not an ideal location for a first date (or second or even third, for that matter).
The squid ink tagliatelle, cooked to textbook perfection, involves just a few ingredients, as the best Italian dishes do, with hunks of spanner, king and blue swimmer crab, a handful of sun ripened cherry tomatoes and torn shreds of basil ($29). A classic flavour combination– this dish is a reminder that simple is often the best.
Once only used by Italian restaurants serving authentic pizza, wood fire cooking is now popping up in some of Sydney's finest establishments, including newcomer Hotel Centennial. Unbeknown to many, the wood fire is tricky to use but once mastered, it's a formidable tool. You can't go past this old favourite: roast chicken, complete with roast gravy, greens and thyme (serves 2-3 people, $54).
Steamed black mussels swim in a fragrant tomato sofrito with chunks of chorizo that provide an unusual contrast to the slipperiness of the mussel meat. The sofrito itself is a little too sweet especially with the mussels but the saltiness of the chorizo and the garlicky garlic bread counterbalance the dish with an aftertaste that leaves you wanting more and more and more. I want to eat the dish twice as fast as I physically can, a sure sign it's a winner?
Order the beef brisket narnie or the cauliflower tabouli salad at Redfern newcomer, Three Williams Cafe – both dishes are café food at its finest. Brisket is a crowd pleaser, especially when it's cooked well, as it is at Three Williams. Coupled with the Cauliflower is one of those ingredients that, if done well, it can be a game changer.
More than a café, Kepos Street Kitchen delivers inventive Middle Eastern fare that will pleases from breakfast to dinner. It's hard to choose a favourite but Israeli born chef Michael Rantissi combines crunchy morsels of falafel with a smooth, not-too-garlicky hummus, and a piquant tabouleh to create a winner dish.
Sepia may be renowned as one of Australia's best degustation restaurants; but there is more to the 2014 Sydney Morning Herald Restaurant of the Year than meets the eye. Sepia Wine Bar not only boasts a drinks list that spans over 40 pages, it's also home to a yakitori menu that rivals the best in the world. Order the deboned and stuffed chicken wings ($22 for two) and let Chef Martin Benn prove how special this ancient cooking method really is.