There is no mode of cooking more ancient, simple or free as the charcoal grill. Hidden away on a side street in Surry Hills, Tokyo Bird can almost be mistaken for one of Shibuya’s izakaya restaurants. Japanese-inspired cocktails are shaken with flair and though the menu has tokens to sate the craving of meat lovers, birds are the preferred protein on the barbie. Hearts are crisped and charred outside, succulent within and for those partial to fried chicken, crunchy nuggets of katsu are the perfect way to soak up an Asahi or two.
Firedoor is the most anticipated restaurant launch of 2015 and while the doors are not yet open, foodies are poised to rush in faster than you can say “smokin". Located in Surry Hills, Firedoor will become Australia's first solely fire-powered restaurant. The kitchen will be fitted with two ovens, four grills and a wood burning stove and its dishes will be infused with the distinctive aromas of the timber chosen for fuel. The concept is the brainchild of Lennox Hastie, the British Chef who spent a number of years at world-renowned Asador Etxebarri in Spain, where his fascination with coals began.
Surry Hills' 100 year-old Macquarie Hotel has relaunched as Hotel Harry, with a retro styling and a Latin theme. Chef Paul Wilson composes dishes with brio and imagination, using shredded pork and beef short rib for a burger patty and, instead of coleslaw or gherkins, filling the burger with fried shoestring potato and a guava ketchup. Start with a Cuban cocktail at the bar before heading upstairs to Paladar Dining Room where a ceviche bar and a spit roast suckling pig awaits.
Bang cleverly taps into Sydney's fetish for authentic street food but this time we take a trip to Bangladesh. Nicholas Gurney, co-owner of the hatted Farmhouse restaurant and Chef Tapos Singa (ex Gowings and est.) say the energy of the streets of Bangladesh is packed into the Bang dining experience - and a portion of the restaurant's takings is donated to relief aid in Bangladesh. These are South Asian dishes like you’ve never experienced them before; from tandoori quail and a crab and duck egg omelette to cobia tartare with tapioca pappadam, Bang has hit the bullseye.
Black Star’s strawberry watermelon cake has reached cult status among Sydney food bloggers for good reason: it’s instagram-worthy and completely addictive. Since opening the first Black Star outlet opened at Newtown over seven years ago, owner Christopher Thé has expanded with a store at Rosebery and now another at the Powerhouse Museum. The beach-themed playground cafeteria is family -friendly, complete with kids’ entertainment, and all the Black Star favourites like lamb shank pie and coffee by The Little Marionette, plus bento boxes and spaghetti meatballs for the lil’ ones.
Restaurateur and photographer Dario Milano has combined his love of food and photography at Rosebery newcomer, Milano Torino. The succinct menu features Northern Italian cuisine with a focus on regional food from Piedmont. Hand cut tagliatelle with mussels and Bra cheese risotto, coupled with braised salted cod and an endive and gorgonzola salad make the perfect Italian feast. The location may be a little off the beaten track but the food is worth the extra effort.
Tucked below Longrain in Surry Hills, Subcontinental is the latest venture from restaurateur Sam Christie (The Apollo and Cho Cho San). Longrain head chef Victor Chung, a native of Kolkata, takes inspiration from right across the Indian subcontinent. Standout share plates include the house-made pakora, dipped in a tamarind and chilli chutney and a crispy pork Sri Lankan curry with pickled eggplant.
Who’s up for an unapologetic burger? Cheeky Burger’s all about root beer, peanut butter and jam shakes and demonstrating your athletic prowess on a dartboard out the back. As if there wasn’t enough to like about this Oxford Street joint, they go and slam us with half price burgers on Tuesdays. We’re sold. While the exposed brick walls, Hollywood lights and cocktails in mason jars are a tad tired, the cheeky cheap deals and low key vibe are a winning combination in a location that’s screaming out for some action.
With just eight seats and a 10-course set menu, this Japanese restaurant won’t appeal to all (luckily: we’d never get a seat…). If you’d prefer a napkin placed on your lap and a waiter by your side, head to Nomad down the road but for serious foodies who value a chef’s expertise over attentive service, get in line. Perch at the counter (there are no tables) and let Noda and his son, Momotaro, cook and serve a ten-course omakase (chef’s selection) that will make any seafood lover swoon. This isn’t a place for a pre-theatre meal - each seating takes between two and three hours to serve. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway; bookings are essential.
The Fratelli Fresh empire remains one of Sydney’s most beloved (and fully booked) restaurant groups and CBD newcomer, Fratelli Parlamento, is no exception. Like its Café Sopra siblings, Fratelli Parlamento takes the airs out of fine dining, managing to meld casual and sophisticated notes through its quintessentially Italian ambiente. The kitchen turns out classic dishes of prosciutto di Parma with figs and bocconcini, linguini with lemon, chilli and pangrattato and quattro formaggio (four cheese) pizza. Dining at Fratelli Parlamento doesn’t encourage you to take mincing bites of measured portions. It exhorts you to dig in, wash it down with a glass of Sangiovese and enjoy.
While not technically new, after 14 successful years in Surry Hills, Billy Kwong has opened its (new) doors to a bigger space in Potts Point. The Billy Kwong name has become synonymous with ethical dining and the latest incarnation of the brand continues to serve only locally-grown, organic fruit, vegetables, poultry, meat and noodles, plus Fair Trade tea and chocolate. Dishes from Kylie Kwong, such as crispy prawn wontons and caramelised wallaby tail, prove food can be eco-conscious and delicious.