Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sydney Restaurants, Cafes and Cocktail Bars for Every Mood

Australian cities offer a wealth of great eating and drinking options, with everything from sophisticated five-star restaurants to casual modern cafes and intimate, funky bars.

Sydney is the nation’s look-good, feel-good metropolis (sometimes nicknamed Emerald City). Fast-paced, deal-driven and traffic-laden by day, it's a sparkling, balmy playground at night. Both The Economist and Monocle acknowledged its warm, mostly relaxed and cosmopolitan ambience by ranking it among their Top 10 'liveable cities'.

Once you’ve taken in the spectacular harbour and the ocean beaches, head further inland to enjoy the places where daily living gets done. The most interesting spots are scattered around the city, not grouped together in tidy formation, so be adventurous.

From the sometimes grungy but vibrant inner-west to the immaculately groomed avenues of the harbourside eastern suburbs, Sydney's neighbourhoods are anything but homogenous. To find the best the city has to offer think in-between; seek out unexpected places tucked into the hidden folds between the waterways and the clogged arterial roads.
If you get the balance right, it should feel like one big weekend, all week long.

Here are some of the best eating and drinking treasures in this bustling, buzzy, sundrenched place:

For a splurge, a major occasion dinner or to wow visitors, you can’t go past Icebergs Dining Room & Bar at Bondi Beach. As globe-trotting NeoNeighbourhood Chief Experience Officer Verity Byth puts it, “There is simply nowhere else with this view, atmosphere, food, wine and service all at once, all the time.” In a word: Extraordinary.

For a cool night out with friends, the first stop should be Madame Fling Flong in Newtown. A glamorous little upstairs nook, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek '80s, with sexy red everywhere except for the funky mix of vintage chairs. Staff are attentive and the atmosphere encourages lounging, with cocktail in hand.

To find out why Sydney chefs and their fusion dishes are such a force on the world stage, head for Universal in the nightlife precinct of Darlinghurst. Culinary wiz Christine Manfield puts flavours together in a way that will surprise you. “Get your palate ready for a ride through all the sensations that characterise Asian cuisine, done in a way you've never known them before,” says Byth.

To get a feel for Sydney’s laidback cafĂ© lifestyle, visit Fifi Foveaux’s, in the lively and diverse neighbourhood Surry Hills. It’s become a local institution by getting right what so many others seem to get wrong. It has great coffee, service that's sassy in a good way, and quality eating, whatever time of the day.

For a casual but excellent dinner out with friends, make a beeline for Sean’s Panaroma, at iconic Bondi Beach. The decor is informal and both staff and customers are relaxed, but there’s nothing but the best ingredients, beautifully prepared, on the plate. No wonder you need to book.

For more great experiences in Sydney and other Australian and international cities, visit www.neoneighbourhood.com. There’s food, shopping (fashion, home, pantry, books and music), hotels, galleries and concert venues and much more.

By Hazel Flynn

Hazel Flynn is Editor-in-Chief of NeoNeighbourhood. Previously an ABC Radio producer & presenter, magazine section editor and book publisher, she is also the co-author, with Sue Pieters-Hawke, of the bestseller Hazel's Journey: A Personal Experience of Alzheimer's, about Hazel Hawke. Hazel Flynn's job in the Neo Neighbourhood is to keep the content fresh, lively and accurate.

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