The Best Places in Sydney to Take Your Mum this Mother's Day (Or Any Day)
Try slightly harder than your favourite sticky dive bar.
You love your mum. How do we know this? We are psychics. Also, you clicked on an article called 'The Best Places to Treat Your Mum', so we figured that you care.
Yet, as fellow mama-lovers, we also realise that the annual celebration of maternity known as Mother's Day can be a vexing time for the Sydneysider. Where does one take one's mother (or mothers or grandmothers or amazingest aunts) on such an occasion? Your favourite underground bar is too dingy. Your go-to pizza joint is a bit of a lazy pick for the woman who gave you, you know, life. This is your chance to deliver something momentous. Something memorable.
Take your mum out this year on Mother's Day, for a decadent dinner, a long boozy brunch or a wholesome Meaningful Chat coffee at some of our city's best (but not intimidating) eateries and drinking establishments. You've got enough selection anxiety on your hands with presents, so we've picked out our favourite Mum-worthy spots.
After all those selfish nights of cot-based crying, the least you can do is rise a little early to avoid the lines at The Grounds of Alexandria. Summer berry hotcakes ($18) will rival mum's finest offerings, and a Jack Hanna coffee will probably demolish anything she could brew (no offence, ma). For lunch, nothing says 'thank you for carrying me around in your womb for an extended period' quite like a handmade pappardelle with wild mushrooms, pecorino and a soft poached egg ($19). If you've got the budget, The Grounds are hosting special lunch and dinner Mother's Day sittings, with a custom tasting menu from executive chef Paul McGrath. It's $160pp but it's two-and-a-half hours and includes a welcome Champagne or cocktail, three-course meal and non-alcoholic beverages package, live entertainment and a floral crown for mum. Pretty sweet.
Before we start, expect The Newport to be super busy on Mother's Day. But that doesn't mean you should avoid it — there's plenty of room. Merivale's latest opening (and only venue on the Northern Beaches), The Newport has a strong focus on food and live entertainment. But don't expect a single service counter or a straightforward menu at this renovated pub. Instead, expect to feel a bit like you're walking through a permanent food festival. Lutaud designed the menu with input from some of Merivale's other key chefs, so you'll notice some familiar imports — and a similar stall-type layout to the Coogee Pavilion's foreshore fest. We'd gun for one of Vinnie's (Merivale pizza guru Vincenzo Biondini) pizzas. Live music is also a huge focus at The Newport, with an expansive alfresco deck custom built to showcase local talent. Check the schedule for Mother's Day.
She's living in one of the finest beachside cities in the world, yet mum never sees the beach? It's time to get her to Three Blue Ducks. If you wish to avoid the crowds at big-brother-Bondi, Bronte's finest restaurant is the perfect setting for a cappuccino, a glass of white wine or a stuffed coconut concoction. This little pocket of salty hipsterdom is a modest mix of natural and manmade decor, incorporating the warmth of wood and cool concrete for an authentic rustic country-meets-downtown feel. With a peaceful, sunny streetside window and a tender steak sandwich ($18), the effortless slice of paradise will remind mum why she decided to raise you in Sydney all those years ago.
If your mum is the kind of foodie excited by unlikely word combinations like 'miso-grilled king salmon with smoked eel croquette' and 'salted caramel ice-cream with black Aegean salt flakes', you'll be wanting to take her to light and bright Alexandria cafe Devon on Danks. The kitchen boasts head chef Zach Tan from Guillaume at Bennelong, a pharmacist-turned chef who prescribes a menu of Asian-inspired cafe classics. Working alongside him is pastry chef Markus Andrew from Adriano Zumbo who has been assigned to cronut and doughnut duty. Think of it as a new shared playtime, now we're all adults.
Your mum might have roasted many a chook for you, so treat her to one of the best in town. The Paddington may be a pub reno, but the venue isn't simply a pub anymore. Gone are the days of the Paddo Arms; it only feels right to call Merivale's reincarnation of the Oxford Street pub by its new, full name. They've taken the space, gutted it, given it one hell of a spit and polish, chucked in a few rotisseries and many a lampshade. It's all white tiling, emerald features and dark timber. It looks good — the word swish even comes to mind. And, downstairs at least, it feels kinda like a big, casual restaurant — perfect for Mother's Day.
Two ex-Jonah's chefs Josh McPhee and Dave Moran have built their own casual eatery and hang spot in Dulwich Hill. The laidback pair built The General with their own hands, cleaning bricks, sourcing tables and $1 vintage school chairs, crafting concrete pendant lights, and generally renovating the former butchery into a relaxed casual eatery. The ever-changing menu has pride of place on an exposed brick wall, where it's scrawled with a permanent marker on a giant roll of brown paper. Fingers crossed they're doing the salted caramel tart with coffee meringue ($12) on Mother's Day.
Here's a newbie for trendy mums, or mums who love trying new places. The crew who brought you ACME, the elegant, understated and Italian-ish eatery in Rushcutters Bay, are back (and more powerful than you could ever imagine) with their new project Bar Brose. As you may have guessed, Bar Brose is a wine bar, and it's just opened in Darlinghurst. The nod at rose is a bit of a red herring as they serve up a broad range (a very broad range) of drinks. Their French-inspired menu is just as you would imagine; minimalist and varied, with fair whack of dessert options. Chef Analiese Gregory, formerly of Quay, is the force behind the food, comandeering a menu which includes adventurous dishes such kingfish, quince juice, apple and geranium ($18) and aged beef tartare with coffee and pickled raspberries ($18) alongside more traditional titles: spaghetti carbonara ($20) and Iceberg salad ($10).
First-rate Italian food on a jetty. What moor could you want? Sydney's two-hatted restaurant Ormeggio at the Spit gave birth to a new venue, Chiosco, last year. Located side by side on a Mosman jetty, Ormeggio and Chiosco are mere metres from the water's edge, with spectacular 300 degree views of luxury yachts and sparkling sea. While Ormeggio (which is Italian for 'berth' or 'moor') is a fine-dining affair, Chiosco (which is Italian for 'kiosk') has adopted a casual approach, serving Italian street food and takeaway with a 'barefoot and BYO' ethos. With cheaper prices and executive chef Alessandro Pavoni at the helm, it's a good excuse to go a little overboard.
Nestled in the sleepy backstreets of Potts Point, The Butler comes from the Applejack Hospitality team behind Bondi Hardware, The Botanist and SoCal. Located in the freshly renovated site of the popular Mezzaluna (and, prior to that, restaurant royalty and namesake Butler's), it brings a little Gallic decadence to the daring dining precinct on Victoria Street. The fit-out is immaculate. Characterised by colonial French themes and mature botanicals set against crisp white decor, The Butler feels like the sort of dining oasis in which the cast of Made in Chelsea might film their season finale.
Back eastside, our next 'recomumdation' (see what we did there?) is the harbourside dining experience of Rose Bay's Catalina. A Rose Bay waterside institution of 20 years, this award-winning destination from Michael and Judy McMahon offers diners panoramic views of the harbour, impeccable world-class service and a menu sporting much-loved dishes almost as old as the place itself. If you're intimidated by the price and/or reputation of the place, take baby steps into fine dining by booking in the bar area and enjoying share plates like beer-battered and melt-in-your-mouth soft goujons ($15) and Ortiz anchovies with tomato salsa on grilled sourdough ($14).
Challenge Mum to a spot o' bowls. What was once a daggy bowlo has been transformed into a lush, summertime garden bar with million-dollar Sydney skyline views. Inside The Greens, floor-to-ceiling glass doors allow sunlight to stream into a plant-filled brasserie which is fitted out with curved booths and long communal tables. If it's a sunny day, head outside to the rustic garden, where you'll find a plenitude of daybeds and picnic settings adjacent to the lawns.
As a Sydney institution, Sean's is nothing but itself — and the perfect place to while away the afternoon with Mum. There are no pretentions and no shortcuts at Sean's. The roses on the tables are from the garden. They have that long-forgotten scent. The waitstaff are the sort that do this because they want to, not because it's a job that will finance a ticket to somewhere else.
'Your mama' jokes aside, any maternal relation of yours would benefit from a healthy serving of Sadhana Kitchen this Mother's Day. This is the yummy kind of healthy. The menu is extensive — they offer breakfast, lunch, desserts, smoothies, coffee (with soy, almond or coconut milk) and hot tonics. They're also all for grandiosity, offering raw vegan high teas and seven-course degustation menus.
Post-dinner plans? Hit up Messina or go decadent at MasterChef's Reynold Poernomo two-storey, glass-walled dessert bar in the swish new Kensington Street precinct in Chippendale. Downstairs is a patisserie-style cafe with takeaway coffee and ready-made creations, while upstairs is a sleek contemporary dining room, with tufted leather booths and a black minimalistic aesthetic. His big bro Arnold, a former judge on Indonesian MasterChef, oversees the savoury fare while other brother Ronald does cocktails and Reynold does dessert. Why make a dinner of it and do a six-course degustation ($77), which consists of three savoury and three sweet dishes. Or just head straight for the chocolate sphere atop chocolate and almond soil. Splice it open and you'll find frothy chocolate mousse and — *gasp* — an oozing raspberry gel in its core (*round of applause*).
By the Concrete Playground team. Top image: Devon on Danks.