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. Signature homemade granola bowls 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 few local craft beers, local produce, baked goods, and cured meats and cheeses in The Potting Shed. If you've got the budget, The Grounds are hosting a Mother's Day Roast Lunch, with sparkling wine on arrival and a menu from executive chef Paul McGrath. If you can't make it on the day, the venue is running events all month in honour of ma, with high teas, installations and masterclasses.
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'vethe padd 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.
A temple to tequila and tacos, Bar Patron brings an air of sophistication to Sydney's sour cream-dolloped Mexican dining scene. It's vibe is Mexican country estate and the food is some of the best Mexican fare you'll find in the city. Prepared by Mexican-born head chef Pamela Valdes, the menu includes dishes such as beef empanadas, el pastor tacos and a tres leches cake (for the sweet-toothed mamas). If you want to go all out on this special day (she is worth it), buy your lovely lady a Millionaire's Margarita ($100) made with ultra premium tequila, cognac and finger lime pearls and is garnished with a 24-karat-gold leaf.
If smoky charcoal meats paired with a notable international wine list are some of your mum's favourite things, venture off the usual Darling Street drag in Rozelle. There you'll find The Provincial, a restaurant that's serving up South American food with a heavy French accent. This cross-cultural food baby comes from real influences; the two owners (who are also brothers) travelled to South America to learn the art of charcoaling before partnering with a French chef and sommelier to develop the menu. As a result, smoky meats cooked on a woodfire charcoal parilla make up the mains, but entrees fly the French flag, making their mark with a mix of more intricate flavours.
Want to treat your mum to a long Sunday lunch in a light greenhouse-like space? Having found that a large number of regulars at the original Bistro Moncur in Woollahra were from the lower north shore suburb, the restaurant group decided to give them the classics a little closer to home. Resembling a converted greenhouse, natural light pours into the restaurant from every angle, while cushioned bench seats and a mix of small marble and wooden tables make this bistro feel like a luxury indoor garden party. But while the setting is casually chic, the menu is sophisticated and quintessentially French — one that fully showcases the technical prowess of chef Guillaume Brahimi (who recently cooked for French president Emmanual Macron during his sojourn in Aus). On the special day, both locations will be hosting a three-course Mother's Day lunch, which comes complete with bubbles.
Want to take Mum to a buzzing Surry Hills space with contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine you can really unpack in your lunch chat? Nour's pastel-heavy, airy interior is enough to fool diners into thinking they'll get a 'play it by the rules' middle-of- the-road experience, but we're sorely mistaken. Executive chef Roy Ner's (formerly sous chef at Aria) lineup is bold and experimental in nature, sporting dishes prepared with a twist. Buzzword overload? If your mum is a super foodie, this is a strong choice. On Mother's Day, the restaurant is preparing a six-course menu — with a glass of sparkling wine or beer on arrival — for $99.
Has your mum been to Italy, hails from there, or just loves the place from right where she is? If the traffic from Barrenjoey Road wasn't just behind outside, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd just stepped through a wormhole and ended up on Italy's southern coast. Sotto Sopra has a sun-dappled shopfront that welcomes its diners into a frenzy of rich sensory stimuli — the smell of freshly baked bread wafting down the stairs from the kitchen, the vibrant profile of prosecco on the tongue, and the sounds of a whole bunch of Mediterranean chefs and waiters cracking jokes in their mother tongue while they work.
Want to treat your mum to a wholesome sitting of farm-to-table goodness? Head to Fred's. The 60-seater dining room is slick, cosy and properly grown-up. The setting emulates the warmth at the heart of a charming country homestead; oversized kitchen islands and freestanding Tuscan grills do away with a traditional restaurant set-up where a custom-made hearth emits a soft glow while head chef Danielle Alvarez's cooking army flits between pans and plates. Alvarez's food philosophy at Fred' is all about sustainable produce from the people who farm it served by an enthusiastic team passionate about elevating your dining experience. Afterwards, pop down into basement bar Charlie Parker's for a cocktail. If your mum is more of a morning person, the restaurant has just started serving pastries and coffee on Saturdays.
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, this stunning Bronte 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 spanner crab scramble ($26), the effortless slice of paradise will remind mum why she decided to raise you in Sydney all those years ago. If you're closer to the inner west, head to their Rosebery chapter.
Quite the family hub, Sydney's Camperdown Commons — which encompasses Pocket City Farms and adjoining restaurant, Acre Eatery — is a top spot for a big family lunch. The stunning transformation of the dilapidated Camperdown Bowling Club into a full-blown urban farm and restaurant has turned the neglected space into a site for fresh organic produce and a farm-to-table eating. Acre is a gorgeous 350-seater, with beautiful wooden tables and Hamptons-style white chairs and booths. The warm, bustling atmosphere is helped along by the incredibly professional and knowledgeable staff that also seem to have a personal stake in the restaurant's concept.
If there's one place where it's acceptable to eat food from a tin, it's here. And, don't worry, mum will definitely approve — this is a far cry from the tinned spaghetti of your childhood. Here, you'll be sippin' martinis and manhattans from tins, and eating house-canned marinated octopus and La Belle-Ilouise sardines. There's also a long lineup of cured and smoked meaty delights (un-canned) to pick from, too. If you (and ma) are looking for something heartier, however, skip the downstairs bar and head to the bistro upstairs, where you can enjoy the likes of grilled king prawns, steak tartare and roasted duck breast prepared by co-owner Elvis Abrahanowicz (also of Porteño and Bodega). And end your meal the appropriate way — with chocolate, coffee and mascarpone gelato in a can.
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 — and order a cocktail jug (the Belvedere and grapefruit spritz, perhaps) to share, today is a day of celebration.
Back eastside, our next 'recomumdation' is the harbourside dining experience of Rose Bay's Catalina. A waterside institution of more than 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 house-smoked salmon mousse and caperberries on grilled sourdough ($14).
As a Sydney institution, Sean's is nothing but itself — and the perfect place to while away the time with Mum. If you're there during the day (the restaurant is open from breakfast through to dinner), soak up the rays (and the stunning beach views) through the large windows and order a decadent brunch off the seasonally rotating menu (maybe scramble served on a croissant). At night, cosy up with a bottle of something Australian and funky and order whatever catches mum's eye — it'll all be good.
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. Run by hospitality powerhouse Merivale, 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. Food-wise, 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. If you'd prefer something a touch fancier, head inside to the just-opened 1930s-style bistro Bert's.
If you want to go all-out this Mother's Day, take your special lady to the new three-storey restaurant-cum-wine bar Barangaroo House. Start (or end) the meal with a martini on the top floor, Smoke — which is a super fancy cocktail bar with sprawling views across the harbour. Then, head down to the venue's signature restaurant Bea, where you'll be treated to a menu overseen by Matt Moran and carefully prepared by ex-Vue de Monde chef Cory Campbell. Mother's Day will certainly book out, so we recommend making a reservation tout de suite.
This new venue not only boasts a farm-to-table restaurant but a spa, on-site produce garden and soon-to-open café as well. And it's beautiful. The interior better resembles a domestic greenhouse with floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the garden in warmer weather, plus herbs, citrus trees and strawberry bushes aplenty. The all-day menu is focused on healthy eating and sustainability — the seasonal produce is primarily sourced from the restaurant's expansive garden and the restaurant's 65-acre farm south of Sydney in the Jamberoo Valley near Kiama. Pair mum's meal with a gin made in-house (or a elderflower-spiked spritz) and a facial or massage at the Botanica's Sol Spa, and you'll be in the good books for a very long time.