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Six Sydney Restaurants Adding New Life to a Historic CBD Site

Following an extensive makeover, 25 Martin Place is now home to a number of excellent places to eat and drink.
By Nik Addams
August 15, 2022
By Nik Addams
August 15, 2022


in partnership with

Following an extensive makeover, 25 Martin Place is now home to a number of excellent places to eat and drink.

In a city as culturally and geographically rich as Sydney, the word 'iconic' is bandied about quite a bit. While it's often an exaggeration, there's no denying the impact the precinct at 25 Martin Place has had on the city's skyline.

The precinct — formerly known as the MLC Centre — has been an instantly recognisable icon of Sydney's built landscape for over 40 years. A gift to the harbourside locale by legendary architect Harry Seidler, the building was the tallest skyscraper in the southern hemisphere when it opened in 1978, and became the benchmark for visionary design throughout Australia as it drove the Sydney skyline into the future.

More recently, the landmark structure has undergone an extensive renovation and revamp that will position it as a new CBD hub for fashion, dining, business and culture. It's also been renamed 25 Martin Place, celebrating its location in the heart of the city.

We've teamed up with 25 Martin Place to take a closer look at the new dining and drinking venues bringing fresh life to this Sydney icon.

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    A staple of New Zealand’s hospitality scene for more than a decade, Botswana Butchery has brought its expansive menus and luxe style to Sydney with the opening of its first Australian restaurant. In Martin Place’s new dining precinct, the staggering multi-storey venue can house 940 guests — including 350 on its openair city rooftop.

    Botswana Butchery’s menu is all about presenting Australian and New Zealand meat, seafood and wine in the best possible way. Depending on when you head to the restaurant, you’ll be presented with a menu spanning several pages of entrees and mains before you even get to the main attraction: the Butcher’s Block, a selection of exclusive cuts of meat from some of the country’s best producers. If that seems a bit intimidating, there’s plenty of more approachable options on offer, too. And if decisions aren’t your strong suit, there’s a decadent banquet menu on offer for groups of over eight.

    If you’re looking to recline with a view, the rooftop offers an array of snacks, nibbles and charcuterie, perfect for a catch up with friends.

    Image: Anna Kucera

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    Aalia, the new flagship restaurant from Esca — the hospitality group in charge of Nour, Lilymu, Henrietta and Cuckoo Callay — is a 150-seat restaurant leading diners on a journey through the history of Middle Eastern food.

    There’s a wide array of raw and mezze options — think oysters, king salmon, potato and lentil tart, king prawn skewers and hand-stretched haloumi — for those looking to create an abundant table of shared dishes (or ease into the meal before turning to the impressive selections of seafood and meat).

    On the larger side, expect the likes of Murray cod masgouf, almond-crusted John dory and mb5+ dry-aged wagyu rib. There’s also Persian caviar service on offer, served with malawach, shallots, labneh and a sprinkling of chives, while a decadent Valrhona chocolate kataifi is the highlight of the desserts. Start your sipping off easy with a peach vermouth and hopped grapefruit spritz, or opt for something a bit more stiff like the tobacco old fashioned made with raw cacao bourbon, date molasses and orange tobacco.

    Image: Christopher Pearce

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  • 4

    Kazan invites diners to experience the art and theatre of Japanese cuisine. It’s an appropriate theme, with the restaurant sitting within the unique circular space above the Theatre Royal Sydney (making it a perfect spot for a pre-show meal). The space itself is inspired by a classic Japanese noh stage, a performance space dedicated to the form of classical Japanese dance-drama of the same name. On this type of stage, there is no curtain separating performer and audience — an element reflected in Kazan’s open-plan space, which features minimal barriers between chefs and diners. Though, both the main dining room and 10-seat private dining room feature seamless intermingling of old and new.

    The contemporary feel extends to Kazan’s menu, which focuses on a tight selection of sushi, robatayaki and share plates, as well as a considered dessert selection. There are also subtly incorporated nods to Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) cuisine in signature dishes like confit duck breast with mustard soy, light orange essence and sansho pepper; Saikyoyaki Glacier 51 Patagonian toothfish with corn purée and umeshu kumato tomato; and robata-grilled lamb cutlets with aji amarillo and cucumber yoghurt. It’s all overseen by head chef Shinya Nakano, an alum of Melbourne fine diners Kisume and Nobu.

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  • 3

    East meets west at the Sydney outpost of New Zealand fave White + Wong’s. This colourful 25 Martin Place spot doesn’t stray too far from the formula that made it such a success in its three locations across the ditch, with an eclectic menu that draws influences from classic street food from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.

    On the menu, you’ll find signatures like Fijian-style kingfish sashimi, masterstock fried pork hock with tamarind and chilli caramel, crispy soft-shell crab with Sichuan pepper, Korean fried chicken bao, massaman lamb shoulder curry and deep-fried ice cream with butterscotch sauce. A number of banquet menus are available for groups of four or above, while the popular Feed Me menu is a great way for tables of two or more to sample the menu for $65.

    Drinks at White + Wong’s are taken just as seriously as the food. Sardine Bar, a breezy openair bar nestled just behind the dining room, boasts a considered wine program which includes French and local sparkling, as well as an excellent selection of whites, reds, rosés and booze-free options. There’s also a pan-Asian inspired cocktail menu, as well as the option to enjoy a custom-made cocktail tailored to your preference. Feeling peckish? You can pair your drink with a selection of dishes from White + Wong’s here, too.

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  • 2

    While al fresco watering holes might be a dime a dozen in Sydney’s CBD, you’d be hard-pressed to find a space as impressive as Cabana Bar. The expansive bar and restaurant is bringing big resort energy to the city thanks to its laidback beach-club vibes and openair terrace, which stretches over 100 metres and is framed with festoon lighting and lush greenery. Ocean blue banquettes, wicker furniture and white-washed walls complete the look.

    The cocktail menu leans in to the resort energy too — the signature piña colada is a standout, while there are five margarita varieties and two 600ml fishbowls on offer. The wine list is heavy on Australian makers, with most also available by the glass.

    And the food is certainly no afterthought. The menu, designed by executive chef Brad Sloane, reads like an intersection of resort-style plates and classic pub fare. Highlights include tequila-cured salmon and blue corn tostadas with avocado crema, prawns in a toasted milk roll with garlic butter and spicy marie rose, and zucchini blossom spaghetti. From Thursday to Sunday, there’s also a late-night menu available — a no-brainer for a post-show bite if you’re coming from the nearby Theatre Royal Sydney.

    Image: Wasa Media

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    The classic Italian tradition of aperitivo is more than just a pre-meal drink to warm up the appetite — it’s a whole vibe. And that laidback energy is evident all day at L’uva. The Roman-inspired spot — featuring cosy leather banquettes and an understated colour palette — is ideal for a relaxed catch-up in the heart of the CBD.

    Take it all in with a selection from the excellent wine list, which showcases boutique vineyards from Australia and Italy, as well as a handful from France — there’s a handy selection available by the glass and carafe, too. Also on offer is a tight list of classic and signature cocktails expertly designed with aperitivo hour in mind.

    The one-page food menu features a considered range of share plates that’ll tempt you to hang around for a bit. Highlights include a pillowy ‘nduja gnocchi with cime di rapa, housemade focaccia with a zingy caponata dip and a signature Sardinian fregola with slow-braised octopus.

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For more ways to experience 25 Martin Place, head to the website.

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