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Eight Waterfront Spots in Sydney That'll Make You Feel Like You're in European Summer

From a waterfront institution in the east known for its Aperol spritzes to a brand-new beachfront eatery in The Shire.
By Sangeeta Kocharekar
November 25, 2020
By Sangeeta Kocharekar
November 25, 2020


From a waterfront institution in the east known for its Aperol spritzes to a brand-new beachfront eatery in The Shire.

With temperatures rising and COVID-19 restrictions lifting, not to mention many of us still dreaming of our cancelled Euro summer, it's an ideal time to chat waterfront dining. Because after nearly half a year of closures and strict rules, venues in Sydney are finally, finally looking and feeling — dare we say it in case we jinx it — somewhat like normal. And what better way (in part) to make up for that missed holiday in the Med, and support an industry among the hardest hit this year, than with a visit to one of those venues for a waterside long lunch or candle-lit dinner? Fortunately, seeing as Sydney is surrounded by sea and harbour, we're spoilt for choice. From a waterfront institution in the east known for its Aperol spritzes to a brand-new beachfront eatery in The Shire, here are eight waterfront eateries in Sydney we feel best nail that quintessential European flair.

  • 8
    Bathers' Pavilion

    A commanding white art deco building set on The Esplanade at greeny-blue Middle Harbour, long-standing Bathers’ Pavilion in Balmoral will have you convinced you’re in Nice, France. Head to its all-day Bistro for seafood, pizza or pasta served with a side of sea view from its floor-to-ceiling windows. Or, for more of an occasion (or simply a sunny Sunday), slip up to its first floor to the Louis Terrace, part of the Betel Leaf dining area, for champagne paired with poached prawns or chilli and lime oysters. Keen for just a snack? Grab an ice-pop or takeaway fish and chips from the Kiosk and enjoy them on the nearby grass.

    Image: Nikki To

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  • 7

    At Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, blue and white striped umbrellas dotting a sprawling two-level deck, and a sparkling sea just beyond set the scene; chilled-out DJ beats (on weekends) punctuated by the clinking of icy carafes and excited chatter, the soundtrack. Spend an afternoon here indulging in fresh seafood and contemporary Australian fare — think prawn and zucchini tagliatelle and seafood fish pie — as you watch glamorous clientele come and go from surrounding tables, and, further afield, a steady stream of ferries. Stay on for sunset and you’ll be treated to a spectacular show of the sun slinking behind the CBD skyline, summoning with it a swirling display of pastels.

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  • 6

    It’s a choose-your-own-adventure situation at Matt Moran’s Barangaroo House. On the first floor is House Bar, where you can sip spritzes, sparkling or craft beers as you tuck into a chicken burger, blistered cherry tomatoes or crispy calamari. For something more substantial, make your way to the middle floor to Bea to feast on seasonal, mostly woodfired fare, the likes of scotch fillet, grilled globe artichoke or even a whole roast duck, if you’re in a pair. And finally, at the top, is cocktail lounge Smoke Bar. Though the bar is based on the rooftop bars of New York and LA, with its elegant charm, you’d be right to think you were sky-high in London or Paris.

    Image: Cole Bennetts

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  • 5
    Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

    Perched above the crashing waves at the world’s most famous ocean pool and with views of Bondi so jaw-dropping even locals can’t help but still snap them, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar is worth visiting for its setting alone. Its dining concept, dreamt up by Melbourne and Sydney hospitality veteran Maurice Terzini, is just icing on the cake. But what a concept it is. Here, every detail is deliberate — from the attire of the staff (specially-made designer wear) to the colour scheme: white and teal. Food here is light and fresh — antipasti and seafood — though it’s got pastas and meats, too.

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  • 4

    The fact Ormeggio at The Spit in Mosman’s D’Albora Marina has a ten-metre-long marble cocktail and gelato bar (staples at restaurants in southern Italy) should give you some idea of its authenticity. Everything here is legit, from the stucco walls and aforementioned bar to the menu: meat-free as of June this year (southern Italians don’t eat much meat), featuring instead seafood caught by fisherman who sell it right at the wharf, as well as focaccia made in-house and taking no less than 22 hours. Finish with one of six flavours of gelato, each inspired by a different Italian dessert.

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  • 3

    Housed in a heritage-listed building constructed in the 1930s, complete with bold archways and red stucco roof tiles, The Bistro at Manly Pavilion screams Sicily (or any other Mediterranean island, to be fair). In fact, its Exec Chef Alessio Rago was born in a small village outside of Florence, a history reflected in his menu, which emphasises starters. A selection of them alone — don’t go past the arancini, bucket of fresh prawns and burrata — would work for a light lunch. Mains like pumpkin and goats cheese ravioli, pork belly with chickpea puree and snapper satisfy for dinner.

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  • 2
    The Pines Cronulla

    Though technically taking its inspiration from The Hamptons, The Pines Cronulla, with its chic, neutral palette, pops of greenery and meat-heavy menu (though it’s got a vegan one, too) would fit right in in the south of France. The beachfront eatery, which opened November this year, has James Metcalfe as its exec chef and former Rockpool and Merivale sommelier Chris Hoy heading its beverage. The menu is extensive and features everything from four-week dry-aged steaks and koji cured flank to smoked ham and pineapple pizza. For a real treat, order the seafood bouillabaisse, which feeds two and comes with a whole baguette.

    Images: Rachel Kara

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  • 1

    A round-up on seaside dining in Sydney wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Catalina in Rose Bay. The family-owned, fine dining restaurant is an institution in the eastern suburbs, with past diners including Nicole Kidman, Beyoncé and, most recently, Zac Efron and his new Byron bae. Pop by for an afternoon of Aperols or cocktails on its terrace. Or, for a more formal affair, book in for a white tablecloth lunch or dinner in its airy, sun-drenched dining room. Spanish, French and Italian feature on the menu; sommelier-picked, always-changing drops on the wine list.

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Top image: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

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