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By Concrete Playground
December 07, 2017

Sydney's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Honouring the best new additions to Sydney's restaurant scene this year.
By Concrete Playground
December 07, 2017


Honouring the best new additions to Sydney's restaurant scene this year.

It has been a tumultuous year for Sydney's hospitality scene. We've said farewell to some short-lived favourites — Bar Brosé, Eleven Bridge and The Antipodean to name a few — we've lamented the changes to the 457 visa and the hospitality sector's staff shortage and we continue to fight the lockout laws. But where there have been closures, innovative new ventures have risen from the ashes.

As we continue to attempt to define Australian cuisine, chefs continue to push the boundaries. We've seen (and tasted) black-pudding curry in a Thai restaurant located in a renovated tea building, eaten delicate Japanese fare served behind a police station and downed hash browns and kimchi toasties at a Korean cafe.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented vanguards pushing Sydney to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new restaurants — nominated in Concrete Playground's Best of 2017 Awards — are the Best New Restaurants of 2017.

  • 6

    Italian for pizza mother, Pizza Madre is about as close as we’re going to get to cozying up inside a pizza womb. The snug 35-seat eatery, is immediately inviting, radiating a pastel pink glow that spills out onto the corner of Marrickville’s busy Victoria Road.

    Pizza Madre is brought to you by the culinary legends behind cafe and pasta mecca, Two Chaps, and is similarly characterised by effortless simplicity — a handful of dishes done to perfection. Sourced by produce king Shane Roberts, the vegetarian ingredients are seasonal and exceptionally fresh. The drinks menu is short and sweet — a well selection of small-batch wines, beers by the (very) local brewery Grifter, and an all-Australian Negroni. The food menu is equally as concise. Each week, there are five or six pizzas on offer, which are shuffled, altered and revised based on the availability of local produce.

  • 5

    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. If the traffic from Military 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.

    Rather than trying to break the mould, Sotto Sopra seems to be trying to reinforce the idea that, when it comes to traditional Italian cooking, the mould was pretty damn good to start with.

  • 4

    Moon Park is back by popular demand. The team behind the popular Redfern eatery has a new all-day diner that will both intrigue and delight. Nestled just below street level, where Bourke Street Bakery once stood, Paper Bird has wall-to-wall aqua and lashes of copper giving it a sophisticated yet retro feel.

    And the kicker? The restaurant’s versatility. You can satisfy your intrigue with a snack of Chongqing popcorn and an OB Korean beer at the bar, pop in for congee at breakfast or prawn toast at lunch, or sit at a table at the back with a bottle of wine and sample the whole menu.

  • 3

    Few restaurant openings in Sydney have had as much hype surrounding them as The Lucas Group’s new Sydney outpost of its Melbourne mainstay Chin Chin. Owner Chris Lucas is considered such a master of industry spin, marketing and branding that his concepts are almost always elevated into cult territory.

    The food model is undoubtedly a smart one. Supported by a huge production kitchen downstairs, the well-oiled ‘show kitchen’ pumps out snappy Asian dishes at lightning speed. The Griffiths Tea Building that the restaurant sits in has great bones and lots of natural light, booth seating and pale timber tones with splashes of Chin Chin’s signature neon.

    The adjoining bar GoGo — where you’ll probably have to kill time while you wait for a table — is a contrast to the restaurant with more mood and black velvet booths. The Asian-style cocktail offering and approachable wine list mean that, when you do get a seat, you can have a fun, boozy time without blowing hundreds of dollars. And if this is what you’re going in for — and you don’t mind having to yell at the person sitting next to you or potentially overdosing on chilli — you’ll leave satisfied.

  • 2

    In the proper vein of Diagon Alley, Mjølner is the kind of place you would never stumble upon. The discrete entrance, set on a quiet stretch of Cleveland Street, is easy to miss, but later you’ll wonder how you could possibly have missed it. Like a mirage, the oversized old-world wooden door suddenly appears and opens down into a deep labyrinth of underground, cave-like rooms.

    Named for Thor’s hammer, the self-described ‘Viking luxe’ space is part-drinking den, part-fine dining restaurant. It may sound gimmicky, but it works — rather than going too hard on the schtick, Mjølner uses the Viking theme as tasteful inspiration.

    The leather-bound cocktail menu is extensive and a little overwhelming, but, to help, the concoctions are ordered from lightest to booziest. But drinking is by no means the only reason to visit, with the open kitchen turning out a seriously impressive food menu. As expected, the menu is focused around meat, with bone marrow ($20) and spiced pig’s head terrine ($18) making appearances.

  • 1

    A tiny, unassuming space in Sydney’s CBD, Sasaki champions home cooking and the nostalgia of parent-made comfort food. Owner and head chef, Yu Sasaki (Cre Asion) pays homage to his hometown of Shimane with his new laneway restaurant, with dishes reflecting his fragmented memories of the Japanese countryside.

    The pint-sized, minimalist restaurant boasts a daily changing menu using the freshest Australian produce. The menu is completely driven by season and Sasaki only uses ingredients that have been harvested by his local suppliers and farmers, with whom he maintains a close personal relationship. Each dish is inspired by his mother’s home cooking — think simple dishes like whole prawn ceviche, red miso soup and thinly sliced whiting sashimi.

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