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Where to Get a High-Flying Feed in Sydney Without Dipping Into Your Savings

From world-class bar snacks to chic lunch specials — these fine fancy eats won't cost a bomb.
By John Agnew
October 28, 2021
By John Agnew
October 28, 2021


in partnership with

From world-class bar snacks to chic lunch specials — these fine fancy eats won't cost a bomb.

If you've ever felt the room spin after being handed an eye-watering restaurant bill, you'll know that the fine-dining experience doesn't come cheap. That said, we know little else beats an indulgent, high-flying feed, especially when celebrating a special occasion. Even if it means you have to manage your finances accordingly until next payday. Until now, that is.

In partnership with Great Southern Bank, we've uncovered some dining hacks that let you eat at Sydney's top spots without forking out a fortune. And, if you're someone who tempts financial fate after a few glasses of wine, then Great Southern Bank's hidden savings account feature, The Vault, will help curb that temptation, so you don't dip into the funds that may just buy you a house one day. Result.

  • 9

    A close second to jumping on a flight to Paris and hitting every bistro in your nearest arrondissement: descending the CBD staircase into Hubert and indulging in contemporary French fare long into the night (praise be, it closes at 1am). While many spots in Sydney are hinged on their views of the natural landscape, it’s Hubert’s lack of view that’s part of the charm — it’s like you’ve been transported into a cosmopolitan world of warmth, wine, rich flavours and titillating conversation. If you’re more budget than bougie, Hubert has a magnifique happy hour between 4–6pm serving up $12 negronis and $6 glasses of wine. There are also delectable bar treats to soak up the booze, including $13 burgers and $8 duck parfait.

    Image: Cole Bennetts 

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  • 8

    Chef Josh Niland has well and truly changed the game of seafood by fusing food worlds together that we never thought possible — think a yellowfin tuna meatball sub or a blue-eye trevalla sausage roll. If you’re after a fancy seafood feast (and aren’t worried about your wallet), you can fork out for a degustation at his Paddington fine diner Saint Peter. But, really, you’re here for the hacks, which is where the Fish Butchery, located a few doors down, comes in. Whether you wish to flex your seafood artistry at home or want to pick up next-level fish and chips for dinner, this groundbreaking shop is a welcome alternative. We’re talking $24 for wild-caught kingfish and chips, and a $18 buttermilk fried pink ling sandwich versus the restaurant’s jaw-dropping $175 set menu. Bargain. You can also pick up similar seafood dishes at Niland’s brand-new takeaway fish and chip shop in Rose Bay. So, there’s no need to pay a small fortune for meal by one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs.

    Image: Josh Niland

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  • 7

    A mainstay on Australia’s fine-dining scene (no surprise, it’s a Matt Moran joint), Aria crafts contemporary dishes from high-quality local produce and serves them up to a magnetic view of Sydney Harbour. Because it’s on the footsteps of the Opera House, Aria is also home to a two-course pre-theatre set menu, available from 5.30–7pm for only $90 per person. Here, you can feast on dishes such as kangaroo with bitter leaf, palm heart and macadamia or roasted cauliflower with mushroom butter and miso, all before the pre-show bell chimes for you to take your seats. It’s available again from 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays if you’d prefer to enjoy your meal while debriefing post show.

    Image: Cole Bennetts

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  • 6

    In late 2020, Maurice Terzini brought a slice of Bondi to Parramatta, opening a second Ciccia Bella in the lauded Parramatta Square dining precinct — and it’s fast become the local spot for high-end Italian fare at an affordable price. Speaking of, Ciccia Bella features two options for the savers among us. The first is Pranzo Veloce, an express lunch menu available from 12–3pm on weekdays that gives you a main and a side for $25. Plus, for an extra tenner, you’ll get a glass of house wine or beer to wash it down. And for the long lunchers, there’s Pranzo Eterno, a three-course feast featuring two hours of bottomless beer and wine, all for $99 a head.

    Image: Nikki To

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  • 5

    It’s a tall order to stand out when you’re housed in one of the world’s most recognised architectural marvels — and yet Bennelong continues to rise above the pack as the premier restaurant for contemporary fine dining in Sydney. Set inside Sydney Opera House and overseen by Australian restaurant veteran Peter Gilmore and head chef Rob Cockerill, every element of the dining experience here is refreshing, refined and highly considered. For the budget-conscious, Bennelong’s bar menu is for you. You’ll get to sample some tasty snacks — like Sydney rock oysters with lemon pepper granita and zucchini and goat’s curd arancini — while soaking up the excellent atmosphere (and views) without spending the big bucks.

    Image: Brett Stevens

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  • 4

    The inner west’s perennial from-scratch cafe and bakery, Two Chaps has been banging out some of Sydney’s most memorable eats for a while now. These days, it’s built up a strong local reputation for its pasta nights, featuring an insanely cheap set menu. For $60 per person, you’ll feast on dishes that’ll tease your tastebuds and warm your cockles in equal measure, like blue ravioli, crispy brussel sprouts and passionfruit semifreddo. Oh, and it’s BYO, too, so you finally have an excuse to crack open that bottle you’ve been saving.

    Image: Alana Dimou

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  • 3

    If it’s outer-city tranquility that you seek, venture over to the dazzling waters surrounding The Spit to Ormeggio. It’s the legendary Italian seafood spot where water views are everywhere you look and calm is easy to find — along with contemporary Italian flavours. On the day of rest, Ormeggio hosts what it calls Stressless Sundays, where you can enjoy an early dinner set to the chilled-out tunes of a local DJ. There’s a minimum spend of $100 per person, but it’s about as close as you’ll get to a Mediterranean summer in 2021, so we say it’s worth it.

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  • 2

    Though Chin Chin has been serving up contemporary Southeast Asian flavours for years, every sitting at its Surry Hills outpost feels wholly fresh, fun and new. Chin Chin’s a la carte is absolutely worth a run, and its dumplings are some of the best you’ll taste around town. Fortunately, the dumplings also happen to be the centrepiece of the Yum Cha Weekends menu ($55 per person). Here, you can sample the dumpling range — including chicken and corn siu mai and prawn har gow — alongside steamed buns, house fried rice and more.

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  • 1

    A flavour sensation and favourite haunt of many Sydney food icons (including Kylie Kwong), Lankan Filling Station is Sydney’s best contemporary Sri Lankan food offering. With sustainability at its core, the team here sources honest ingredients that are true to Sri Lankan culture, like smoky-sweet Kimbula kithul syrup or the delicious local tipple, Ceylon arrack. On the last Sunday of each month, Lankan Filling Station serves up authentic Sri Lankan spicy crab curry as the main dish in a sumptuous set menu that will only set you back $80 per person.

    Image: Parker Blain

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Great Southern Bank is empowering Aussies to get clever with their banking. Whether you want to stick to your savings goals with The Boost or hide your house deposit fund from yourself with The Vault, Great Southern Bank helps you get there. For more information on savings tools and home loan options, head to the Great Southern Bank website.

Top image: Aria, Cole Bennetts

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