Sydney's Best Degustations Under $100
Sample a large chunk of the menu without breaking the bank.
There's nothing like going all out on an extravagant feast. But when time comes to celebrate with a group of different budgets, or doing something special but not too splashy, you need some great, yet affordable options in your dining arsenal. Just because your payslip may not scream 'dinner at Quay', doesn't mean you can't enjoy a decadent degustation in Sydney. And there are plenty of next-level food experiences that may surprise you (and your wallet).
In fact, several restaurants around our fine city offer tasting menus for less than $100, with many under $70. So we've looked to some of our favourite eateries to gift you this handy guide to the more affordable degustations in Sydney. We know they're not the cheapest dinners in the city, but when it comes to value for money in fine dining, these are top of the crop.
HO JIAK, HAYMARKET
Hailing from Strathfield, this Penang-style restaurant recently opened its second branch in Haymarket — and it serves up some of the best laksa in town. It also offers a bang-for-your-buck, ten-dish tasting menu that is hard to pass up ($65). Expect plates of elevated Malaysian fare, including nasi lemak, satay chicken, rendang wagyu and Nyonya-style assam fish. Vegetarians can also eat happily here, with the $55 tasting menu including the likes of eggplant and long beans cooked in coconut, sam wong dan (three types of egg) and pai tee (crisp pastry shells filled with spiced, shredded turnip). Sure, you could just order from the extensive a la carte menu, but this feast is worthy when you want a finer night out.
Cost: Tasting menu $65, vegetarian tasting menu $55
If you've ever had a coffee at Cuckoo Callay, a Middle Eastern brunch at Nour or a charcoal chicken feast at Henrietta, you'll find Lilymu familiar. There's pink neon on the walls, hibiscus in the cocktails and friendly staff on the floor. But, it's also markedly different to any of Ibby Moubadder and Jorge Farah's other restaurants. To start: it's not not on Crown Street. In fact, it's on the other side of the city, in the new Parramatta Square. And it's not Middle Eastern. This time, the duo has, with the help of ex-Mr Wong chef Brendan Wong, journeyed east and is serving up contemporary takes on Chinese and Southeast Asian dishes. For a special occasion here, we suggest you order the ten-dish set menu ($88). It comes with all of the restaurant's signature dishes, including the tom yum prawn dumplings, shredded chicken and banana blossom salad, lamb massaman with kipfler potatoes and the Thai milk tea tres leches cake. The only catch is that you need a minimum of four people to order the set menu, so round up your mates.
Cost: Set menu $88
POLY, SURRY HILLS
Helmed by Ester's Mat Lindsay, Surry Hills' Poly has all you need to celebrate a special occasion — without dipping too far into your savings. It's unpretentious, fire is the hero of the kitchen and its wine list is impressive. And it has a nine-course set menu for a reasonable $75. The menu changes regularly, but at the moment, you'll get to start with Lindsay's famed potato bread, eat your way through tuna tartare and fried potato with salted egg yolk, then feast on koji-marinated flak steak, cauliflower with labneh and end with a sticky date doughnut and marscapone panna cotta. If all of that doesn't sound like enough, you can also add on a cheese plate for $15 and still stay under budget.
Cost: Set menu $75
TWO CHAPS, MARRICKVILLE
Two Chaps is the gold star winner on this list. Not only does its degustation ($60) take you through the entire night menu, but it's also BYO (for $10 a bottle). Brush off that nice bottle of wine gathering dust in the back of your closet because this is the occasion you've been saving it for. The seasonal feast changes monthly and consists of homemade pastas, local Australian cheeses, house-baked focaccia and fresh salads, plus gelato made from scratch. At the moment, the lineup includes raclette with fennel remoulade, buffalo ricotta ravioli and saffron campanelle with sweet corn cream. You'll experience something new and completely delicious every time you go — which, believe us, you'll hope will be often. Dinner is only available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Cost: Set night menu $60
CHACO BAR, POTTS POINT
Chaco Bar Owner Keita Abe had been hoping to focus more on both his ramen and yakitori offerings — so chose to split the concepts altogether. Abe transformed the OG Darlinghurst shop into a ramen-only venue and snatched up the old Jimmy Liks space on Victoria Street, transforming it into a dedicated yakitori joint. At the latter, you'll find a seven-course tasting menu for $85. It features a heap of izakaya classics, including crab chawanmushi (a savoury egg custard), sashimi, a selection of yakitori and somen noodles, as well as white chocolate mousse with macadamia for dessert. If you'd to pair your celebratory eats with some celebratory drinks, the bar is pouring a lineup of premium sakes and inventive cocktails.
Cost: Tasting menu $85
There's a lot to love about Merivale's Bondi Italian eatery. Set inside The Royal Bondi, Totti's kitchen is home to chefs Mike Eggert (Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco, Pinbone) and Khan Danis (who worked at Rockpool alongside Neil Perry for 20 years). And, trust us, you'll want to taste their set menu. The four-course meal starts with bread and antipasti, including burrata, olives, 'nduja and prosciutto. Then choose two pastas to tuck into, with the likes of lamb ragu pappardelle and milk-braised pork and chilli fazzoletti on the current menu. For mains, there's a whole-roasted fish and a veal rump schnitzel, served with veggie sides. And, because no meal is complete without dessert, you'll get both tiramisu and neapolitan ice cream sandwich brought to the table, too.
Cost: Share menu $70
THE APOLLO, POTTS POINT
Long-standing Potts Point favourite The Apollo is serving up a modern approach to Greek food. The taverna serves up a Hellenic menu, The Full Greek ($65), featuring zesty, tangy favourites like taramasalata, saganaki cheese and oven-baked lamb shoulder with lemon yoghurt. For dessert, there's filo pastry stuffed with walnuts and topped with coffee cream. The only thing missing from this Greek experience is some ouzo, which you can easily add for an additional fiver.
Cost: The Full Greek $65, with ouzo add $5
CHIN CHIN, SURRY HILLS
The Chin Chin dining model — which is clearly a success judging by the queue of people snaking out of both the Sydney and Melbourne restaurants — is one that's highly influential in today's restaurant scene. And it's undoubtedly a smart one. Supported by a huge production kitchen downstairs, the well-oiled 'show kitchen' pumps out snappy Asian dishes at lightning speed. Order the Chef's Banquet for $88 you'll feast on a selection of dishes until you're full-up. Think grilled prawns with hot sauce, crispy duck pancakes and steamed fish with coconut laksa. Plus, stir fried vegetables and a Vietnamese iced coffee panna cotta for dessert.
Cost: Chef's Banquet $88
Top image: Totti's by Nikki To
Published on March 08, 2021 by Concrete Playground