Dining at a best-hatted restaurant is guaranteed to offer you an experience like no other. The equivalent of a Michelin star in the Australian context, a hat is awarded in recognition of a restaurant’s exceptional culinary skills. The owners and chefs of each restaurant have undoubtedly worked hard and put in immense effort into building the restaurant into one of the highest quality.
Each dish embodies a beautiful work of art, and it is never too late to try out one of these 10 restaurants. Although some of these restaurants may possess fewer hats than others, the quality and taste of the food within each restaurant is bound to impress.
1. The Bridge Room
In 2015, the Bridge Room was awarded with two hats in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. However, the new 2016 issue has awarded The Bridge Room with a three-hat status, amongst the top three restaurants – Quay, Rockpool, and Sepia. The presentation and plating of each dish is exceptional and will make you want to whip out your phones or cameras to capture its beauty. The Moreton bay bugs ($36) entrée contains a burst of flavour as it is roasted in butter, green mango, young coconut, and many other spices.
Ash grilled duck ($46) accompanied with cherries and caramelised pear will leave your tastebuds and tummy satisfied. The texture of the slow cooked then grilled slices of immaculately sliced breast blends perfectly with the sauces used to cook the meat. If you are looking for a meatless dish, The Bridge Room not only offers vegetarian dishes, but also provides a vegetarian menu with a whole range of different options you can choose from.
Number of Chef Hats: 3
Address: 44 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 3pm & 6:30pm to 10pm | Closed on Sundays
2. Rockpool Est. 1989
Rockpool is the embodiment of fine modern Australian cuisine, and has been in the restaurant scene in Sydney for more than 25 years. The Rockpool group sources their ingredients from the world’s best suppliers that provide the finest produce, and it is no surprise that it has been awarded three-hats. The Rockpool has some great deals at hand, offering a three-course lunch menu for only $79. The lunch menu is generally more extensive for the dinner menu, so you will be spoilt for choice. The chriashi zushi is a dish of Chinese and Japanese influence, consisting of prawn, squid, tuna, and Spanish mackerel. It is basically a a very aesthetically pleasing plate of deconstructed sushi. The colours of the ingredients are vibrant, and the taste is exceptional.
The dessert menu at Rockpool is limited but impressive nonetheless, with each plate consisting of a perfectly assembled work of art. The Vacherin of pandan custard ($25) with coconut parfait, jasmine sorbet, and lime granita is a must try, and each ingredient used compliments the other, making it a perfect mix of sweet and a tinge of sour.
Number of Chef Hats: 3
Address: 11 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening hours: Mon to Fri 12pm to 2:15pm & 6pm to 9:30pm | Sat 6pm to 9:30pm | Closed on Sundays
Renowned as a popular three-hated restaurant in Sydney, Sepia has also made itself known on a global scale as it was named as the 84th best restaurant in the world. Sepia is always incorporating innovative ideas into their dishes, and is clearly evident in their ever-changing menu. Chef Martin Benn has had years of experience in the fine dining industry, so you can expect his dishes to be of high standards. The tuna with katsuobushi is delicate and you can certainly taste the freshness of the seafood.
You should definitely save room for dessert. The prices vary for each dish, with the desserts ranging from $17-$20. The Winter Chocolate Forest dessert is constructed and plated to look exactly like an edible forest floor. It consists of intricate details in its plating, with lavender and chocolate cream as the base of the dessert, and where the finest ingredients of aniseed praline, almond brittle, chocolate twigs, green tea, and blackberry sorbet are used.
Sepia impresses even the harshest food critics, so it is guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the ambience of the restaurant, taste and quality of the food, service of the staff, and most importantly, the ultimate three-hatted restaurant dining experience.
Number of Chef Hats: 3
Address: 201 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening hours: Tues to Thurs 6pm to 9pm | Fri to Sat 12pm to 11:30pm | Closed on Mondays and Sundays
4. Ormeggio at The Spit
Awarded a two-hatted status, this waterfront contemporary Italian restaurant located in the heart of Mosman. Ormeggio offers postcard views of the waters, as well as an unforgettable dining experience. Their menu varies depending on the day and time of day you visit. However, the Oremggio Cheese Box is always on the menu, and is definitely worth trying if you are feeling cheesy! The box comes with a selection of cheeses and condiments and is $60 per serving for 2 people.
The Paprika Tagliolini is accompanied by red capsicums, crab, and macadamia, and is certainly plated to perfection. This egg pasta is made fresh in the kitchen, and is served slightly al dente. Its light and creamy texture, produced by a mild but flavourful dressing, makes this dish popular amongst visitors.
On the sweet side, the chocolate, hazelnut, and marsala dessert has a creamy texture but its not too rich as the flavours are balanced. The portion size is relatively generous for a dessert dish, and the plating is exceptional as usual.
Number of Chef Hats: 2
Address: D’Albora Marinas, Spit Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
Opening hours: Tues 6pm to 11pm | Sat 12pm to 3pm & 5:30pm to 11pm | Wed to Sun 12pm to 3pm & 6pm to 11pm
Tetsuya’s is one of the most popular two-hatted restaurants in Sydney, and to dine there on Friday nights calls for making a booking a few months beforehand. The restaurant offers Japanese-French cuisine, along with a Japanese garden like environment and charming décor. Tetsuya offers a 10-course degustation menu at the cost of $230, so it is guaranteed that you will receive a fine dining experience like no other. Each dish is unique, creative, and incorporates an abundant amount of natural seasonal flavours.
Tetsuya’ signature dish is the Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout, accompanied by a salad consisting of celery, witlof, apple and unpasteurised ocean trout roe. Its freshness is exemplified by its vibrant colour, and lives up to all its expectations. There are several other meat dishes that will be served, such as the Ranger’s valley beef cheeks with roasted celeriac and picked Jerusalem artichokes. The wait between the meat dishes take up to 45mins before the desserts arrive.
Tetsuya’s oysters are not included in the 10-course meal and incur additional costs if you decide to order them. However, these oysters have the ability to enhance your dining experience, and are regarded as one of the most memorable oysters famous chef Gordon Ramsay has ever eaten. The oysters are drenched in soy sauce, ginger, and Tetsuya’s famous Vinaigrette, adding a zing of flavour. You will be missing out if you don’t give them a go!
Number of Chef Hats:
2Address: 529 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening hours: Tue to Fri 5:30pm to 12am | Sat 10am to 12am | Closed on Monday and Sundays
6. Icebergs Dining Room & Bar
Located in the heart of the iconic Bondi Beach, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar is home to one of the loveliest views in Sydney. Chef Monty Koludrovic brings the foods to this two-hatted Bondi restaurant, and even the bar food has the qualities of fine dining.
The Bistecca con Cipolle Farcite e Carota ($46) is certainly a mouthful to say, but this 500-day grain fed flat iron steak is bound to impress. It is stuffed with onions, and accompanied by a braised wagyu, carrots, and black olive. The detail of the dish is impressive, and its beautiful colours showcase the chef’s creativity.
The plating of the salmon is one of a kind, and screams for you to take a picture of it!
As for dessert, the next dish will entice your tastebuds and leave you craving to try it. The Mousse al Cioccolato e Olio d’Oliva Zokoko ($22) consists of 68% chocolate and olive oil mousse, salted caramel crisps, and chocolate sorbet. If you are looking for something simpler, or are in need of a caffeine boost, try the Affogato ($12) dessert with vanilla ice cream, Vittoria Espresso coffee, and grated chocolate coated coffee beans. The bitterness of the coffee is drowned out by the sweetness of the ice cream, and is the prefect way to end a meal.
Number of Chef Hats: 2
Address: 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach NSW 2026
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 12am
7. Momofuku Seiobo
In the Sydney Morning Herald 2015 Good Food Guide, Momofuku Seiobo was one of the four restaurants that were granted a three-hat award. However in the 2016 Good Food Guide, they have dropped down to two hates after a new executive chef, Paul Carmichael, was appointed. For dinner on Monday to Saturday, as well as lunch on Saturday, Momofuku Seiobo offers a multi-course tasting menu and costs around $185. The menu varies and your meal would take up to 2hrs.
Chef Carmichael has launched his 16-course menu, pricing it at $185 per head. The menu is constantly evolving, and each dish is light and you do not need to wait long for each dish to roll out. Parson’s nose consists of potatoes that are fried until it has a distinct crunch, and is topped with roe. The bursting of the roe and the mixture of textures within the dish gives off an unforgettable flavour.
Another course that is innovative and unique is the onion, burnt leek, and egg dish. The black powder sprinkled on top of the isolated egg yolk is burnt leek, and the dish is accompanied by toasted brioche bread and onions.
Number of Chef Hats: 2
Address: The Star, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Opening hours: Mon to Sat 6:30pm to 10pm | Fri to Sat 12:30pm to 2pm
8. Pilu at Freshwater
Pilu is another two-hatted Sardinian restaurant offering a degustation menu as well as weekday and weekend menu. The degustation menu is designed for the whole table and you can have a choice of either 5 courses ($110) or 7 courses ($125), with an optional cheese course of $10 per person. The view at Pilu is absolutely breathtaking, and the ambience of the restaurant feels like you’re having a meal in someone’s beach house.
The wagyu beef tartare dish is paired nicely with the fresh green peas and nameko mushrooms, and drizzled with bottarga mayonnaise. The soft and raw texture of the wagyu was outstanding, and heightened the dine dining experience.
The stand out dish at Pilu is their citrus granita, liquorice cream, roasted pumpkin seed gelato and savoiardi dessert dish. The slightly bitter limey zest of the citrus granita is contrasted with the gelato, and the liquorice still maintains its distinct flavour. The crunch of the savoiardi biscuits tops the dessert off and adds to the assortment of textures.
Here’s another beautifully present dessert dish – saffron and banana budino with malt gelato. Once again, the texture of the dessert is exceptional, with the malty gelato texture and creamy banana pudding contrasting with the crunchiness of the other ingredients.
Number of Chef Hats: 2
Address: Moore Rd, Freshwater NSW 2096
Opening hours: Mon to Sat 12pm to 3pm & 6pm to 9pm | Sun 12pm to 3pm
It is challenging to find Sokyo as there is a lack of signage and the entrance is relatively discreet; hence, you should ask for directions to avoid time wasted wandering around The Star. The interior of Sokyo is dim and elegant, giving off a mysterious vibe to the restaurant. This Japanese fusion two-hatted restaurant offers an extensive menu, including a breakfast menu, and its wide variety of sashimi is up to high standards. If you’re a tuna fan, the Maguro tuna maki ($28) is a must-try, where the seared tuna has been aged for a week, leaving the texture of the flesh with the ability to melt in your mouth. The tuna is laid on a bed of carbonised leek aioli, pickled mushrooms, asparagus, and smoked ponzu. The dish is decorated with edible flowers as well as pebbles of ginger gel that tastes burst in your mouth, like fish roe.
The Kurobuta pork belly (2 skewers for $14) is a personal favourite as the meat is so tender that it melts in your mouth. The pork is cooked on a robata grill, which means that it is slowly grilled over charcoal to enable the smoke to permeate the meat.
The Goma Street ($13) dessert consists of caramelised white chocolate sandwiched between two sheets of dark chocolate and sesame ice cream. The flavours go together like bread and butter, and the portion size is perfect.
Number of Chef Hats: 1
Address: The Star, The Darling level G, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Opening hours: Mon to Sun 7am to 10:30am & 5:30pm to 10pm | Fri to Sat 12pm to 2pm
10. Kepos Street Kitchen
This one-hatted restaurant is resembles your typical café, offering and lunch menu. However, Kepos Street Kitchen also offers a dinner menu. You can choose to order the chef’s selection sharing menu if you have a group of 8 or more individuals, priced at $55 per head. For an a la carte dinner order, a popular dish is the roasted black angus 100-day aged sirloin ($34), accompanied by fried zucchini and pearl barley salad.
Another popular favourite is the lamb kibbeh neah ($22) with walnuts, crushed wheat, and pomegranate molasses. The raw lamb mince was mixed at the table, and will end up looking like a quinoa dish with cranberry sauce. This dish is served with crisp bread, which goes together well as the pomegranate molasses added a sweet flavour.
For something on the lighter side, or as a side order to share, try the Tel Aviv falafel ($14) with green tahini sauce. The outer layer of the falafel is crispy with its interior being moist. The green tahini sauce is made with green herbs and has a distinct but mild garlic flavour.
Number of Chef Hats: 1
Address: 96 Kepos St, Redfern NSW 2016
Opening hours: Tues 7:30am to 3pm | Wed to Fri 7:30am to 9:30pm | Sat 8am to 9:30pm | Sun 8am to 3pm
A treat for our tummies
Each restaurant possesses their own unique and innovative flair, evident through the presentation and quality of their food.