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Top 10 restaurant-bars with a view in Sydney
The harbor city showcases the very best in panoramic drinking and dining
Sydney has tried to establish itself on the global menu when it comes to best restaurants. The city is infatuated with food: celebrity chefs are glamorized and dining spots are a fashionable conversation.
But the emerald city has one natural asset that has little to do with its recipes. Built around a harbor and along the coast, diners can opt for a table with a view to indulge in cocktails with culinary couplings.
Whether in a revolving restaurant in the city center, overlooking Bondi Beach or dining at a harborside secret, there’s always more to the experience in Sydney.
10. Summit Restaurant
Revolving restaurants are often a tourist trap and frowned upon by locals, but this 360-degree, 47-story-high view of the city skyline is enjoyed by everyone.
There is a variety of modern Australian dishes throughout the $85 two-course menu. The twice-cooked crisp skin pork belly with a sweet apple vanilla marmalade is worthy of the view. But also, there’s a tapas night if you’re with a group of friends.
An adjacent cocktail bar, the Orbit Bar, serves unique concoctions that match an ever-changing view as you slowly take in Australia Square.
Summit Restaurant, Level 47, Australia Square, 264 George St., open Lunch Monday-Friday noon-3 p.m., dinner Monday-Sunday: from 6 p.m., bar open until late, +61 (0)2 9247 9777, www.summitrestaurant.com.au
9. Blu Bar on 36
Want to know what a million-dollar view looks like? Go up to the 36th floor of the harborside Shangri-La hotel and order a cocktail, arguably the city’s best, then pull up at the windows that look out onto Sydney Harbour. The Opera House and Harbour Bridge are right there in front of you.
Blu’s unsurpassed views are reason enough to visit. But the bar also has delicious cocktails. And if you’re feeling flush, there’s a $10,000 martini on the menu that comes complete with a one-carat diamond, which makes for a suggestive romantic rendezvous.
Other cocktails are reasonably priced, though, considering the seductive and modern ambiance.
Blu Bar on 36, Level 36, 176 Cumberland St., open Monday-Thursday 5 p.m.-late, Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Sunday 5 p.m.-11 p.m., +61 (0)2 9250 6013, www.shangri-la.com
8. Doyles on the Beach
A fifth-generation family-run business, Doyles has established a reputation for serving up fresh, local seafood to locals and tourists alike since first opening its doors in 1885.
Set on the foreshore of Watsons Bay, right by the ferry wharf, it’s near the South Head entrance to the harbor. Looking westward, it’s a top spot to catch the sun set over the city.
Diners have a choice between the al fresco dining area, or old-fashioned fish and chips that you can take away and eat on the beachside parkland, equipped with wooden huts.
Doyles on the Beach, 11 Marine Parade, Watsons Bay, Sydney, Monday-Friday midday-3 p.m., 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday-Sunday noon-4 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.-9 p.m., +61 (0)2 9337 2007, www.doyles.com.au.
7. North Bondi Italian Food
This is the place to be seen in North Bondi -- packed with the local, eye-catching clientele; there’s rarely room to move in the bar area (giving intimate a new meaning) and an hour’s wait for a table is not only expected, it’s gladly accepted.
Some of the best Italian food steers away from traditional renditions such as pizzas. The restaurant has gourmet cuisine such as arancini and crab spaghetti.
Right on the Bondi waterfront, the full panorama of the beach –- as well as that eye-catching clientele once more –- could see weekend lunches evolve into evening drinks.
North Bondi Italian Food, 120 Ramsgate Ave., North Bondi, +61 (0)2 9300 4400, open daily 6 p.m.-11 p.m., lunch Friday-Sunday noon-4 p.m., www.idrb.com/northbondi
Although it's a 45-minute drive north of Sydney, locals have been heading to this restaurant high up on the cliffs of Whale Beach since 1929.
A modern menu with French influences is served in a pristine clean dining area. It overlooks the sands and surrounding cliffs thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Don’t feel foolish if you still haven’t looked at the menu 15 minutes after being seated –- the view is mesmerizing.
Local produce is given a stylish twist: the slow-roasted duck with root vegetables and a sweet pomegranate-infused glaze plays into Jonah’s special feel.
For customers who really want to go all out, a seaplane from Rose Bay direct to Jonah’s is a grand experience.
Jonah’s, 69 Bynya Road, Whale Beach, +61 (0)2 9974 5599, www.jonahs.com.au
5. Bondi Icebergs
Home to a swimming club since 1929, the sea-water lap pool is flanked by Icebergs bistro bar and decking that is the stylish meeting place and vantage point on the southern end of Bondi Beach. Whenever celebs come to the city they come to Icebergs for the food and drink. Even world leaders dined here during the APEC Conference.
The food in the upstairs restaurant is a mainstay on the culinary circuit: eye fillet glazed on one side and served with lemon gives some meaty balance to moon-rise views, or an impromptu audience for queues of surfers picking up on the southerly swell.
For those long afternoons in the sun watching the rolling surf while catching up with a friend, a bottle of white and an antipasto plate is just the ticket.
Icebergs, 1 Notts Ave., Bondi Beach, +61 (0)2 9365 9000, restaurant open Tuesday to Saturday noon-midnight, Sunday noon-10 p.m., www.idrb/bondi
4. Bathers' Pavillion
Colorful mix-matched seating, a sun-draped dining area and sweeping views of sleepy, yacht-filled Balmoral Bay has made the pavilion an in-the-know place to be at the weekend. The area attracts families on a day out, locals walking their dog, and revelers shaking off the previous night.
You can be sure to see an eclectic mix of all –- and more -– at any given time at the pavilion.
It is the perfect spot for all-day breakfasts, such as the creamy ricotta and apple French toast with fresh rhubarb and strawberries. Ideal for sun-drenched mornings to watch the world saunter by, it’s also popular for lazy lunches followed by a stroll along the foreshore.
Bathers' Pavilion, 4 The Esplanade, Balmoral, +61 (0)2 9969 5050, open daily: lunch from noon and dinner from 6.30 p.m., www.batherspavilion.com.au
3. Hugos Manly
Recently described as having Sydney’s best pizza, the eastern suburbs stalwart has extended over the harbor and is doing a roaring trade alongside Manly’s wharf.
With Manly’s wharf looking back at the city –- a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay -– there’s an illusion of it being far away from the CBD that has always been part of Manly’s charm. A sign still reads “Five miles from Sydney, but a thousand miles from care.”
The pizzas are worthy of the accolades and recommendations –- among the usual roster of flavors on the menu, the slow-roasted roast lamb with potato, feta, olives, capsicum, onion and chili makes for a pizza bursting with flavor.
Although it can feel too packed on a weekend night, Manly’s views of Sydney’s skyline stretching east make it a perfect spot on a calm night.
Hugos Manly, Shop 1, Manly Wharf, open daily noon-late, +61 (0)2 8116 8555, www.hugos.com.au
2. Bungalow 8
For a city built on the water, there’s hardly a shortage of drinking establishments on the water’s edge, but Bungalow 8 on King Street Wharf is the relaxed, yet cosmopolitan approach to thirst-quenching antics that have contributed to Sydney's renown.
Large tables encourage groups, and the open-plan floor design makes mingling a breeze as you sip on another Fat Yak.
Being set in the Wharf and part of Darling Harbour gives the bar a central location to enjoy passing fleets and cross-water views of casino and hotels.
The bar’s feel-good factor makes it a popular destination for an afternoon casual drink, or part of a weekend night out.
Bungalow 8, 3 Lime St., King Street Wharf, open Sunday-Wednesday noon-1 p.m., Thursday-Saturday noon-3 p.m., +61 (0)2 9299 4660, www.bungalow8sydney.com
Matt Moran’s restaurant has been a Sydney landmark for the past 10 years and the iconic restaurant comes at a price. Reputations aren’t everything, but many diners consider the prices justified.
A modern menu has seen it become one of the places to eat in Sydney: the venison, with savoy cabbage and poached quince, is a masterful Moran signature.
The view is as breathtaking as the fare: while eating it, diners sit directly opposite the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The views, food and top-class service have made it a sought-after reservations and a worthy wait.
ARIA, 1 Macquarie St., +61 (0)2 9252 2555, open Monday-Friday noon-2.30 p.m., 5:30-11 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 6 p.m.-10 p.m., www.ariarestaurant.com