may be the second most expensive city in the world after Tokyo, according to a
recent global survey, but it is also on the world stage for its high quality
eateries, such Quay and Tetsuya's, are featured on San Pellegrino’s
2012 list of the world's
best restaurants, and the terms "locavore", "paddock-to-plate"
and "organic" are spouted regularly about town. And in Australia’s
biggest city, these concepts extend beyond top-class restaurants to also
encompass high quality “in-between meals” -- brunch and high tea -- enjoyed in
the city's trendy cafes and hotels.
Brunch is the new dinner
past decade, cafe numbers have exploded in response to Sydney’s obsession with
good coffee, preference for casual, al fresco dining options and dislike for
being pinned down (Sydneysiders have a poor reputation when it comes to committing
singlehandedly to Australian restaurateur Bill Granger, Sydney's brunch phenomena began when he
opened bills in the Darlinghurst
neighbourhood in 1993. Granger loved the French and Asian way of eating out –
cheaply and casually –and wanted to bring it to Australia.
"Sydney has an early
morning culture, it's a morning city,” Granger explained. “There's a lot of
energy as the climate is good."
the formal food scene centred on white-table-clothed restaurants – preferably
with water or harbour views – that served multi-course meals to the wealthy,
and the city’s cheap and cheerful eateries were found mostly in Chinatown. His cafe’s light, open space, designed to feel
more like a lounge with a central communal table, turned the scene on its head,
and in 1997 the New York Times declared its scrambled eggs the "best in
bills is as popular as ever, with outposts in both Japan
and England and three in Sydney, including the
original in Darlinghurst. Meanwhile, a string of similar cafe openings
followed, and local dining habits changed forever.
weekends, Sydneysiders are increasingly likely to be found polishing off chilli
fried egg, rocket and spiced mango chutney on a brioche roll at bills, or fig
and walnut bread at Crabbe Hole (1 Notts
Ave, Bondi Beach; 04-03-074-447), a hole-in-the-wall cafe at Sydney's Iceberg's swimming pool, the famous ocean
baths set into the cliffs overlooking Bondi Beach. Or you may find them chowing
down on carrot and cardamom cake at Kitchen
by Mike in the suburb of Rosebery, one of the many Sydney brunch spots that
is located in a cool, cleverly-converted warehouse where roasters, cupping
(tasting) areas and open kitchens are integral to a cafe's success.
coffee has to be great, but it is about the whole package," said Russell
Beard, owner of Reuben Hills, one
of Surry Hills' growing band of ultra-cool cafes.
Hills' long, industrial-style space with exposed brick and funky strip lighting
attracts lines of local and international java hounds with its South American
blends and associated Latin American-inspired all-day brunch dishes, such as corn
tortillas and baleada (eggs, South
American cheese and black beans), or the Doggs Breakfast, an ice cream sandwich
with salted caramel. There is even a cheekily named "The NOT reuben",
comprising of wagyu salt brisket, pickled slaw, manchego and horseradish cream
everything in Sydney’s
dining scene has such a post-modern take.
or afternoon "cuppa", Australian slang for a cup of tea, is a British
custom that remains, albeit to a lesser extent these days. While tea is often enjoyed
at home, you can also head to a number of Sydney
establishments for a contemporary take on the city's historic practice of old fashioned
high tea .
the Queen Victoria Building,
an elaborate Romanesque building in the heart of the city centre, the Tea Room serves up morning and
afternoon tea daily -- think petit fours, finger sandwiches and scones -- on
three-tiered platters and British fine china. At the iconic Sydney
Opera House, high tea hits the high notes with an private opera recital while
you peer over your cup to the harbour beyond (bookings are essential). The
delicious spread includes everything from fresh crab sandwiches with coriander
mayonnaise to vanilla macaroons. Elsewhere, Sir Stamford at Circular Quay near the centre's waterfront hub, serves up an
elegant tea daily from 1 pm in a historic bar full of gilded paintings, high
backed chairs and Persian-style rugs. Try the classic Devonshire cream tea with
scones and jam or splash out on the elaborate "Heavenly High", which
includes a glass of champagne and gourmet chicken curry puffs, caramel chicken
and duck confit pastries, and jam tarts that would make the Queen of Hearts
proud. And in an even more contemporary twist on high tea, the Intercontinental Hotel has recently
introduced "High Coffee", where different coffees – from an espresso
martini (chilled espresso, coffee liqueur and vodka) to a cafe freddo (a
double-shot espresso, shaken with ice and served in a glass) are matched with various
culinary treats, from gourmet beef and smoked salmon sandwiches to Belgian
tell if high coffee will cause a storm in a tea cup in traditional tea-going circles.
But given Sydney's
inventive dining scene it could be here to stay. Especially if brunch is
anything to go by.