It’s well and truly winter – but that doesn’t mean Sydney’s going into hibernation. Far from it, in fact. Between a ripper new winter arts, culture, food and drink celebration, a new Kylie Kwong eatery, the return of the Archibald Prize and a bar channelling the golden era of Vegas, there’s really no excuse to stay at home (unless it’s to cook up one of these eight warming recipes, or bundle up in cosy sleepwear). Here’s what I’ll be doing this month – follow my adventures here.
The ultimate slashies
There’s two new cafe-deli-bakeries on the block – and my bagel-sandwich-and-baked-goods-loving self is thrilled.
It’s no secret that I’m extremely partial to a focaccia from Dulwich Hill’s spectacular Small Talk, which leaned heavily into the bakery side of things during lockdown and has been going strong ever since. It’s just launched an outpost in Glebe, where yes, you can grab its outstanding focaccia, as well as its wonderfully crunchy bagels (I love the perennial-classic lox and cream cheese) and its spectacular seasonal-fruit-filled doughnuts.
Not too far away, in Redfern, Good Ways Deli – co-founded by a former Small Talk staffer, no less – has launched in a quiet backstreet. It’s doing tops sangas (I can’t get the kangaroo-mortadella number off my mind), excellent coffee and a whole range of CWA-inspired baked treats – we’re talking lamingtons, fancy Vegemite-and-cheese scrolls and Anzac biscuits.
The longest night
If you needed any further proof that Sydney is the place to be right now, there’s this: huge new winter celebration Sydney Solstice launches today. It’s spread across four inner-city precincts (Newtown, the CBD, Darling Harbour and Oxford Street) and promises a feast not only for your tastebuds, but for your eyes and ears as well. My picks? A midnight dumpling feast in the basement of Mr Wong – it’s like eating a Cantonese banquet in a nightclub. There’s also a street party where you can sample dumplings from Kylie Kwong’s new South Eveleigh eatery and cut a rug to a DJ set from Pnau. And if your mind is still blown by magic tricks (guilty), head to QVB diner Esquire for a four-course dinner with matching wines and performances from mentalists and magicians – it sounds silly, but is actually a load of fun. There’s also a festival celebrating the cultural diversity of Enmore Road, with a bunch of masterclasses and food specials from local diners.
The sound of musicals
If you’re ambivalent – or downright cynical – about musicals, there are two happening this month that might change your mind. The first is Broadway smash-hit Come From Away – it revolves around a group of passengers stranded on a tiny Canadian island when planes were grounded on September 11. It might sound off-kilter but it more than works.
An equally unlikely success story is the musical reinvention of Bret Easton Ellis’s grotesque satirical novel American Psycho. It originally ran at Hayes Theatre, but was so well-regarded it’s now opened at the Opera House. It’s macabre, it’s funny – and, according to its director, ’80s Wall Street bros have a lot more in common with Sydneysiders than we’d like to believe.
Drink under the stars
The South Eveleigh precinct has come a long way since its days as a hub for train repairs. The latest addition is a terrace for boundary-pushing bar Re–. The 40-seat Ketel One Botanical Terrace hews to owner Matt Whiley’s ethos of regenerative drinking – cocktails are made using produce destined for landfill along with Ketel One Botanical spirits. The space has been planted with native plants and grasses by Jiwah, an Indigenous-led company that runs the nearby native rooftop farm.
On top of the world
Zoom to the 22nd floor of the new A by Adina hotel in the CBD and you’ll find Dean & Nancy on 22 – the latest bar from the Maybe Sammy team. It may be a hotel bar, but it’s well worth a visit in itself. There are views for days, the outstanding cocktails the team has built its reputation on are present and accounted for (including one with a QR code that’ll lead you to a Spotify tune), and with its lamplit tables and sleek mid-century-inspired interiors, it’s channelling the heyday of Las Vegas (after a few cocktails it’s very nearly surprising that Frank Sinatra isn’t in the corner crooning).
In the galleries
Australia’s best-known arts prize is back: the Archibald Prize winner was announced last week, which means you can check out the finalists exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW now. This year’s sitters include activist Grace Tame, artist Ben Quilty and musician Kate Ceberano. And, as a bonus, the Archie 100 exhibition is running concurrently, tracing the ups and downs of this annual arts prize in its centennial year.
Over at The Australian Museum, a very important exhibition is being held. Unsettled tells the story of Australia since colonisation through the eyes of First Nations people, who continue to grapple with the ongoing impacts of colonisation. It includes first-hand accounts of those who witnessed Captain Cook sailing down the east coast of Australia, along with other historical documents, immersive experiences, contemporary artworks and never-before-seen historic objects. Plus, in an effort to encourage people along, it’s free to enter.