When zucchini flowers sprout up on menus, I find they split the dining table into those who think they’re a must-order and those who think they’re “a bit blah”. Most often, they’re stuffed with a whipped ricotta – hopefully dressed up with lemon zest and a fresh herb – dipped in a batter and fried till golden. That, friends, is a ripper way to add to your five and two.
But, Sydney kitchens are spruiking courgette florals in more way than one, and lots of them are noteworthy. Squashed, flash-fried or a atop a pizza, turned into a crisp boat for a perfectly pickled anchovy, or sandwiched in a tortilla: it’s official – the blooms are in. These are the best in Sydney right now.
Ricos Tacos, Redfern
Toby Wilson has earned his loyal following of taco enthusiasts, taking his fare from food truck to a Chippendale corner and, this year, to bumper pub The Norfolk. With the new digs came the artful return of the zucchini flower quesadilla. The flowers are squished inside a grilled corn tortilla, fanning out like a rooster’s comb. There’s cheese atop and salsa roja on the side. You’ll nab a chipotle-doused hash brown too, if you know what’s good for you.
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City Oltra, Ultimo
This bloom-topped beauty is only here for a flash: a cacio e pepe pizza with zucchini flowers, mozzarella and the zest of a lemon, with splodges of fresh ricotta once it’s outta the oven. The City Oltra team brought the pie to their vibey Central Station digs especially for a Buffet Digital party, with Fabbrica delivering the cheesy sauce, but it was so nice they’re doing it twice. Hurry in if you want a slice.
Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, Bondi
A classic iteration of the snack of the hour is here served beside some of the best ocean views in Sydney. Icebergs’ culinary director Alex Prichard fills the florals with goat’s curd and ricotta, then fries till golden; an aioli enlivened with salsa verde keeps it zesty. They’re not on the menu but regularly star in the specials, so good luck.
Ito, Surry Hills
Italian-leaning izakaya Ito brings zucchini flowers to the mix in its spring tempura plate. A seasonal pile of delicately battered veggies – asparagus, zucchini flowers and green beans if you go now – is primed to dip into a creamy, citrusy dashi emulsion. Ideal fodder alongside the house Freezer Martini.
The pared-back, flavour-packed menu at this upstairs Redfern Street dining room is ever-changing so, if you spy a dish on socials, it’s best to head in, stat. The one to chase right now is a zucchini flower carrying a pork sausage in its orange petals, swimming in a vibrant, tomatoey puddle of oil.
Gildas, Surry Hills
If you can’t tell, I’m firmly in the must-order category. But on a recent pre-dinner trip to Lennox Hastie’s sherry bar, I had to be convinced. (I was trying to save precious tummy space.) Lucky I have bendy arms, because the Gildas zucchini flower is phenomenal and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Flash fried in the lightest of chilli-speckled batters, the bloom is topped with boquerones en vinagre (pickled anchovy). It’s perfection. No notes.
P&V Wine & Liquor Merchants, Paddington
The Paddington digs of the favoured bottle-o has a courtyard out the back, and it’s here you’ll find a steamed courgette flower filled with an airy scallop and ‘nduja mousse. It’s a fresh departure from the fried numbers on this list and special enough to make an event of an afternoon natty wine on Oxford Street.