Replying to an email recently, I automatically wrote “happy new year” before realising I should probably check the date. It was already late January – definitely past the reasonable window for an HNY salutation. 2019 is hurtling forward, and I can’t remember being this excited about a new year as I am this one. There are new ideas and currents swirling around. There are new talents rising. There are savvy, singular reinventions of experiences we thought we knew, courtesy of established players.

Two such players are Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham, the brash duo behind Mary’s burgers and the subject of this issue’s cover story. They’re midway through transforming live-music venue the Basement into Mary’s Underground, where you’ll be able to catch dinner and a show. However it turns out, we’re sure it’ll be an experience Sydney has never seen before.

In the next edition of A Closer Look Max Veenhuyzen visits another the latest haunt of another big player, the Swillhouse Group’s Alberto’s Lounge. Dan Pepperell is in the kitchen “reimagining cucina Italiano for Australian diners” and the diners love it. So did I. When I ate there in January, I found myself planning my next visit before the first course had even arrived. Suave, seemingly effortless charm – it’s got it in spades.

Meanwhile, on another city lane, our print issue editor, Nick Connellan, asks why we’re not paying more attention to Michael Chiem and Thor Bergquist’s boundary-pushing bar, PS40. Around the corner, Bistecca is home to the melty, edible subject of this issue’s How It’s Made. The basement diner makes candles out of beef dripping. Once yours is lit and begin liquefying, you mop it up with a serve of focaccia.

Did you know western Sydney is home to some of the most significant building designs in Australia? Professor Chris Knapp, the chair of architecture at Western Sydney University, takes us to a few of them. The Torin Building, for example, is a heritage-listed former factory on a Penrith backstreet. And it’s designed by Marcel Breuer, arguably one of the 20th century’s most important and influential architects and designers.

And in what might be one of my favourite Broadsheet stories ever, Sydney editor Sarah Norris gets sweaty at the Icebergs sauna to find out what strangers talk about when they’re crammed together in a tiny sweatbox at one of the city’s spiritual homes.

Happy February. Happy March.