At the end of each year we ask Broadsheet’s Sydney writers and photographers to nominate the one dish or drink they ate that year they couldn’t get off their minds. But since we’re living through extraordinary times, we thought we’d check in early and see what takeaway food is keeping the team sated. What’s apparent from this list is that Sydney’s cafes, bars and restaurants have responded to the shutdown with really impressive dining options.

Fish Butchery, Paddington: yellowfin tuna burgers with chips and caesar salad
Sarah Norris, editor
I love fish burgers. Sometimes even more than cheeseburgers, which is saying something. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as you might think to find a good one in this town. Of course, anything by Sydney fish-whisperer Josh Niland (Fish Butchery and Saint Peter) is outstanding, and I was lucky to catch his yellowfin tuna burger a couple weeks ago when he rolled out his Mr Niland At Home takeaway program (each week he announces a new menu for every day of the week – find the most recent one here).

That day the pack came with enough food for four – it included fish patties (we cooked on the barbeque); buns; cheese; pickles; a ceasar salad (we only needed to toss in a bowl with a perfectly creamy dressing); and potato hunks (which we re-heated in the oven). (Check it out here). We added the sliced cheese to the patties while they were on the hotplate (for a melt-y effect), then slid the patties onto the buns with the pickles and the crunchy lettuce. Let’s just say I was on a culinary high until I smashed the whole thing. We opened a bottle of Panda Panda (a fiano from South Australia’s Unico Zelo) to go with it. The meal required minimum effort, but still resulted in maximum deliciousness – and we were rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. I will go back. Oh yes, I will go back.

Small Talk, Dulwich Hill: focaccia
Che-Marie Trigg, assistant editor
It takes around 15 minutes to walk from my house in Marrickville to Dulwich Hill cafe Small Talk, but usually I stretch it out to an hour’s round journey and make my coffee-and-focaccia run double as my exercise for the day. Generally I set out only intending to get my morning cup, but by the time I get to the front of the line I’ve usually cracked and decided to order at least one square of focaccia.

Focaccia might be the internet’s latest at-home cooking trend, but Small Talk’s is such a fine example of the art that I’m not even going to attempt to make my own. If Small Talk is Picasso in this scenario, I’m that lady who attempted to restore Ecce Homo. This focaccia is both firm and pillowy, smothered in tomato paste and sprinkled with salt. Its beauty lies in its simplicity – I probably wouldn’t have even tried it if the cafe hadn’t run out of bagels. But somehow those generous squares of tomato-y, salty bread have me lining up for more, several times a week.

Peppe’s, Bondi: gnocchi pomodoro
Kitti Gould, photographer
Never have I felt more in the mood for comfort food than in the time of coronavirus. On a Saturday night, I settled in with a bottle of malbec and a pasta from Peppe’s and it made me feel the opposite of FOMO. Indulging in handmade plant-based gnocchi covered in a rich tomato sauce (from the comfort of my lounge) was exactly what I needed, and it won’t be the last time I order it. Beautifully fried capers add salty, umami explosions, and I like to top it with chilli flakes from my pantry. And of course I added the vegan tiramisu.

Double Tap Cafe, Marrickville: the “naughty morty” mortadella sandwich
Daniel Cunningham, writer
When I was a kid, my mum figured out she could get the shopping done faster by shutting me up with mortadella cold-cuts from the supermarket butcher. Double Tap’s Liz Karaconji isn’t my mum, but she might as well be. I’m always at her cafe eating mortadella.

She layers pimento-olive-dotted slices of it onto sourdough, forming a deli-meat mattress for the tangy artichoke hearts, provolone, mayo and fresh mint to rest on. The “naughty morty” is so good it landed on the late-night snack menu at Poor Toms Gin around the corner. Plus it’s only $9, so I can be wallet-savvy and support Double Tap in the time of coronavirus. All said – this sanga could shut me up any day.

Brickfields’ “Pickupfields” pop-up, Marrickville: hot cross buns
Aimee Chanthadavong, writer
Since Brickfields decided to set up a pop-up truck (on loan from Mecca Coffee) at its Marrickville warehouse bakery – which it’s dubbed “Pickupfields” – my midmorning snack visits have been regular. If I’m not stopping by for an almond croissant, I’m getting hot cross buns by the half dozen. Their golden crisp exteriors are coated with a shiny and sticky glaze, and each is spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and dotted with dried fruits such as cranberries, sultanas, candied orange and apricots. Lightly toasted and smothered with salted butter, it’s like a hug – warm, soft and comforting – exactly what’s needed during these weird times.

Black Cockatoo, Katoomba: everything
Nicholas Jordan, Local Knowledge editor
Like half of the world, I’ve become addicted to baking. Unfortunately I’m shit at it (case in point here). That’s actually fine, because I’m living just a few blocks from one of the best bakeries in the greater Sydney metropolitan area: Katoomba’s Black Cockatoo (although it means I’m eating a gastrointestinally debilitating amount of carbs). Everything here is made with heritage, organic and locally milled flour from Gunnedah’s Wholegrain Milling, which means all of the baked goods – from the croissant to the snails (they’ve had choc and pistachio, and also Maffra cheddar with chilli) and the loaves – have an exceptional depth of flavour. A particular shout-out should go to the baguettes. I get the same indescribable joy from them that I get from diving into an ocean on a hot day, having a cat purr on my lap or finding out a crush likes me back.

Ester, Chippendale: Easter Saturday finish-at-home dinner
Tristan Lutze, writer
Ester’s Easter Saturday finish-at-home dinner stands out in a sea of lasagnes and other homely takeaway menu pivots. Not only was it our first opportunity to enjoy the Chippendale restaurant’s dreamy potato bread with dashi jelly, cultured cream and trout roe since it closed due to coronavirus, Ester’s at-home experience is achingly close to the real thing and is full of the kind of inventive dishes executive chef Mat Lindsay is known for. We had a choice between lamb rib and suckling pig for the main (both of which sold out within 20 minutes) – we went with lamb – and paired it with a bottle of orange wine from Ester’s extensive list (the only skin contact allowed these days).

Everything from Petersham (and some things from beyond)
Kimberley Low, photographer
Mental pitfalls of social isolation aside, being confined to my seriously delicious suburb, Petersham, definitely has its perks. I’ve been well-fed by Audley Street’s finest: Kubota Japanese (for its bento boxes and house-made yuzu ice-cream); Noi (for its lasagnes and tiramisu); and Seed Greek Kouzina (I get the kleftiko).

Beyond Petersham, I’ve also been getting takeaway from Kurumac in Marrickville and Juan in Redfern – both as spot on as the usual dine-in fare. And then there’s the home delivery “freeze for later” options, such as Cafe Rumah’s sticky glutinous rice and Jilat Jilat’s pies. Even Yvonne, the egg lady from Marrickville markets, is doing home deliveries.

Annata, Crows Nest: cabbage schnitzel and the desserts
Emma Breislin, writer
Just around the corner from my house is this diner I like to go to on special occasions. And in a way, I think what we’re experiencing now is considered “special”. So when Annata announced a new takeaway menu that included a range of bento boxes for less than $30 a pop, I quickly clicked “find out more”. I wasn’t prepared for the cabbage schnitzel to be a show stopper, but it was. It was full of flavour, balanced and crisp (yet also melt-in-your-mouth). And the dessert – oh, the dessert. I’d suggest getting the mango sorbet with fresh mango and mirin custard. Or maybe the coconut sorbet with walnuts and honeycomb. For $8.

Sharon Kwan Kitchen, Petersham: Malaysian chicken curry
Pilar Mitchell, writer
In the universe of takeaway possibilities, curry is king. It cheerfully survives the journey in the car or in the backpack of a delivery rider, and it doesn’t mind being reheated (some might argue it’s even nicer on day two). That’s why Sharon Kwan’s Malaysian chicken curry is my favourite thing to take away these days. The rich, golden sauce is infused with generous handfuls of fragrant curry leaves, and the side of turmeric rice is the perfect foil for the gently building heat. If you’re a sucker for spice, order a large container of her house-made sambal and eat it with everything. Make sure you’ve got beer in the fridge though: the full-strength sambal is no joke, but like all good spicy things, it’s worth the pain. More info here.

Joe’s Table, Darlinghurst: everything
Nick De Lorenzo, photographer
The hardest-working one-man show around, Joe Kitsana (from Joe’s Table) is still pumping out his outrageously tasty food. As I often tell anyone who will listen, Joe has an incredible ability to create dishes that are somehow both subtle and nuanced, yet punchy and full of flavour; rich and deep, yet fresh and vibrant. The perfect balance of salty, spicy, sweet and zingy. Everything on the menu is delicious and it’s all now available for takeaway.

Infinity Bakery, Darlinghurst: almond croissant
Jasmine Crittenden, writer
Getting the mighty almond croissant right takes surgeon-level skills: you need to strike the perfect balance between inner gooeyness, outer flakiness and inner-outer crunch. (Find Broadsheet’s list of Sydney’s best here.) But that’s exactly what you’ll find at Infinity Bakery, which, thank the pastry gods, has remained open for takeaway during the coronavirus crisis. It’s open from 5.30am seven days a week, and the earlier you get there, the closer to just-out-of-the-oven-deliciousness you’ll get. Pair your croissant with a Gabriel takeaway coffee and embark on a sunrise stroll.

Want more takeaway inspiration? Check out our guide here.