The rules were simple: the venue had to have opened in 2017 and the dish or drink was something our writers and photographers couldn’t stop thinking about.
Bridge Bon Appetit: caviar omelette, City
Sarah Norris, Sydney editor
It’s 12am, the restaurant is buzzing, the wine is flowing (naturally at Hubert) and then I take my first mouthful of the caviar omelette. Sounds simple, and it is – it’s just a light, fluffy omelette with crème fraîche, caviar and beurre blan sauce – but boy o boy, this decadent dish is damn fine. Matched with great company and attentive service – this might have been my Good Fellas long-take-restaurant-scene moment of 2017.
Chula: de frutas, Kings Cross
Amanda Valmorbida, assistant Sydney editor
This dish is so much more than a savoury fruit salad: it not only provides passage to genuine Mexican cuisine, but to parts of Mexico City I wouldn’t otherwise have experienced. Explosively ripe fruit is drenched in chamoy (a sour-chilli sauce) and mixed with dollops of goat’s curd and jiama (a Mexican yam bean). It’s the kind of street snack that’s sold by the cup in the Mexican capital – full of energy and heat. It’s bright. It’s tart. “It’s not for everyone,” says owner Peter Lew, but it’s more than enough for me.
Dear Sainte Eloise: burrata with charred bread and mint, Potts Point
Molly Urquhart, assistant social media editor
Is there anything better than cheese? I’m not entirely sure. Is there anything better than burrata? Absolutely not. At Dear Sainte Eloise it’s served whole with a delightfully fresh mint sauce – a little bit of charred sourdough is offered, but really, it’s just a distraction. Do not, for any reason, leave without trying one of the German or Austrian rieslings, all versions are great. Extra points for the genuinely helpful and lovely staff members, they make the difference.
Belly Bao: spicy bao noodles, Newtown
Miriam Kauppi, chief sub-editor
It’s all about the spicy bao noodles for me. The levels of spice and flavour are expertly balanced – the dish is not overpowered by the heat and the noodles are perfectly coated. Let’s just say the noodle-to-sauce ratio is awesome.
P&V Merchants: Brian Three Pinots, Enmore
Georgia Booth, former Sydney editor
Nothing says "Hello, summer" like knocking off work early, when the sun is still hot in the sky, and pouring yourself a glass of Brian Three Pinots the minute you walk in the door. Best served chilled, this jammy, floral red is made from noir, gris and meunier grapes. You'll be delighted every time you visit Enmore's new bottle-o; there are plenty of excellent bottles of natural wine for under $40.
Pizza Madre: washed rind, blue cheese, fior di latte, warrigal greens and hazelnut pizza, Marrickville
Sophie McComas, writer Broadsheet Sydney Food
Three cheeses (washed rind, blue cheese, fior di latte), warrigal greens and hazelnut on a stretchy, sourdough – it's a flavour combo I never knew I needed on a pizza, but now can't live without. There are so many things Pizza Madre is getting right (natural, spritzy wines by the glass, pavement seating, floor-to-ceiling windows, that perfect dough), but it's this dish I'll be ordering every Friday night until forever.
The Lansdowne Hotel: Mary's burger-pizza, Chippendale
Jonathan Seidler, writer
Sydney's favourite self-proclaimed “rock’n’roll shithole” got a much-needed makeover from Jake Smythe and Kenny Graham (The Unicorn, Mary's) this year, reopening after its unceremonious shuttering a few years ago. The Mary’s burger-pizza takes the best of ’90s pizza culture and Mary's burgers and smooshes them together into a heart-attack deep dish that's best purchased after one too many Young Henrys schooners.
Paper Bird: radishes and sesame dressing, Potts Point
Nikki To, photographer
My pick is the fried chicken. Paper Bird is one of my favourite openings for 2017. It also has a killer drinks list and an awesome team on the floor. I’ve been back a few times already – a trend I hope to continue into next year.
Saga: focaccia, Enmore
Neha Kale, writer
Andy Bowdy's neighbourhood cafe might be known for cakes that could double as sculptures, but it's the daily focaccia – in particular the potato, chorizo, olive and rosemary one – that cures my every ’90s craving and keeps me coming back.
Jacoby’s: Pinã Colada, Enmore
Ellen Fraser, writer
A hefty hit of coconut cream and fresh pineapple juice makes up the bulk of Jacoby’s vodka-based version of a Pinã Colada, the Chi Chi, a drink that was begging to be dragged out of the dark ages and onto a 2017 menu. The super-sweet richness of the fruit is cut with fresh lime, and a dash of macadamia syrup rounds it out. It’s best enjoyed any time of the day (not that you’d have any idea what time it is after a couple of these) in the pleasantly dim surrounds of this killer tiki bar.
Wyno: cuttlefish, scallop, coconut rise with pepita sauce, Surry Hills
Kimberley Low, photographer
I like small, intimate venues I can have a conversation in without shouting, and Wyno is perfect for that. The menu is seafood heavy yet classic Elvis and Ben, and the wine list is just as exciting as the food. The cuttlefish, scallop, coconut rice with pepita sauce isn't the most talked about dish on the menu, but I found it to be a delightful tropical detour from their usual route. Service is also right on the money. Let Joe Valore and co guide you through the pairings and you’re guaranteed to have an evening to remember.
Dhaka Delight: chom chom, Lakemba
Nicholas Jordan, contributor
Dhaka Delight is a Bangladeshi sweet shop run by the people who do Khushboo in Lakemba, one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney. They've got a vast array of sweets in all different colours and textures. Easily my favourite of the lot, and I hear most people in Bangladesh agree, is chom chom. They're little golden-orange football-shaped sweets made with cheese, saffron and coconut. It's kind of like a sponge cake that's been drenched in dulce de leche, coconut and syrup.