If we eat three meals a day and there are 365 days a year… Well, let’s just say there are many candidates for this annual Broadsheet round up. And that’s not even including snacks. These are the best of the best: the drinks and dishes our writers and photographers couldn’t get off their minds.
Lotus 2.0, Potts Point: Morcilla, calamari, tomatillo salsa and sauce nero
Sarah Norris, Sydney editor
I could have easily chosen one of the spectacular dishes I couldn’t stop thinking about – in particular Marta’s very excellent Bianca e Mortadella or Lankan Filling Station’s buttery toasted Godamba Roti – but I have decided on this latecomer. I think the rebooted Lotus is excellent, perfectly encapsulating the talent – and the evolution – of chef Dan Hong. This seemingly simple dish is a jumble of textures and cultures, with grilled calamari next to house-made morcilla (Spanish blood sausage), zesty tomatillo salsa (a Mexican condiment made with tomatillos, onion, chilli and coriander), crisp tortilla and a black sauce that’s made with cuttlefish ink and sambal belacan (a Malaysian chilli paste). Boom! A hush went over the table when my five friends and I took our first mouthfuls. The flavours zipped across the globe and landed perfectly. Please sir, another plate.
Cafe Paci, Newtown: Guttarolo’s 2018 Miro primitivo
Sarah Norris, Sydney editor
It’s hard to upstage Pasi Petanen’s food; it’s fabulous (in particular the potato-and-molasses bread, the devilled eggs and the chicken liver Paris-Brest with onion jam). But it was a glass of the miro that left me thinking I need to have more of this in my life. It comes from Puglia, in the south of Italy, in an area with a very specific chalky soil, says sommelier (and wine importer) Giorgio DeMaria. It’s minerally, elegant, spritely and bloody delicious.
Alberto’s Lounge, Surry Hills: Skewered barbeque veal tongue and anchovy
Che-Marie Trigg, Sydney assistant editor
A profusion of anchovy-on-toast situations have graced Sydney’s plates for the past little while. (Poly’s anchovy and egg butter toast is an outstanding example, as is the divisive, mega-buttery take at Ragazzi). But it’s Dan Pepperell’s version at Alberto’s that has firmly established me as a card-carrying anchovy toast devotee. Pepperell has improved upon the white bread and salty fish formula, plonking skewered barbequed veal tongue on top of it all. It’s a little salty, a little creamy and plenty carby. It’s basically the ultimate sidekick for an evening of good wine and I reckon I could eat four of these bad boys for dinner every night of the week.
Poly, Surry Hills: Basket Range Wine’s 2019 chardonnay,
Emily Taliangis, audience growth editor
It’s hard to go wrong at Poly. I did think, however, it was very easy to go wrong with chardonnay. That was before this one. After ordering close to the entire menu, as you do at Poly, my group of four – all totally biased South Australians – selected this bottle from the Adelaide Hills. Describing chardonnay as buttery and woody is somewhat unoriginal, but it was. And wonderfully so. Complex and elegant, it had a subtle fruitiness and was balanced – I don't know how to talk about it technically, but I can confidently say it was bloody exceptional. We ordered another, and another, and another. For the first time at Poly, perhaps in history, the food wasn’t talked about. (Nor was my friend’s 7am meeting the next day, but she too agrees the chardonnay was worth it.)
Gardener’s Lodge, Camperdown: Lasagne
Miriam Kauppi, chief subeditor
Before trying it for myself, I talked to Broadsheet food writer Nicholas Jordan about this dish because he was a massive fan. I’ll admit I went in thinking there’s no way it could be quite as good as he said it was. I was proven very wrong. This lasagne’s not pretty; it’s oozy, lopsided on the plate and homey in its presentation, but that’s part of its textural genius. It’s made at Gardener’s Lodge’s cousin restaurant Gigi’s Pizzeria with Beyond plant-based ground-beef-style mince and served for lunch (after 11.30am). It’s creamy and meaty (although completely vegan, like everything served at Gardener’s Lodge) and the pasta sheets balance those textures with their al dente bite. It smells distinctly to me like parmesan (although it’s been a while since I’ve had real parmesan). And then there’s the sauce. It’s herby, thick and slightly sweet. Get a slab with the Mista side salad and end with the tiramisu, another layered marvel.
My Delight, Mascot: Indonesian pork ribs or iga babi
Nicholas Jordan, writer
Imagine this scenario. You’ve lived in an isolated town your entire life. No internet, no reception, nothing. The only ice-cream available in the town’s grocery shop is Bulla Creamy Classics. It’s your favourite thing to eat, naturally – ice-cream is bloody delicious and there are few other sweets in town. One day your family takes you on a holiday and one of the destinations is the best ice-cream parlour in the country. You marvel at all the flavours and colours and order the one that looks most like what you know: vanilla. It’s easily the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your life. The day after you get home you want another taste of that sweet ice-cream dream so you open the Bulla. It’s not the same. What you thought was the best thing on Earth now seems frustratingly average. This is what eating My Delight’s pork ribs is like. They’re so glisteningly rich, tender and luscious they made me question every other positive rib experience I’d ever had, and from now, every future rib experience will be compared to this one.
(One disclaimer: the fragrant green sambal it comes with is not for the chilli shy. It burns loudly on your tongue and will likely withstand any amount of water or rice you throw at it.
Dimitri’s Pizzeria, Darlinghurst: The Bee Sting
Callum McDermott, directory editor
The Bee Sting at Dimitri’s Pizzeria is the best pizza I ate this year. And I eat a lot of pizza. So what separated it from the rest of the (very crowded) field? Well, structurally it’s my ideal: pliable, with a satisfying but not precarious droop at the edge. But the real star is the hot honey. Lashings of it, all over the rest of the more standard toppings (sopressa, tomato, mozzarella). Plus, the honey comes from co-owner Ken Williams’ mum’s beehives. Which is just fun.
Orana Sydney residence, Surry Hills: Emu egg with bunya miso and urchin
Tristan Lutze, writer
When Jock Zonfrillo announced he was closing Adelaide’s Orana for a month and moving the team (and the tables) to the recently vacated Longrain site in Surry Hills, Sydney prepared itself for the celebrated restaurant’s inventive use of native-Australian ingredients. It didn’t disappoint. Across the 23-course feast, we got to sip on crocodile “soup”; bite into a Moreton Bay bug covered in zesty green ants, and even cook our own potato damper. But no dish summed up Orana’s ethos and excellence more than the emu egg custard, topped with an eyes-roll-into-the-back-of-your-head-it’s-that-good bunya nut miso (fermented for over a year), sea urchin roe and sprinkling of saltbush. So that’s what Australia tastes like.
Pilot, Canberra: Broad bean minestrone
Molly Urquhart, writer
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Pilot is worth getting in your car and driving three hours to, especially if you know this soup is awaiting you. It’s a dish of trickery, not in the smoke-and-mirrors sense, but in the this-looks-like-just-10-small-green-vegetables-floating-in-water- sense. It presents simply: a small bowl of cold, clear broth of tomatoes and broad bean husks. Afloat are the beans themselves, plus asparagus discs and a drop or two of basil oil and bay leaf oil. This bowl contained the heartiest soup, the crispest vegetables, most confusing food I’d eaten all year. Stunning stuff.
Juan, Redfern: Black sesame warabi mochi dessert
Kimberley Low, photographer
I’ve been a fan of Anna Ishiguro’s creative genius since Juan opened two years ago, but it was only this year I decided to try the warabi mochi dessert (a Japanese jelly-like confection) in lieu of its more famous sibling, the matcha tiramisu. On first glance, it resembles a pool of black pebbles with clouds of cream foam on top, but beneath its simplicity lies a wildly exciting combination of textures and flavour. First, you’re delighted by the nuttiness of the black sesame cooked into the warabi mochi; then the earthy, roasted aroma of the soybean powder hits you like a ton of bricks. It’s only after a couple of mouthfuls that you realise it’s in fact the depth of the kuromitsu – a molasses-like syrup handmade by Ishiguro using brown sugar (from the Japanese province of Okinawan) – that’s weaving it all together, resulting in a dish that is poetic, elegant and very, very magical.
Flyover Fritterie, CBD: Samosa Fritterie
Aimee Chanthadavong, writer
Hang on – this laneway looks suspiciously Melbourne-esque. But there’s no time to contemplate because I’ve just been handed a cone filled with freshly deep-fried, craggily shaped pakoras from a window in a wall. These crisp nuggets, drizzled with tamarind, and mint and lime chutney, need to be eaten, stat. Piping hot, each are just as light and flavoursome as the one before, sending my tastebuds dancing to the delights of flavours like garlic, cumin, turmeric and ginger. By the time I get to the pointy end of the cone, my freshly brewed chai is just warm enough to sip. Delightful.
Saint Peter, Paddington: Fish eye crackers
Emma Breislin, writer
When I look at a menu for the first time, my eyes immediately scan for words I don’t know. For someone who likes to be well researched and prepared in most things, eating seems to be when I throw caution to the wind. So, when Josh Niland handed me a cracker made from blended fish eyes during a masterclass at his Fish Butchery, I didn’t blink (pun not intended). More nuanced than the prawn crackers you stuff yourself with at your local Chinese restaurant, it was light, crisp, and so wonderfully wacky. It's available on and off the menu at sister venue Saint Peter.
10 William Street: Flan & Vermouth
Max Veenhuyzen, Perth editor-at-large
“Eggs, the perfect food.” So said the late Anthony Bourdain – while enjoying a hard-boiled egg – in the final episode of Parts Unknown. It might seem strange or even contrarian to single out this straight-shooting dessert as my year’s Sydney dining highlight, but as I reflect on the year that was, this is the dish I find myself replaying in my head the most. A subtle nod to Trish Greentree’s Filipino heritage, this benchmark crème caramel is a study in richness, jiggle and nailing the basics. The accompanying caramel, meanwhile, is spiked with vermouth and – in a resourceful, very 2019 twist – repurposes the many, many bald oranges produced by the bar and the 10 William Street crowd’s appetite for Negronis. Is it any wonder that Paddington’s neighbourhood wine bar that could continues to keep on trucking, even as it approaches its 10th birthday?
Rising Sun Workshop, Newtown: Deep-fried shiitake
Winnie Stubbs, writer
Perhaps it was the circumstances – a windy August evening that called for some kind of comfort – or the wine we’d drunk prior, but I am certain that the deep-fried shiitake from Rising Sun Workshop is categorically the most delicious mushrooms I've eaten. The nuggets of golden perfection are served surrounding a glorious mountain of mayo, and half way through our first serving I proclaimed these will be the mushrooms I will eat at my wedding. We ordered three rounds, along with the wakame and pickled-cucumber salad – the perfect virtuous addition to our otherwise entirely fried first course.
Interested in what we ate and drank last year? Check it out here.