Our team of editors, writers and photographers eat and drink out a ‘helluva lot. It’s obviously an awful job. As the end of the year looms, it’s time to scroll back and painstakingly pull together our list of the many openings in 2015 that are our pick of the bunch.

RESTAURANTS

Sophie McComas, editor
Cured & Cultured bar, Bennelong
I like cured things, I like to think I’m culturally minded, and so what’s not to love at Bennelong’s Cured & Cultured bar. Peter Gilmore’s exceptional new restaurant opened the day I returned back to Sydney from a stint in Europe. Sitting at that gorgeous, bronze bar, eating tender raw scallop; smoked Wagyu tartare with cultured grains; and pink, juicy Red Claw yabbies with lemon jam, cultured cream and buckwheat pikelets, brought me straight back to appreciating the beauty of Australian produce. The only fault is those pikelets aren’t available to take away.

Alana Dimou, photographer
Ciccone & Sons
I once stumbled into Ciccone & Sons after a few drinks next door. My brilliant idea was to return with a tub of gelato for a birthday boy and Mark and Sean happily obliged. Add a few candles and plastic spoons from the neighbouring supermarket and boom, instant birthday cake, the best of the year. I like places with no set menu, where the chefs use what’s good depending on the day or season. The repurposed furniture-store fit-out is awesome, too. You can even see the old gelato machines churning at the back. 

Nick Jordan, writer
Master
Originally I was asked to come up with my favourite dishes of the year. It wouldn’t have made much of an article because three of them were from Master; the charred cabbage, the scallop skins and the deep-fried potato ice cream. Three deceptively simple, but exceptionally clever dishes that taste really, really good. It’s also nice to see, after so many iterations of Thai, Japanese and Middle Eastern cuisines, someone serving a clever interpretation of Chinese food.

Georgia Booth, assistant editor
Firedoor
When I was writing the cover story for Broadsheet's winter print issue, I got to know Firedoor intimately. I learned how chef Lennox Hastie mastered cooking over wood, and how different types of trees imbue the food with different flavours. My expectations were high, and the first thing I bit into – a huge prawn, salt-crusted and hot from the fire – was ecstasy. It was so pure and sweet, one of those rare moments when you involuntarily close your eyes as you savour it, fully in the moment. 

Sammy Preston, writer
Redfern Continental and Gunther's Dining Room (GDR)
I love Arcadia Liquors, so I naturally gravitated toward any projects by the same outfit. I like the open-all-day, European feel, and the food is friendly, inexpensive and satisfying. Hidden bars are immediately fun (that basement bar at Frankie's, for example), and GDR is no exception. Negronis are great, along with faux-crystal tumblers, olive-coloured velour and a spinning disco ball.  

BARS

Sophie McComas, editor
Continental Deli
Porteño co-owner Elvis Abrahanowicz hasn’t had much sleep this year. He’s been busy with the opening of Stanbuli; the new Turkish venture in Enmore, The Unicorn pub – open this week in Paddington in collaboration with the Mary’s guys – and before all that, he opened Continental Deli Bar Bistro in Newtown. Every venue he touches is fantastic, but Continental Deli might be my favourite. The Martini in a can is fun and novel and you should order it, but get stuck into the range of amaros while you’re there. One should also never ignore a baked vacherin with grilled sausage lollipops.

Nick Gordon, writer
Hotel Palisade
The Palisade has been spectacularly revived. The renovation acknowledged the pub's storied past and avoided the generic, boring makeover too many pubs receive these days. It's a pub with a great drinks list and an amazing, only-in-Sydney backdrop. It's the kind of place you can settle in to for hours. 

Nick Jordan, writer
Maybe Frank
The best cocktails I had this year weren’t from a fine-dining restaurant, or even from a bar, they were from Andrea Gualdi at Maybe Frank. Gualdi is incredible, charming and beautiful, as are his drinks. He puts a lot of effort into all of his creations, and I’m happy to see he’s gained some kudos for his Sophia, designed to be how “a kiss from the most beautiful woman in the world would taste”.

Mitch Lui, photographer
Kagura
Kagura in Surry Hills is the perfect izakaya place for small groups. It has a great whiskey collection, and its use of Japanese whiskey is on point. Its cocktails are also amazing. One of my favourite cocktails there is the Mononoke - a twist on a whisky sour using Hakushu, grapefruit, basil-infused honey and roasted buckwheat tea foam. There's no Old Fashioned on the menu but if you ask for one, they’ll make one with Yamazaki.

Georgia Booth, assistant editor
Middlebar
I love Middlebar because I love gin. I also love it because it’s very close to our office. The Gin & Tonics here come served in copa glasses – a beautiful, fishbowl-shaped goblet, with multiple gin, tonic and garnish options. It's a classic pairing, lifted. If you get peckish, order dumplings ($1 each on Wednesday nights) from Johnny Wong's downstairs and sit on the balcony overlooking Taylor Square to people watch. 

CAFES

Sammy Preston, writer
Edition Coffee Roasters
Being inventive at breakfast isn't easy to pull off – I think there have been a few examples of fusion before 9am that have been novel, but otherwise lost in translation. The Nordic-meets-Japanese menu at Edition is interesting, without being fussy – head elsewhere if you're after hash browns or avocado on toast. 

Leigh Griffiths, photographer
Bake Kobo
After I visited Japan for the first time earlier in the year, I was seriously in need of good-quality, homemade, Japanese-style bakery goods. Bake Kobo is like being transported back to my favourite cafe in suburban Tokyo and, for that reason, among others (the red-bean buns), it’s one of the few places I revisit on a regular basis. Bonus goodness: it's opposite Black Market Roasters, where I get my favourite coffee. Both these vendors are passionate and lovely people and this trait is what shines through in the quality of their products.

Nick Jordan, writer
Glider KS
Glider KS wasn’t the best cafe I ate at this year, Wolfe and Co was, but I’m vouching for Glider KS because it’s part of how I like to imagine Sydney’s future. Despite the incredible amount of cultural diversity in Sydney, the cafe scene has only started to stray away from a cuisine that simply riffs on different ways to do eggs, muesli and things on toast. Glider KS goes a step further by serving excellent coffee with cafe-modified Thai food. On top of that it’s located in a heritage terrace as part of Chippendale’s incredible Kensington Street development.

Sophie McComas, editor
Café Oratnek
I’m not sure there’s a better place for a crumbed pork fillet than between two slices of white bread, and the pork katsu sandwich at Oratnek is one of this town’s best, with Japanese barbeque sauce, cabbage and mustard. The staff is cheery and there’s a sweet terrace for sunny mornings, just how it should be.

Riley Wilson, writer
Rabbit Hole Tea Bar
This shrine to what is (in my opinion) the holiest of hot beverages is well considered, intentionally designed and sparking with creative ways to explore tea. The Alpha Dominche steampunk brewing system brews tea that can only be served in stemware. The vast selection of blended teas means that visiting just once isn't an option. Tea, any way you want it; it's just what Sydney needed.

Georgia Booth, assistant editor
Gratia
I walked past Gratia every day for months waiting for it to open, watching the crew have meetings and get the place ready behind glass doors. It’s such a pleasant addition to Bourke Street – with the cutest, sunniest courtyard, street seating for dogs and the kind of cafe food you always feel like eating. I don't know how they run a cafe with 100 per cent of the profits going to charity, but it’s great to choose which charity my money is going to every time I eat there. 

Kimberly Low, photographer
Lixie Chocolaterie
This year, my favourite shoot was with Lixie Chocolaterie in Surry Hills. There's something so sacred about purchasing top-quality, gorgeous, handmade chocolate directly from the maker (in this instance the lovely Miga Aboulian). I love seeing people master their art, produce in-house and be able to bring it to a wide audience with warm, personal charm. Stepping into this shop evokes classic Paris, a vibe many try but fail to emulate.