2015 has already smashed all of our lofty hospitality expectations. And it’s only July. Here’s our list of the best new restaurants of the year as of now. If brunch is more your thing, here's our list of the most exciting cafes of 2015.
Firedoor is the perfect meeting point of simplicity and ingenuity. The entire restaurant is based on a modest method – wood-fired cooking. Every day, chef Lennox Hastie burns a carefully chosen selection of wood – the smoke it creates forms the basis of each dish’s taste. Hastie, who was trained under master wood-fire chef Victor Arguinzoniz (chef at Asador Etxebarri in Spain’s Basque Country) simply picks the best possible ingredients, pairs them with the right woods and cooks them by instinct. The menu changes regularly, depending on the best produce available on the day. One dish to look out for is the 140-plus-day-aged rib on the bone, one of the best cuts of beef you’ll find anywhere.
Peter Gilmore’s new restaurant in the sails of the Sydney Opera House strips back the scientific complexity of Quay across the harbour and replaces it with a philosophy of simplicity and exceptional local produce. Gilmore says a whole-roasted John Dory wouldn’t gel on the menu at Quay, but at Bennelong he’s serving it with saltbush, turnips and Asian vegetables. Though don’t expect anything less visually brilliant – Gilmore’s taste for artistry is present both in his food and the extravagant décor. Try the pavlova that resembles the Opera House, with sails of meringue cutting through droplets of rhubarb and raspberry.
Waterman’s Lobster Co.
Waterman’s Lobster Co. in Potts Point is bringing the world’s most luxurious crustacean back to the people via the New England lobster roll. The rolls come in two stringently traditional styles, each in a soft, unassuming bun. There’s the Connecticut, with warm butter, or Maine style, with mayo and celery. There’s also a great selection of old- and new-style chardonnay to go with them. Waterman’s only uses meat from the claw and knuckle of Atlantic lobster to ensure the meat is sweet and tender.
Five Points Burgers
Five Points Burgers has had lines out the door since day one. That may be because North Sydney didn’t have anything like it, or maybe it’s because it serves the best American-style burgers we’ve had. Yes, that’s right. The best. It’s no surprise – the miniature North Sydney venue is by Ex-Fat Duck chef Tomislav Martinovic. There are only four options; mushroom, chicken and two classic beef styles. Try the Bronx with Brasserie Bread milk buns, double American cheese, bacon, a soft and pink-centred beef patty, onion jam, bacon and crisp lettuce.
The amount of talent in Thievery is absurd. The venue first started as a bar-restaurant hybrid from the owners of the expressive and impressive Eat Art Truck. The next phase of recruitment brought in Julian Cincotta (ex Nomad) and Jordan Mohamed (ex Rockpool) to work the menu and kitchen. The final product is a Lebanese diner styled roughly on the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. If you’re not familiar with the concept of the Lebanese diner, let’s just say you can get a roast lamb kebab next to fried chicken with garlic paste and tabouli san choy bow.