Sydney’s lower north shore has undergone a renaissance of late, welcoming a whole host of bars, cafes and restaurants. It’s no wonder the suburbs that hug the waters of Sydney Harbour; Neutral Bay, Cremorne and Kirribilli are quickly becoming a drawcard for those looking to dine and drink. These flourishing neighbourhoods are bursting with weekend activities so we have put together an hour-by-hour guide of new and old favourites to while away a north-side Saturday.
8am: Coffee and a Pastry at Bourke Street Bakery (Neutral Bay)
In a hidden, back corner of Neutral Bay sits one of the little sisters of the much-loved Bourke Street original. Drop by for the same delicious bakery fare, without the queues. Tiny tables and steel stools pepper the footpath and you can enjoy signature favourites to go with your strong morning coffee, such as sausage rolls filled with lamb and harissa, or chorizo and thyme; sweet bruleed ginger tarts and handmade organic sourdough.
9am: Wander around Kirribilli Markets
Bradfield Park, Corner of Alfred and Burton Streets, Milson’s Point
The Kirribili Markets are a Sydney institution. Stalls spill out from beneath the Harbour Bridge and across the sloping lawns of Milson’s Point. Shopping under the looming Harbour Bridge is a joy in itself and you’ll find a mixture of regular stallholders selling their wares and Sydneysiders emptying their wardrobes. Weave through the constellation of stalls, (you won’t regret a detour via the gozleme stand) and take your time to browse a treasure trove of goods. If you work up an appetite, Kirribili Markets boasts some of the best market food Sydney has to offer, from African, Chinese, Turkish, Thai, Malaysian, a bakery, Dutch Poffertjes, coffee and juice as well as other stands selling baked goods, sweets, nougat and biscuits.
The general market featuring a mixture of new and second-hand fashion, antiques and collectables, bric-a-brac and homewares is held on the fourth Saturday of each month from 8.30–3pm. The fashion-specific market is held on the first Saturday of each month and the next is on March 9 from 9am–3pm.
10:30am Late Breakfast at Anvil and Co (Kirribilli)
Built into Kirribilli Wharf, this cafe offers produce-driven dishes, single-origin coffee and harbour vistas to boot. In-house coffee roaster Sasha Jade of Fat Poppy Specialty Coffee created a custom blend for Anvil and has brought in single origin coffees from Guatemala and El Salvador, served black to showcase their complex flavours. Its seasonal menu uses Luxe Bakery breads and cakes delivered daily. For breakfast, try its gluten- and dairy-free toasted quinoa muesli with rhubarb compote and almond milk, or the generously layered quinoa tabouleh with Meredith Dairy goat’s cheese and avocado on sourdough.
11:30am Swim at North Sydney Olympic Pool (Milson’s Point)
4 Alfred Street South, Milson’s Point 2061
(02) 9955 2309
North Sydney Olympic Pool occupies a prime position right on the water. It’s a shimmering 50-metre rectangle where Olympic dreams were realised and over 86 records were set. Not only is the view spectacular, but the pool, which has been enjoyed since the 1930s, boasts beautiful exposed brickwork, art-deco design and decorative plasterwork. Nestled beneath the Harbour Bridge and next to the cheery grin of Luna Park, you can enjoy these iconic landmarks between laps.
12:30pm Lunch at The Botanist
The Botanist has quickly become a popular local watering hole. The interiors and cocktail menu draw inspiration from the travels of historical botanist Gerard Fothergill; who reportedly spent the twilight years of his life in the same spot. Think botanical infusions and a global menu from head chef Mark Williamson. Food is delicious and made for sharing.
Cremorne Point boasts some impressive harbour-side walking tracks that wind through lush gardens blooming with hydrangeas and parcels of native bushland. There’s an abundance of picnic spots, places for the kids to play, grand houses and harbour views to enjoy and, if you feel that way inclined, visit the treasured MacCallum Pool for a dip. Framed by timber decking and shaded by trees, it’s an ideal place to relax, sunbake and fritter away a summer’s day.
4pm Afternoon Drinks at SoCal
It’s the sense of humour and relaxation that gives SoCal its unique atmosphere; the Californian ease translates well to Sydney. Wait staff chat to you like old friends, the food – such as tequenos stuffed with oozing cheese – is made to accompany robust conversation. Design firm Luchetti Krelle – of Momofuku Seiobo and Ananas fame – is responsible for the fit-out, featuring bright colours, pale wood and a plethora of fresh greenery. The outdoor terrace is strung with coloured lights and evokes the beach bars of San Diego. It feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of Military Road outside and is the perfect place for an afternoon holiday.
6pm: Choc-top and an early movie at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
380 Military Road, Cremorne
(02) 9908 4344
A trip to Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace is like a step back in time. From the lovingly restored art-deco details, to the gold fretwork and uniforms of the ushers, it’s worth visiting for the rush of nostalgia alone. With exquisite glass light fittings, walled-mirrors, golden silhouette statues and red velvet curtains it’s no wonder this palace of pictures is a much-loved cinema treasure. The drama of the design deserves applause alone, but what could be more theatrical than the grand 87-year-old Wurlitzer organ that ascends from a space in the floor to reveal its own organist – performances precede Saturday evening screenings. Grab yourself a classically Australian choc-top and settle into one of the plush velvet chairs and enjoy the best of the silver screen.
9pm: Afro Fries at Radio Cairo
83 Spofforth Street, Mosman
(02) 9908 2649
Like the Hayden Orpheum, the restaurant Radio Cairo (located just across the street) has transportative qualities, only this time you’ll be catapulted into the heart of Africa. The cuisine is a melting pot of exotic fare, expect a taste of Africa with Caribbean undertones, a sprinkling of Cuba and even a dash of India. The dishes are far-flung but full-throttled in flavour and boast energising aromas. Each dish pops with flavour from the legendary New Orleans-style Cajun popcorn shrimp, to the addictive Afro fries with paprika mayo. Tunisian slow-roasted (five-hour) lamb shanks slide off the bone, while the Mozambique tiger prawns piri piri are deliciously spicy. World music and a laidback vibe complete the Africana experience and if you haven’t booked, sit at the bar while you wait and soak up the energy of the dining room.