Set in a former 1930s beachside changing pavilion, the new restaurant of chefs James Parry and Jonathan Barthelmess recently won a prestigious “hat,” the local equivalent of a Michelin star, from the Sydney Morning Herald. The white split-level dining room draws discerning local food lovers with a Mediterranean-inspired menu of dishes such as scallops with celery ragu and bagna cauda (an Italian sauce of anchovy, garlic and olive oil), cuttlefish and eggplant with chilies and lemon, John Dory with white beans in a light vinaigrette, and roast lamb with caponata. Delicious desserts include cocoa ravioli with Gorgonzola and honey. The wine list is outstanding, too. West Esplanade, Manly Cove. Tel. 9949-9011.
After a stint with Marco Pierre White in London, Australian chef Martin Benn worked for many years as head chef at the famous Sydney restaurant Tetsuya's before launching his own place in the central business district last year. With a low-lit décor that combines elements of an old-fashioned men's club with those of a Parisian brasserie, it is a popular spot for corporate dining at noon, but draws serious gourmets in the evening. Benn's menus follow the seasons, but often include superb starters such as crab and buckwheat risotto with mustard butter, and main courses such as an Angus tenderloin steak with short ribs, buffalo-milk “tofu,” roasted quinoa and garlic flowers. 201 Sussex Street. Tel. 9283-1990.
Located in arty, upscale Surry Hills, this place was named Restaurant of the Year 2010 by the Sydney Morning Herald. Chef Mark Best cooked with the great chefs of France before coming home and hanging out his shingle. The service is a bit precious, but Best's food is superb, so the multicourse tasting menu is recommended. It changes often, but may include dishes such as roasted shrimp with mustard-and-ham vinaigrette; beetroot and locally made goat cheese salad; grated smoked squid salad; and cod with mushrooms and kumquats. There is a fine assortment of wines by the glass. 4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills. Tel. 9332-2225.