New Sydney Hotels, Restaurants and Experiences Kiwis Must Try
The Crown Towers and the International Towers in Barangaroo, Sydney. The Crown is now Sydney’s tallest building. Photo / 123RF
I’m afraid to eat octopus. All those suckers and tentacles? No thanks.
But as I sat down at a new fine dining restaurant on Sydney’s waterfront, celebrating the opening of the transtasman bubble, I thought to myself that if there was a moment to step out of my comfort zone, this was the moment.
It’s been so long since I last traveled abroad, I forgot one of the things I love most about it – it always makes me try new things. I am becoming a braver and more adventurous person abroad.
While the Kiwis have been busy exploring our own backyard for the past year or so, Sydney has had a makeover. Here are the latest offers from the Big Smoke – optional octopus.
Smart technology. A lively neighborhood. A wonderful rooftop bar. A delightfully comfortable bed. Little National opened in September 2020 as a chic and affordable luxury hotel. The rooms are compact, but cleverly designed so that there is everything you need and nothing you don’t. Located next to Wynyard Station, Sydney’s main attractions are all within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport. There is a great rooftop bar but no restaurant at the hotel, which means guests can make the most of the area’s vibrant food scene.
Other new hotels include the Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbor, Crown Sydney, which is in the city’s tallest building in the newly developed Barangaroo district, or the Fullerton Hotel at Martin Place; a beautiful historic building.
Barangaroo is Sydney’s last waterfront dining district, which has slowly opened up over the past few years. The Crown Hotel, which rises to 271.3m, opened in December 2020, along with its unique show kitchen restaurant, Woodcut.
With three open kitchens, Woodcut offers a bespoke dining experience with an emphasis on wood, charcoal and steam cooking.
And here’s where the octopus comes in. I asked the waiter for her recommendations for celebrating the best in Australian cuisine and the first thing she pointed to was the octopus. My fate was sealed. There was no hiding what it looked like on my plate, but I blocked the tentacles of my mind and nibbled on a delicious smoky dish with charcuterie dressing and skordalia. My main course, filet steak with Paris butter, practically dissolved in my mouth.
For an affordable but hearty lunch option in Barangaroo, try Belles Chicken for Nashville-style hot chicken and natural wine. A former pop-up store, it now has a permanent home on Barangaroo Avenue on the waterfront. Think sliders and tender fried chicken ranging from “south” to “sex panther”.
South Eveleigh, near Redfern Station, is another exciting new food and drink area. The old railway sheds are being restored and transformed, with a number of restaurants already open. It’s still a work in progress, but be sure to grab a drink at Re, a pioneering zero-waste bar on Locomotive St.
For breakfast, Hester’s Cafe and Bar on Carrington Street prepares classic breakfasts with spice – and of course, great coffee. My poached eggs on toast were topped with heaps of shaved ham and salsa verde – a dish the barista told me was quickly becoming a locals favorite.
Further down on King St, Sammy Junior is a chic new cafe and cocktail cafe. Start the day with toast with feta and chili – just a hint of kick in the morning without overwhelming the dish – and come back in the late afternoon for cocktails.
Take a guided cultural tour of the restored Barangaroo Reserve to learn about the area and its cultural and historical significance to indigenous peoples. Over 80 species of native plants have been planted here; 79 of them are endemic to the region. It is a beautiful public space with walking and cycling trails, made from crushed sandstone to recreate the original reserve.
Stroll past the neighborhood art installations and head along the waterfront to eat and shop; get lost (in a good way) at Title, one of the best independent book and record stores I’ve visited in a long time. Grab a sweet treat and a long black at Shortstop Coffee & Donuts, or something stronger at Shirt Bar or Australia’s first vermouth bar, Banksii.
For another cultural education, head over to The Rocks this month for Sculpture Rocks, a free outdoor exhibition of Japanese sculpture that runs from May 20 to June 3. The exhibition presents the works of several Japanese artists, most of them in stone.
One of the highlights of visiting Sydney this year is the musical Hamilton, the breathtaking story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton blending hip-hop, jazz and R&B music. Grab a pre-show bite at the upscale Japanese restaurant Sokyo before you blow your socks off in awe of the high energy of the show at the Sydney Lyric Theater.
For a truly invigorating adventure, go with Sophie Morgan from Oz Paddle on a sunrise kayaking tour of Sydney Harbor. While not a whole new experience, it offers a new perspective of the city, as you paddle past Fort Denison, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House, bathed in dawn light, while you paddle past Fort Denison, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House. riding the strange wave of the Manly Ferry.
Sophie’s knowledge of the harbor and surrounding landmarks is phenomenal and she is sure to capture so many photos of you in action.
DETAILSAir New Zealand flies direct from Auckland to Sydney, with round-trip fares starting at $ 180.
Please check the latest border restrictions in each state and territory before traveling. For more information visit australia.com