While the rest of us have been queuing for click and collect or snapping QR codes, restaurateurs, chefs and sommeliers have been busy forming new places for us to eat and drink their wonderful creations.

One of Sydney’s latest eat streets is Parramatta Square, the $3.2 billion Walker Corporation behemoth which is ready to greet the return of overseas students, office workers, locals and food lovers. It’s here that Ibby Moubadder – better known for Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant Nour in Surry Hills and his My Kitchen Rules appearance – and business partner Jorge Farah have opened Lilymu. The restaurant’s executive chef, Brendan Fong, brings a modern and fresh perspective to dishes inspired by China and Southeast Asia. Expect quirky starters of beef rendang and mozzarella spring roll or pippies with Lilymu XO sauce and kaffir lime from the wok or a shared dish of roasted duck a d Laos sausage with fragrant soy. The duo has also opened The Lobbyist, a cafe inside the NAB building at 3 Parramatta Square.

Another restaurant big gun, Bondi Icebergs’ Maurizio Terzini, has also moved west, opening CicciaBella with culinary director Nic Wong in charge. The Parramatta Square outpost of this Eastern Suburbs favourite offers an honest Italian menu of antipasto, insalata, pizza and pasta. Also check out Ruse Bar and Brasserie, where you’re treated with warm hospitality as you wine, dine and relax over a lunch or dinner of quality produce cooked on open-fire grills. The owners have also introduced the more casual Harvey’s Hot Sandwiches and Threefold Pastry to the precinct, joining Betty’s Burgers and Fishbowl. 

At Edmondson Park in Sydney’s southwest, Frasers Property has curated a collection of venues, bringing a total of 25 alfresco dining options to Ed.Square. They include seafood specialist Fishery and Co, Nepalese street eats at Hungry Sherpa, cafe and bakery Degani and kebab concept Naji’s, alongside Blueprint Cafe, the Noodle Den, chicken joint Ogalo, Masala Kitchen, Daily Bean Cafe & Dessert Bar, Sushi on Fire, Burger Point, Baby Bao and the Shed Cafe.

Back in the Sydney CBD, guests are now queuing at Crown at Barangaroo for Oncore by the Michelin-starred Clare Smyth, Ross and Sunny Lusted’s Woodcut, Alessandro Pavoni’s a’Mare, Nobu and Yoshii’s Omakase.

Kylie Kwong’s Lucky Kwong and Matt Whiley’s no-waste bar, RE, are two of the flagship venues to have recently opened at South Eveleigh. Most venues at this new dining destination, with the main stop at Locomotive Street, continue to trade while other venues plan to open in the New Year. Choose now from Eat Fuh, Fishbowl, Lobby Boy cafe, North Sandwich & Burger, Pepper Seeds, Steve Costi’s Famous Fish and Sushi Hon. They are soon to be joined by well-known The Grounds cafe and Whitton’s wide-ranging breakfast, lunch and dinner menu.

When West HQ opened in 2019, it almost deserved its own postcode. The former Rooty Hill RSL was transformed into a multipurpose entertainment venue and restaurant and bar destination. New offerings include Steak & Co by Sean Connolly, who has imported three American smoking machines from Texas, and from now until the end of January Sean’s signature Steak & Co. restaurant will be serving a special “smoked” menu, featuring all things, well, smoked. Other offerings including the Corner Café, Terrace Cafe, Eat St. Bar, Gelatissimo, New Town Thai Street Food, and chef-led venues Pizzaperta by Steve Manfredi, Warren Turnbull’s Chur Burger and Chu Restaurant by China Doll’s Steve Anastasiou.

Delicious ‘smoked’ menu.

As far as small bars in the ’burbs go, Respite is set to shake up the cocktail scene in Lugarno. Run by lifelong friends Simon Nardo and brothers Louis and Jackson Sobb, this new bar has a focus on creating memorable experiences without leaving the neighbourhood. While house-made bar snacks range from truffle mash croquettes to the signature Respite Reuben, the focus is on the drinks. Classics range from amaretto sours through to espresso martinis with their own concoctions coming with a naming credit, such as That Gin Thing by Chris, so you know who to blame for your hangover.

Closer to the Sydney CBD, Nomad restaurant owner Al Yazbek is set to open Beau, a deli-wine bar next year, just down the road from his Surry Hills diner, which will be treated as a pre-dinner drinks venue or after-Nomad hangout. In Alexandria, fans already flock to Coco Republic’s cafe and they have opened another Italian-inspired cafe, L’Americano, on the north side, inside their new Balgowlah furniture, homewares and designer goods store. 

For those on Christmas staycation, high-end beachside dining is on the cards with the opening of Banco in Whistler Street, Manly, from the same Kurtis Bosley who brought the northern beaches Corretto in Dee Why. English chef Dan Webb has been recruited to create the Banco menu, which includes simple yet sophisticated dishes ranging from baked Milawa camembert to lamb shoulder croquettes. Expect ramped up roast dinners on Sundays. If you want a craft beer to quench your thirst, the new Quakers Hat taphouse has opened in Manly Grove Business Park. This family-run micro-brewery started as a home-beer-brewing hobby and now the Robinson family has expanded into larger premises with mum Sue creating a beer-matching menu of cheese and meat platters alongside pizzas from a local supplier.

But if you are beachside on the east side, you could wait four months for an available table at Neil Perry’s much-lauded Margaret in Double Bay. But if quick fish and chips take your fancy, then the only place to stop is Josh Niland’s Charcoal Fish which offers sustainable Murray cod, shoestring chips and soft chewy rolls from a hole in the wall on New South Head Road in Rose Bay. On a scale of one to 10, it’s an 11.

The newest in Sydney Seafood.

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