I concur that food is a huge determining factor in the destination travellers choose to embark on, as I for one would travel the distance for the love of food.
Most travellers would venture out in search for local culinary gems, as opposed to dining-in at the hotel –apart from maybe breakfast. In the aspects of food, many would seek variety as well as quality, and a whole lot of exploring, discoveries and adventure while on vacation.
A great way to experience the culture of a country is via the palate.
In this post, I will share some food gems in Sydney that are within easy reach from Hilton Sydney where I stayed, which includes a diversity of authentic street fare, comfort food and fine dining.
Arriving at Hilton Sydney at 10am from a 6-hour flight, we proceeded to the Executive Lounge for breakfast while waiting to check in. A chic setting on the 36th floor, with a city view to boot, there are food and beverages, secretarial services, complimentary computers and WIFI provided at the Executive Lounge.
The breakfast selection at the Executive Lounge includes fresh fruits, yogurt, pastries, salad, cold cuts, cheeses, juices, coffee and tea, and more. As compared to the buffet spread at the main restaurant, Glass Brasserie, where most guests have their breakfast, this is not a huge array, but suffices.
Hilton Sydney is strategically located in the heart of the city, where shopping opportunities are aplenty, and in close proximity to Chinatown and Circular Quay, smacked in the middle of these two prominent places of interests in Sydney.
The Hilton Executive Room where I luxuriated in, and recharge my batteries, is a modern and spacious room with wireless Internet access, work desk and ergonomic chair amongst other amenities.
Guests staying in the Hilton Executive Room are given access to the Executive Lounge where they can enjoy complimentary breakfast, teatime snacks, evening drinks and canapés throughout the day.
The dining scene in Sydney is unquestionably vibrant and exciting with endless possibilities. If I had to name the most memorable dining experience I’ve had in Sydney, it would actually be at Glass Brasserie, right in the premises of Hilton Sydney.
Highly patronised by locals and foreigners alike, Glass Brasserie combines the stunning interiors by internationally acclaimed New York designer Tony Chi and the exceptional culinary expertise of local celebrity restaurateur Luke Mangan.
The 240-seater restaurant is enclosed with a 13-metre floor-to-ceiling glass wall that frames a captivating view of the outsides, where diners who manage to secure a seat by the window get to enjoy the mesmerising view of the sky changing colours in the evening.
Kitchen matters are transparent in which curious diners can watch food being meticulously prepared and sent out in a flurry from the theatrical open kitchen.
Crisp Zucchini Flower with Goat’s Cheese, Corn, Preserved Lemon and Salsa Verde ($8 pp)
Kick-start the meal with the highly appetising starter of zucchini flower that’s stuffed with goat’s cheese and corn, thinly coated in tempura batter and fried to crisp perfection.
Fish of the Day – Roasted Whole Flounder, Wilted Spinach, Prawn & Speck a la Meuniere ($49)
Fish of the Day was a pristinely fresh roasted whole flounder, served on a bed of wilted spinach and topped with prawn and smoky red bell peppers.
Recommended sides to go with the mains include the luscious Truffle Mash ($13) and the highly addictive Parmesan & Truffle French Fries ($13).
Sheep’s Yoghurt Cheesecake with Macerated Melons ($20)
Desserts are outstanding. Inviting options to the sweet tooth include the Toffee Soufflé with Pecan Butter Ice Cream ($22) and the Vanilla Crème Brulee with Macadamia Biscotti ($17), both in which I enjoyed thoroughly.
The Sheep’s Yoghurt Cheesecake with Macerated Melons ($20) left a deep impression –it is one of the most unique cheesecakes I’ve had.
Pistachio Olive Cake, Fig & Thyme Cream, White Chocolate Ice Cream ($19)
The Pistachio Olive Cake, Fig & Thyme Cream, White Chocolate Ice Cream seemed like a healthier alternative that’s highly likely to satisfy a dessert-lover who is on a stringent diet.
For more information on Glass Brasserie, visit Glassbrasserie.com.au.
Local markets are my favourite places to visit whenever I travel to a foreign country –that’s where you absorb the unpretentious vibes of local lifestyle.
Eveleigh Farmer’s Market is a popular market based in the heart of Sydney that takes place every Saturday.
It is a market with a strong community spirit that sees over 70 local farmers and artisan food producers pack their trucks with their fresh, seasonal and homemade produce they grow, rear or make.
Bustling with activities, the fresh and high-quality local products are the market’s biggest appeal.
A slew of dog owners would shop with their paw pals tagging along by their sides, and stall vendors and shoppers are perfectly cool with it. It is immensely heart-warming to see how well pets are accepted in food-shopping premises.
Some farmers travel a long way across the country with a truckload of fresh produce or meats, arriving from different states, to gather at this farmer’s market.
Fancy healthy homemade granolas?
Farmer Jo makes really yummy granola in a myriad of flavours.
The biggest highlight of my trip to Eveleigh Farmer’s Market was meeting TV Personality and Chef, Kylie Kwong, in person. Well we do know she resides in Australia, but never did we expect her, a celebrated celebrity chef, to be whipping up street fare in person at the market, at Billy Kwong stall. I was in disbelief and in doubt until we had someone pop the question. “Are you Kylie’s sister?” “No, I’m Kylie.” It was hilarious.
For more information on Eveleigh Farmer’s Market, visit: Eveleighmarket.com.au.
Moving on to another popular market in Sydney: the history of Paddington Markets dates back to 1973. It started with the intention of encouraging local fashion designers, craftspeople, jewellery makers and artists to showcase their talents.
The market now has over 150 unique stalls festooned with exquisite fashion accessories, beautiful-smelling soaps and candles, pictures and art pieces.
Paddington Markets is a community-based market supporting local people passionate about their craft and the local community. For more info, see: www.paddingtonmarkets.com.au/about-paddington-markets-sydney.
To experience life as a local, street food is a must-have. Take a short walk from Hilton Sydney and land yourself at Harry’s Café de Wheels. This establishment is over 70 years old, and has maintained its tradition and quality of its pies.
Its menu consists of hotdog buns, and a delectable range of pies.
My top pick: chicken pie topped with mashed potato, crushed peas and gravy –this is an absolute comfort food. I’m craving for it at this very instance and my stomach is growling as I’m typing this.
For the list of outlets and more information, visit: Harryscafedewheels.com.au
Ask any local for food recommendations at Circular Quay, and Pancakes On The Rocks is likely to emerge in the list. This 24-hour pancake joint has a snaking queue outside its doors.
Vanilla & Choc Surprise ($10.95)
For the best of both worlds, I ordered the Vanilla & Choc Surprise that comes with both the buttermilk and chocolate pancake, sided with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce.
Verdict? A tad overrated I must say. I mean, to what extend can regular pancakes impress a discerning diner? That being said, it’s a great hangout spot for families and friends –very cheery vibe.
For more information, visit: http://www.pancakesontherocks.com.au/
Activities. If you’re an avid cook and a food enthusiast, the hands-on cooking class at Sydney Seafood School is something you should not pass up.
The Seafood BBQ Cookery Course that includes lunch commenced at a well-equipped auditorium where we take in cooking tips during the demonstration of dishes.
Pay close attention, because what’s demonstrated is what you will be cooking later on in the programme.
After the demonstration, we proceeded on to the next section in groups of five, where we have to recreate the dishes, with guidance from the presenter and assistants.
After the intense cooking session, we plated up and enjoyed the seafood meal we prepared at the dining room with a bottle of wine to accompany.
It didn’t require a massive amount of effort to render succulent results. The freshness and quality of the seafood shines in every respect and speaks for itself.
For more information on Sydney Seafood School, visit: http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au/SeafoodSchool/AboutSSS/tabid/82/Default.aspx
Those thinking of exploring further out of the city can hop on the ferry at Circular Quay. One of the many options available: a return ticket to Manly Beach costs $17, and it takes about 30 minutes to get there. The journey there was an adventure in itself; the view includes Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge amongst other attractions.
Nick’s Fisherman’s Basket ($38)
Recommendations for seafood include Nick’s Seafood Restaurant, located at Darling Harbour. Hilton Sydney guests get to enjoy special perks! With every order of a main course, you get a complimentary dessert worth $14 and up. Ask the concierge for the privilege card.
I couldn’t decide on what to order, so I ended up with Nick’s Fisherman’s Basket that consists of an assortment of battered fish, tempura soft shell crab, golden tempura king prawns, panko crumbed calamari rings and chips, sided with homemade tartar sauce.
The massive portion excites me instantly! Although seeing that everything’s fried, it’s heart attack waiting to happen. Still, I enjoyed every bit to the very last crumb.
For more information, visit: http://www.nicks-seafood.com.au/NicksSeafoodRestaurant.htm
The dynamic and diverse culinary scene gives the thumbs up to German fare at Lowenbrau Keller, situated at Circular Quay. Our adventurous palates agreed in unison that a visit to Lowenbrau Keller is requisite.
Lowenbrau’s Brauteller ($30)
For a platter to share, order the Lowenbrau’s Brauteller that consists of a selection of haus-made German sausages, including frankfurter, veal sausage, thuringer, cheese kransky and numberger sausage, accompanied by sauerkraut and mashed potato.
Oven Roasted Pork Knuckle ($36)
How can a ravenous carnivore dine at a German restaurant without even considering ordering the pork knuckle?
A version so ultimately satisfying, the crackling crispy skin encases succulent juicy meat. The colossal proportion is enough to feed two empty stomachs.
For more information on Lowenbrau Keller, visit: http://www.lowenbrau.com.au/
There are countless dining options in the vicinity of Hilton Sydney, and I wish I could extend my stay to explore further! Till we meet again Sydney.
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488 George Street, Sydney, Australia NSW 2000