The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog

A rundown of favourite new places to eat/drink in 2011 – so far

August 15th, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  11 Comments

The Carrington, Surry Hills

You could accuse 2011 of being a repeat offender when it comes to good new places to dine.


Surry Hills is often the scene of this particular crime, given the location of the recently opened The Carrington and its likeable pintxos bar meets old-school pub approach; the truly excellent Orto Trading Co. (still titleholder of “favourite new restaurant” for me) and its Latin street-food neighbour, El Capo.

Only footsteps away is the brilliant 121BC Cantina & Enoteca, which opened in early 2011. It’s a spin-off from the Vini family, which has a great culinary gene pool. Like at Vini, owner Andrew Cibej creates magic from the smallest of kitchens – and the vegetarian options are excellent, from the fried cauliflower with mint and taleggio to the creamy clouds of buffalo mozzarella spiked with chilli or the beautifully fanned out artichokes (only $4). And you can tour all the regions of Italy simply via your wine glass.

Cre Asion, Surry Hills

Macarons somehow seem immune to overkill – despite being ubiquitous like a tabloid celebrity no one wants to read about anymore, people are still keen to get their meringue/ganache fix. And when it’s done with invention and skill, like at Cre Asion (which is also, yes, in Surry Hills and actually located next to Vini/121BC’s sibling, Berta), then this sweet’s unending popularity is well justified. Owner Yu Sasaki pays tribute to his time in the kitchen at Universal with an excellent Golden-Gaytime-flavoured macaron named after former boss Christine Manfield. The flavour spectrum spans from Cranberry to Yuzu ($2.70 each, or $21 for 8), with oddities such as White Miso (a buttery-salt-bomb). You can also pick up excellent toasties, like the Kalamata Olive, Tomato, Basil and House-Made Ricotta sandwich, with its golden grill marks (a telltale sign of well-toasted goodness), and takeaway packages of Olive Shortbread ($7). Oh and when you’re there, waiting amongst the butterfly stools, how could you not fall in love with Cre Asion’s amazing ode to Mr Bread?


2011 has also seen Sydney go through Bad Mexican Food Rehab, with some excellent (and overdue) takes on the often mishandled cuisine. Mexicano in Narrabeen opened at the start of the year and is still the best of its kind I’ve had in this city. I still think about its street-style Grilled Corn with chipotle mayo, lime and cheese – all fired up and charged with flavour. There’s of course, Dan Hong’s excellent take on Mexican (via a culinary stopover in Vietnam) at El Loco in Surry Hills. I’ve yet to try any of the soft-serve offerings on tap at this canteen, but the Cinnamon Bun with Churros option sounds awesome. On the topic of Mexican food, Barrio Chino in Kings Cross is not too bad, either. And though its cuisine spans many more borders, within walking distance of that eatery is the culinary wonderland that is Gastro Park.

The Dip

When it opened in May, I remember saying that The Dip inspired “I’m so glad this exists” gratitude. I’m obviously not alone as this canteen is increasingly more popular with every visit I make. And while the eternal Ice Cold Guac vs Cookies & Cream dessert-ordering battle continues (they are both flat-out great, so how to decide?), complicating this has been Levins’ recent addition of Peanut Butter & Jelly as a special and Ross Eldridge’s talk of experimenting with a Bubble O’ Bill-style concoction only makes things more interesting.


And in 2011, there have been great new places to park your drink on a coaster, from the living-room-sized Grandma’s Bar in the city, where beverages are served with doilies, to Stitch’s offering of curly fries, cocktails and couture and Dry Land in Redfern’s two-in-one handiness as both a diner and bar, saving you from the “where to go next”? debate that can often go nowhere after a meal is long-finished and you really need to get things moving.

John and Peter Canteen, Carriageworks

And here are some note-worthy places that are due to open later this year:

-In September, the John and Peter Canteen pop-up cafe gets a makeover and a later curfew – besides lunch, there’ll be a dinner service, too.

-Brilliant chefs Daniel Puskas and James Parry (who have wanted to open a restaurant together since their time at Oscillate Wildly) are finally teaming up for Sixpenny in Stanmore, scheduled to be ready in October.

-A new Fratelli Fresh and Cafe Sopra (with mozzarella bar) is slated to open on Bridge Street in the city.

Arras, Walsh Bay

-The wonderful Arras has relocated and is setting up in Becasse’s old spot on Clarence Street in the city, with a hole-in-the-wall cafe called Arras Too due to keep it company.

-The also-great Bentley has a city offshoot in the works, scheduled for later this year.

-Chui Lee Luk of Claude’s will be opening a casual Asian eatery in Surry Hills in November (I joked on Twitter that I hoped she’d honour the Chinese restaurant tradition of leaky teapots – she wittily replied with “maximal tea spillage guaranteed if you request it”.)

-And Star City will see the opening of the new David Chang restaurant and Adriano Zumbo patisserie (with interiors done by Luchetti Krelle, a local studio known for its award-winning and diner-impressing work).

Tell me what I’ve missed …!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Siobhan C says:

    This round-up is timely given my impending visit to Sydney this coming weekend…thank you.

  2. Wow, what a great round up of new places in Sydney this year. I use your blog as an ideas generator of places to go!

    The only new place I’ve been to this year that isn’t on your list is 4143 at James Barnes. I think the food and atmosphere is pretty good. Just a small about the location and temperature (it can be a bit cold, so wait for spring).

  3. leetranlam says:

    Thanks Siobhan & Richard, nice to know you will find this post handy! Siobhan, I think you’d really like lunch at Orto Trading Co (dinner bookings need about two week’s notice, alas, although you can always try your luck with a seat at the bar) and Cre Asion is a little gem. And there are a few spots with interesting interiors, too (like Mike Delaney’s handiwork at the back of the Carrington; some might be into Sibella Court’s stamp on El Loco, too).
    Richard, thanks for your tip (complete with weather-friendly suggestion), too!

  4. Kate says:

    I have nothing to add except my admiration and gratitude! Am ever so grateful for your blog, Lee Tran: it is bright beacon on the long road to good restaurant decisions. 🙂

  5. Cafe Sopra in the city? With mozzarella bar?? Music to my ears!
    Dry Land is definitely one of my faves of the year – love love love the place 🙂

  6. Sophie says:

    fantastic post!

    Jamie Oliver’s Italian is opening on Pitt st in Oct too!

  7. Thanks for the recap! Bookmarked!

  8. Bec Hem says:

    i love the thought of a pop up cafe! great roundup, thankyou!

  9. Great post! Excellent summation of everything exciting thus far in 2011. What a great year it has been and it’s nowhere near finished!

  10. Amazing post! I have heard some great things about The Dip, I’m so excited to try it out.

  11. jenius says:

    Wow, an impressive and handy round-up! Sydney’s food scene is really coming alive this year!

Your Comments



Hi, I'm Lee Tran Lam. When not blogging with my mouth full, I'm usually writing, presenting Local Fidelity on FBi radio, making zines, producing podcasts or continually breaking promises about how I really am gonna get through my book pile one day.

All the good pictures on this blog are by photography ace (and patient boyfriend), Will Reichelt, (all the dodgy ones can be credited to me)!

The lovely banner is by friend and ultra-talented illustrator Grace Lee.

This site redesign was made possible by the next-level generosity and expertise of Daniel Boud, whose code-tinkering ways are only outranked by his seriously inspired way with a camera.

You can read more about my co-conspirators here.

This is a blog I do for pure fun and zero influence – there's no sponsorship, sneaky advertorial or advertising. I pay for all the food mentioned, 'cos it seems the ethical thing to do.


This is a blog about eating and drinking in Sydney, Australia (with the odd cross-border or off-topic detour). BYO appetite.

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.