Last weekend, four friends from Melbourne visited. We ate and drank our way around Sydney, with a trip to the beach and Barangaroo thrown in for luck. Here is a summary of our dining experiences…

On Friday night, we went to Hubert Restaurant and managed to score the private dining room. This worked perfectly, as it was much cooler and quieter, thus allowing us to catch up with each other more easily. After much debate (there are too many delicious dishes to choose from), we shared the baguette (slightly salty  and all the better for it), Malakof (amazing fried cheese), Mushroom au Poivre (the largest mushroom I have ever seen), Chicken a la jardiniere (great dish to share…if you don’t mind the chicken’s head being included, and I really want the bread sauce recipe), Pommes Anna (a twist on layered potatoes), the Salade (huge portion), Kimchi Gratin (I didn’t try this as I am not a fan of cabbage, but I was told it was lovely) and Cheese Plate (Wensleydale, a goats cheese from Victoria and blue from France).

After a leisurely Saturday morning, we drove to The Newport. I had been wanting to visit since Merivale re-opened it in March earlier this year, and it did not disappoint. The view (above) is as stunning as always, but everything else is different from The Newport Arms. It really is the perfect place to while away a weekend afternoon. In addition to the views, I loved the relaxed, Hamptons feel, the lack of queues (helped by the fact that there are 4 different food kiosks selling seafood, burgers, salads, pizzas, fresh juices, great coffee & cakes, and of course frose), the water mist to help you cool down, live music and kids area with giant scrabble and table tennis. They also have yoga classes, free movie nights and interactive kids entertainment. It’s the ultimate summer destination. We could have easily stayed all the day, but Newport Beach was calling.

After a swim at the beach to cool down, we freshened up at home, and went to The Light Brigade. Unfortunately, this was just a comedy of errors from start to finish. I had wanted to check out the Rooftop Bar since it opened a few weeks ago and was looking forward to checking out the views. They don’t take bookings for the rooftop and I wasn’t sure how busy it would be, so I booked a table for dinner downstairs at Brigade Dining at 8pm. We didn’t arrive at the Rooftop Bar until 7.45pm. Initially, the bouncer told us there was a 40 minute wait and that their rooftop licence ended at 8.30pm. I asked if we could have a quick look before dinner and he agreed we could have 2 minutes. Once we got to the rooftop bar, we counted 50 people, despite a sign saying they can fit 80 people, and spotted several empty tables. On our way down, I asked the bouncer why there is a 40 minute wait when the venue is half empty, and was told that 30 people had pass outs! This has to be the most ridiculous policy I have ever heard of; they are losing out on so much money. I suspect the majority of people with pass outs will not even return to the rooftop bar on the same day. The view was good, but there are so many venues in Sydney with great views.

Once we went downstairs for dinner, it started well and they almost redeemed the venue. Our table was set for 6 people, but they quickly re-arranged the whole restaurant so that one of our 3 tables could be moved. Our waiter was friendly but wasn’t great on calculating wine. The first 2 glasses were filled to the brim, thus there was only enough to half fill the fifth glass. My cousin and I shared the Slow-Cooked Milly Hill Lamb Shoulder with Crispy Kale, with a side of Buttered Potatoes and Mint. On the whole, the meat was generally very tender, though some parts were slightly dry on top. The jus was delicious and the shoulder was huge – you could easily feed at least 3 (the menu says it is for 2). One of my friends wasn’t so lucky, as her Barramundi (with Celery, Artichoke, Cos, Lemon and Beurre Blanc) also had a live spider on it! The waitress was very apologetic and replaced the meal, we were shocked to find the Barramundi was still on the bill! In summary, I shall never return to either the Rooftop Bar or Dining Room. There are far too many other great bars and restaurants in Sydney.

The silver lining of the evening was that on the way back to the car we passed Charlie Parker’s. When we stopped to have a look through the window, the bouncer told us it was beautiful inside and we should take a look. So we did. The staff here were in stark contrast to The Light Brigade. They were helpful and knowledgable, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. It was the perfect way to end a great day! I have table booked at the restaurant upstairs, Fred’s, in a few weeks and am even more excited now.

After another relaxing morning, we decided to check out Broadsheet Restaurant, as the pop-up is closing on Sunday. In their words, “From the coffee to the cocktails, the fit out to the furniture and most importantly, the menu, the Broadsheet Restaurant represents the best of Sydney. Our team of restaurateurs, bartenders and cafe operators have created an experience that combines everything we love about dining in the city: our favourite dishes, our best-loved coffee and most creative drinking all under one roof.” Given this description, and the cafes and restaurants involved (eg -Porteno, Reuben Hills, The Boathouse, Nomad, Bulletin Place etc) my expectations were pretty high. My first impression was surprise that it was half empty at 1pm; I wasn’t even sure we would get a table. My next impression was underwhelm when looking at the menu. The breakfast/lunch menu was quite limited, and seemed mostly aimed at brunchers. I had a peek at the dinner menu, and that only had a few extra options. I was also surprised at some of the dishes they chose, such as Crispy Brussel Sprouts from Porteno (a very meat orientated restaurant) and a cheese toastie from Mary’s (a bar renown for its burgers). The Social Dog from Kensington Street Social was good, though on the small side.

In summary, you must go to Charlie Parker’s, Hubert Restaurant and The Newport, but I would skip The Light Brigade if I were you.