CHEF CONCIERGE • October 2018
Bill Granger is the avocado-on-toast pioneer who made Sydney-style brunching go global with his laid-back café-restaurants. His first opening, Bills in Sydney, celebrates its 25th anniversary this autumn. Here, the Australian-born chef shares his insider guide to the city where it all began
Breakfast spot worth getting up early for
Sydney is having a bit of a foodie renaissance, with lots of new openings. Room Ten (below) is a traditional Australian café, packed with locals. It’s in Darlinghurst, where I went to art school and opened the original Bills. The area has always been a bit divey, but it’s a real creative hub that hasn’t been overly gentrified. A café should be homely, a step between your actual home and the real world. Room Ten has a bit of a rough industrial vibe and feels casual. After a coffee and an avocado on toast here I’m ready to take on the world.
Favourite place for coffee?
Darlinghurst is home to the original Australian café culture, which began at Pellegrini’s in Melbourne and Galutzi and Tropicana in Sydney. Little Bishop Espresso Bar is a lovely modern place where they really care about their coffee – the vibe is slightly Kinfolk-esque, all clean lines. It’s just around the corner from the original Bills, where the ricotta hotcakes get all the attention (we sell 23,000 every week around the world), although my favourite dish is our sweetcorn fritters.
Lunch spot to take care of business
Fred’s in Paddington is like walking into an amazing American kitchen – something out of a Nora Ephron film. The atmosphere is elegant, a little Chez Panisse-y, and you won’t want to leave. Head chef Danielle Alvarez serves up beautiful, produce-driven cooking such as Sydney rock oysters with coriander and white-pepper mignonette, and carpaccio of persimmon with local goat’s curd and honey.
Where to impress on a date
For that wow factor it has to be Bennelong at the Opera House (pictured top of page) – you actually dine inside the building’s shell and the views of the sails are astonishing. I tend to pop to the raw bar before a show for sashimi and Champagne. It’s a special place, so maybe not one for a first date. The food here is exquisite; Peter Gilmore knows how to do proper fine dining.
For a lazy weekend brunch
Sean’s Panaroma (pictured above) is the perfect beach shack restaurant and a Bondi institution. It may be one of the hippest places in the world these days, but Bondi used to be a little down-at-heel and bohemian. Owner Sean Moran has captured that spirit. You’ll find old-school creatives such as film director George Miller just hanging out. Classic European dishes are scrawled across a blackboard menu, with an occasional British boarding school pudding thrown in. Sit inside and watch the chefs working or grab an outdoor seat and watch the rolling ocean.
Hip foodie hangout where children are welcome
Maurice Terzinihas created a brilliant Australian pub in Bondi Beach Public Bar. There’s live music, it’s set right on the beach (you don’t even need to wear shoes) and there’s no-fuss food for kids: bargain burgers, pizzas and fish and chips. Late at night it has a party vibe, but until early evening it’s a family favourite.
An innovative restaurant making waves
Josh Niland at Saint Peter (pictured above) is creating the most interesting food in Australia right now. He’s doing with fish what Fergus Henderson did with meat. His fish butchery is wild – he ages it, hangs it and is obsessed with fish in the way a Japanese sushi master would be.
For cocktails with a view
Sydney has an incredible history of ocean pools that make you feel as if you’re on the Amalfi Coast – old concrete public pools built around the turn of the last century. Sit above this one, at the Carl Pickering-designed and Insta-famous restaurant Icebergs, with an Aperol spritz or Campari soda, and be mesmerised by people doing laps in the waters below.
Interview by Ianthe Butt
BA is proud to be flying Team UK to Australia for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 on 20-27 October 2018. We wish them every success.