Are you ready to uncover the secrets of the Sydney food and drink scene? Whether you’re travelling to the Harbour City for business and you’re looking for some great wining and dining spots, or you’re after advice for getting the most out of your holiday, prepare for rumbling tummies as we get the inside scoop on the best foodie spots and watering holes around the city from the experts.
Picture the scene: you’ve just arrived in Sydney after a long flight and an airport transfer to your hotel, and with an appetite to sate and a thirst to quench after your travels, you’re ready to hit the streets to discover what Sydney’s food and drink scene has to offer. But where to start?
If there’s anyone qualified to give food and drink tips for Australia’s biggest city, it’s Julie Brument and Sebastien Dallee. With backgrounds in food and wine, not to mention previously running one of Bondi’s best cafés, The Nine, the couple have a wealth of experience to share and a passion that goes way back.
‘We were first drawn to the industry by passion and love for the products,’ says Julie, who hails from the delightful Provence in France.
‘Sebastien has been in hospitality for 18 years, starting out as a Barista in Sydney. He then went on to study hospitality at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, and worked in China in Food & Beverage for six years. My journey started by selling wine and importing organic beverages in China,’ explains Julie.
The Nine café in Bondi Beach
‘I’ve always had an affinity with food, wine and everything related to the touch and smell of great products,’ adds Sydney-raised Sebastien. ‘I love finding out about new places and new suppliers, whether it be the fruit and vegetables that are in season or specialised knives from an artisanal supplier from New York.’
For Julie, growing up in France was where it all started. ‘I was brought up to respect the land and know the provenance of what you’re eating and drinking’, says Julie. ‘My grandpa was a farmer in Normandy, and he influenced our family to think that way.’
With such home-grown passion and a wealth of experience, opening their own café to showcase what they value so much was the next step for the couple.
‘We moved from China to Sydney in 2015 to open The Nine in Bondi Beach, taking inspiration from nine Mediterranean countries. We wanted to focus on organic and locally sourced produce, and support small and local producers,’ explains Julie.
‘It was all about creating a business where sustainability was at the core, and the locality and seasonality of produce dictated the way we eat,’ adds Sebastien. ‘From this, The Nine was born.’
So, having lived in France and China, what do the couple think of the Australian food scene now they’re back on Sebastien’s home turf?
‘Sydney’s food scene for me is young and innovative,’ says Sebastien. ‘We have a very short history of food in Australia compared to say the Mediterranean, but we have a rich array of produce and a diverse community. This makes for a melting pot of unique fusions and a very lively and interesting food scene.’
France is renowned the world over for its haute cuisine and award-winning wines, so how does Australia compare for Julie?
Julie and Sebastien moved from China to Sydney in 2015 to open The Nine café in Bondi Beach, taking inspiration from nine Mediterranean countries
‘Experimental, creative and unique is how I’d describe the Australian food and drink scene!’ says Julie. ‘It’s very inspiring, and I’ve been impressed by the creativity here. It’s more diverse than other countries I’ve lived in.’
When it comes to iconic Australian dishes, there’s something that comes to mind immediately for Sebastien.
‘Fish and chips!’, he laughs. ‘To be honest, Sydney is a melting pot of so many cultures, it’s hard pick one dish. But if I had to choose one iconic dish, I’d go for fish and chips. My pick of restaurants for sustainably sourced fish is Saint Peter in Paddington. Although you can’t come to Australia and not have some Vegemite and avocado on toast – it’s this country’s signature dish!’
‘Fish and chips or meat pies!’ laughs Julie. ‘Not that the latter is my thing, but it’s very Sydney. My favourite fish and chips are from Bondi’s Best in Bondi. The food there is great, and they only use sustainably caught fish.’
Kick-starting the day with some caffeine
If there are two words that sum up a Sydney weekend, it would be ‘coffee’ and ‘brunch’; any visitor will be quick to understand that coffee is a big deal in Sydney, and the aficionados among them will not be disappointed.
‘Breakfast for me is all about caffeine,’ says Sebastien. ‘Anyone who likes coffee must try an espresso at Artificer in Surry Hills. Make the most of it by sitting on the benches outside and soaking up the morning sun, too. Edition Coffee Roasters in Darlinghurst is also great, and for a city staple try Gumption by Coffee Alchemy. Closer to home for me, I love Roomie in Bondi Junction (it’s very cute and perfect for an Instagram coffee shot).’
‘I love Bonnie Coffee and Regiment in the CBD,’ says Julie. ‘Nook is also great and is central, but Cali Press in Bondi and Dachshund in North Sydney also serve up a good caffeine hit.’
Let’s not forget about the food though. ‘If I fancy a pastry, I might go to Organic Bread Bar in Darlinghurst for a heavenly croissant (or two!),’ says Sebastien.
‘I love to go to my neighbour’s cafe, Nelson Road Tuckshop, in Bondi Junction,’ says Julie. ‘They bake their own bread and pastries, and their coffee is divine. If I chose to explore the city and have a bit more time, I would go to Surry Hills (I love Suzie Q), Redfern or North Sydney (Celcius Coffee and Co in Kirribilli is a big winner with Instagram-worthy breakfasts!) to try the new buzz spots.’
Sydney is known for its great coffee, and a dose of caffeine is a great way to kick-start the day
Fancy foods and cheap eats
As the true foodies that they are, Sebastien and Julie definitely have their pick of restaurants for a treat-me meal.
‘If I’m eating alone and treating myself (that’s what real foodies do, after all!) I love sitting at the pass at Billy Kwong,’ says Sebastien. ‘You go there for the dumplings, they’re delicious.’
‘For a date night, Ester in Chippendale is fantastic, and the homemade bread is delicious,’ adds Sebastien. ‘For a meal with friends, Cho Cho San in Potts Point with their Pork Katsu bao is always a great choice. For a cheap and cheerful meal, try Taco Tuesday in Panama House ($6 a taco) in Bondi.’
‘If I want to treat myself, I generally chose The Wine Room of The Dolphin in Surry Hills for their pizza and wine menu,’ says Julie. ‘10 William St in Paddington has an incredible wine list, too.’
‘Mid-week for a cheaper eat, I like to go to Uncle Mings in the CBD or Din Tai Fung for dumplings, or grab a bowl of ramen at Ryo’s Noodles in Bondi Junction,’ adds Julie.
Whether you’re entertaining business clients or winding down another successful day of holiday exploration, there’s no better way to soak up everything Sydney has to offer than with a glass in hand.
‘Watching the world go by while sipping on a glass of rosé at Dear Sainte Éloise in Potts Points, or nibbling on tapas and sipping negronis at Bacco Osteria in the city, now that’s how to end a day in Sydney for me,’ says Sebastien. ‘In the summer, Sydney evenings are all about rosé on a beautiful terrace anywhere next to the water,’ adds Sebastien. ‘When the temperature drops, Palmer & Co. is one of my favourite places to go for a signature Old Fashioned.’
‘Where to start!’, says Julie. ‘I love Alleyway, a hidden bar at the bottom of George Street. They have an impressive collection of whisky and the friendliest staff in Sydney.’
‘I also love Charlie Parker’s in Paddington, and Palmer & Co., or O Bar and Dining where you can see the whole city in one glance. Their cocktails are quite generous in size, though they’re a bit pricey. But the view is absolutely incredible. It would be a great date spot,’ laughs Julie, looking at Sebastien.
With so much choice of where to wine and dine in Sydney, how would the perfect Saturday look for the couple?
‘I love Surry Hills,’ says Sebastien, ‘so it’d be a morning coffee at Edition Coffee roaster followed by a long walk in the sunshine on Crown Street with a cheeky pizza and vino at The Dolphin. Then it’d be off to Bondi for a dip in the ocean, with a bottle of Pét-Nat [that’s pétillant-nature wine to the non-oenophiles among us, a naturally sparkling wine that ferments in the bottle with absolutely nothing added to it] on the grass at North Bondi to end the day.’
Julie and Sebastien call the beautiful suburb of Bondi home in Sydney, and have plenty of recommendations of where to wine and dine in the area
Sun and swimming feature prominently in Julie’s perfect weekend day too. ‘If it’s a sunny day, I like to wake up and go down to Bondi Beach for a swim, then grab a coffee a Porch and Parlour if I’m in North Bondi or Harry’s Bondi or Cali Press if I’m in South Bondi,’ says Julie.
‘I love going for a walk around different neighbourhoods, so I’d go to Paddington for a wander, then go for lunch at Single O next to Central Station. From there, I’d walk towards the city, take the ferry from Circular Quay (such an iconic Sydney experience!) to Vaucluse, go for another swim at Milk Beach (this has hands-down the best view back over the city), have few drinks at Watsons Bay Hotel, and watch the sun go down over the city. Perfect!’
Julie Brument and Sebastien Dallee are the founders and former owners of Bondi café The Nine. As passionate foodies, both Julie and Sebastien are also highly qualified in the industry, with Julie studying at the École du Vin de France and Sebastien at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne.
If that hasn’t stirred your appetite, we don’t know what will! If you’re visiting Sydney, you may also like our blogs 24 Hours In Sydney and 6 Unmissable Sydney Day Trips to help you plan your trip. Don’t forget to book your airport transfer before you fly, so you can spend less time waiting around at the airport and more time wining and dining in Sydney!