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Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Just got back from the trip and really had an amazing time. Thanks so much to everyone who chimed in for their advice/recommendations. I'll follow up with additional posts detailing the meals, but wanted to at least get back with some feedback on the coffee, dessert and cocktail places to start.

Sydney:

coffee - By far our favorite coffee place was Gumption; to our taste the best flat whites, as well as excellently pulled short blacks and very good pour-over to boot; Cabrito was also excellent, with Utopia and Workshop coming in just a shade below in our opinion.

pastries/desserts - The pastries at each coffee place were also delicious. We didnt end up making it to Cow and the Moon (sigh, only so much time/stomach space to eat) but Burke St. Bakery, Black Star PAstry and Flour and Stone were all excellent. Thought the lunch pies at Four and Stone were a cut above and the chocolate caramel pie was also absolutely delicious. Bourke St.'s croissants were an excellent example of the genre and their pies, while not as good as Flour and Stone, were no slouch either. My wife and I didnt see eye to eye on the famous watermelon cake at Black Star (I thought it lovely and perfect for a warm afternoon, while she thought it a bit lacking in punch), but the other items we tried (a chocolate croissant, a muffin of some sort and i believe one other item i'm forgetting) were all uniformly good.

drinks - Due to remaining jet lag, we didnt end up staying out late enough either night in Sydney to make it to any of the cocktail places/bars. Oh well; something for next time.

Melbourne:

coffee - Again, each and every coffee place we tried was good, with Duke's coming in as our slight favorite. Unfortunately we did not make it to PAtricia's, but St. Ali and brother Baba Budan also made tasty flat whites, if the former not quite as smooth as Duke's while the latter was a bit milky for our tastes.

pastries/desserts - The croissants and doughtnuts at both St. Ali and Chez Dre were well made with great flavors. The breakfast at both places also looked delicious (especially so at Chez Dre) but unfortunately we did not have time for a proper sit-down.In terms of gelato, while I appreciated the theatre and experience of N2, the purity of flavor and texture won me over at Messina. I feel N2 is a place you go to every so often for something different, while Messina is a place I could (and would) return to again and again.

cocktails - We made up for lost time in Sydney with much drinking in Melbourne. On night one, we went to Eau de Vie and Bar Americano. 2 entirely different experiences, but both excellent. We dont really have anything similar to either place in NY, and both were truly destination worthy. On night two, we returned to Eau de Vie for a few digestif cocktails we had missed on night one, and then went to the Everleigh. The Everleigh was also excellent but more akin to several place we have in NY, such as the old Milk and Honey and Little Branch (I learned these are actual their sister bars). After the Everleigh closed down, I made it over to Black Pearl with two of the bartenders. While obviously a much more laid-back vibe, the bar really seemed like a great neighborhood place, where most people knew each other and everyone was having a good time. Overall, was really impressed with the cocktail scene in Melbourne, with the only (slight) negative being the location of most places at the end of seemingly sketchy (at least to a visitor) and dark alleyways.

Apologies for the probably over-detailed post, but will follow up with posts on our meals in Sydney, Cairns and Melbourne later this week.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Thanks for the input hosikah. Definitely not too late, keep the advice coming!

We're pretty wedded to Quay, as the menu looks great and I've heard too many good reviews and his focus on texture is very appealing. Regarding Sepia, while we'd love to go, with only 2 dinners in Sydney, it seems too duplicative to spend both on degustations without experiencing a more mid-tier and less reverent place. It definitely looks great, and its recent press is certainly positive, but I think it will have to wait for a return visit.

We'll add Lorraines on to our ever-growing list of pastry places. Regarding soft-serve, I'm just generally not a fan. Give me a gelato or "hard" ice cream over it any day. While I wouldn't dismiss it if the only option, with places like Messina and N2, I think we'll pass on this short visit.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

With both you and KZM advising against this, I'm beginning to have second thoughts. I guess it does seem a bit ambitious. The only problem is it really seems like MP is much better both in overall quality and wineries open to the public. Perhaps we should think about switching up our days and just getting up early to drive back to Melbourne the day after Brae and maybe heading out to Mornington the day after which is our last day. We have the car for the entire time in Melbourne, so maybe thats the smart play here.

I went on Eau de Vie's website and it appears they have a location in both Sydney and Melbourne. I didnt realize the Melbourne one was the original, and as we had more bars we wanted to visit in Melbourne, thought Eau de Vie would be a good place for Sydney, assuming the quality is the same at both locations.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Thanks PhilD, Dove & Olive and especially Fredas both seem like good spots to grab a drink before/after Ester.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Thanks KZM. If we end up in the MP, will definitely make sure we get to Paringa. Also sounds like Dukes and/or 7 Seeds are place we want to make sure we get to in Melbourne.

On the driving, while on the one hand it does seem somewhat silly to spend so much time in the car when we are in the Melbourne area for such a short time, on the other hand, I've heard great things about 10XTractor and if we want to do the wineries in the MP, we don't have much of a choice. For reference, on a trip last summer to Iceland, we rented a car and drove the full Ring Road around the country, averaging about 4-5 hours a day. We dont generally mind driving, especially if the scenery is nice.

It seems MP is generally better regarded than Geelong, so I was thinking if we woke up and left Brae by 10, we could make it to maybe 1, possibly 2 wineries in the Geelong area, and then, instead of stopping at the hotel, drive straight and hopefully reach the MP wineries by 2 or 3 and have time for 1 or 2 more before closing. Thinking about it more, as Mr. G says, I don't think there's any way we could do both a dinner at 10XTractor and the wildlife tour. Have to reconsider that aspect. This part of the plan is still up in the air; we would definitely like to have a wine-tasting day, the question is just how to fit in.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Thanks all for your extremely helpful advice. The itinerary is really coming together, and at this point looks like this:

Sydney:

Dinners - Quay and Ester; we had decided on sixpenny but then unfortunately realized our open dinner spot was Tuesday when sixpenny is closed.

We plan on hitting either Spice I Am or Chat Thai one day for lunch, and also try to get to Bourke St., Black Star and Flour and Stone. Aim is also to try cow and the moon gelato as well as one of messina or N2, with the other in Melbourne. for drinks, we'll definitely go to eau de vie one night and then maybe a mix of ones suggested by PhilD for the other night.

Melbourne:

Some slight change of plans here. The first night is stil definitely at Brae. However, the next day, we plan on doing a bit of a wine tour through Geelong before dropping our things at our hotel in Melbourne and then continuing to the Mornington Peninsula. Hopefully we'll be able to make it to 4 wineries total. We'll then have an early dinner at 10 Minutes by Tractor, before a night visit to the Moonlit Wildlife Sanctuary (I know the mods hate non-food questions, but anyone been and is it worth it?). Plan on a late night snack at either Cumulus or Supernormal. Last dinner at either St. Crispin or Town Mouse. Having trouble deciding.

Drinks - definitely Bar Americano and the Everleigh, then we'll see what else if anything we can fit in.

Bakeries/Dessert - Seem to be tons of options here. Any opinions on which are the absolute best of the below?

Burch and Purchese
Cioccolato Lombardo
LuxBite
Adrian Zumbo Patisserie
Dench
Chez Dre
Om Nom
Koko Black

Coffee - I know Melbourne is know for generally great coffee, but anywhere in particular that stands out as above and beyond?

Lastly, regarding wineries, any particular recommendations for Geelong and/or Mornington Peninsula? We both love Pinot Noir, which I here both areas excel in, and would also like to try some excellent Shiraz as well. For some reference, for people familiar with California, we generally prefer Carneros pinots to those from the Russian River Valley, and generally prefer less "manipulated" wines (i.e. none of those crazy overoaked California chardonnays). That said, we're up for trying anything, and since we'll have our own vehicle, are looking for smaller, less touristy wineries where real interaction can be had.

Need 3 dinner recommendations - previous favorites: EMP, Atera, 15 East, etc.

I'll second what spirtchaser said. By no means a sushi expert, but it was some of the best sushi i've ever had (not to mention that the composed dishes were also uniformly excellent). We sat in front of Nick and he was very willing to discuss preferences and also offered us some extra pieces of things he thought we would like after the set omakase was done.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Good to know re: Exuberante. There are enough other places that look great that there's no need for that. Also, I see now that Bar Americano, recommended by KZM, is also a Matt Bax establishment.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

The thing about Moon Under Water is the menu looks pretty limited. What about Cutler & Co. which I believe is also related?

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Thanks KZM, was hoping you'd join in after reading your posts on some other threads. Thanks for the info re: Ezard and Press Club as well as Flower Drum. I think all 3 have now been nixed. I think Town Mouse, St. Crispin and Cumulus are now in the running to fill the 2 spots.

Re: cocktails, Bar Americano sounds right up my alley. The Everleigh was alredy on my list, as was Eau De Vie. What about Thomas Olive, the bar connected to St. Crispin's? I guess if we end up at St. Crispins probably no need to also go to the bar. Lastly, I heard that Bar Exuberante, a new bar by the guy that ran Der Raum, has just opened up. Any intel on that?

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

First off, thanks so much for the detailed reply. Your posts on Sydney and Melbourne and the conversations they engendered were some of our primary sources in planning this trip!

In terms of NYC restaurants, on the high end, some of our favorites have been EMP, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Atera (quite sad that Lightner has just left). We also recently had an absolutely outstanding kaiseki meal at Shuko, and for anyone that knows San Francisco dining, absolutely loved Atelier Crenn. On the more moderate scale, we love Annisa, Ssam Bar, Louro and estela.

RE: Sepia, I'd seen Ripert's commentary, and his praise along with almost uniformly good recent reviews elsewhere are what had put it back on the list. I'd thrown out Billy Kwong based on what seemed like a good meal you had there, as well as her interesting use of Australian ingredients. Do you feel that makes it "different" enough from other NYC Chinese places? Café Paci looked interesting, and we love Nordic cooking (took an amazing trip to Denmark/Sweden/Norway two years ago), but somehow the current menu just didnt seem to call to us and we had to at least narrow our options down somewhat. Same with Marque which also looked really interesting. I'd consider either of those for the second dinner as well.

I'm planning on getting up a post on Melbourne later today, but to answer your initial question, yes we have a reservation at Brae and in fact that was the first meal we booked for the entire trip. For our other dinners, we're considering Cumulus (or may just go for early/late snacks and oysters), St. Crispin, Ezard and the aforementioned Flower Drum. Also had my eye on Estelle and Press Club.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

I'd looked at Paci as well; while it too looked great, for some reason it wasnt calling to my SO so we nixed it; there are really just WAY too many places I want to go in too short a time! How does sixpenny compare to say cafe paci/ester/sepia? I know its also a degustation, but it seems more casual than Sepia and the vibe of the place and what those guys are trying to do really appeals. That said, I'm still a bit wary of two degustations back to back.

based on what you and Mr. G are saying, Im now considering a more casual thai place for the second dinner.

for coffee, I'm all about espresso, while the SO prefers drip, but from the sounds of it she'd also love a flat white. I think we'll stick with espresso-based, as that seems to be what you guys specialize in, and why go against the grain when the grain is from all accounts so good.

On bars, we'll probably check out one "dive bar" or traditional Sydney place, one wine bar, and then hopefully a couple more "craft" cocktail places. Cocktails are where are focus primarily lies, since we'll probably drink wine with dinner. We do also appreciate beer though, so may check out the four seasons bar if time allows.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

Thanks Mr. G. I guess the grouping of Billy Kwong and Flower Drum was more a reference to wanting to try at least one high-end Australian take on Asian food. It sounds like they're really not that similar though, with Flower Drum being more traditional. I think in that case, Billy Kwong and Spice Temple appeal more. Have you tried/heard anything about Billy Kwong's new space? From the reviews, it seems that its been a bit revitalized. The use of traditional Australian products it what was the main draw. Does Spice Temple incorporate these as well?

I saw that Messina and N2 were in Melbourne as well, but figured I'd mention them here to get a feel on how they all compare. most likely, we'll end up hitting all three, cow and the moon in sydney, and the other two in one place or the other.

Australia Honeymoon - Sydney

As mentioned in a previous post, I'll be going on my honeymoon in Australia for about two weeks in early May. We're starting our trip in Sydney and ending in Melbourne, with the rest of the time spent in Uluru and Cairns. Obviously the two cities will be where we focus on food.

As some background, we're from NYC and like everything from super local hole-in-the-walls to fancy Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. As long as its delicious, we're down to try it. When traveling, we generally limit our focus on restaurants to dinners, while using breakfast/lunch to check out bakeries, cafes, and other quick eats that allow us to both focus on seeing the city while also trying a variety of different local specialties. That said, if something is a must-do, we're willing to spend some more time on lunch and/or brunch meals as well. On this particular trip, price is not an issue; in terms of cuisine, we'd like to stick for the most part to styles/cuisines that we either cant get in NY or are done much better in Australia. we're very into both coffee and cocktails, so recommendations along those lines would also be greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, we only have 2 days and 2 nights in Sydney and I feel like I have about 2 month's worth of places I want to go to. Without further ado (I feel like I've already written too much), below are our researched itineraries, with question built in.

Dinners:
(1) Quay; this is a definite and we already have a reservation; Gilmore's playfulness and focus on texture are extremely appealing
(2) ????; so many options; considering Billy Kwong (between this and Flower Drum in Melbourne, which would you recommend?), Sepia (very intriguing but a little loath to do back-to-back large degustations); Sixpenny (heard great things and style is up our alley), Ester (maybe a good non-degustation place?), Ume or Tetsuyas (everyone seems to think its past its prime, but as the original premier Australian fine dining restaurant, it continues to hold some appeal)

Desserts/Pastries:
-Bourke St. Bakery
-Black Star Pastry
-Flour and Stone
-N2 Extreme Gelato
-Cow and the Moon Gelato
-Gelato Messina
any other must-dos?

Coffee:
So many great looking to choose from, what are the best? We care more about the coffee itself than the venue its served in; standing-room only places are fine
seems that Gumption gets a ton of good press, as does Workshop, Cabrito and Alchemy; any others?

Cocktails/Wine:
-Eau de Vie
-Bulletin Palace
-Love Tilly Devine

Thanks so much in advance. I'll follow up with a post on Melbourne shortly

Brae [Birregurra, about 90 mins west of melbourne]

So glad to hear. This was the first reservation we made for our upcoming honeymoon in May. The place looks absolutely unbelievable.

Soto, Sushi Nakazawa

+1. Went to Shuko a few weeks ago and it was absolutely outstanding.

Mar 23, 2015
cubicles in Manhattan

Cairns good eats

Thanks Mr. G. I was hoping for you and kersizm to chime in. Your advice and recommendations on other posts have been invaluable in creating our itinerary.

Cairns good eats

Hey all, this will be the first of several posts/questions for you good folks on this board. My SO and I will be honeymooning in your beautiful country for about 2 weeks in the beginning of May, spending time in Sydney, Uluru, Cairns, and Melbourne. While I've gotten plenty food ideas on most places (and have already secured several reservations), I'm coming up pretty empty on Cairns. There doesn't seem to be much board activity on that area, and in doing other research, most places just seem pretty touristy.

Understanding it won't be the culinary highlight of the trip, any suggestions for 4 dinners in Cairns? Unfortunately we won't have a car, so unless its doable by taxi we won't be able to travel too far for food. No particular budget, as this is our honeymoon, but we do plan to do a fair amount of high-end eating in Sydney and Melbourne, so for Cairns we're really just looking for anything thats delicious. As an fyi, we're coming from New York, and will really eat anything, although would obviously like to focus as much as possible on Australian cuisine/cuisines that Australia does well/better than New York.

Barley Swine vs. Qui

Thanks. It seems like generally, the consensus is Barley, which I was leaning towards anyway. About how long does their tasting menu take? To compare it to NY, is it more along the lines of an all night affair like EMP or Per Se or do they get you in and out like Momofuku Ko? I obviously don't want to be rushed, but would prefer not to spend the entire evening at dinner either.

Feb 17, 2015
cubicles in Austin

Barley Swine vs. Qui

Going to be in Austin in early March for my bachelor party. While most of the planning has been done by others, I wanted to take my best man and one other friend out for a thank you dinner the night before everyone else gets down. After looking through a bunch of threads as well as some other research, I was thinking either Barley Swine or Qui would be a memorable meal and a great way to start the weekend. If you could only do one, which would you go to and why?

Feb 14, 2015
cubicles in Austin

Craft, Telepan, or The Modern Bar Room?

I agree with trockwood's recommendations. While I prefer the Modern in a vacuum, based on your request, of the three I would definitely go Craft. Betony, while delicious, I would not recommend for a non-adventurous eater.

Jan 13, 2015
cubicles in Manhattan

Romantic tapas birthday dinner in Manhattan

I'd go with estela. Had heard great things but hadn't yet gotten there before I went last weekend - it was fantastic. The oft-raved about beef tartare was as good as advertised, and several other dishes were very good as well. Only let-down was the fluke starter, which was fine, but nothing more.

Jan 13, 2015
cubicles in Manhattan

Please Help Critique My San Fran Eating Itinerary

+1 on b. patisserie. simply perfect. knead patisserie is also excellent.

Please Help Critique My San Fran Eating Itinerary

If youre willing to go up to $150, I would definitely recommend the shorter tasting at Atelier Crenn over both Chez Penisse and AQ. Last time we were in town we went to both AQ and Atelier Crenn - while AQ was good and a fun vibe, the food at Atelier Crenn was on an entirely different level. The food is not only beautifully and imaginatively plated, but it tastes amazing as well. It was truly one of the best restaurant experiences I've ever. We make bi-annual trips to San Francisco and Atelier Crenn is the one place we are guaranteed to return.

Cocktail Pairing: Steamed Maine Lobster Dinner

how about a Last Word (gin) or Final Ward (whiskey)?

equal parts:

gin/whisky
green chartreuse
lime/lemon
maraschino

Jun 06, 2014
cubicles in Spirits

Eleven Madison Park - 5.45 or 9pm

have you been to EMP? service is amazing regardless of timing, and at this level restaurant, service will not suffer depending on time. also, the only "choice" is picking your main protein, so while you certainly aren't rushed, at a 5:45 reservation the volley of amuses will likely start around 6:00.

May 24, 2014
cubicles in Manhattan

Ai Fiori vs Craft

both very good but completely different; really depends on what you're looking for. craft will have very simple food prepared well. ai fiori is still fairly traditional, but more more creative and boundary pushing then craft. the vibe of both will be completely different as well. ai fiori is pretty corporate, kind of midtown expense lunchy.

May 24, 2014
cubicles in Manhattan

Gramercy Tavern or Blue Hill?

agree that Stone Barns is clearly superior, but Blue Hill New York is still excellent

May 22, 2014
cubicles in Manhattan

PDX to NYC Late May - Research done, but would appreciate some help

its not really a place to go for a straight scotch. yes, im sure they have a well cultivated list, but if you're not ordering punch or cocktails there, you're really missing the point. it would be like going to a dessert place, only ordering a few appetizers without trying any sweets, and then saying the place was no good.

Apr 18, 2014
cubicles in Manhattan

Upscale Non-touristy Advice Needed

+1; if you order carefully, you can definitely get out of louro and not exceed your budget. the food is also outstanding.

Apr 14, 2014
cubicles in Manhattan