It was a tough call, but here are our FBi SMAC Awards finalists for Best Eats 2013. Today is the last opportunity to vote, so if you love your eats, and your local is a finalist, VOTE NOW!
From the crew who brought you Mecca Espresso, Brickfields burst onto the Chippendale foodscape early in 2013, and with it came a sigh of relief from locals in the area. The bakery cafe is a ‘thing’ we’ve seen a bit of this year: part bakery, part cafe, part coffee bar, all good. Featuring excellent bready smells, a menu that makes the most of expertly produced pastries and artisan breads and perfectly roasted coffee, Brickfields is the kind of place you wished you had at the end of your street… and lucky you if that happens to be true in your case. Website
Cafe Pacifico: cue drunken flashbacks of too much cheap tequila, cheesy Baha-style Mexican, and well, too much cheap tequila. Flash forward to 2013, Pasi Petanen, the chef’s chef, and one of the most respected quiet achievers in the Australian restaurant industry, takes on the space – doomed to be demolished in the next 18 months or so. Bold move? Certainly. Genius concept? Absolutely. In a sea of restaurants opening and closing like so many nyctinastic flowers, Cafe Paci has the right idea. A compelling dining concept, with a limited lifespan. Transforming the space into a sleek, Scandinavian temple of dining, the experience is at once refined and intelligent, as it is fun, and damned tasty. It’s modern high calibre dining as it should be; artful and creative, but not so serious that it can’t poke a little fun at itself. Website
ESTER RESTAURANT AND BAR
Chippendale. So hot right now. Seriously, with seasoned operators like Ester (brought to you by the guys responsible for 121BC, Berta and Vini) in the neighbourhood, Chippendale’s stocks just jumped a little higher. It may be a newcomer this year, but from the get go, the atmosphere, experience and the food feel like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. There’s soul. There’s personality. There’s a wood fired oven from which many of the dishes have been cooked, and it is GOOD. Head chef Matt Lindsay has a knack of making food that you want to eat… that may sound like a simple enough concept, but in a land filled with pretenders, foams, soils and skid marks, Ester cranks out the kind of dining experience you want to have again, and again, and again. Website
IN THE ANNEX
When Lee Tran Lam calls a dish ‘The Ryan Gosling of Desserts’, you owe it to yourself to go and check out what all the fuss is about. Everything about In The Annex tends to surprise and delight: everything is never as it would appear. A side of avo emerges in a bloom of radish petals and arcs of green, seemingly simple menu descriptions appear as works of art on the table… and all this before noon. The chef, Joey Astorga, was last seen plating up latino spiked fare at short lived El Capo in Surry Hills – and there is something to be said about restaurant chefs taking to more casual surrounds. Like Mary’s in Newtown under Luke Powell, In The Annex represents a win for Forest Lodge, and a new bar for cafe eats.
What’s not to like about a dimly lit bordello of fast food indulgence created by some of the best (and most depraved) people in the Sydney restaurant and bar scene? From bottles of Jack Daniels swinging from the ceiling in the form of upcycled light fixtures, to a seriously smart wine list, and fried chicken to cry to your mama about, Mary’s is the perfect amount of “Fuck it, let’s just make it fun” mixed with the kind of attention to detail you only get when people are seriously awesome at what they do. From proper, sloppy American burgers, to mashed potato and gravy that might need to come with a side of ‘defibrillator’, Mary’s is raucous, unapologetic, and most of all, fun.