If you crossed Carriageworks with Saporium, added a few pop-ups, a lineup of some of the most impressive chefs, top restaurateurs and artisans around Australia you may just start to come close to the experience of the Tramsheds.
It nearly didn’t happen. The old Harold Park Raceway (home to many a pony trap race and even the odd camel competition) was raised to the ground. In its place rose Mirvac’s vision of designer apartments. At the back of the plot, the historic Rozelle Tramsheds were saved from demolition and from its derelict ashes of graffiti and underground raves has risen a dining phoenix, one of the most beautiful new additions to Sydney’s food scene.
Navigating your way through a food haze of happiness and expectation can be overwhelming. So take it in bite size chunks. Here is our guide to where to go, what to eat and who are behind these new brands – along with our insider tips.
BEST FOR ETHICAL MEAT LOVERS- BUTCHER & FARMER
The entry wall says it all “A little shy of 23.5 degrees, the Earths tilt is critical to our existence; our planet experiences four seasons”. Butcher and Farmer celebrates the intersection of Mother Nature, focusing on connecting seasonal dining to the paddock. One side of the restaurant is dedicated to meat. The retail butchery, smokers, grills, whole animal charcoal rotisserie. Each morning huge blackboards tell you what meats are ‘Spit Roasted & Smoked’.
Today the rotisserie is goat from Goat Lady Farm in Gilgandra, Central Western NSW plus Greenslade Free Range Chicken from the Clare Valley. Not many restaurants come with a stunning restored tram dining (No #1965) last in service in 1961 as one of the dining options but it’s very popular! Alternatively, you can sit at the butchers or farmers tables. We kick off with carrot, beetroot, cauliflower and radish pickles along with a pretty salmon Carpaccio flecked with orange and fennel; butchers beef tartare is blended with cracked wheat and served with DUST bakery crisp bread.
Mains will make any man weak at the knees; by-pass the steaks and try the king pork ribs, which are uniquely cut to retain more topside meat (more to share!) with a glorious clean BBQ sauce. King Salmon is perfectly seared studded with whole roasted sweet garlic cloves. Pair that with smoked eggplant and a dish of smoked butternut pumpkin dotted with generous Merideth goats curd. It’s unlikely you will want desert.
Special mention has to go to Joel Davis, the liquid mastermind behind a creative curated wine list showcasing the boutique and beautiful, such as Wayward Brewers Charmer IPA, Ligonier from legendary Clonakila and a Nebbiolio Ravensworth Hilltops.
Insider Tip – If you have a group, think about their upstairs private dining room with a wall of pickles! Keep an eye out for their food and wine events from Beer & Burgers and to cheese tasting
BEST FOR PEOPLE WATCHING & FRENCH DINING- GARCON
Situated between Butcher & Farmer and Messina, you could almost overlook this spot as simply a boutique coffee house. DON’T!! It’s one of the top restaurants at the Tramsheds, morphing from a breakfast spot with the best Bangalow Ham and Enmental Croque Monsieur in Sydney, to a French wine bar and restaurant at night.
One thing is consistent, the quality and technique of the cuisine thanks to Chef Brian Villahermosa (ex Movida). Start with ‘The Little Marionette’ coffee which is as smooth as Barry White. We loved the sous vide salmon crowned with perfect creamy eggs balanced by softly acidic sliced pickled green tomatoes. Genius! Brunch Bao’s are morish one handed morsels stuffed with spicy chorizo, tortilla and mojo verde.
By night the fun continues as tables are repositioned Parisian style providing the perfect people and dog watching spot at sunset. Start with Monsousseau Brut sparkling served in old school wide champagne glasses. Order crispy school prawns and the croquettes; perfection in a poppable sphere. Mains of Nicoise with salmon, ox heart tomatoes along with rich beef cheek penne ragu or a spiced lentil and chorizo dish topped with Mirror Dory. This is one place which is a quiet over-achiever on the Sydney food scene.
Insider Tip – Arrive early for sunset drinks to get the best seat on the promenade. On Tuesday nights they run a French lessons for $20, which includes a glass of wine and canapes. If you work in hospitality they will shortly be starting a hospitality night with discounted food and beverage for those in the industry.
BEST FOR SOCIAL CHANGE AND BAKERY- DUST BAKERY, PIZZERIA & STONE MILL
Are these guys’ bakers or revolutionaries? Its takes a leader (Cesare Salemi “Chez” a 3rd Generation Baker) to start a movement to fix bread which is broken. Collective action starts from education. The first ingredient of bread is the soil or ‘Dust’ and this is where their story – your bread starts.
Chez is a lovable, unstoppable agitator for change, working with farmers who have saved an ancient grain, the BOK from the edge of extinction; a varietal strain from a 1905 Federation grain and 1945 Garbo blend. He chooses organic farmers with sustainable practices he knows personally, the wheat grows to the height of a man, making it incredibly hard to produce and harvest (not the mass grown, nutritionally inferior dwarf varietal) you may not know is in most of the bread you eat, which is also roller milled losing all nutrition as we only get the endosperm.
On site, ‘Heidi’ one of only 10 stone mills in Australia working with ‘Agatha’ the sifter, ensures all 3 parts of the grain are retained; bran, germ and endosperm. Using care and slow fermentation methods in 36 (not 3) hours the finished product is ready for you to devour, the high lactic acids have already broken down the gluten – it’s a superfood; one that some coeliacs can eat. Welcome to Dust, your bread doctor and healer.
Dust is more than just a bakery it’s a mighty fine Pizzeria! Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner our picks are the delicious heirloom beetroot salad with goats curd, blackberries, pistachios, raspberry vinaigrette and a refreshing raw zucchini salad. The wood fired pizzas are like nothing you have ever eaten before, created from their in-house milled flour and slowly fermented for over 30 hours.
The seafood pizza is topped with mussels, pipis, prawns and calamari is delicious. Traditionalists will fall in love with wood roasted pineapple, ham and mozzarella. Specials of the day will keep you coming back. To be honest who cares what’s on the pizza? The chewy, flavoursome, wood roasted base is a revelation. So join the revolution – let’s fix bread.
Insider Tip – Book into a DUST appreciation class. You will get to meet Chez, learn about the process and get to break bread (and pizza) with friends. Life changing, altering stuff, plus you get to take home the prize loaf the 100% BOK ‘Village’.
BEST FOR ‘THE LOVE OF ITALY’- FLOUR EGGS WATER
It’s amazing what these three ingredients can do; friendships are formed, lovers created and business deals sealed. The founders of A Tavola know what they are doing and this is one big table! Running the whole length of the Tramsheds, separated only by steel frames and illuminated by ceramic multi-coloured hanging lights. It’s packed.
Easy to overlook on the menu but a highlight is the Olive all ‘Ascolana. Olives are stuffed with a few secret ingredients including meats soaked in milk such as veal & chicken then breaded. It dates back from recipes circa 1800 in Ascoli Piceno in central Italy’s Marche region. Tuck into mighty fine strips of calamari fritti, Burrantini on a bed of six slices of multicolored heirloom tomatoes.
Top up the pasta equation with Tagliatelle tossed with bugs, zucchini, basil and bottarga. A delicate agnolotti dal plin are creamy pinched pillows of eggplant, scamorza cheese and showered with shavings of ricotta salata (feta lovers take note!) it’s a Piedmont dish served in Glebe.
Insider Tip – Want to recreate the experience at home? They will also sell you their freshly made & dried pasta packs for take home entertaining $10 a pop.
BEST FOR CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE, WHISKY & COCKTAILS- OSAKA TRADING
Followers of Tokyo Bird will be happy to find a new perch at Osaka Trading. Its DNA of great whisky’s sake’s and cocktails is intact but with a much more serious focus on dining. Do what the Japanese do and find yourself a seat at the bar or by the kitchen, or in the main dining area where you can enjoy the light projection of Anime cartoons with soy butter seaweed popcorn.
The starters are one of the most exciting elements of the menu; perfect slices of Aburi salmon topped with a layer of pickled cucumber and dotted with jalapeno, grilled Hokkaido scallops arrive in their half shells like a lilo in a pool of sweet soy onion butter, so good you’ll be licking shell clean. Fish mouse is stuffed into zucchini flowers, drizzled with salsa verde sauce and don’t miss the Karage chicken, marinated in soy and mirin it’s the best thing outside of the southwest if you dare to share.
Mains of silky slices of sous vide chicken breast with smoked mayonnaise and Japanese dukkah or NZ Hapuka on a bed of buckwheat, spring onions, mushrooms and shio koji is another winner. The surprise of the menu is hidden away under the title ‘rice’ it’s so much more than this. Crispy cylinders of rice are fried, doused in furikake topped with waving bonito flakes and their undersides coated in sweet sticky soy. It’s a rice revolution.
Finish with a Matcha parfait with a white chocolate blancmange. There’s nothing predictable about the cocktails thanks to Bar Manager Jono Bayad. ‘Yuzu Marmalade’ is our pick with Jinzu gin, yuzu marmalade along with Cointreau and lemon. Chase that with a range of Hibiki’s 17, 12 year old or Masters Select.
Insider Tip – The $50 the evening degustation menu is great value. They have a fantastic $25 lunchtime deal when you buy a drink and don’t forget they do 3 takeaway lunch deals too.
BEST BISTRO & BEER GARDEN- SIR CHAPEL BISTRO & BREWERY
If you have ever found a brewery so good you wanted to move in? Sir Chapel may just be your answer providing Old World English fare with flare. Founded by Tom Chidiac (Naked Duck, Soughdough Bakery & Co). It will feed you from breakfast through to closing hours. The huge pizza oven welcomes you as you step into a fit out of open brick walls; white subway tiles with a mezzanine level showcasing two high tech copper tanks holding the all-malt mash craft brews.
Kick off outside in the beer garden overlooking the newly landscaped picnic areas with a Sir Chapel Pale or Summer Ale or perhaps a mojito; flavoured with just picked mint from their garden boxes. Ask nicely and you may get a tasting of all 10 local beers on tap. Start with baked oysters in cognac, crispy pancetta and parmesan, scallops are perfectly seared with a schmear of pea puree, citrus foam and pancetta lardons.
Like lobster? The addition of d’Affinoise cheese and mornay sauce in a roll is a spin on a classic. Mains of free range chicken and 8hr slow cooked lamb shoulder show what the kitchen does best, rotisserie adds charcoal sweetness to the chicken and the lamb falls apart with a prod, no knives needed. Don’t miss out on morish twice-cooked cauliflower or a side of onion rings.
Breakfast at a Brewery may sound naughty but it’s so nice! The ‘Chapel Board’ is packed with poached eggs, bacon, herb mushrooms, thick slices of grilled tomato, haloumi and avo smash on sourdough; the addition of a mini fruit smoothie wins the award for the breakfast dish of champions. For those who like it spicy, chilli eggs with an avocado salsa might be the way forward; though we liked the four-skyscraper stack corn fritters topped with an avocado and coriander penthouse! Add a Campos coffee and we are we are going to be new tenants.
Insider Tip – 5pm-7pm is Happy Hour with a curated menu of craft beers at $7 and their famous pizzas for $13 and a few other snacks.
BEST FOR SOUTH AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY CUISINE- BODEGA 1904
Some places are a sure thing. Owners Ben Milgate, Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore (of Bodega & Porteno Royalty) along with chef Joel Humphreys have created a vibrant space. Its decorated with a T-shirted team will serve you at its New York oyster style bar with stainless steel tops and padded duck egg stools.
Start with olives so glossy you can check your lippy in their reflection, house made bread and creamy cultured butter, smoked iron bark eggplant is masterfully dotted with tiny rings of charred onion filled with feta. We loved the slow cooked golden triangles of queso fresco topped with burnt leek and fresh coriander and the ‘special’ soft squid ink bagel with semolina dusted Queensland prawns and salted chilli lime mayo.
The spatchcock is a sensation of the senses; crispy skin, flavoursome meat on a creamy bed of slightly charred corn kernels, spicy nduja, crunchy yucca chips and smoked paprika oil. Balanced, flavoured and textured. Try the wood grilled South Australian calamari – layers of heirloom tomatoes, chamomile soaked raisins, pine nuts, on a chilli mayonnaise with shallot oil and salted lime zest. Finish with a custard tart with a thickly crusted pearl barley pastry.
Insider Tip – Shortly the landscaped gardens alongside the Tramsheds will be open. Picnic Packs can be pre-ordered including cured meats, cheese, crackers, pickles and accompaniments. Don’t forget a bottle of something classy from their wine store.
BEST FOR FOOD FROM THE HEART, SHARING & MIDDLE EASTERN FARE- BEKYA
We just can’t get enough of street food. We’ve eaten our way from Bangkok to New Orleans, but Egyptian? Bekya is leading the change, bringing cherished recipes from the family and roadside stalls to our tables. The former owners of Newtown’s Al Aseel Restaurant, Wally Mostafa and David Conceicao have unveiled Bekya Middle Eastern Kitchen.
A trio of smoky babaganoush, silky hummus and labne arrive on a board with flat breads and morish deep fried crispy breads (we defy you not to order more!). A sharing plate of falafel, cauliflower and eggplant rev you up for more; four generous kataifi prawns arrive in an iron skillet on a bed of lettuce and spicy Muhammara dip.
The specialty is triple carb hug in a bowl – Koshari; is a medley of rice, lentils macaroni with a topping of salsa, chickpeas and lashings of fried onions. It’s 19th Century history on a plate with British and Italian influences and is the food of their nation. Add a plate of juicy charcoal chunks of lemon and garlic chicken and a melt in the mouth grilled barramundi with cauliflower and spicy salsa and it’s enough to inspire a trip to the travel agent!
Insider Tip – Bekya Banquets start at $45 per person and is a delicious romp through the menu. They have just started to open for breakfast so what are you waiting for?
Tramsheds Harold Park
1 Dalgal Way
02 8398 5695