A friend and I have been talking about a weekend in Sydney for about four years – we finally made it happen. When we last travelled to Sydney together it was 1990 and we stayed at a youth hostel, went clubbing every night and recovered during the day. And laughed for a week. We had as many laughs this time but the focus was on fabulous restaurants and cultural activities other than clubbing.
We kicked off our stay with frosè and views at Henry Deane’s.
And then it was on to see Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical. It’s always a risk taking a movie that is adored (because truly, who doesn’t love Muriel’s Wedding?) and turning it into a musical but this time, ‘they’ got it right.
The music was fantastic – razor-sharp lyrics that told the story seamlessly. ABBA’s music is such a big part of the movie and the way it was incorporated into the musical was genius. The story lost none of its humour and because we were sharing it with hundreds of other people, there was that excellent pantomime element of cheering the good guys and booing the baddies.
Revived, we headed for The Waiting Room, a boutique we’d spotted the day before in Barangaroo. I basically wanted one of everything they had and managed to cross a few things off the Christmas shopping list. May have bought myself a present as well… (they have a store in Melbourne but it’s mostly fashion. The Barangaroo store had accessories, books, fun things).
We also stumbled across the Sorry Thanks I Love You pop-up shop, which was good to check out because I found lots of great gifts in their online store last year.
Next we headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art for the Pipilotti Rist retrospective. If I was an Instragram-er, I would have been in heaven – Rist’s large-scale video and light installations were mesmerizing and her focus on the interplay between biology, the brain, art and music had my name all over it.
When I visit somewhere unfamiliar and want to find places to dine, I google ‘Who is the hottest upcoming chef in X?’ For Sydney, the result returned Dan Pepperell of Hubert. What a treat. There’s a ‘step-back-in-time’ feel as you go down, down, down the stairs to a dark, wood-panelled basement that brings to mind post-war Europe (because I have so much experience dining in post-war Europe!). There’s tall candles dripping wax, walls covered in eclectic prints, red velvet and miniature liqueur bottles lining the walls.
And the food… everything we ate was superb but the highlight was Gnocchi Parisienne – little pillows of joy in a chervil and chive cream sauce with a ‘lid’ of parmesan (see pic below – look past the Negroni – I accept that it doesn’t look very impressive but under that parmesan lid, lies heaven). The gnocchi joins my list of The Most Memorable Dishes I’ve Ever Eaten.
Seriously, we were stuffed after Hubert. Stuffed. But we live on the edge and popped into Bulletin Place, a hole-in-the-wall-second-floor cocktail bar that’s one of those places you have to know about to find (and then feel very smug when you do). They change their cocktail list daily, depending on what’s fresh – the concoction I had that involved nectarines and gin was pretty special.
And then it was home to Melbourne – back to ordinary meals, drinks without garnishes, blistering hot weather, and a pledge to my friend that we won’t leave it 27 years before our next Sydney trip.