Where to dine on native ingredients in Sydney

Australian native ingredients have been embraced by chefs and foodies across the country. Here are just some of the places in Sydney, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal owned venues, where you can sample the unique produce.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Mar 2024 -
2
min read
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For a blend-your-own-gin class: Archie Rose Distilling Co.

At Archie Rose’s blend-your-own-gin class in Rosebery, students become distillers for the day. Guides will take you through the process as you mix botanicals such as native lemon myrtle, strawberry gum and river mint to create two 200ml bottles of your very own gin to take home. Learn about the history of gin, as well as how it’s produced at Archie Rose, as the class progresses. If you’d prefer to skip the lesson, the distillery’s on-site bar is the place for you.  

Couple enjoying a gin masterclass experience at Archie Rose Distilling Co., Rosebery

Archie Rose Distilling Co., Rosebery - Credit: Archie Rose Distilling Co.

For a sweet treat: Bodalla Dairy Ice Cream on Queen Street

Tucked away on a leafy street in Woollahra, this ice-cream outpost of the famous Bodalla Dairy on the South Coast shouldn’t be missed. While it doesn’t offer the same cafe and artisan cheese experience as its southern counterpart, the tidy ice-creamery sells its popular ice-cream flavours including gum leaf-smoked ice-cream with butterscotch and macadamia praline, and coffee and coastal wattleseed.  

Native ice cream at Bodalla Dairy Ice Cream on Queen Street, Woollahra

Bodalla Dairy Ice Cream on Queen Street, Woollahra

For brunch with a twist: BTB

Kirribilli’s BTB is a native ingredient-focused cafe serving brunch classics enriched with native produce. Menu items include avocado on rye with lemon aspen, and barbecue emu skewers with macadamia satay sauce, while dish add-ons include Warrigal kimchi and avocado with wattleseed dukkah. A few suburbs up the road in North Sydney, the team also runs Lowkey, a cafe and bakery baking up focaccia with Warrigal greens chimichurri and curried egg bagels with house native curry spices. 

Native dishes at BTB, Kirribilli

BTB, Kirribilli - Credit: BTB

For a casual dinner of invasive species: Bush

Wild boar ragu, kangaroo tartare, oysters with finger lime vinaigrette, and green ant and quandong seasonal pavlova are just some of the dishes you may encounter when dining at Bush in Redfern. This neighbourhood joint aims to help the bush through ‘native food proliferation and invasive food obliteration’. The menu changes often and seasonally, though any visit will encounter a broad range of native produce and wild, invasive or prolific proteins.  

Dish of snails with native chilli, Bush

Bush, Redfern - Credit: Bush

For a meal cooked in a kitchen with no electricity: Firedoor

One of Sydney’s most famous restaurants (Firedoor was showcased in an episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table) works with a number of native ingredients, it also powers the kitchen with fire alone, no electronics. Dine at this unique Surry Hills venue and enjoy Goolwa pipis with sea blite and karkalla (both succulent-like shrubs); Sydney rock oysters with desert lime and seaweed; and red kangaroo with baby king oyster mushroom, kohlrabi, saltbush, karkalla, truffle and roasted yeast dressing. Pro tip: a seat at the bar, in front of the kitchen, is the best in the house.  

Sydney rock oysters with desert lime and seaweed at Firedoor, Surry Hills

Firedoor, Surry Hills - Credit: Firedoor

For sandwiches and baked goods: Good Ways Deli

At the Redfern and Alexandria outposts of cafe-bakery-deli Good Ways, the team seeks to respectfully explore Australian food, and what it could look like if Australia acknowledged and celebrated First Nations culture. It's here you can order a deli sandwich on house-baked sourdough ciabatta with kangaroo mortadella, a Warrigal greens and ricotta or curried kangaroo sausage roll, and a lamington with Davidson plum jam, then wash it down with a house-made rosella and lemon myrtle soda.  

House-baked sourdough ciabatta with kangaroo mortadella at Good Ways Deli, Alexandria

Good Ways Deli, Alexandria - Credit: Good Ways Deli

For Australian-Cantonese fare: Lucky Kwong

Steamed spanner crab dumplings with native bush mint; and savoury pancakes with Hiramasa kingfish, fried egg, XO and native sea parsley are two of the dishes you may sample at South Eveleigh precinct restaurant Lucky Kwong. Owner Kylie Kwong melds her Australian and Cantonese heritage to present a collaborative and productive expression of connection.  

Steamed spanner crab dumplings with native bush mint at Lucky Kwong, Eveleigh

Lucky Kwong, Eveleigh - Credit: Lucky Kwong

For dinner by Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous chef: Midden by Mark Olive*  

Housed underneath Australia's most iconic building, the Sydney Opera House, this restaurant by Bundjalung man and ambassador chef, Mark Olive, places native ingredients at the forefront. Olive draws on his heritage to plate up dishes such as damper infused with native herbs and served with eucalyptus whipped butter; smoked kangaroo salad with wattleseed and bush tomato; braised wallaby shank; and pavlova with native fruit coulis and roasted wattleseed cream.  

Smoked kangaroo salad with wattleseed and bush tomato by Midden by Mark Olive, Sydney Opera House

Midden by Mark Olive, Sydney Opera House - Credit: Midden by Mark Olive

For lunch by a social enterprise: Native Foodways 

Right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD is Native Foodways’ bakery. Owned and led by Kubin woman Carla McGrath, Pitta Pitta woman Cristilee Houghton, Wiradjuri men Jason Glanville and Lachlan McDaniel, and Australian-Hungarian man (born and raised on Gadigal Land) Mickey Kovari, the social enterprise has an expanding network of First Nations-run farms, kitchens and marketplaces that strengthen the native food system in a respectful, regenerative way to benefit First Peoples, to share native foods with all. At its CBD bakery find pastries, sausage rolls, pies, muffins and more made with native ingredients spanning aniseed myrtle, wattleseed, saltbush, kangaroo, native ginger and macadamia.  

Native Cheesecake Mix - Wattleseed, Lemon Myrtle, and Rainforest Plum at Native Foodways, Sydney CBD

Native Foodways, Sydney CBD - Credit: Native Foodways

For a deluxe degustation: NEL

Native ingredients sing at NEL, a Sydney CBD fine diner. Dinner at NEL is described as a ‘culinary odyssey’: an 11-course meal that will delight senses and intrigue, with no two dishes alike. While the restaurant’s menu changes every couple of months, native ingredients are consistently heroed. Book in and you may be delighted by a Warrigal and saltbush taco, riberry and kangaroo kebab or pepperberry jaffle.  

Pepperberry Jaffle at NEL, Sydney CBD

NEL, Sydney CBD - Credit: NEL

For a casual bar experience: The Waratah

Tucked away in Darlinghurst, this bar and restaurant uses native ingredients broadly across its food and drink menus, with an aim to explore Australian cuisine through independent producers and native produce. Step off the street and into the no-booking-needed bar and you’ll be treated to an easy-going pub experience, while upstairs, with the wrap-around verandah, diners can secure a spot with a booking, and bask on the sun-drenched terrace. Wherever you perch, enjoy dishes such as the heirloom tomatoes with native thyme; butterflied king prawns with lemon myrtle butter; raw albacore tuna with finger lime; or barbecue eggplant with Davidson plum. 

Grilled butterfly king prawns at The Waratah, Darlinghurst

The Waratah, Darlinghurst - Credit: The Waratah

*Non-Aboriginal-owned businesses. 

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