September 02, 2020
Nose-to-tail cooking is generally associated with meat, but when it comes to fish, most of it still ends up in the bin. Enter Josh Niland, the chef and owner behind Saint Peter, a much-lauded fish restaurant in Paddington, Sydney that he runs with his wife, Julie. With a focus on sustainable seafood, Niland uses every single part of a fish (from its fat to scales and yes, even eyeballs) and turns them into surprisingly delicious delicacies – caramel slice, prawn crackers or terrine, anyone?
Niland’s innovative, zero-waste and at times, dramatic approach to fish is definitely turning heads. Saint Peter received one Chef Hat, the Australian equivalent to Michelin stars, while Niland’s debut cookbook, The Whole Fish Cookbook, has garnered praise from fellow chefs around the world. It also received the Book Of The Year award from the James Beard Foundation in the US—making Niland the first Australian chef to earn that distinction. You might even recognise Niland from an episode of Masterchef Australia, where his clip of breaking down a kingfish for contestants to cook has racked up 33 million views to date.
When Niland’s not at Saint Peter, he can be seen at his other venture, Fish Butchery – a high-end shop for fresh and dry-aged fish. The two businesses leave little room for downtime but when they do get to rest, here’s where Niland and his wife head out to for a meal.
The restaurant is blessed in the sense that it’s in front of one of the most famous beaches in the world; you catch glimpses of the sand, the water, the lifesaving club. It’s iconic and very Sydney. I think there are so many venues with a fantastic location like this, yet very few of them can operate with such grace and finesse as Sean’s and is able to do it well for 25 years.
270 Campbell Parade, North Bondi, seanspanaroma.co
It’s a pub, but chef Nick Hill’s pedigree is fine dining, so technically the man can cook you anything from a 35-course fine dining menu down to a beautiful roast chicken. He’s bringing the acumen of fine dining—taking the best techniques and completely removing all the fuss—and applying it to a kind of modern refinement of pub culture.
129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo, oldfitzroy.com.au
The bar is such a nice entry point to Momofuku. The full dining experience of the tasting menu in the main dining room is, of course, wonderful, but I love the flexibility of jumping onto a stool at the bar, ordering from the a la carte menu and doing whatever you like. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure experience, and a great option if you can’t commit to the hours needed for the tasting menu.
Level G, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, seiobo.momofuku.com
If industry friends are visiting Sydney from outside of Australia, I would definitely take them to Bennelong. It’s iconic to Sydney. It’s such a wonderful venue to have inside the most iconic building in the country—the Sydney Opera House. Chef Rob Cockerill is cooking really nostalgic dishes but with such a high level of skill.
Bennelong Point, Sydney Opera House, bennelong.com.au
What Ester does is really beautiful. It has all its bases covered: the service is excellent, the vibe and the music are always good, the food is delicious, and the wine programme is fantastic. The menu very much brings vegetables to the forefront. The same standards that apply to the most expensive cuts of meat go into the vegetable preparations. At Ester, the desserts are also on equal footing to the main menu. I think their desserts are some of the best in Sydney.
46-52 Meagher Street, Chippendale, ester-restaurant.com.au
Arthur is a small, beautiful suburban restaurant in Surry Hills. It’s owned by chef Tristan Rosier and his partner, so it’s a similar situation to what my wife Julie and I are doing at Saint Peter, and they’re doing a brilliant job. Tristan is a good, honest chef cooking modern Australian cuisine with creativity and finesse.
544 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, arthurrestaurant.com
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Get the latest articles and exclusive discounts delivered straight to your inbox. Unsubscribe any time.