Did you know that Australia doesn’t have any Michelin Star restaurants? Not a single one.
The Michelin Guide has been critiquing and awarding select few restaurants for their unique and innovative dishes since 1911. Every now and then it expands and steps into new territory. As of 2021, there are currently 30 countries that proudly have at least one Michelin Star restaurant – and not a single one is in Australia.
Why are there no Michelin star restaurants in Australia?
The simplest answer is that the Michelin Guide (The Red Guide) covers various countries throughout the world but has yet to step onto the sandy sun-kissed shores of Australia. Until that day comes, however, Sydney still is home to a variety of fine dining restaurants that we believe should have earned their Michelin stars a long time ago.
Where to find Sydney’s best Michelin star-worthy restaurants
Whether you are holidaying in Sydney or you are a local searching for the ultimate fine dining experience, here is our pick of 10 Michelin star-worthy restaurants that provide an experience like no other.
Nestled between the streets of Chippendale is Ester, a hidden gem that you can walk past and easily miss from the outside. However, the inside provides an elegant fine dining experience that would easily give Gordon Ramsay a run for his money.
Ester becomes a playground for the incredibly talented chef Mat Lindsay to showcase his ingenious creativity. From soft light reflecting off the dark oak timber tables creating an intimate dining experience, to the elegantly constructed dishes that make deciding what to eat almost impossible, Ester would easily impress the most pedantic Michelin inspector.
Featuring fine dining cuisine inspired by Eastern and Western influences, Ester’s award list is too long to list here. Their set menu is cleverly designed to take your tastebuds on a journey, such as Sydney rock oysters dressed in chicken jus, wood-fired bone marrow with sesame sambal and Norway lobsters drizzled with shellfish butter.
Open for both lunch and dinner, Ester is definitely a fine dining experience you won’t soon forget.
Situated in the Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal, Quay restaurant has made it in the famous World’s 50 Best Restaurants list nine times, proudly sticking its chest out along the iconic Sydney Harbour.
Executive chef Peter Gilmore does not just specialise in serving contemporary Australian fine dining cuisine, but also in creating an atmosphere that enwraps diners with a personalised dining experience. This is achieved through intimate table arrangements, a colour scheme to reflect the Australian forest and controlled lighting which changes throughout the meal.
A key to Quay’s inimitable level of cuisine is Gilmore’s close relationship with local farmers and produce suppliers, serving a culinary experience with a simply unmatched flavour profile. This is fully demonstrated in Quay’s 8 course set menu, featuring slow-cooked pig jowl resting on shiitake custard, smoked eel sprinkled with sea cucumber crackling and Maremma quail accompanied with delicious orach and purple corn.
Whether it’s for lunch or dinner, Quay is a fine dining restaurant that you need to experience at least once in your life.
Chef Tetsuya Wakuda owns both Tetsuya’s and Waku Ghin, which has been awarded two Michelin stars in Singapore; it’s only natural that Tetsuya’s is worthy of a Michelin star for its restaurant in Sydney.
Featuring a minimalist interior design that pays tribute to its traditional Japanese roots, Tetsuya’s stunning fine dining restaurant offers multiple private dining rooms, a 10-seater chef’s table, and a bar area to kick back after your meal. The heritage-listed building of Tetsuya’s instantly immerses you with a stunning Japanese garden as the centrepiece.
Tetsuya’s 5 or 8 course set menu is carefully designed to showcase the Japanese fine dining experience it offers, including poached foie gras floating in mushroom broth, sashimi of South Australian hiramasa (yellowtail kingfish) and Patagonian toothfish with smoked pil pil.
This is one Japanese restaurant that would definitely deserve a Michelin star.
Address: 529 Kent St, Sydney NSW 2000
Standing out on this list as the only vegan and vegetarian fine dining restaurant, Yellow’s long list of awards speaks for itself. When strolling down Macleay Street, Yellow grabs your attention with its large, yellow building.
Whether you choose to sit outside or nestle inside its rustic interior, chef Brent Savage provides a delectable 5 or 7 course vegan tasting menu. You can enjoy delights such as watermelon radish with wild fennel, mouthwatering Puy lentil with cauliflower and leek tart finished with Australian butter pumpkin.
Yellow concentrates the same level of detailed focus into their award-winning wine list that is selected to complement their cuisine, perfectly balancing each meal. Located just a short 10-minute walk from Kings Cross Station, Yellow is another Michelin star-worthy restaurant we are confident to have on this list.
Address: 57 Macleay St, Potts Point NSW 2011
Executive chef Peter Gilmore makes our list once again with Bennelong, boasting a unique combination of extraordinary architectural design, Australian heritage and a cooking style that lets the flavours of the fresh ingredients become the hero of the dish.
Nestled within one of Sydney Opera House’s iconic sails, diners are treated to a spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge through the restaurant’s large glass windows that stretch from floor to ceiling, all from their lantern-lit table.
Bennelong’s menu is thoughtfully constructed to celebrate the strengths of the Australian produce they use. The result is a selection of unforgettable dishes such as hand-shelled mud crab bathed in brown butter, wagyu beef fillet garnished with a wasabi emulsion and shaved southern squid afloat of a ginger-scented milk custard.
Dining at Bennelong is an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Address: Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000
When searching for a fine dining restaurant that offers the best in Middle Eastern cuisine, take a walk down Crown Street and you will find Nour.
With a modern and fresh take on classic Lebanese flavours, Nour lures you in with its contemporary and innovative interior design and then captures you with a creative menu that will conquer your appetite.
Take your tastebuds on a journey to the Middle East with dishes such as wood-fired eggplant with filfil chouma, yellowfin tuna nayeh paired with caramelised kishk and charcoal Moreton Bay bug brushed with zhug butter.
By cooking with an unrestricted approach, Nour lets its creative dishes achieve their full potential and rightfully deserves a Michelin star, and a place on our list.
Address: 3/490 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Tucked away in the sloping Foster Street is where you will find Nomad, the seventh fine dining restaurant on our list. Featuring a full glass window exterior, you simply need only to quickly peek in to realise why Nomad has created such a buzz in Surry Hills. Located just around the corner, our Veriu Central hotel means you won’t have to walk too far.
Inspired by the old way of cooking with smoke and fire, Nomad creates an elegant yet rustic selection of dishes with Middle Eastern, Moroccan and Spanish influences. Its classic style decor comes alive during dinner service, with gentle shadows cascading down tall solid timber columns melting into a dimly lit atmosphere.
But the food is why so many people flock to Nomad, with a set menu featuring BBQ baby octopus with crumbled smoked hazelnut, zucchini flowers drizzled in truffle honey and vanella burrata balanced with fennel jam to cleanse the palate.
Whether you are going for their lunch or dinner service, this Michelin star-worthy restaurant will leave a lasting impression.
Address: 16 Foster St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Firedoor, ran and owned by rebel chef Lennox Hastie (you may remember him from his episode on Netflix’s Chef’s Table BBQ), is one of the most unique fine dining restaurants you will find in Sydney. Centralised around the idea of solely cooking with fire, no gas or electricity is used when cooking their Michelin star-worthy dishes.
Firedoor’s sleek and rustic interior incorporates the use of light oak timber and dark colours, uniquely reflecting coal and fire; the tools Hastie has mastered throughout his culinary career.
Featuring an open kitchen, you’ll have a clear view of how Hastie and his team tame hot coals and fan fiery flames to create a dining experience no other fine dining restaurant can offer. Firedoor has a 5 course menu that changes each day (checking Firedoor’s Instagram is the best way to see what’s on the menu). This is so they can showcase only the best ingredients of the day that meet their standards.
If there’s ever been a restaurant more worthy of a Michelin star, it’s Firedoor. It’s also just a few minutes walk from our Veriu Central hotel as well.
Address: 23-33 Mary St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
As an exquisite example of classic Art Deco architecture, the City Mutual Building stands out from the hustle and bustle of the Sydney CBD. Located inside is Rockpool Bar & Grill, which was originally owned and ran by one of the most famous names when it comes to chefs throughout the world: Neil Perry.
Its theatrical architecture provides a luxurious fine dining experience, with towering marble pillars stretching into its stunning ceiling motif as if it were straight out of a Mad Men episode – and that’s just the dining room.
The Rockpool Bar & Grill takes the produce it uses very seriously, even going so far as to dry-age their beef on-site. This passion and dedication is reflected in their menu, with standouts such as Maremma duck cooked over fire, steak tartare garnished with 24-month Pyengana cheddar shavings and house-smoked Berkshire leg ham enveloped with onion cream.
Rockpool Bar & Grill offers private dining options and an impressive wine list featuring over 3,000 wines.
Address: 66 Hunter St, Sydney NSW 2000
We finish this list with LuMi Bar and Dining, a fine dining restaurant that has honed its craft when it comes to creating modern Italian cuisine that has a uniquely Japanese twist. Offering beautiful views of King Street Wharf, this Michelin star-worthy restaurant is known for its impeccable presentation and culinary expertise.
With rows of tiny pendant lights hanging overhead as the Sydney CBD sparkles in the background, LuMi Bar and Dining creates an elegant and romantic atmosphere, perfect for treating your partner.
Owner and chef Federico Zanellato offers an unparalleled tasting menu, and like Firedoor’s tasting menu, their menu entirely depends on the seasonal ingredients they use. A signature dish Zanellato is known for is his ‘Italian sushi’, which is made using stracciatella cheese and koshihikari rice as the base, a top layer of sea urchin roe and then finished with a carefully placed crown of Osetra caviar.
To say “LuMi Bar and Dining is the epitome of fine dining” would be an understatement.
Address: 56 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009
And there you have it, our top 10 restaurants in Sydney that definitely deserve their Michelin stars. Even though Sydney may not have any Michelin star restaurants (yet), this in no way means that we don’t have a range of fine dining restaurants which offer an incredibly unique selection of cuisines from around the world.
If you find yourself wanting to hit the town afterwards, check out where you can find the best cocktail bars in Sydney.