10AM: Today, we unleash our inner gluttons, and sample some of the delicious (and crazy) food to be found in Sydney. But first, amble down to the Surry Hills Market if you’re here on the first Saturday of the month. You’ll need to sift through a whole lot of junk to find a winning bargain, but there are hidden gems at these stalls.
12PM: Head to Din Tai Fung on World Square in the CBD for a yum cha (dim sum) meal that will set you up for the rest of the day! Start with the specialty pork dumplings. For mains, Michael recommends the perfectly-flavoured truffle fried rice, which goes well with the fiery crispy chicken.
2PM: Stick to the Asian theme, and go to the eclectic White Rabbit in Chippendale post-lunch. Housed in a former Rolls-Royce service depot, this gallery has an impressive collection of contemporary Chinese art. If you have the space, swing by the teahouse here after browsing through the collection for a cup of aromatic chrysanthemum tea.
3.30PM -6PM: Newtown is next on the agenda. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the abundance of he-hives, top knots, conversations about Kafka, flannel shirts, and soy-lattes (organic, of course) while walking down the main strip of King Street. That’s right, you’re now in Sydney’s hipster capital.
Continue your food binge with a very hipster dessert, and visit Black Star Pastry for its legendary Strawberry and Watermelon Cake – an absolute must if you’re in the area.
Walk that slice off as you window-shop in quirky stores like Blue Dog Poster and Prints, Monster Threads and All Buttons Great and Small – the last is great if you need to restock the sewing cabinet.
There’s no rest for the tummy, though, because N2 Extreme Gelato, also on King Street, is next on the menu. More like a crazy science laboratory than a gelataria, it uses liquid nitrogen to create your sweet treat, and tops your scoop with a syringe-full of Nutella. Not something to turn down!
6.30PM-8.30PM: For an early dinner, return to Chippendale, and LP’s Quality Meats, a converted warehouse that is also a butchery. The joint’s mastery over smoked meats ensures that it’s always packed. Michael is a huge fan of the smoked beef tongue, which comes with a rich beef-fat dressing and the smoked lamb belly stuffed with merguez sausage.
9.30PM UNTIL YOU FALL OVER: There are many ways you can do a bar-crawl in Australia, and many places you may find yourself sprawled the following morning, but none are quite as interesting as the hidden-bar crawl Michael took me on. He focuses on tiny, hole-in-the-wall bars that are located in the secret alleyways of the CBD behind unmarked doors. Fortunately for your feet (and mine), they are all within a three block radius!
First up, Uncle Ming’s Bar —an old-school bar that makes you think you walked into one of Sherlock Holmes’s dream sequences.
Sip on a few cocktails here before hitting Stitch Bar, down a flight of stairs behind a wall of Singer sewing machines. The bar’s decor is an interesting mix of newspaper wallpaper, vintage photos and knick-knacks, and you want to sample a concoction called “That one time at Band Camp”, which has marshmallow-infused buffalo-trace bourbon with chocolate ice-cream and a biscuit. It really isn’t something that can be described…
Next up is the Barber Shop, which, by day is — you guess edit — a barbershop.
By night, the sliding backdoor opens out into a beautiful hidden bar that specialises in gin. The bar’s vintage collection includes a 1950s stock dry gin, which goes well with a cheese board.
The final stop for the night, if you aren’t lying in an alley somewhere already, is the best of all. Just out the back of the Barber Shop, we have the Baxter Inn. The dingy outer basement looks like that place your parents warned you about, and, as you tentatively push open the heavy door, you aren’t prepared for the buzzing atmosphere inside. Lit by candles, this bar is famed for its whiskey collection, stacked floor to ceiling, and accessed by the bartenders via rolling library ladders.