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March 30, 2010

Sydney Travel Guide

Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping and Sights

Orientation

The city's transportation hub is Circular Quay. The major attractions—Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, and the major downtown shopping thoroughfares (Pitt Street Mall, Market Street, and Castlereagh Street)—are all within walking distance, as is The Rocks, where Sydney began. It is now a gentrified neighborhood containing some of the city's best hotels and restaurants. Nearby Darling Harbour, reachable via a light-rail trolley from the Central Railway Station or a monorail from several points in the city center, is a popular and somewhat touristy precinct, home to Sega World, an Imax theater, the Australian National Maritime Museum, and the Sydney Aquarium among other things.

The Eastern suburbs (Paddington, Woollahra, Double Bay) are the dining, eating, shopping, and art gallery epicenter of Sydney. Kings Cross, 15 minutes by cab from The Rocks, is the city's "red light district" and home to some very good restaurants.

The North Shore is a string of beaches and wealthy residential suburbs (Mosman, Neutral Bay, Chatswood) with lots of good if standardized shopping. The Western suburbs include the Australian-Italian charms of Leichhardt, and the hip, villagey atmosphere of Balmain (which is reachable by ferry). Newly gentrified areas, with the accompanying rise in fashionable cafés, galleries, design stores, and the like, are Bondi, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Potts Point.

Best Harbor Views
From Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk across or take the train over from Circular Quay to North Sydney.
From the deck of the Manly Ferry One-hour round-trip. Leaves from Circular Quay.
From Taronga Zoo Take the cable car to the top of the hill and walk down.
From Forty One Restaurant A chic perch in Chifley Tower, right downtown.

Ferries
They're one of the delights of staying in Sydney. The main ferry terminal is Wharfs 2-5 at Circular Quay. Best trips: To Manly (about 30 minutes one way; fare $2.50), which traverses the entire harbor; to Taronga Zoo, which takes less time and yields equally good harbor views; up the Parramatta River on a Rivercat. For information about Ferry Ten Travel Passes and ferry timetables, visit the Sydney Ferries Information Service, opposite Wharf 4, Circular Quay; 9207-3170.

Best Downtown Shopping
BUSH CLOTHING
R.M. Williams 389 George St.; 9262-2228.
CONTEMPORARY JEWELRY
Maker's Mark Gallery 2 Chifley Plaza, Chifley Square; 9231-6800.
MENSWEAR
John Pardoe 23 O'Connell St.; 9232-4255.
PEARLS
Paspaley Pearls 142 King St.; 9232-7633.

DRESS REHEARSAL

The Paddington/Woollahra area is home to three of the most award-winning young dress designers in Australia. For streamlined, wearable chic try Lisa Ho (2a-6a Queen St., Woollahra; 9360-2345); for luxurious lace fabrics that Paris adores phone up Collette Dinnigan (39 William St., Paddington; 9360-6691), and for ethereal layered silks visit Akira Isogawa (12a Queen St., Woollahra; 9361-5221).

Luxury Tours Down Under
Swain Australia Tours is an expert on the best of Australia. The company's basic nine-night tour begins in Sydney and takes in Hayman Island, the country's most luxurious resort, and the Daintree Rainforest, north of Cairns. And they can tailor a longer trip, taking in Melbourne and more exotic destinations in Australia and New Zealand. 800-227-9246.

Two Singular Tours
Olympic Park Site Inspection Cruise the Parramatta River on a Rivercat launch, then transfer to the Olympic Park site at Homebush Bay for the tour. $9.30. 9207-3170.
Private Art Collection Tours The Art Gallery Society of New South Wales conducts regular tours of art galleries in the Paddington area and special viewings of private art collections. $14.25, lunch included $22.25. 9225-1878.

Head for the Hills
Situated an hour and a half west of Sydney are the magnificent Blue Mountains, the Sydney area's equivalent to the Grand Canyon. You will need a rental car to tour the area. Best drive: Route 5, which winds along the lip of the canyon. A two-day trip.

The finest place to stay is Lilianfels ($183-$526; Lilianfels Ave., Katoomba; 4780-1200), an English-style resort hotel with a fantastic view over the mountains (best rooms with a view: those ending in 12, 13, 24, 27, and 28).

Many of the city's most talented chefs have moved into the area and embraced the fine local regional produce. Besides Lilianfels ($62), which offers very good food, well worth a visit are: Silk's Brasserie in Leura ($50; 128 The Mall, Leura; 4784-2534) and Vulcan's ($75; 33 Govett's Leap Rd., Blackheath; 4787-6899), a smart modern bistro run by one of Australia's best known chefs, Phillip Searle.


Basics

Currency Australian dollar, abbreviated A$.
Current Exchange Rate A$1.62=U.S.$1
Best Time To Visit September through February, Sydney's spring and summer.
Time Difference 16 hours ahead of EST.
Airlines Served By Qantas, United, Air New Zealand.
U.S. Gateways Los Angeles, San Francisco.
Flight Time 14 hours.
Cab from Airport to Downtown $30.
Airport Car Rental Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty.
Taxis At taxi ranks, or can be hailed on the street. Plentiful, except between 3 and 4 p.m., when shifts change.
Taxi Tipping 5-10 percent.
Hotel Taxes 10 percent State Government Accommodation Levy.
Restaurant Tipping Discretionary; 10 percent is customary.
Remember That In Sydney, entrée means an appetizer.
Further Information Australian Government Tourist Office, 800-333-0262; www.australia.com


The Rocks and Central Sydney

Hotels

The following Fine Hotels & Resorts appear in this area:
PARK HYATT SYDNEY
REGENT HYATT
RITZ-CARLTON HYATT

ANA The opulent decor can feel excessive, but this 570-room hotel is run meticulously. Harborside rooms have the best views of any hotel in town. Other pluses: a very civilized bar (Horizons) and a fine Japanese restaurant and sushi bar. (Unkai). $210-$2,167. 176 Cumberland St.; 9250-6000.

HOTEL INTER-CONTINENTAL SYDNEY Built within the 1851 sandstone Treasury. Smoothly run with central atrium courtyard. Best rooms are high up, facing north. Favorites: Harbour View Suite 2802 and connecting rooms 2525-2526 (the suite is available to Platinum Card members at a special rate of $350; the rooms for $223). $238-$1,609. 117 Macquarie St.; 9230-0200.

THE OBSERVATORY HOTEL Its location, on the far side of the Harbour Bridge, keeps this hotel from getting its due. In fact it is but a pleasant 15-minute walk to Circular Quay along streets lined with 19th-century buildings that give you a feel for old Sydney. The hotel is one of the city's most luxurious, with a Georgian-style lobby; library/bar stocked with rare books; and indoor, 66-foot Roman swimming pool. A complimentary jet-lag kit includes a half-hour in the hotel's spa flotation tank. Only the views fail to enthrall. Best rooms: Junior Suite 313, with a long, bull-nosed bedroom and huge balcony overlooking Darling Harbour. Note: Executive suites cost more than junior suites but aren't as large. Nice touch: the beautiful armoires in each room containing fax, CD, VCR, and TV. $288-$1,021. 113 Kent St.; 9256-2222.

PARK HYATT SYDNEY this hotel from getting its due. In fact it is but a pleasant 15-minute walk to Circular Quay along streets lined with 19th-century buildings that give you a feel for old Sydney. The hotel is one of the city's most luxurious, with a Georgian-style lobby; library/bar stocked with rare books; and indoor, 66-foot Roman swimming pool. A complimentary jet-lag kit includes a half-hour in the hotel's spa flotation tank. Only the views fail to enthrall. Best rooms: Junior Suite 313, with a long, bull-nosed bedroom and huge balcony overlooking Darling Harbour. Note: Executive suites cost more than junior suites but aren't as large. Nice touch: the beautiful armoires in each room containing fax, CD, VCR, and TV. $288-$1,021. 113 Kent St.; 9256-2222.

THE REGENT SYDNEY For years this was Sydney's premier hotel. But it has fallen somewhat recently, mainly due to a lack of investment. ( Sydney Harbour Bridge. Otherwise the hotel has all of the luxury touches (although service was a bit hit or miss when we stayed). The Park Hyatt is also the hotel most convenient to the center of town. Important: Make sure that you specify a room on the second or third floor. Those on the first floor look right out onto a heavily trafficked public walkway: You may have to close the drapes in order to have any kind of privacy. Guestrooms have just been redecorated, and all the televisions now have Internet access. $340-$2,167. 7 Hickson Rd.; 9241-1234.

RITZ-CARLTON SYDNEY Kable's, under executive chef Serge Dansereau, is still one of the city's best. Plus there are splendid harbor views to be had from rooms ending in 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 (with the last being the ne plus ultra). $180-$1,300. 199 George St.; 9238-0000.

ROCKFORT This lovingly restored 1835 townhouse is a B&B hotel. That means there's no 24-hour room service, no concierge, no foyer. But there are four rooms and suites, all furnished with fine antiques. Breakfast is included and served in the original sandstone kitchen; dinner can be arranged, although there is a plethora of restaurants a short walk away. $136-$204. 61 Lower Fort St.; 9251-9475.

THE SEBEL OF SYDNEY Once a haunt of rock, movie, and opera stars, and now a townhouse hotel with clubby rooms that could use a bit of accessorizing. Regular guests still speak fondly of sitting on a stool in the cozy bar between Joe Cocker and Elton John. If that's your scene, you're home. Junior suites are best, front rooms can be noisy. In Elizabeth Bay, about 15 minutes from the city center by cab and right next to Kings Cross. $139-$433. 23 Elizabeth Bay Rd.; 9358-3244.

SHERATON ON THE PARK Originally built for the Asian Park Lane group, which is why the hotel has such a strong Hong Kong feel, in a black marble and sweeping staircase kind of way. Strong points: Even the lesser rooms are spacious, the marble- and granite-clad bathrooms, impressive health club, highly regarded Gekko restaurant. The location is close to perfect: opposite Hyde Park and around the corner from major department stores. Park-view rooms are best (city-view rooms, at back of hotel, can be bleak). $229-$2,476. 161 Elizabeth St.; 9286-6000.

Restaurants

BANC No longer a bank, but still generating plenty of interest, thanks to an intelligent makeover (stoic columns, plush banquettes) and meticulously crafted French-based food. Attracts a legal/financial crowd, who relish the duck parfait in Peking duck jelly and seared Atlantic salmon with colcannon. Encyclopedic wine list, trusty cheese trolley. $74. 53 Martin Place; 9233-5300.

BEL MONDO The place is pure theater, with the open kitchen dramatically staged and lit and the crowd as glamorous as any first-night audience. The Italian dishes range from comforting to breathtaking. $93. Level 3, The Argyle Department Store, 12-24 Argyle St.; 9241-3700.

BENNELONG It occupies a soaring space inside the Opera House, but until recently there were complaints that the feeling and food were just a little precious and diners were forced to speak in whispers. In August, however, Michael Moore, who headed up Bluebird in London, took over the kitchen. Now the mood is light and the feeling is fun, the architecture is mind-boggling as ever, and the food manages to hit all the right notes, from the sautéed lobster with anchovies and rosemary to the seared snapper Putanesca. $80. Opera House, Bennelong Point; 9250-7578.

BILSON'S Not only can you feast your eyes on the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House at this glamorous harborside eatery, you can also feast your palate on some of the most inspired French food in Australia. Chef Guillaume Brahimi has worked with Joël Robuchon, and it shows in dishes such as the basil-infused tuna, beef tenderloin with Merlot sauce and Paris mash, and anything with truffles. $100. International Passenger Terminal, Upper Level, Circular Quay; 9251-5600.

FORTY ONE This space, on the 41st floor of Chifley Tower, was originally earmarked as the penthouse for ex-millionaire and America's Cup winner Alan Bond. The plates can get a little too busy, but the quality of the ingredients is always superb, lifting the crown roast of hare, the venison fillet on Shanghai risotto cake, and the barramundi hot pot into the stratosphere. Plus the view of the city is incomparable-worth coming for alone. Hint: the views are even more spectacular from the restrooms. $110. Level 41, Chifley Tower, 2 Chifley Square; 9221-2500.

KAM FOOK SHARK'S FIN SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Offers one of the best yum cha (dim sum) lunches in one of the most authentic settings outside Hong Kong. The space holds 800 and is packed at lunch. Dinner is more sedate, the food more serious. Lunch: $15; dinner: $35. Level 3, Market City, 9—13 Hay St.; 9211-8988.

MCA FISH CAFE In the Museum of Contemporary Art. Serves some of the best fish in Australia, line-caught and bought directly by restaurateur Neil Perry from the fishermen. The view of Circular Quay and the Opera House from the terrace is sublime; inside it's a bit charmless and claustrophobic. $56. 140 George St.; 9241-4253.

NUMBER SEVEN The Park Hyatt Sydney got lucky earlier this year when it secured the services of Sydney's fastest-rising chef. Ross Lusted was head chef at Rockpool for the past two years, and his stunning Mod Oz (or modern Australian) technique sings in dishes like grilled tuna with lentils and borlotti beans, chicken and bamboo pith broth, sea scallops with sweet corn ravioli. Don't forget to look up occasionally and take in the breathtaking Sydney Opera House views. $93. Park Hyatt Sydney, 7 Hickson Rd.; 9256-1630.

ROCKPOOL This, the second venture of serial restaurateur Neil Perry, has lost none of its glamour, although it is now nearly a decade old. Eating here is a crash course in modern Australian cuisine, which includes everything from slow-cooked abalone with black funghi, and roast pigeon with foie gras lasagna, to custard apple ice cream with caramelized pineapple. $110. 107 George St.; 9252-1888.

WOCKPOOL Darling Harbour is one of Sydney's more conspicuous tourist precincts, but that doesn't matter on a balmy summer night when you're sitting in this bright, brash, brave-new-world space surrounded by the seductive scents of Asian spices. Another Neil Perry extravaganza, this is an ambitious attempt to streamline and modernize the flavors of Asia. Some dishes, such as the steamed silken tofu, are too sweet for comfort, but others, including a red curry of swordfish, wok-fried spanner crab omelette, and Chinese red braised pork hock, are a dream. $74. In the Panasonic Imax Theatre; 9211-9888.

Sights

ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES Go straight to the Modern Australian wing to discover a cache of remarkable paintings. Then take in the Aboriginal art. Otherwise the attraction is the airy 19th-century building itself. 10 a.m.—5 p.m. Free admission. Art Gallery Rd.; 9225-1700. For more info.

THE CHINESE GARDENS Very few Sydneysiders take advantage of these serene gardens between Chinatown and Darling Harbour. Built by the Guangdong Landscape Bureau, it's the perfect spot to take a reviving cup of tea at the teahouse within the grounds. 9:30 a.m.—sunset. Admission: $2.50. Darling Harbour; 9281-6863.

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART The stately, solid Deco building contrasts with the often provocative exhibitions within, from Jeff Koons to Robert Mapplethorpe and their local brethren. 10 a.m.—6 p.m. Admission: $5. 140 George St.; 9252-4033. For more info.

OPERA HOUSE Behind-the-scenes tours are conducted every half-hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Bennelong Point; 9250-7111. For more info.

SYDNEY DANCE COMPANY Has been led for two decades by Graeme Murphy, who still directs and choreographs much of the work. The company has uncovered some of the country's finest young dancers, including Paul Mercurio of Strictly Ballroom fame. Most productions are staged at the Opera House. For schedule: 9221-4811.


Eastern Suburbs

Hotels

RITZ-CARLTON DOUBLE BAY This is one of the few hotels outside the city center worth recommending. Double Bay is a wealthy enclave-by-the-sea, awash with designer shops, beauty salons, and cosmopolitan sidewalk cafés. Like its city sister, this Ritz-Carlton is a modern hotel, but carefully laced with old-fashioned comforts, like the fire that burns in reception in winter. Now the favorite haunt of rock stars and entertainers. $216-$1,238. 33 Cross St., Double Bay; 9362-4455.

Restaurants

BILLS It takes no cards, it isn't open for dinner, it doesn't take bookings, and it has but 30 seats (with 16 of those at a communal table); yet this sunny corner café is quintessential Sydney. It's invariably filled with loose-limbed, good-looking youth, buzzing in at breakfast for the remarkable ricotta hotcakes and best scrambled eggs in town, and at lunch for sweet corn fritters and coriander noodles. $25. 433 Liverpool St., Darlinghurst; 9360-9631.

BISTRO MONCUR After turning Claude's into one of this town's gastro temples, Damien Pignolet decided to go around the corner (and downmarket) to the nearby Woollahra Hotel. The result is about the closest thing you'll find to a real French bistro in Sydney. There are no bookings taken, so you'll have to get in early if you don't want to wait at the bar next-door. Mind you, the French onion soufflé, the house-made pork sausages, and marinated salmon are worth waiting for. Warning: Noisy when full, and it's always full. $62. 116 Queen St., Woollahra; 9363-2519.

BUON RICORDO Armando Percuoco, a caring host, is full of the exaggerated zest for life that is an Italian birthright. Take his advice when he suggests the marvelous antipasto, fish, fig with prosciutto and gorgonzola, or pasta with truffled egg. $68. 108 Boundary St., Paddington; 9360-6729.

CATALINA This is the unofficial clubhouse for the local A-list, who arrive upon the scene to sip flutes of Champagne, nibble sushi, and swap society gossip over chef John Vanderveer's squid-ink pasta with mussels and spice-crusted salmon. The position, perched on the edge of the harbor, is close to perfect. Sit near the window on the sweeping balcony and watch the pelicans and seaplanes come and go. $80. Lyne Park, Rose Bay; 9371-0555.Claude's Despite his tender years, chef Tim Pak Poy is a staunch advocate of fine dining. The mood is formal, the floor staff can be a bit stiff, but the food is flawless. Two sure bets: grilled Muscovy duckling and cockle risotto. No liquor license, so bring a topnotch Australian wine. $124. 10 Oxford St., Woollahra; 9331-2325.

CLOCK HOTEL RESTAURANT The quintessential corner pub, with wraparound veranda, poolroom, and one-armed bandits. Upstairs is the pub dining room of your dreams. Food is pampered pub fare, from roast chicken to sherry trifle. $43. 470 Crown St., Surry Hills; 9331-5333.

DARLEY STREET THAI Chef and co-owner David Thompson has committed himself to presenting authentic Thai food in an authentic Thai manner. That means everything comes at once, the hot dishes are relentlessly so, and the flavors are so large you can practically see them; only the surroundings are minimalist. Try the galloping horses (ma hor) appetizer and the wild-tasting roast duck and oyster salad. $87. 28-30 Bayswater Rd., Kings Cross; 9358-6530. There is also an outpost of the restaurant in The Rocks called Sailors Thai. $62. 106 George St.; 9251-2466.

FUEL Meet the new baby brother of the MG Garage next-door. While MG is a big night out, with all the trimmings, Fuel is an easygoing café full of beautiful people and simple, beautifully worked food, including spaghetti with meatballs, cassoulet, and a weekend breakfast special of Champagne sausages with oysters. Outside mealtimes, Fuel is a stylish food store, complete with a walk-in cheese room and bakery. It is also a car showroom, selling Lotus and Aston Martin sports cars. $37. 476-488 Crown St., Surry Hills; 9383-9388.

LUCIO'S A favored haunt of local celebrities, politicians, and not-so-starving artists. The walls are hung with their work, making the place look more like a gallery than a restaurant. Cuttlefish and radicchio salad is typical of the simple, refreshing starters here, and the tagliolini with blue swimmer crab is as comforting as an old friend. $56. 47 Windsor St., Paddington; 9380-5996.

MG GARAGE This is a car showroom that doubles as a restaurant: Those MGs on the dining room floor aren't decor—they are merchandise. It's gimmicky, but the food isn't. Expect the unexpected, like lobster cabbage rolls, a perfect coulibiac of salmon wrapped in pancakes and baked in brioche, and a salad of snails and pig's ear. $80. 490 Crown St., Surry Hills; 9383-9383.

PARAMOUNT With its wraparound fiberglass architecture and skillful take on modern Asian and Mediterranean flavors, Paramount is as modern as the day after tomorrow. The five-spice duck and shiitake pie is an old favorite, as is the tea-smoked Tasmanian salmon. Molded and layered ice cream and sorbet are a highlight. $93. 73 Macleay St., Potts Point; 9358-1652.

PIER RESTAURANT Pier has great wraparound water views and not one but two of Sydney's most gifted chefs, Greg Doyle and Steve Hodges. Some of the more formal dishes hark back to the eighties, but all of the fish is snapping-fresh and filleted in-house. Two favorites: salmon pastrami and pot-roasted John Dory. $87. 594 New South Head Rd., Rose Bay; 9327-6561.

RAVESI'S This long-established restaurant has experienced a renaissance at the hands of chef Martin Teplitzky. To enjoy Sydney at its sunniest, grab a balcony table, order a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, blue swimmer crab salad, and char-grilled King George whiting. Perfection rarely so easily attained. $50. Corner Campbell Parade & Hall St., Bondi Beach; 9365-4422.

Shopping

APPLEY HOARE ANTIQUES Specializes in French farmhouse kitchen furniture and culinary antiques, from the 20-seater pine dining table to the three-inch duck-shaped confectionery mold. 55 Queen St., Woollahra; 9362-3045. For more info on London main branch of store

ARIEL Perhaps Sydney's finest bookshop. Strong on design, art, travel, and cooking, as well as contemporary literature. Best of all, it's open until midnight, every night. 42 Oxford St., Paddington; 9332-4581.

HOGARTH GALLERIES ABORIGINAL ART CENTER Some of the finest examples of Australian Aboriginal art are shown here. 7 Walker Lane, Paddington; 9360-6839.

JONES THE GROCER Tempting wares, from local and imported cheeses and chocolates to fine olive oils, teas, and preserves. 68 Moncur St., Woollahra; 9362-1222.

MAMBO FRIENDSHIP STORE Cross between a hip art gallery and a surf-gear clothing shop. Good gifts for hipsters back home. 17 Oxford St., Paddington; 9331-8034.

OLSEN CARR ART DEALERS Handles most of Sydney's brightest contemporary artists, including perhaps the best, John Olsen. 76 Paddington St., Paddington; 9360-9854.

W.F. BRADSHAW In a street full of great antique furniture shops, this one stands out. According to longtime collector and connoisseur Leo Schofield, Bradshaw has both a great eye and great knowledge. Stock can run from exquisite 19th-century gilt figures to all manner of decorative clocks and some particularly fine writing desks. 96 Queen St., Woollahra; 9363-4453.

Sights

BELVOIR STREET THEATRE Specializes in politically sharp Australian theater as well as works both by and about Aboriginals. 25 Belvoir St., Surry Hills; 9699-3444.

VAUCLUSE HOUSE Built in the 1830s for politician William Charles Wentworth. A splendid example of Gothic architecture. (A nearby tearoom does the best scones, jam, and cream in all Sydney.) 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Closed Monday. Admission: $6. Wentworth Rd., Vaucluse; 9388-7922.


North Shore

Restaurants

THE BATHERS PAVILION Owner Victoria Alexander has transformed this old changing pavilion into one of the North Shore's finest restaurants. The harbor view is to die for, but book ahead if you want a window table. Restaurant now under renovation; reopens in May 1999. $75. 4 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach; 9968-1133.

BISTRO PAVÉ The commercial heart of North Sydney is more known for wheeling and dealing than wining and dining, but the business lunch has never looked back since Colin Holt took over the stoves here two years ago. His refined and redefined take on French bistro cooking includes a superb duck confit and a show-stopping braised, stuffed tripe. $62. 181 Miller St., North Sydney; 9956-8583.

CLAUDINE'S Chatswood is one big suburban shopping mall, thus it is odd to find such a well-appointed, warm, woody restaurant here. Meyjitte Boughenout is a French-trained chef who has worked with George Blanc, Pierre Gagnaire, and Alan Pic. $80. Gallery Level, Chatswood Chase, 345 Victoria Ave., Chatswood; 9411-1688.

LOTHAR'S ON PYMBLE HILL Lothar Winkler worked as executive chef for a number of Australia and Asia's finest hotels before he opened this comfortable culinary cottage in the gastronomically challenged upper reaches of the North Shore. Coming here for dinner is like dining at a friend's, but few friends cook lobster on truffled risotto and choucroute like this. $62. 1039 Pacific Highway, Pymble; 9449-4686.

WATERMARK At the opposite end of Balmoral Beach from The Bathers Pavilion, Watermark is a sleek, more contemporary scene. The sun-drenched terrace practically never empties during the summer. Kenneth Leung's modern Australian cooking is more often than not inspired, with offerings such as a cane-sugar-glazed veal shank and a generous Asian seafood antipasto. If you were any closer to the water, you'd be wet. $74. 2A The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach; 9968-3433.

Sights

TARONGA ZOO Yes, we know every city claims that its zoo is the greatest, but Taronga is different. For a start, you can get there by ferry from Circular Quay. Then you take a cable car to the top of the steep hill on which the zoo is set and walk down, enjoying the best view of Sydney Harbour on the North Shore. The animals? They're good too; they actually look contented. It must be the view. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults: $10; children: $5.25. Bradley's Head Rd., Mosman; 9978-4786.


Western Suburbs

Restaurants

TETSUYA'S Owner Tetsuya Wakudae may just be the city's best chef. From his legendary, slow-cooked smoked ocean trout to his blue-cheese bavarois and truffle ice cream, the dishes here blur the line between East and West in ways that no one has done before. The restaurant is small—it was formerly a coffee shop—and low-key. The experience, anything but. $124. 729 Darling St., Rozelle; 9555-1017.


About this Guide

Prices In U.S. dollars.
Hotel Prices High season double occupancy, from the least expensive double room to the most expensive suite, not including taxes, unless noted.
Restaurant Prices Three-course dinner for two without beverage, service, or tax, except for cafes and Asian restaurants, where the price is based on an average-size meal suitable to the establishment.
Menu Items Cited Current at the time of the review, but may well have changed by the time you dine at the restaurant.
Telephone Numbers The country code for Australia is 61; the city code is 2.
Platinum Card Travel Service (PTS)
For assistance, call 800-443-7672. From abroad, call 602-492-5000 collect.


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Member of Fine Hotels, Resorts & Spas.

Disclaimer: the information in this story was accurate at the time of publication in September 1998, but we suggest you confirm all details with the service establishments before making travel plans.