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Fine Dining For Less: Sydney’s Fanciest Food on a Budget

With set menus for less than $100, these fancy but affordable fine dining restaurants in Sydney deserve a visit.

Cho Cho San (Image Credit Nikki To)
Cho Cho San (Image Credit Nikki To)

When you think of fine dining, the first thoughts that spring to mind are fancy, formal and above all – expensive. But with Sydney’s new wave of humble fine diners, you can find mouthwatering menus, lavish tasting feasts and even Chef-hatted lunch deals, without blowing your entire month’s wages. Thankfully, the days of unaffordable – and unobtainable – gourmet dining are well and truly behind us.

From lunchtime bookings to pre-theatre menus (don’t worry, no need for tickets), we’ve done some digging to reveal Sydney’s best kept restaurant secrets – here’s your guide to finding the fanciest fine dining experiences in the city, on a purse-friendly budget. You are welcome.

Aria

The swansong of Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon, the two-hatted restaurant delivers ‘haute cuisine’ and champions local produce. Just steps away from the Opera House, the food and location are equally iconic. To dine for under $100 per person, book in for their two-course pre-theatre menu. Available from 5:30pm until 7pm every night and after 10pm for a post-theatre meal on Friday and Saturday nights, the sensational seasonal menu from executive chef Joel Bickford is the perfect start to a perfect Sydney night. At $90 for two courses and $120 for three, settle in for a delicious meal while you look out on one of the best sunset views in Sydney.

1 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Hubert

One of Sydney’s best French eateries, Restaurant Hubert is a firm favourite with Sydney foodies. The bistro is a Parisian wonderland, and in typical French style, the wine list is illustrious and the food, exceptional. If you’re looking for a heavenly feed without the hefty price tag check out the pétit banquet at $98 per person. Starting, as all good meals do, with a warm baguette, eat your way through wagyu beef tartare, vol-au-vent and gnocchi Parisienne before the main course, a whole chicken and finish the night with a classic crème caramel. If you’re in the mood for a lighter feed, check out Bar Pincer, the restaurant’s bar, their menu is essentially an abridged version of Hubert’s and is well worth a look. 

15 Bligh Street, Sydney

Chin Chin
Chin Chin
Chin Chin

With a hat to its name, Chin Chin provides the ultimate destination for lively dinners. Everything in this trendy Asian-fusion palace is intoxicating, and their inventive take on Thai cuisine is the icing on the cake. The menu is extensive and full of hero dishes, making the decision process a tough one. Save time and money by ordering the ‘Feed Me’ banquet ($69.50 per person) to indulge in all of Chin Chin’s favourites including the massaman curry of braised brisket which is in our books absolutely essential. If you’re looking for a weekend feed, check out their weekend Yum Cha. For $55 per person, the lunchtime feast is packed full of twists on classic yum cha feeds and, in true Chin Chin fashion can be enjoyed with a range of cool cocktails and with disco tunes playing on a loop. 

69 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills


The Apollo
The Apollo
The Apollo

If you have a penchant for saganaki cheese and charred calamari, then The Apollo is the  Greek restaurant you need to visit. Their take on Mediterranean flavours (with a strong focus on Greek food), along with a smattering of dishes cooked over wood and charcoal, is out of this world. And indulgent. You’ll be left wishing you had a spare stomach. To get the most out of your experience, opt for ‘The Full Greek’ that showcases The Apollo’s best of the best. For just $65 per person, you will be beyond satisfied with the eight-dish banquet – think baked saganaki cheese, tangy Greek salad and slow-cooked lamb shoulder slathered in creamy tzatziki. Plus for just $5 extra per person you can add ouzo – which is the properly Greek thing to do!

44 MacLeay Street, Potts Point

Cho Cho San

Equal parts playful and chic, Cho Cho San is where the cool kids go for Japanese. One of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney, the Cho Cho San menu designed for sharing. To sample the best dishes and save some coin, order the Izakaya set menu with seven dishes for $65 per person or up the ante with the Cho Cho San feast with eight dishes for $95 per person. For fine dining, the feast is 100% the way to go with their famous pork katsu bun, crab fried rice and wagyu sirloin making winning appearances on the menu.

73 Macleay Street, Potts Point

Lilymu
Lilymu
Lilymu

With a menu by Brendan Fong (Mr. Wong) and an $88 banquet option, it’s no surprise that Lilymu is one of the best restaurants in Parramatta. With a menu designed to highlight the dynamic flavours of Chinese and South-East Asian cuisines, their budget banquet menu features kingfish sashimi, ‘tom yum’ prawn dumplings, lamb massaman, rich wagyu beef and a super sweet Thai milk tea tres leches cake. 

153 Macquarie Street, Parramatta Square, Parramatta

Two Chaps

By day Two Chaps is one of the best cafes in Marrickville but by night it’s transformed into one of the best pasta spots in Sydney with a stellar set menu for under $100. Vegetarian and with an emphasis on sustainability, almost everything at this Marrickville restaurant is handmade or locally sourced. Their $60 set menu is available Thursday – Saturday night and reliably features handmade pastas and local cheeses. Think raclette with baked focaccia, ravioli with mushrooms and buffalo ricotta and deliciously delicate desserts. Plus, it’s BYO with $10 corkage per bottle which gives you the perfect opportunity to bust out that wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

122 Chapel Street, Marrickville

Chiswick
Chiswick
Chiswick

As well as being a champion of farm-to-table cooking, Matt Moran is one of the most recognisable names in the Australian foodie scene so it may come as a surprise that you can enjoy one of his tasting menus for less than $100. The Chiswick Collective is a $90 per person family-style feast that features the very best that Chiswick has to offer. Beginning with dips, appetizers and entrees, the set menu pffers tables of four or five the choice between a roast chicken or a Chiswick slow-roasted lamb shoulder. Chiswick’s lamb is famous so we’d wholeheartedly recommend it. There’s salad and chips to round out the feast before you finish with a chocolate hazelnut mille-feuille. Farm to table restaurants are rare in an inner-city suburb such as Woollahra but, if you’re lucky enough to be seated by the window, you’ll be able to look outside and see the suburbs only kitchen garden. 

65 Ocean Street, Woollahra

Buon Ricordo

It’s widely accepted as one of the best restaurants in Paddington but, if you ask us, it might just be the best restaurant in Sydney. Between the interiors, which are to die for with art literally lining the walls from floor to ceiling and the to-die-for dishes, Buon Ricordo is a feast for all the senses. With two courses for just $85, this is one of the best fine dining deals in town. Everything on the menu is great but the must-try dish has to be the fettuccine al tartufovo. Fresh pasta served with cream, parmesan, topped with a truffle fried egg and tossed at the table, in the almost four decades that Buon Ricordo has been operating in Paddington no dish has been as loved as this! 

108 Boundary Street, Paddington

Mr Wong
Mr Wong
Mr. Wong

One of the  best Asian fine dining spots in Sydney, Mr. Wong serves Cantonese-style food in the heart of the CBD. Moody, intimate and with the typical Merivale aesthetic sensibilities, this is the perfect spot for your next dinner. With two banquet menus for less than $100 you can enjoy steamed dim sum, sweet and sour pork, stir fried vegetables, beef, chicken and so much seafood - we're talking garlic prawns, sea scallops and salt and pepper calamari - and all without breaking the bank. You're invited to finish your set menu with a dessert. Our pick? The famous Mr. Wong deep-fried vanilla ice cream with butterscotch sauce. 

3 Bridge Lane, Sydney

Arthur

A hatted restaurant serving up epic 6 course set menus for less than $100 is practically unheard of but, at Arthur that’s exactly what you'll find. For $95 per person you can get your hands on some of the best modern Australian cuisine in Sydney. Owned by head chef Tristian Rosier (Farmhouse, Dead Ringer) and his partner the ambitious menu changes regularly and aims to tell a story with every dish. A smart and gutsy chef, Rosier trained at Biota and Est and the signature produce driven fare – think Ester or Automata but at a fraction of the cost. For bright, rich, bold food at an unquestionably reasonable price, you can’t look past Arthur.

544 Bourke Street, Surry Hills


Looking for more dining inspo? If you loved our round up of the best fine dining deals you might also like our edit of the best gastro-pubs in Sydney and the best banquets for a serious feast. Or, for when money’s not an object, check out the best degustation menus at Sydney's finest fine dining spots.