Emily-Jean McDonagh

Fine dining is an exercise in luxury, to celebrate an occasion or to celebrate the food itself. Course upon course is wheeled out a la carte or curated expertly for your degustation. But for these restaurants to survive not only must the food be exquisite, the service top notch but the customer has to be there. Recent laws in Sydney have seen a shift towards local experiences, the value of fine dining negated by availability.

Rockpool, Neil Perry’s taste institution closed recently as a result of this shift. The spot will still house Perry’s delicious cooking but under a new brand, Eleven Bridge, focusing on the luxury of choice. The artful cooking Perry is renowned for is ever present but the rebranding is an effort to make an excellent dining experience more casual and interactive. Tableside cooking will feature heavily in the new menu adding an element of theatre to every meal.

Look to the North Shore, all along the Pacific Highway and every side street in between is filled with delicious options. Foodie hubs can be found in Chatswood and Crows Nest, with an extensive range of cuisines on offer. Couple this with an extension of food delivery services and you can see why people are reluctant to venture out of the area.

What used to be a routine luxury venture out for a decadent dinner is now a more casual affair. First a drink at a cosy wine bar then a selection of tapas at the place next door, perhaps gelato down the street after. Gordon Ramsay’s famous restaurant in London the Savoy Grill famously updated their dress code to allow sneakers and jeans into the accepted attire.

Local favourite Tim Ho Wan at Chatswood is Michelin star accredited at a modest price, it’s the most affordable of it’s class in the world. Focusing on a refined menu compared to other local offerings, Tim Ho Wan marries excellent food and an accessible price.

Good Food Editor Myffy Rigby says, “I think that there’s definitely still a place for big, heavy hitting Michelin star restaurants…it’s just that there’s more of an emphasis on people having fun while they’re doing it.”

Whether you prefer to get dressed to the nines and indulge in a night of fine foodie fare or try new flavours around the corner from your house, the overall quality of food has lifted due to this behavioural shift. Suburbs once silent at 7pm are now little local treats for great food close to home. North Shore locals certainly aren’t complaining, instead they’re feasting.