In what may be the most anticipated event for Sydney foodies, this year’s Time Out Food Awards attracted over 250 keen eaters to celebrate the city’s best.
The night started out with an excited and likely hungry crowd outside of Porteño. Award nominees, businessmen and women in suits, younger crowds chatting away, and every other lucky attendee were all eagerly waiting for the doors to Sydney’s best restaurateurs to open. Needless to say, this was going to be an event to remember.
Once inside, we were checked in by friendly Time Out staff and welcomed into the elegant venue. Porteño’s interior coupled modern bar features with contemporary designs. The dance floor topped with a DJ booth harmoniously transitioned into bricked walls decorated with vintage lamps. It was the just the right toast to the event, a nod to the new and old talents of Sydney’s food scene.
Soon enough the previously empty dance floor and bar area were filled with enthusiastic attendees buzzing with energy. The atmosphere itself was electrifying. The actual awards ran a little late but that was no problem as we were being fuelled with the night’s canapés. Pumpkin and feta empanadas, vitello tonnato finger sandwiches, slow cooked beef with chimichurri, corn and saffron arancini, smoked chicken wings, and my personal favourite of the night, Porteño’s signature chorizo kept us happy and well-fed. Of course, no food award is complete without drinks. Lanson Champagne, White Rabbit Dark Ale, 150 Lashes Pale Ale Kirin Megumi, Alpha Box and Dice, Southern Comfort, laced the party with high spirits.
Come time for the awards, the crowd was still buzzing with energy but in a hushed a manner. The charming host spoke eloquently with telling signs of respect and elation for the restaurants he read out. And as though the diligent Porteño staff were refuelling the crowd’s vocal chords while simultaneously refilling their drinks, the hushed buzzing energy burst out in a massive cheer every time a restaurant called.
Naturally, an even louder cheer ensued when the winners were announced. “Restaurant of the Year is... Ester!” amped up the host and the bar immediately erupted in joy. Both team members of Ester and their rival nominees were applauding and praising each other. The animated vocals continued as Long Chim won Best Casual Dining Restaurant, Momofuku Seiōbo the Best Degustation, and Golden Century the Legend Award.
One of the most notable cheers of the night came when the event’s very venue, Porteño, won the People’s Choice Award for Best Restaurant. Unexpected to the team working the night, there were nothing but happy, well-earned smiles on the stage. Other outstanding wins included Paper Bird as Best New Restaurant, Bar Ume as Best Cheap Eat, Cornersmith Annandale as Best Café, Bake Bar Randwick as Best Bakery, and BL Burger as Best Fast Food.
Recharged by the many victories, the night continued on with drinks and canapés after the awards. The many winners and legends of Sydney’s food industry took team photos in front of the event wall, attendees took charge of the dance floor, and others took a pause from the festivities with the Time Out Food Awards magazine.
As the checkered floors of Porteño became more visible and fewer dancers showed off their best moves, the event drew to a close but the night showed no signs of doing the same. I overheard countless award winners and nominees planning their celebratory after parties. I imagine it will have been a well-deserved blow out for all them. Of course, come next morning, they would all be back to work making sure Sydney continues to be the best city to eat out in.
Full list of winners:
Restaurant of the Year: Ester
Best Casual Dining Restaurant: Long Chim
Best Degustation: Momofuku Seiōbo
Chef of the Year: Danielle Alvarez, Fred’s
Hot Talent Award: Alanna Sapwell, Saint Peter
Best New Restaurant: Paper Bird
Legend Award: Golden Century
Best Cheap Eat: Bar Ume
Best Café: Cornersmith Annandale
People’s Choice – Best Restaurant: Porteño
People’s Choice - Best Bakery: Bake Bar Randwick
People’s Choice - Best Fast Food: BL Burgers
Drink Service Award: 10 William Street