Top 5 Counter Dining in Sydney

I’m not talking about the counter meals I enjoy in outback pubs on long road trips here. This counter dining is the modern, urbane incarnation where, rather than sit at a fancy clothed table …

Counter Dining - Firedoor - lennox Hastie reaching across the pass to sauce a diners plate

… you perch on a bar stool at a counter that opens straight into the kitchen and enjoy the theatre of it all as much as the food – which is often passed across to you by the chef who’s prepared it. I love counter dining, especially at these five very different restaurants. Counter seating (or high top seating, as it’s sometimes called) is often limited, so be sure to request it when booking.

Counter Dining in Sydney - Firedoor - plating up lamb and greens

Firedoor Surry Hills
There’s no gas or electric cooking in the Firedoor kitchen, instead huge ovens create coals with over a dozen types of wood (from fruit trees to wine barrels). Flames leap under height-adjustable barbecues where Lennox Hastie cooks everything from delicate pipis in XO to dry-aged beef rib. A seat at the counter here is an unforgettable experience.

Counter Dining - Izy Aki counter with sommelier preparing cocktail

Izy.Aki The Rocks
While classic omakase can be a bit formal and reverential, chef Darren Templeman mixes up intimate omakase-style service with a relaxed izakaya vibe in tiny Izy.Aki. From the counter here you can watch Darren deftly assemble dishes like bluefin tuna with salsify and dehydrated caviar and sommelier Aurelian shake up a mean yuzu & wasabi margarita!

Counter Dining - Gilda's open kitchen with bottle of Pacharan on counter

Gilda’s Surry Hills
Just as I love the counter at Firedoor, so too I adore a seat at the marble-topped bar at its little sister, Gilda’s! Alone or with friends, I love watching the chefs plate up and the bustle in the very open kitchen while grazing on plates of Spanish-inspired snacks, sipping Sherries and discovering Basque specialties like Pacharan sloe liqueur.

Counter Dining - Cafe Paci - mozzarella in carooza

Cafe Paci Newtown
While the kitchen’s hidden from view, counter seating at this buzzing spot – that’s as much about wine as it is food – is a great way to chat with the bar staff and get their advice on what to drink next. Whatever you drink, be sure to try Pasi Petanen’s mozzarella in carrozza and trout XO with gnocchi!

Counter dining - Nomad chefs in action

Nomad Surry Hills
A buzzing kitchen and menu full of shared, Med-influenced dishes equals one of my favourite dining experiences at this restaurant that’s big on curing, pickling and preserving – even its own charcuterie. Grab a seat at the counter and watch those chefs hustle!

Updated 09 Feb 2024

Italy Food & Wine Tour Highlights

What Other Travellers Say

Janet (Tamworth, NSW, Australia)
Janet (Tamworth, NSW, Australia)
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Just back from the most amazing trip to Emilia-Romagna with Roberta. Not only the home of Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano & Balsamic Vinegar, but scenery to die for and more quaint and exciting restaurants and cafés than you ever imagined. And Roberta is just the person to help you discover and enjoy them! Her knowledge of the history of the region and its wonderful cuisine know no bounds and all added to the excitement of the trip. It was faultless - well organized and lots of fun!
Deb (Belconnen, ACT, Australia)
Deb (Belconnen, ACT, Australia)
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Wow, what a tour – I learned so much! Awesome fun traveling through Emilia-Romagna experiencing first hand some of the produce I've worked with over the last couple of years cooking with Roberta's recipe kits – the family are reaping the benefits now. If you're thinking of joining Roberta in future years get ready for an amazing experience.
Mark (Elizabeth Bay, NSW, Australia)
Mark (Elizabeth Bay, NSW, Australia)
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My wife and I recently joined Roberta's Emilia-Romagna tour. We enjoyed all the temptations offered and learned a lot about that part of Italy, especially its food and wine culture. What was most impressive was Roberta's local knowledge of people and places. The planning and effort she put into making the whole experience seem effortless was remarkable.
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