Warm and inviting: the dining room at Sepia.
Warm and inviting: the dining room at Sepia. Photo: Kate Geraghty

201 Sussex Street Sydney, New South Wales 2000

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Opening hours L Fri-Sat; D Tues-Sat
Features Accepts bookings, Bar, Business lunch, Licensed, Private dining
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Chef Martin Benn
Seats 75
Payments Diner's Club, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 9283 1990
Free wine for Citibank cardholders here

There’s nothing faded about Sepia. The flash of flavours may seem unlikely at first against the smart but sombre timbers and toned-down interiors. But playful (and expert) flirting with dimension, texture and palettes is what chef Martin Benn is about – highly contemporary, Japanese influenced, original. Three ways with sushi nigiri comes matched with three just-asexquisite savoury jellies; wagyu beef with chestnut mushroom cream is served with a crunchy pile of konbu comb and fried potato – a combo that tastes deliciously like miniature salt-and-vinegar chips. An unusual four-part harmony of tapioca crisp, kuzu, goat’s cheese and sake makes for one of many tastebud-dazzling vegetarian dishes. The extraordinary wine knowledge of sommelier Rodney Setter is unmissable, as are desserts such as yuzu and white-chocolate icecream with its bouquet-catch of violet and rose flavours.

Wine: Impressive around-the-world trip of vineyards, with stops in unexpected places (such as China and Japan); 26 by the glass

And…look out for tea degustation events.