Sydney pubs and restaurants bat away winter blues with bargains on schnitzels, mussels, burgers and more

Chef Patrick Friesen with his Big Yorkie, a roast dinner encased in Yorkshire pudding, at Forrester's in Surry Hills.
Chef Patrick Friesen with his Big Yorkie, a roast dinner encased in Yorkshire pudding, at Forrester's in Surry Hills. Photo: Janie Barrett

If you're not in Europe escaping the chill, you could instead bask in the glow of a good bargain when dining out. Sydney restaurants and pubs are tackling the notoriously quiet winter months with all kinds of specials on food and drinks.

Monday might be pasta night, Tuesday brings deals on schnitzels and the deals continue right through until Sunday, if you know where to look. 

Sunday roasts are the custom, but Surry Hills pub Forrester's offers an inventive take that's available every day of the week. Called the Big Yorkie, it involves a roast dinner – gravy, spuds and all – served atop a huge Yorkshire pudding. Everything from roast beef to braised lamb shoulder has crowned the pud.

Porchetta with all the trimmings in the Big Yorkie at Forrester's.
Porchetta with all the trimmings in the Big Yorkie at Forrester's. Photo: Janie Barrett

The dish costs $32, which may not sound all that cheap, but chef Patrick Friesen says it's so big that most people can't finish the whole thing.

Friesen offers the Big Yorkie as a daily special because he believes pubs have a duty to be affordable for their communities. Forrester's also does $15 steak on Mondays, followed by roast chicken for the same price on Tuesdays.

Like other venues, it's been offering deals like these for months, if not years, but Friesen says he hasn't noticed any change in their popularity in recent months, despite four consecutive interest rate rises and surging costs of essentials like fuel. 

The most expensive thing for a restaurant is an empty table.

James Walmsley, The Fork

"There are boots on the ground, people are still spending like normal," he says.

The sting of rising household bills may not have fully hit people yet. 

Specials could be helping to fuel the continued growth in transactions on dining out and takeaway, which grew by 8.6 per cent in the June quarter according to latest ABS data. 

Advertisement

Incentives during winter are more common each year, as venues compete with the pull of the couch and a warm house. 

Throughout August, restaurant booking platform The Fork has set up deals where venues offer set menus for $99, $79 or $49. Sixty-five restaurants across NSW are participating, including big names like Monopole and Bentley.

"It's a good way for venues to acquire new customers," says head of marketing James Walmsley. "We know it's expensive for venues to do their own marketing … but the most expensive thing for a restaurant is an empty table."

As interest rates catch up with consumers, some say they're starting to pull back on extras like dining out, or plan to. A third of those surveyed in July by restaurant booking platform SevenRooms said dining would be the first place they'd look for savings. 

That could mean more bargains are on the table for savvy diners, even as warm weather arrives.

Where to find dining deals every day of the week in Sydney

MONDAY

$15 pasta at The Royal Hotel Paddington

Chef Fabio Crocetta serves elegant and affordable Italian-inspired pasta specials that change each week. Think spanner crab linguine with chilli, capers and cherry tomatoes or saucy tomato rigatoni with greens and parmesan. 237 Glenmore Road, Paddington, royalhotel.com.au

Chicken schnitzel at The Oxford Tavern
Sydney dining specials story for Good Food/SMHPR/supplied photos for Good Food use

Schnitzel is perfect fare for when you're playing an obligatory round of Tuesday trivia. Photo: Supplied

TUESDAY

$15 schnitzels at The Oxford Tavern

The ol' Tav has a fresh fit-out and the menu's had a makeover to match. Expect less American barbecue and more pub classics, in this case a cheap-as chicken schnitzel served with slaw and fries. It's perfect fare when you're playing an obligatory round of Tuesday trivia. 1 New Canterbury Road, Petersham, theoxfordtavern.com.au

1kg mussels at Bar ElvinaPhoto credit: Danielle Chloe Sydney dining specials story for Good Food/SMHPR/supplied photos for Good Food use

A shareable serve of Spring Bay mussels, bottomless fries and BYO wine at Bar Elvina. Photo: Danielle Chloe Lynar

WEDNESDAY

$42 for 1kg mussels at Bar Elvina

Swing by this beach spot for a shareable serve of Spring Bay mussels, bottomless fries and BYO. Head chef and co-owner Jesse McTavish updates the dish based on seasonal availability. It might be cream, fennel and saffron sauce one week, Vietnamese fish sauce caramel the next. To skip the $10 corkage fee, buy a bottle of wine from neighbouring Palm Beach Wine Company. Level 1, 50 Old Barrenjoey Road, Avalon Beach, barelvina.com.au

Steak frites - signature koji cured flank steak served with fries and red wine jus at The Pines Cronulla
Sydney dining specials story for Good Food/SMHPR/supplied photos for Good Food use

Signature koji-cured flank steak with fries and red wine jus at The Pines Cronulla. Photo: Supplied

THURSDAY

$30 steak frites at The Pines Cronulla

Steak night is serious here, as chef Nicholas Sum gives the beef a lick of umami with koji, a fermented food from Japan often made with rice. "Koji acts as a tenderiser, deepening the flavour and creating a truly balanced combination of salty, sweet, sour and bitter," Sum says. Each John Dee flank steak is served with fries and red wine jus. Unit 1, 8-18 Kingsway, Cronulla, thepinescronulla.com.au

The acquisition of Norton's Irish Pub is the second in a month by Merivale.

Wings are great for sharing with mates while watching the footy at Norton's. Photo: Supplied

FRIDAY

$12 for 1kg chicken wings at Norton's

The wings at Norton's are all about the brining process. "They are the perfect side of crispy," says Merivale venue head chef Martin Connolly. The kitchen seasons them with hot sauce and a house-blend of spices, before frying and tossing them in a dry rub. Served with comeback sauce, they're great for sharing with mates while watching the footy. Can't make Friday night? The wings are available all day Saturday, too. 1 Norton Street, Leichhardt, merivale.com/venues/nortons

SATURDAY

$20 burger and beer at Allawah Hotel

After game day at nearby Kogarah Oval, this bargain burger is a weekend favourite. Choose a cheeseburger with brisket beef patty, or chicken burger with juicy fried thigh, both served with chips and a schooner of Hahn SuperDry or soft drink. 470 Railway Parade, Allawah, merivale.com/venues/allawah-hotel

Sunday roast pork at The Duke of Clarence
Sydney dining specials story for Good Food/SMHPR/supplied photos for Good Food use

Sunday roast pork at The Duke of Clarence. Photo: Supplied

SUNDAY

$31 Sunday roast at The Duke of Clarence

Sunday night is all about British-style roasts at this London-inspired tavern. Beef sirloin, pork and lamb (or pumpkin if you're of the plant-based persuasion) come with all the trimmings – proper gravy, apple sauce, Dutch carrots, beef-fat potatoes, peas and Yorkshire pud. 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney, thedukeofclarence.com

Chef, Patrick Friesen, with his Big Yorkie, a roast pork dinner encased in yorkshire pudding at Forrester's, in Surry Hills, Sydney. 4th August 2022 Photo: Janie Barrett

Patrick Friesen at Forrester's with his Big Yorkie. Photo: Janie Barrett

EVERY DAY SPECIALS

$32 Big Yorkie at Forrester's

Not content with a regular Yorkshire pud on the side? Chef Patrick Friesen is serving up a colossal version every day of the week. "You'd be crushed" if you ate the whole thing, Friesen says. No wonder: it comes filled with roast meat of the day, cooked vegies and golden potatoes, all glistening with gravy. 336 Riley Street, Surry Hills, forresters.com.au

Cheeseburger with bacon and dill pickle at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney
Sydney dining specials story for Good Food/SMHPR/supplied photos for Good Food use

Cheeseburger with bacon and dill pickle at Rockpool Bar & Grill. Photo: Supplied

$25 burger, beer and chips at Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney

Rockpool's burger deals are perennial favourites for the CBD crowd. Keep it classic with a cheeseburger with bacon and dill pickle, or try something a little fancier with a David Blackmore wagyu burger with bacon, gruyere and Zuni pickle, both served at the bar with a beer and fat-cut chips. 66 Hunter Street, Sydney, rockpoolbarandgrill.com.au

Le Burger Gruyere with tomato, mustard and fries at The Strand, Darlinghurst.
For Good Food, May 10, 2022
Pic credit: Trent van der Jagt

Le Burger with grass-fed brisket and chuck patty, gruyere, tomato and mustard. Photo: Trent van der Jagt

$20 French lunches at The Strand Hotel

This newly restored Darlinghurst pub is serving affordable French-inspired lunches on weekdays. Take your pick from Toulouse sausage and Paris mash, mussels steamed with white wine and cream, or a grass-fed brisket and chuck burger with gruyere and fries. For a light vegetarian option, try the leek tart served with salad. 99 William Street, Darlinghurst, strandhotel.com.au