Hitting Sydney soon: Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco, Barangaroo House, Stanton & Co and Jimmy Grants

The pappardelle green vegetable ragu at Mr Liquor's.
The pappardelle green vegetable ragu at Mr Liquor's. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The winners are only just in for Good Food Guide Awards, but the next group of contenders is already starting to join the queue for next year's accolades.

If you're wondering about any possible new direction for Sydney restaurants, Justin Hemmes' latest venture is certainly off-piste. Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco opens on Friday, the project a heady cocktail featuring the highly-rated food of the Pinbone crew, a sound system salvaged from Tank nightclub and a giant mirror ball.

"We thought our training run would be cooking pasta. Instead it's about how to do prep without having an epileptic fit," says Pinbone's Mike Eggert.

Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman at their Mascot venture.
Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman at their Mascot venture. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Diners at Mr Liquor's will fetch their drinks from the walk-in fridge at this re-imagined eating venue, the drive-in bottleshop at the Tennyson Hotel in Mascot.

"Franck Moreau has put together an amazing wine list, you wander in there and choose what you want, and maybe grab a six pack of beer. Take that back to a table on the old bottleshop drive-way. It still has the old oil stains and trodden chewing gum. It's only a dead kangaroo away from being an authentic bit of Australian road," Eggert says.

Spring has sprung and in Sydney that means it is restaurant opening season as operators clamour to get an early hit of the city's bumper pre-Christmas business.

They aren't all as kooky as Mr Liquor's. The Matt Moran-led Barangaroo House will open its doors before Santa does his rounds in a curvy architectural gem of a building on Sydney's newest waterfront dining strip. The project is massive and multi-level, and the expectations of the food are high with ex-Vue de monde head chef Cory Campbell running the kitchen.

Mega venues are squarely on the radar of Sydney chefs. Sails on Lavender Bay chef-owner Greg Anderson is opening a yet-to-be-named 400-seat mega eatery and rooftop bar at the former site of the Shore Club. Anderson hopes the venue will be Manly's equivalent of Merivale's Coogee Pavilion. Building is under way, but you'll have to wait until April 2018 for doors to open.

Size is a recurring theme. The 300-seat Stanton & Co, the latest venture from the group behind Riley St Garage, is currently under construction in Rosebery.


When Neil Perry's next venture, located near Sydney's Tumbalong Park, opens early next year, it'll run to a massive "500-odd seats". It'll have a familiar name, Fratelli Fresh, and an equally familiar face in the kitchen, with Perry's long-time right-hand-man in the kitchen, Khan Danis, joining the project after a long stint as a headline chef in Macau.

High-profile chefs will continue to leverage their brands in Sydney over the next 12 months. Mike McEnearney is taking his successful Kitchen by Mike eatery back to the inner-city, opening at Kippax Street in Surry Hills.

Award-winning Ester chef Mat Lindsay is opening a spin-off bar-eatery opposite Longrain and Chin Chin Sydney in Surry Hills in coming months, and Melbourne celebrity chef George Calombaris will continue his Sydney invasion, rolling out Jimmy Grants outlets across town.

Back in the kitchen at Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco, Eggert is testing and tweaking dishes – including roasted meats, grilled squid and octopus and a "vegetable bolognaise" – prior to the launch this week. Eggert will perform that so-Sydney Cinderella pop-up restaurant trick of disappearing in six months time. The chef is also unsure about the future of another of Mr Liquor's accoutrements.

"We have a karaoke machine we might bring out late in the evening. If people aren't into it Merivale can always move it on to another venue."

Mr Liquor's Dirty Italian Disco, opens on Friday, October 20, 952 Botany Road, Mascot. Wed-Fri 6pm-midnight, Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-10pm.