Lunch in less than an hour is the new standard.
With long, drawn-out lunches now reserved for special occasions or wooing top tier clients, the speed lunch has become more and more popular. Two courses and a glass of wine, and the guarantee to be gone in 60 minutes, is the gold-standard.
But with more and more Sydney restaurants stepping up their lunchtime game – be it with easy-to-choose-from set menus or fast a la carte turnaround times. Even if you aren’t putting it on the corporate card, they make a nice excuse to swap your sandwich for a snazzier alternative. These are the picks of the city’s tastiest and, more importantly, speediest lunch places.
Sensing the need for a speedy lunch offering in its prime office buildings’ spot of Grosvenor Place, Rosetta Trattoria kicked off its inaugural express lunch menu earlier this year.
A pizza or pasta with a salad, glass of wine, and the promise to have you in and out within the hour will set you back $29. Expect high-quality produced served in a stylish setting of marbles floors and velvet blue chairs.
Sourdough, olive oil, marinated olives and Spanish-style cold cuts Photo: Supplied
Tucked into CBD back lane Ash Street and buried underground, Mercado is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of nearby George Street. Focusing on forgotten cooking skills, the Mediterranean eatery showcases two such expertise – meat curing and breadbaking – in their recently-launched express lunch menu.
Available Mondays to Wednesdays, the express menu ($35) starts with sourdough, olive oil, and marinated olives followed by either bread-crusted John Dory or barbecue rump steak. And, if neither of those tickle your fancy, you’ve still got plenty of tapas-style share dishes on the regular menu to choose from too, including zucchini flowers filled with house-made goat’s curd or pumpkin-stuffed ravioli.
If you’re in the mood for a classy lunch without any of the usual accompanied stuffiness, look no further than Bistro Moncur in Woollahra. For 24 years, the Queen Street institution has been nailing its brief of fine food dished up in a relaxed bistro setting.
The Prix Fixe lunch menu they run Mondays to Thursdays gives you the choice of two courses – an entrée and a main or, for those with a sweet tooth, a main and a dessert. Inclusive of a glass of wine, the menu is a great way to sample the best of executive chef Guillaume Brahimi’s French cuisine specialties.
Stanton & Co
A welcome addition to Rosebery, considering the suburb’s ever-increasing amount of workspaces, Stanton & Co. offers its diners Australian cuisine with a Japanese twist. Set in a sprawling space on the top floor of revived warehouse The Cannery, its stately dining room boasts impressive décor inspired by both the site’s rich heritage and New York City’s meatpacking district.
To cater for its lunch guests, Chef Regan Poreous – known from stints at Toko Crown Street and Tequila Mockingbird – devised a condensed, eight-meal menu, cleverly named On The Clock. Served from 12 to 3pm, it’s got enough variety to give you options, but not so much that you’d feel overwhelmed. Consider the fried brie burger if you’re famished and the sashimi fish with spicy soy dressing if you’re not.
Though Barangaroo’s New Orleans-themed NOLA Smokehouse doesn’t have a quick lunch offering as such, their chefs are always more than happy to turn meals around hastily if requested to. It’s that accommodating attitude – together with the venue’s selection of over 600 whiskeys, no doubt – that’s made the spot an easy favourite among the corporate crowd from neighbouring high-rises.
If you’re keen to take a page from their book, order the shareable pit-master smoked meat plate. But, if that’s too much for you, the restaurant’s got plenty of other Cajun and Creole-inspired cuisine choices too. You won’t go wrong with the Louisiana boil, which comes out mussels, clams, shrimps, bbq corn and peas, or the hearty blue swimmer gumbo either.
Riley St Garage
Ever been so swamped with work that it’s already late afternoon by the time you manage to duck out for a bite? Next time you find yourself in that situation, head to Riley Street Garage in Woolloomoolloo. The former garage-turned-glamorous bar and restaurant has a lunch offering that’s not only delicious, but has an impressive 5pm cut-off time too.
Served at an enormous brass island from noon, the ‘Pit Stop’ express lunch menu features burgers and Japanese-inspired meals like chicken miso ramen and dukkah-baked barramundi. Should you have arrived closed to the menu’s last call and not need to head back to the office, stick around for the venue’s popular 5 to 6pm oysters-and-beer happy hour.
With one of the city’s best dining views and award-winning executive chef Joshua Davidson in the kitchen, Q Dining is a place you’d take someone you want to impress. Located on the mezzanine-level of Circular Quay’s five-star Pullman Quay Grand, the lofty restaurant serves fine dining meals against a sweeping backdrop of Sydney Harbour.
For lunch, pick between a one, two or three course set menu – all of which include a glass of wine. If an hour’s all you have to spare, the two-course option should do the trick. Though every dish offered is of course worth trying, most spectacular are the kangaroo carpaccio for an entrée and the Wagyu tenderloin and hassleback potato for a main.