Vivid Festival is back again (27 May – 18 June) so here are our picks on the best places to drink and dine before, during and after the events:altitude_13

Great for drinks & nibbles

Opera bar

vividguide2016_22A longstanding and much-loved Vivid viewing destination, Opera Bar offers the perfect vantage point for the Vivid light festival. Overlooking the Harbour Bridge and back to Circular Quay, the cool tunes and great food & drink menu will have you satisfied.

One of the highlights on the Vivid menu here at Opera Bar includes a celebration of Australia’s culinary heritage — four delicious Multi-coloured Oyster Shots ($20) enriched with Indigenous berries, herbs and ‘bush tucker’ elements such as fingerlime, lemon myrtle and smoked macadamia nuts.

vividguide2016_17Drinks specials and vibrantly coloured cocktails are just a taste of some of what is instore for the buzzing spot under the sails of the Opera House! Their newly designed crazy cocktails are topped with jelly beans, fairy floss and sprinkles and other wondrous delights! There was the Blue & Green Should Be Seen ($19) featuring Belvedere vodka, blue curacao, lemon, almond, pineapple, bitters & nutmeg, topped with edible flowers & jellybeans, the Pink Light Disco ($19) with Hibiscus infused Belvedere vodka, aperol, vanilla, lemon, rhubarb bitters, rosewater mist, laced with Persian fairy floss and the Whip It Good ($19) of Belvedere vodka, vanilla, grapefruit soda, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands.

vividguide2016_12Their food menu is extensive with snacks such as charcuterie, pizza, arancini, polenta chips and baos. More substantials include their Lamb Rump, Roast Half Chicken, Salads and Grill menu, plus they offer a kids menu too! The chicked pictured here, absolutely blew us away — amazingly tender and moist served with a tasty yet sweet carrot slaw. It proved to be one of the best chicken dishes I’ve eaten all year! Be sure to check it out!

Opera Bar
Lower Concourse, Sydney Opera House,
Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW
Monday to Sunday 11am to late
Phone: (02) 9247 1666
Web: operabar.com.au

Cured & Cultured Bar at Bennelong 

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Image credit: Stephanie Miocic

Peter Gilmore’s restaurant Bennelong, in the sails of the Opera House is hosting two specials for the duration of the Vivid Festival, offering the perfect taste of fine dining. Sitting at the bar, one can enjoy the full bar menu and some delicious cocktails before setting out into the night to enjoy Vivid. The Vivid specials keep in tune with the Opera House’s collective theme of native Australian ingredients and produce. The menu includes the locally sourced Red claw yabbies ($30) from Mandandanji country in South West Queensland, served with lemon jam, cultured cream and buckwheat pikelets. Other bar menu items include a delicious looking Hot Lobster Bun ($28) and the famous Suckling Pig Sausage Roll ($24) or for those sweet tooth’s the renowned Quay Chocolate Cake from across the water or Cherry Jam Lamington are available at the bar!

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Image Credit: Nikki To

Meanwhile the drink special of ‘The Bennelong Billy’, is an Australian rum-based cocktail with river mint, quandong liqueur and strawberry gum served over crushed ice. It’s a refreshing mix of well balanced flavours, giving you a great buzz to start or end the night on!

Bennelong
Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Monday to Sunday 5.30 to late
Phone: (02) 9240 8000
Web: bennelong.com.au

Blu Bar on 36, Shangri-La Hotel

If you’re after a colourful drink in snazzy surrounds, look no further than Blu Bar on 36 in the Shangri-La Hotel. With floor to ceiling windows, this awe-dropping view will have you mesmerised.

altitude_9For Vivid Festival, three delicious cocktails inspired by the colours of Vivid will transport you on a journey through the bar’s signature concept of Liquid Physiques. The three cocktails provide a unique blend of flavours aptly named Sweet Enigma, Lady in Red, Bee-Inspired — with $28 getting you a generous sample of each.

Blu Bar on 36
Level 36, Shangri-La Hotel, 176 Cumberland St, Sydney NSW
Monday to Sunday 6pm to late
Phone: (02) 9250 6123
Web: shangri-la.com/sydney/shangrila/dining/bars-lounges/blu-bar-on-36

Marble Bar and Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney

Sumptuous Vivid-inspired sliders ($15 for four) and cocktails in distinct bright hues and flavours are available at both Marble Bar and Zeta Bar at the Hilton. Here’s a full write-up on Hilton Sydney’s Vivid offerings.

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Hilton Hotel Sydney
488 George Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9266 2000
Web: hilton.com/en/hotels/new-south-wales/hilton-sydney-SYDHITW

Marble Bar
Basement, Hilton Hotel
Monday to Sunday 4pm to late

Zeta Bar
Level 4, Hilton Hotel
Monday to Saturday 5pm to late

Great for Families, Friends & Couples

Bridge St Garage, Sydney CBD

vivid2016_bridgestgarage_1Located in a glorious old sandstone building on Bridge Street, the vibe here is cool and pumping with an extensive menu catering to all tastes. With an American diner themed fit out, this restaurant was doing American style food before it became cool and as one expects, they’ve got it downpat! The lunchtime crowd is full of office revelers after a decent burger fix whilst at night it transforms into a chic restaurant for after-work drinks and dinner.
vivid2016_bridgestgarage_5The regular menu includes DIY style burgers ($20.50) where you’re able to pick a filling base and an accompanying protein. Starters include Charcuterie Boards ($15-$25), Empanadas ($14.50), Tacos & Buffalo Wings ($14), moving onto more substantials such as their Signature BBQ Ribs ($44), Fried Chicken Buckets ($26), Reuben Sandwich ($23). There is also a sizable grill menu with meat cuts ranging from $38 to $110 for a 2kg Porterhouse! For those after a healthy fix, the Salad of the Week ($23) or BSTG Skillets ($33) where you pick a protein to go with grilled vegetables and South American style rice.

vivid2016_bridgestgarage_7Their Vivid Specials include a Burger & Beer ($25), which includes a burger, beer-battered chips and craft beer. Alternatively dig into a smoky Grilled sirloin steak with handcut wedges or succulent Swordfish steak and salad with your chioce of the house New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or warming Barossa Valley Shiraz ($32). The kids have a menu to delight as well, designed around two courses with some American food favourites for $12.

Don’t go past their bar snacks with favourites such as Quesadillas ($13), Onion Rings ($9), Sweet Potato Chips ($9) and incredible desserts such as New York Cheesecake ($12), American Apple Pie ($12) or Garage Brownie ($12)- or for those feeling extra indulgent the BSTG Dessert Platter ($30) featuring all three and more!

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Bridge St Garage
17-19 Bridge Street, Sydney NSW
Tuesday – Saturday 6pm to late
Phone: (02) 9251 9392
Web: bridgestgarage.com.au

Great for Casual Dining

The Glenmore Hotel & The Australian Hotel, The Rocks

GLENMORE_1Sitting high atop the city and just beneath the Harbour Bridge, the rooftop balcony at The Glenmore Hotel presents the ideal location to view the breathtaking lights of Vivid. Quite literally in the heart of the festival, surrounded by the attractions and events happening in the surrounding Rocks precincts, the venue offers the perfect place to take a break, enjoy a drink and soak up the bright lights.

GLENMORE_4Their menu includes your standard pub staples such as Burgers, Steaks, Fish & chips or light snacks such as Salt & Pepper squid, Wings and Fries. Plus they offer some delicious twists with a delicious take on the popular Bim Bap bowl with the Glenny-Bim-Bap ($18.50) featuring a colourful medley of vegetables including radish, red cabbage, edamame, sweet corn, tofu, kale, cucumber, almonds, sprouts, carrots, quinoa, lotus root with a tahini miso dressing.

GLENMORE_2Their cocktail menu features all the classics with new twists on old favourites such as the Stout and Stormy ($18), Cosmologist ($17), Armada Mule ($18) or Strawberry Lime Caprioska ($18) plus special weekly jugs.

GLENMORE_3Meanwhile next door, the rustic heritage building houses The Australian hotel, the perfect place to show any visitors a typical Aussie pub. Their menu remains similar with the standard salad, burger & steak take in addition to the Schnitzels, Parmigiana & Nachos. Plus they feature a widespread Pizza menu ($16.90-$26.90) with mouthwatering pizzas including Roast Pork Belly, Pulled Lamb Shoulder, Peking Duck or adventurous Australian flavours such as Pepper Kangaroo, Saltwater Crocodile, or a Half Emu-Half Kangaroo aptly the named Coat of Arms.

The Glenmore 
96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9247 4794
Web: theglenmore.com.au

Mon – Thurs 11:00am – 12:00am
Fri – Sat 11:00am – 1:00am
Sun 11:00am – 12:00am

The Australian Heritage Hotel
100 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 92472229
Web: australianheritagehotel.com

Monday – Sunday 11am – midnight

Great for Fine Dining

Altitude Restaurant, Shangri-La Hotel

Sitting 36 levels high in the top of the five star Shangri-la Hotel in The Rocks, Altitude Restaurant offers the perfect place to take advantage of the amazing Vivid views. The restaurant is offering a seven course seasonal tasting menu inspired by the vibrant sights and colours of Vivid. Crafted by their new Chef de Cuisine Ricardo Ferreira, the menu takes fine dining quite literally to all new high levels overlooking the glistening lights illuminating the city. The degustation ($150) includes the option of perfectly matched wines chosen by Executive Sommelier, John MacKinnon (additional $55).altitude_6Dishes include the fresh and light cured Yellowfin Tuna with Edamame, Coconut Snow, Ajo Blanco and fresh horseradish, and a delicious Pork Jowl spiced up with housemade Kimchi, Oyster and Pear and Chestnuts. The main dish includes the choice of a Striploin Angus Beef with Truffle Kipfler Potato, spinach, paper rice ravioli or for if you’re feeling hungry go for the huge Pinnacle T-BONE steak to share accompanied with two sides of the most delicious Crispy potatoes, prosciutto, mushrooms & olives and a light salad. 
altitude_12The dessert is a beautiful fruity plate consisting of Blackcurrant and yogurt with Blackcurrant sorbet, Mint ganache, Yoghurt. The different elements of the dish from the freeze dried yoghurt and deep violet sorbet to the rich velvety mint ganache on the bottom of the plate offered a mix of tasty delights working perfectly together. altitude_1

Altitude Restaurant
Level 36, Shangri-La Hotel, 176 Cumberland Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9250 6123
Web: shangri-la.com/sydney/shangrila/dining/restaurants/altitude-restaurant

Aqua Dining, Milsons PointAQUADINING_2 This is one of the few places on the North side of the bridge where Vivid reigns supreme. Aqua Dining sits just under the Harbour Bridge with gleaming white and airy interiors, and a delicious modern Australian fine dining menu.The food is full of clean flavours and well executed dishes that radiate off the plate. The balcony overlooking the harbour is the perfect place to soak up the lights of Vivid. The menu features options for 2, 3 or 4 courses priced at $69, $89 or $105 respectively. Their sister venue in Ripples Milsons Point also offers a great vantage point to enjoy delectable dinner and watch the city bath in light. Likewise featuring sweeping views of the Opera House, Circular Quay and Luna Park, it provides a similar Australian menu with a la carte options.

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Image credit: Aqua Dining

Aqua Dining is holding specials throughout the Vivid Festival with our pick being the “Cruise Through Vivid” on Wednesday 8th June and Thursday 9th June. These two progressive dinners will take you on a vivid journey through the night, starting with a pasta and entree with matched wines at Aqua Dining. Diners then board a boat and cruise through Sydney Harbour to admire Vivid’s lights without the crowds, gliding along the water with a glass of wine in hand. Arriving at Ripples Chowder Bay guests are treated to a delicious main and dessert with matched wines ($200 per person all inclusive). Other specials during the festival include the four course “Experience Vivid at Aqua Dining” on Monday 13th June for $110 per person with matching wines at $55pp. Additionally on Friday 17th June “Last chance to experience Vivid at Aqua Dining” will be held with another 4 course degustation at $125 with matching wine at $65pp.

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Image Credit: Aqua Dining

Aqua Dining
Corner Paul & Northcliff Streets, Milsons Point, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9964 9998
Web: aquadining.com.au

Lunch 7 days from 12.00pm
Dinner 7 days from 6.00pm

Rockpool Est. 1989, Sydney CBD

At the Neil Perry institution and all-time Sydney favourite, one can enjoy a taste of some of the country’s best fine dining with a special Vivid menu created for one month only. With six courses at $105, what better way to treat yourself before enjoying a night roaming the city and exploring Vivid’s various attractions.

Starting with Honey & Spelt Bread with kombu butter & fresh ricotta, followed by a light course of Kingfish sashimi, and then King prawn mousse. The last of the savoury dishes is a South Australian Lamb with yuzu kosho and blue cheese. Desserts cater to those chocoholics with Valhrona chocolate with macadamia, malt & burnt orange ice cream, and of course the original Date Tart — a menu favourite since his first opening in 1984. Finish perfectly with White Chocolate & Strawberry petit four. What more could you ask for?
Rockpool
11 Bridge Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9252 1888
Web: rockpool.com/blog/pre-vivid-dining

Lunch, Monday to Friday from 12 noon
Dinner, Monday to Saturday, from 6pm

Spice Temple, Sydney CBD

Rockpool’s exotic little sister up the road will be ladling up a generous portion of traditional Chinese street food style noodle soup with chicken and Chinese greens from 6pm each evening throughout the festival. 

And to drink? Dane Reid and the Spice Temple bar team have designed a cocktail to match dubbed the Rambutan Lagerita – a refreshing mix of Herradura Tequila, Lemon juice, Rambutan infused Agave topped with Rockpool Pilsner.

Enjoy this traditional soup and matched cocktail for just $30. No bookings required. 

Spice Temple
10 Bligh Street, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 8078 1888
Web: www.rockpool.com/spicetemplesydney

Pop-Ups

Bowery Lane Pop Up

Bowery Lane on O’Connell St is a favourite lunchtime spot. The inner-city dining room is great for a well priced yet quality meal no matter what the occasion. Luckily they are hosting a Vivid Pop-Up during the light festival playing true to their New York inspired theme.

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Image Credit: Bowery Lane

The venue’s pop-up in the foyer of 1 O’Connell Street will offer delicious dine-in and takeaway foodie experiences. Surrounded by Vivid Precincts of Martin Place, Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Circular Quay and Vivid Live, their specially created Vivid menu provides a modern take on America diner food with weekly burger specials and some of the most indulgent desserts you can envision. Think salted popcorn, gourmet hotdogs and Wonka inspired soft-serves.

The first week of specials boasts the incredible creation of Chocolate Donut Cinnamon Soft Serve Sandwich with a chocolate coated donut encasing cinnamon flavoured soft serve, topped with a chocolate fudge filled waffle cone and salted caramel sauce. It’s the definition of diabetes!

The restaurant’s Vivid specials include matching cocktails inspired by the colours and bright hues of vivid. For those after a casual dining experience, the complete Bowery Lane Menu is available from Monday to Saturday with entrees, mains and share dishes; the menu caters to everyone!

Pop Up Fairgrounds
1 O’Connell St, Sydney NSW
Monday to Saturday 6.30pm – late
Web: bowerylane.com.au/bowery-lane-pops-up-for-vivid

Warm up with some comforting Vietnamese beef noodle soups from Bar Pho or gourmet sandwiches from Sandweesh in the Vivid hub at Martin Place. The destination is sure to be bustling with people, boasting a pop-up burger bar featuring some of Sydney’s most loved burger shops such as Mary’sMilk Bar by Café IshPub Life KitchenBang Bang and Sammy’s Burger Bar. A bar will be serving an array of beverages to quench your thirst including Young Henry’s and 4 Pines Beer, Batlow cider, and James Estate Hunter Valley wines. With a vintage arcade style fit out full of gaming machines and fun games where you can battle your friends for a burger.

For dessert enthusiasts, the ultimate collaboration between Blackstar Pastry, Little Marionette and N2 Extreme Gelato has a unique menu of ice-cream burgers lined up.

Martin Place
Daily, 6pm – 11pm
Web: vividsydney.com/event/light/8bits-bytes

We’ll be making regular updates to this blog post through the entire festival so stay tuned! For more information on the Vivid Festival, go to vividsydney.com

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Currently studying Finance, and working in hospitality, Nicole relishes a delicious meal out any day. Described by her friends as an 'insta-queen' who is always up-to-date with new restaurants, cafes and bars, she is regularly called upon for advice by friends for good places to eat and drink. Despite favouring to eat healthy food where possible, she possesses a lethal sweet tooth, particularly for cake -- that anyone who knows her can attest to.
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