I remember the day’s set menus were the more expensive option, reserved for special occasions. Although it seems today, restaurants have flipped the script, making set menus the more affordable option. However, we’re not saying that it will always be the more affordable option; we just want to make that clear.
So, whether you’re after a multi-course journey from a Japanese vinyl record bar or a family-style set menu at an Italian classic, here are the best set menus you can score in Sydney for under $100.
Transport yourself to the height of Parisian dining and service, where the welcome is warm, the drinks are stiff, and the food is as elegant and poised as the waiters. However, they won’t judge you if you’re wearing couture or department store threads. Charlotte Bar and Bistro is the kind of place where you can disappear for hours, sipping wine and savouring French delights in a light-filled dining room.
If you’re dining with a group, the banquet menu is the best route. You will need a minimum of four people for this spread, but it’s worth it. The menu is set in three courses; however, to start, you’ll be served bread and butter, a snack-sized amuse-bouche of spicy nori taco filled with seafood tartare, a chicken and duck liver parfait best scraped on toasted brioche and a cured sausage.
For the entree, expect a few other little snacks, including a tasty morsel of black pudding croquette with apple chutney and chicken ribs. The beef tartare, a highlight, is also served and made tableside with this course.
The main is a hearty plate of slow-cooked lamb shoulder on the bone, served with pomme frites and a salad.
To top off the feast, finish with a mango charlotte, the signature dish, served with a quenelle of coconut Bavarian ice cream and a passionfruit coulis.
Slink upstairs to a Japanese viny record bar and restaurants in Barangaroo’s striking Barangaroo House, which, if you asked us, looks a lot like a bird’s nest. Rekodo is where you can escape into good cocktails, good food, and good times. Whether you’ve grabbed a seat at the chef’s counter, a booth, or a table by the stage, you can order the omakase menu, which has a whopping ten courses of deliciousness.
The first few items are bite-sized pieces (one for each person), such as Sydney rock oysters or a delicate kingfish tartlet. There’s also the option to choose the pork belly bao, which is highly recommended.
From here, the rest of the menu starts to get bigger. Think beef tongue on a stick with charred pineapple, grilled calamari served with anchovy mayo, and yakitori spatchcock.
Then dessert is served. The best part about the omakase here is if you like a dish from the a la carte menu, you can ask for it to replace an item you don’t like on the omakase. Omakase translates to “I’ll leave it up to you,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose a few dishes that sing out to you.
From Thursday to Sunday, 12.00-3.00pm, there is a set lunch menu available at $65 per person.
At the sultry, vibrant Ezra, housed inside a heritage terrace in Potts Point, you don’t have to Faulk out hundreds of dollars to have a good time. The Zazim Menu only costs $59 per person and features a tasty journey through the Diaspora of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish favourites. Expect to dip steaming hot flatbreads in fresh hummus or hazelnut muhammara with a sprinkling of sweet pomegranate.
You can even add Gildas for $7.50. For mains, roast cauliflower with burnt honey, feta, and lemon myrtle za’atar takes centre stage alongside a roast spatchcock. For dessert, one word: ice cream baklava. There are two desserts that come to the table, but the baklava is a crowd-favourite.
There is also a larger Mesiba Menu available for $85 per person, which includes the same starters with a few additions and a few more sides to the mains, as well as a tender, juicy lamb shoulder.
Odd Culture Newtown has introduced a new leisurely Sunday lunch menu designed with end-of-week budgets and spontaneity in mind. At just $60pp, it’s the perfect way to cap off the week with family and friends with a spread of shared plates and your personal choice from a revolving and evolving list of mains and desserts.
Every fortnight, the chefs band together to come up with new and exciting creations, allowing them to get experimental with the menu. One week, you might tuck into a pig’s head croquette dipped in a fermented blueberry sauce, the next you’re mopping up maple syrup on a blood pancake.
The same team behind Ezra is also behind Raja, Sydney’s newest exciting Indian restaurant helmed by ex-Firedoor chef Ahanna Dutt. The restaurant highlights Indian food and flavours often overlooked in Australia, so prepare to discover something new. The set menu is a great place to start and get a taste of Raja’s best dishes.
To start, dig into some stracciatella kachori (sweet and spicy deep-fried snack) and albacore on toast with lemon jam. The main is a spatchcock makhni, think of it as butter chicken, but not as you’ve seen or tasted it before. This is served with paratha and rice. For dessert, a bruleed rice pudding has been the clear favourite of diners.
There’s even a vegan and vegetarian set menu for the same price.
Most people come for the standout tequila cocktails and mezcal collection, but behind the sea of Mexican spirits is a food menu filled with authentic recipes. There are two set menus; one is $65, and the other is $85 with more dishes, but both are great value for the amount of food that is served.
What’s more, it’s all delicious. Think tuna tostadas and roasted corn drizzled in lime mayo and covered in salted ricotta. For larger bites, expect blackmore wagyu barbacoa tacos, charcoal grilled tiger prawns, and red mole, which is a traditional sauce, often served with rice.
For dessert, don’t expect churros; instead, corn tres leches and candied orange flan de Naranja will be sure to excite your tastebuds.
The Apollo is a prime example of humble fine dining. The dishes are critically acclaimed, but the atmosphere is casual and inviting for couples or big families. The Full Greek set menu is only $70 per person, although everyone at the table has to opt for it.
Diners can expect a range of Greek classics, such as saganaki drizzled with honey, served with pita bread, an oven-baked lamb shoulder for the main, with a side of roast potatoes and semolina custard for dessert.
Another set menu option for groups of four or more is available at $95 per person. This menu includes all of the above with the addition of six more dishes, including a fish main and three starters.
At Lana, the only option is the set menu, which costs $99 per person for just the savouries. The menu starts with three snacks, a bite for each person, and then a choice of two smaller dishes, such as a tuna crudo or stracciatella with beetroot and grape agrodolce.
For a main, pick from a Kurobuta pork, Cone Bay barramundi, or panelle with miso cream. If you’re craving more, Lana’s Playlist menu has several add-on options, including a must-try saffron rigati with a gooey egg yolk in the middle.
During the week, you can also opt for the express lunch, which includes some of the same dishes you can find on the dinner menu, but for $69 per person.
Downstairs at Grana, you can also enjoy an affordable set menu, priced at $74 per person on a smaller menu or $94 per person on a larger menu. Each menu offers the best of Grana, with a few entrees to start, including a stracciatella, kingfish crudo, and sourdough ciabatta with parmesan butter.
The mains will change, but you can expect a pasta dish, such as a rigatoni duck ragu and a meat or seafood course. Think glazed lamb shoulder with rosemary salted chips. For dessert, expect something delicious in the form of a pavlova or tiramisu.
Can’t get a reservation at Firedoor? Venture across the road to Lennox Hastie’s pintxos taverna for basque-inspired dishes and seriously good Spanish wines. The set basque menu is only available to group bookings of six or more, but if you can manage to wrangle your friends together, it’s worth it.
For $89 per person, you will get a small snack plate of Spanish olives, roasted almonds, and Pan de pimenton. Next, bite into the signature dish, Gilda, with basque ham and beef tartare, before diving into some bigger mains of grilled octopus, duck egg, and charred leeks.
Meanwhile, for dessert, expect hazelnut soft serve and a Tart del dia, which is the tart of the day. We like how it sounds because everything sounds better in Spanish.
This moody wine and vermouth bar in Redfern hails from the team behind Ragazzi, so you can expect the food to be well beyond average. There’s an a la carte menu, or if you want to try a few different things and save money, the $80pp set menu is perfect.
Each course includes a few dishes, such as the jamon serrano to pick at first, then a Jerusalem artichoke with pork neck pincho for some heft. Expect another course of raw fish before diving into the octopus main, served with a side of green beans and mixed-leaf salad. The dessert is a Turron (European nougat) with coffee ganache.
There is also a larger set menu, available at $95 per person, which comes with several additional dishes, including mussels and crisps and chorizo.
Is there anywhere more iconic than Cho Cho San for a shared feast? The $65 set menu has everything you need and want from the a la carte menu, but it’s cheaper in the end. Start with edamame, tuck into a petuna ocean trout dish, then onto the eggplant miso sticks before nipping at spicy sesame noodles with your chopsticks.
Also on the menu is a tonkotsu pork cutlet, served with a side of cabbage doused in white ponzu, and sticky date pudding with miso caramel for dessert.
There’s an even larger feast available at $95 per person, which has a few of the above mentioned, along with additions of pork katsu steam bun, pickled cucumber, striploin, and more.
Get a taste of Parisian dining at Bouillon L’Entrecote. The elegant dining room overlooking Circular Quay is uber romantic and a great spot to enjoy a Saturday lunch set menu. The $59 option is for two courses, or there is a $69 option for three courses.
Either way, you will have the option of a starter, which we suggest the snails in parsley butter and a main of the classic steak and frites, or barramundi of chicken breast. For dessert, you can’t pass on the creme brulee. We dedicated an entire story to it here.
If you’re looking for something beyond French and Italian, Maydanoz serves up a flavour-packed set menu influenced by the Aegean Turkish coast. From the cocktails to the plates, the staff are more than willing to help you create a bespoke experience tailored to your tastes and interests. The standout dish is the Tilba halloumi, barbecued on the table with an aromatic rosemary smoke infusing the cheese. It’s then drizzled in thyme honey for a sweet punch. The whipped feta dip with sweet and sour grapes is another highlight and is best enjoyed with stone-baked bread. For main, the wood-fired oyster mushroom with a tamarind glaze will satisfy meat lovers and vegetarians.
The cocktails are also worth a try. They’re inventive, and we can guarantee you’ve never tried anything like it before, in Sydney at least. The mood lighting and plush velvet seating makes it a great date night spot.