Five Ways To Dine Old School

Rebecca Varidel
1st Sep 2015

Forget bungee jumping, skydiving, ice climbing, paintball and roller derby. What, between burgers you can't get your mouth around, donuts and pretzels atop milk shakes or towering cronut ice cream sandwiches competing for instagram hearts, it seems that eating has become an extreme sport. But there is more to life than extreme food fusion. There is tradition. We take a look at five Sydney restaurants that keep on keeping in traditional European style.

1. La Grande Bouffe

Classic French onion soup, Twiced baked blue cheese soufflé, Smoked ham hock and raclette croquette. Oui monsieur and mademoiselle. Although you haven't left Sydney you might believe you are in France. And if you are lucky, Chef might even send you out some complimentary snails for amuse bouche. But the star of the show is the La Grande Bouffe hearty rich unctuous deep soul satisfying Boeuf Bourguignon. Because we were born to mop our sauce with good French baked on the premises baguette. This indoor outdoor bistro is casual yet classy, and accents abound. Yet beyond all of this it is the consistent food strong across a full traditional menu that keeps us coming back to this Darling Street institution for dinner and lunch. Breakfast continues the theme from Omelettes to French toast and Croque Madame to Crepes Suzette and more.

758 Darling Street, Rozelle +61 2 9818 4333

2. Una's Restaurant

It's now located further down the street from where it originally opened in the late 1960's when an Irish lady, named Una began serving very simple meals, such as tinned spaghetti with toast and canned beverages, at the original Una's Cafe. Annie from Austria took over after 18 months and changed it to an Austrian style café with no menu, serving just one freshly cooked meal every day. After a few years Annie moved to 338 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst. Here the menu developed and became more varied, while retaining the Austrian/Swiss theme. Today the traditional - Austrian Swiss German Dutch - European restaurant is doubled in size and has a menu ranging from Deep fried camembert, Pate maison, Beef croquettes and healthy doses of Potato salad for starters, to schnitzels of all descriptions, cabbage rolls or goulash beef, Cordon Bleu pork (stuffed with ham and cheese), or big fat Swiss Weisswurst with sauerkraut. Everything comes with rosti. And of course there is streudel, both sweet and savoury.

340 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst +61 2 9360 6885

3. Milano Torino

Not only is the Italian food here regional, mostly representing the northern Piedmonte, it's also very reasonable. Locals drop by to have regular meals, sometimes a couple of times a week. The dishes have considered plating like in fancy schmancy joints yet at the heart of the food is tradition. If you are familiar with Italian food, you'll know these names: Vitello Tonnato, Burrata with S. Daniele prosciutto and figs, Squid ink tagliolini with calamari and fresh tomato concasse, Crispy skin chicken wrapped in prosciutto, with baby corn & heirloom carrots, Pan fried barramundi w broccolini, tomatoes, olives, capers & pine nuts. The best of these classic mains is the simple yet beautiful Pork fillet w green peppercorn sauce and roasted kipfler potatoes. And they are good, all very good. And here's a scoop, desserts are classic too. In season our favourite Monte Bianco - meringue, cream, chestnuts - will create lasting memories and sweet dreams.

33 Epsom Road, Rosebery +61 2 9697 9063

4. Isola D'Ischa Ristorante

Three brothers, Salvatore Maurizio and Gianluca D'Alterio bring a dream and traditional Italian fare to the Balmain peninsula. The name of the restaurant and the start of the dream comes from their mother Maria who was a pastry chef on the island of Ischia. Start with Parma prosciutto and Italian buffalo mozzarella, a Caprese salad or Parigiana de Melenzane (layered eggplant, tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and parmesan cheese). From the pastas try the marvellous house-made potato gnocchi or Chef Salvatore D'Alterio seafood special pasta or risotto. Mains are substantial: Rabbit cooked in terracotta, the famous seafood casserole Il Cala Cala, and chicken with capsicum and olives with tomato "a recipe from my angle mamma" are just some of the choices. The service is main size too. It's so attentive and gloriously happy you won't be able to help but smile. You might even want to sing. Make sure to leave room for cake. Desserts are sensational.

191 Darling Street, Balmain East +61 2 9818 8841

5. Alchemy Café Restaurant

It's been there as long as I can remember, and then some. At dusk the lace table cloths come out to house dishes from Herring with onion, apple and cream to Fried potato cake with smoked salmon and sour cream or Classic beetroot soup, then on to Beef stroganoff with mashed potatoes, Veal Florentine, Pork shank baked in beer with roast potatoes, Paprika chicken, or Marysieńka beef roulade with sauerkraut, mushrooms and mash potatoes. Of course the must have are the Polish dumplings. If all this isn't enough (and believe me there are many more choices) there is also breakfast: Manchego baked eggs, corn cakes and pancakes with so many choices of toppings you can get confused. They are sweet, and humble and Alchemy is worth a visit at any time of day.

572 Crown St, Surry Hills +61 2 9699 2455

Photos taken at La Grande Bouffe