It is no secret that I love summer and all that the hot days and nights bring with it. I love holidays, festivals, beaches, time with family, outdoor eating and drinking. Following a great Summer family holiday on the North Coast, my husband and I returned to Sydney leaving the kids with their grandparents. Although returning to work, we were determined to the make the most of our child-free time via a series of date nights. Here are our six dates that made the most of Summer in Sydney.
Date #1: Opera Bar
What better place to be on a gorgeous, clear, balmy evening than Sydney’s iconic Opera Bar. With live music, a constant buzz, fantastic people-watching and a spectacular view, it is an ideal location for a summer date night. The menu has just received an overhaul thanks to celebrity chef, Matt Moran of Aria fame and while it still has a number of the old favourites, there is a definite shift to restaurant quality meals. A new feature of the recent makeover is a Charcuterie featuring a range of artisan meats and cheeses and it was this new offering that we chose to graze on over a bottle of bubbles and a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
With the soundtrack of live music performed by award-winning 5-piece Danish band Afenngin, we thoroughly enjoyed spending time together, sharing a few drinks and enjoying this amazing location.
Date #2: Moonlight Cinema
Another gorgeous summer day and we were again keen to use the fabulous weather for an outdoors date. We met at the Beresford Hotel’s courtyard for a cider and a couple of share plates. Again, it is a bar with a great buzz so it’s a great way to begin the night. Woolworths is straight across the road so we bought some picnic essentials and a bottle of wine from the local bottleshop before jumping on the bus down Oxford Street toward the Woollahra Gates of Centennial Park.
Doors for the Moonlight Cinema open at 7pm and at that time there was already a long line of movie-goers with eskies and picnic blankets keen to get inside the temporary fencing to bags their spot on the grass. Upon entry we raced to hire one of the limited bean bags and set up our spot on the hill. With two hours to fill (the movie doesn’t start until close to 9pm) it was great to just chill on our bean bags with a glass of wine and our nibbles, watch the Centennial Park bats fly overhead as the sun set and just… talk.
Date #3: Festival Village
Although a little weary after two nights out in a row (we are obviously out of practice!) the Festival Village was the perfect antidote. With plenty of tables and chairs, free live music and DJs, a range of excellent food options and a great buzz – all in the gorgeous parkland setting of Hyde Park- we quickly forgot our weariness and got caught up in the excitement.
We tried the gourmet cheese toasties from The Cheesesmith, the Chili Dog and cheesy corn on cob from Porteno and the Heston Blumenthalesque ‘Royale with Cheese’ from Gelato Messina (pictured above) and washed it all down with a delicious Apple and Pear Kirin Cider and a bottle of Yellowtail wine.
The bluesy sounds of Rattlin’ Bones Blackwood provided our soundtrack for what was another fabulous summer date night.
Date #4: Dinner & Show
With a Sydney summer storm on its way, we met for a pre-dinner drink at the Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf– a bar with one of the most spectacular views in Sydney.
Being located a little away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the bar was surprisingly quiet and we were able to get the best seat in the house to enjoy watching the storm roll in over the Harbour. Although, the Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf does have a delicious looking food menu, we had reservations at the Hickson Road Bistro across the road.
Unfortunately, the service over dinner was much too speedy for our liking. Not long after we ordered our entree was at our table and despite requesting a break before our mains, they too were delivered to our table in no time. I had ordered Pork Belly rack (I am a sucker for that crispy crackling). However my meal, which could more accurately have been described as a pork chop, was soft and fatty instead. Despite these disappointments though it was great to enjoy a meal together surrounded by the buzz of people heading to the theatre.
The show, Tabac Rouge, is a French production and was touted as one of the highlights of the Sydney Festival. Whilst the dancing and movement was world class and the sets visually interesting and engaging, we were completely confused the entire show. The content was completely baffling and we were completely lost, however at the end of the show we both felt as though whatever it was that we had just seen was brilliant…it’s just… well, we weren’t!
Date #5: Part 1- Parramatta Day Trip
Being a Saturday, and with no children until after the weekend, we chose to use our entire day as a date. To begin our day we boarded the Parramatta Rivercat, a ferry that takes approximately an hour to travel to Parramatta across Sydney Harbour, past Cockatoo Island, Homebush Bay and down the mangrove lined Parramatta River. It can be quite an industrial setting at times, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.
I was surprised at the quality of all the restaurants and cafes along Parramatta’s ‘Eat Street’ – there was a lot of the much-loved casual dining names from Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and the Sydney CBD but all in close proximity to each other one one street- Gelato Messina, Coco Cubano, Crinitis, Grill’d.
After exploring Church Street, an iced coffee and some people-watching we headed to Parramatta’s Riverside Theatre to catch our next Sydney Festival production, Timber! We had high hopes for this French-Canadian Circus show, however the pace of the ‘tricks’ combined with the lacklustre matinee audience made for an underwhelming experience. It was entertaining and parts of the show were great but I couldn’t help but feel I wanted to turn up the speed of the at times unintentionally ‘slow motion’ performance.
Pace was certainly not an issue for Part 2 of our date!
Date #5: Part 2- Live Music at the Camelot Lounge
We were feeling VERY weary after 5 dates… we were not used to this kind of pace, but with tickets to see Scottish band, Shooglenifty at our local venue Camelot Lounge, we freshened up and headed out. We were so glad we did- what a fantastic night!
Shooglenifty are an Edinburgh-based six-piece Celtic fusion band that blends Scottish traditional music with influences ranging from electronica to alternative rock.
Here is a snippet from the show (sorry about the poor quality video!)
Along with the rest of the eclectic and diverse crowd, we danced the night away and the smiles didn’t leave our faces all night. It was a fantastic way to cap off an amazing week of dates.
Have you got any great date night ideas? Please share your best date in a comment below- I would love to hear about them.