Cuisine: Bistro,Modern European

A new chef has taken over from the original team but the elegant and comfortable room and the quietly eclectic French-based food continues to please, with Nigel Douglas in the kitchen perhaps taking a few more risks. With entrees at $18, mains $32, desserts $15, it just sneaks in right on our limit but punches way above its weight. A starter of twice-baked herb and gruyere souffle with whipped chive creme fraiche, cucumber ribbons, tomato concasse and zucchini flowers gives you the idea: complex but approachable. As is a main of roast rainbow trout with lemon prawn mousse, asparagus, parsley puree and sauteed school prawn. You’d come in slightly under the $$ if you did a main and a delightful dessert, like Queen Victoria pudding. There’s a superb wine list, many by the glass.

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Cuisine: Bistro,Modern European,South American

It may be Peruvian but it also serves the cuisine of other South American countries, most of which seem to love meat, preferably grilled over an open fire. Meat, in Spanish, is carne, so this is a pretty carnivorous if not carnal joint. Be hungry when you hit the seat — the servings are grande, like Isabella’s deluxe parrillada $179 for six or more, basically a pile of barbecued and marinated beef, pork and chorizo. There are individual dishes, such as parrillada chicken $22.90 and beef kebabs $19.90. Check the website for specials; at time of writing, Tuesday to Thursday are all-you-can-eat nights for $23. You have to try crema volteada $7.90 (creme caramel) which, like everything else, is huge. Check the website videos for a peek at the place: awesome.

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Cuisine: Bistro,Modern European,South American,Thai

This longtime Sydney Thai favourite seems to have settled into Petersham after moving all over (and leaving a sister in Bondi). The food is the thing here. Forget about extravagant Thai palace decor — it’s all on the plate. The much-lauded pad sator, pungent beans with chilli, minced prawn and chicken $13.50, would probably cause a riot if it were taken off the menu. No doubt the same imperative applies to pak chee farang, a chicken mince omelette $10.90. Kana moo grob, stirfried Chinese broccoli with crisp pork $13.50, is another in the list of the golden hits of Ploy Thai. For the chilliphobes out there, they’ll adjust the heat levels to suit — just ask.

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Cuisine: Bistro,Modern European,South American,Thai,Portuguese

Here’s another truly great eating house hiding behind a takeaway — or actually in front of the takeaway counter. We don’t need to tell you again that this is one of our favourite places or that we have been known to slip in for a bacalhau a lagareiro $25.50 and gobble the whole damn thing alone, garlic chips and all. The legendary espetada is the best in town, flavoursome chunks of marinated rump steak on a sword $26.90; don’t forget to eat the bread or polenta soaked in the juices. There’s always good seafood dishes as well, grilled octopus $17.90/$21.90 just one example. But be warned: you have to love garlic and olive oil to love Silvas; eat here and you’ll have no problem with vampires.

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