In Arts + Entertainment

Where To Eat And Drink During Vivid Sydney 2019

Let there be light. That will be the catch-cry come May 24 when Vivid Sydney switches on this year’s exciting instalment. Now in its 11th year, the annual festival of light, music and ideas is one of Sydney’s biggest and most anticipated events – it’s the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere – and is a must-do attraction for Sydneysiders and visitors alike.

But walking around, checking out all the amazing installations, having your mind blown by the seminal talks or the world-class musical acts can make for some very thirsty, not to mention hungry, work. To quench that thirst and appease those pangs, we’ve rounded up the best drink and food places to pair with Vivid Sydney this year:

Vivid-inspired cocktails

Image: Opera Bar Spellbound’s Hanging Garden cocktail / supplied

Some of Sydney’s top pubs and hotels will be awash with a rainbow of colours come festival time. From light up cocktails at the Shangri-La Hotel’s Blu Bar to Tropical Glow Cocktails at Hacienda Sydney, anyone looking for a bright and flashy alcoholic tipple during their Vivid explorations will not go wanting.

Opera Bar will be showcasing a neon-inspired menu featuring three colourful cocktails (their ‘Fantatastic’ comes replete with, you guessed it, orange Fanta). A pop-up bar called Spellbound will also be on the line-up.

Fairy Floss infused cocktails will sparkle at Grain Bar on George Street, ‘Scarlett Glohansson’ will be the pride of O Bar and Dining’s fluorescent aperitif list and in Barangaroo will be swimming in their own multicoloured concoctions.

The Argyle will be serving espresso martinis in neon glasses while next door the Munich Brauhaus will be serving glow-in-the-dark, 1-litre steins of beer, between 5pm and 6pm every day throughout the festival.

The Unicone from the Endeavour Tap Rooms

Image: Endeavour Tap Rooms’s The Unicone / supplied

The Endeavour Tap Rooms, in the heart of The Rocks, is one of the most central spots to drink in the sights of the festival while sipping on some damn fine craft beers. And for Vivid Sydney this year, they’re creating a magical dessert called the Unicone. Filled with raspberry ice cream, homemade mini meringues, Chantilly cream, hundreds & thousands and topped with fairy floss – this heart-stopper celebrates the kaleidoscope of colours that make up the festival.

Go under the blacklight at Dessert Lab

Image: BLACKLIGHT Dessert Lab /

Step inside the BLACKLIGHT Dessert Lab at Darling Harbour, an installation that blurs the lines between food, art and architecture. Everyone with a sweet-tooth can indulge in an ultraviolet illuminated dessert experience featuring collaborations with some of the most innovative food minds in Sydney.

Ahoy me hearties at Royal Botanic Gardens

As you make your way along the Light Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens, you’re bound to stumble across an old school fisherman’s wharf-inspired bar and eatery amidst the glowing trails. Whether it’s a warming mulled wine or a supper by the sea of their ‘Famous Fish Chowder’ which comes in an edible bowl, buoy, oh buoy will you be thankful you stopped.

Don’t miss the H.M.A.S Royal Archie – a lustrous blue concoction of Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin, pineapple and macadamia.

Dine in the dark with 12–Micron

Image: 12-Micron’s Dining in the Dark / supplied

This Barangaroo staple will join forces with French champagne house Perrie- Jouët to host a dining in the dark series that “artfully combines gastronomy, music, art and light”. Diners will immerse themselves in a vibrant and spectacularly vivid display before being guided through a six-course meal, matched with champagne, by 12-Micron’s ‘sense whisperers’.

The Chroma Dinner at Mode Kitchen & Bar

Meanwhile, for a sensory dining experience that’s set to awaken your four senses of sight, sound, taste and smell in a different way – check out Mode Kitchen & Bar in the Four Seasons Hotel. They’re hosting a unique culinary experience inspired by the RGB (Red, Green & Blue) colours native to any imagery creation.

Guests will be invited on a journey experiencing Virtual Reality and olfactive experiences where each dish is inspired by one colour, scent, sound and light. Watch out for the Devil’s Bath.

Restaurant hop (via boat) with Aqua Dining

Image: Aqua Dining / supplied

Cruise through Vivid (quite literally) with a unique and delicious way to see Sydney’s world-famous light show. Start with a couple of courses in Milson’s Point at Aqua Dining before jumping on a cruise to Ripples Chowder Bay for a few more dishes and drinks. The best bit? The whole time you’ll be taking in the festival from some of the best seats in the city (both on water and land).

Claire’s Pop Up Petit Cabaret: Le Salon Dada

On June 2 and 9, Claire’s Kitchen in Surry Hills will be transformed into a “whimsical, lavish, eccentric and imaginative” space serving up The Surrealist Dinner – a six-course degustation inspired by the Rothschild’s lavish costume parties of the 1970s.

It’s primed to be an evening of surrealist fashion, theatre, food (just not as you expect) and deviant art.

Chow down at Chatswood

Image: El Camino Cantina / supplied

One favourite precinct in the Vivid Sydney fold is Chatswood. Chocker block with street food and fun-filled markets, the ‘glow in the dark’ fairy floss is sure to delight the kids (and adults!) of young and old. Celsius Dessert Bar will be dishing out liquid nitrogen ‘dragon breath’ desserts while Yamaei will have a specially crafted Vivid Sydney rainbow drinks for sale.

Others not to miss – the limited-edition, glow-in-the-dark sombreros from El Camino Cantina; a Vivid-inspired Aperitivo Hour at The Dolphin Hotel; the ‘Vivid express menu’ at The Morrison (complete with free glow-stick bracelets for the kids); the Galaxy Marshmallow Smores at Untied in Barangaroo; and the American Express Lounge at the Overseas Passenger Terminal Cruise Bar Rooftop.

Visitors can experience Vivid Sydney in eight precincts across the city including Darling Harbour, Barangaroo, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo, with lights on from 6pm to 11pm from May 24 to June 15.

A zero-waste dinner with OzHarvest

Rethink your ecological footprint and dig into a sustainable menu rich with local seasonal produce at this engaging evening of food and conversation on May 31. Created by OzHarvest National Executive Chef Travis Harvey and held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, leading environmentalists, chefs and artists will be discussing – over dinner – ways we can reduce everyday food waste without compromising taste or nutrition.

Feast on three courses at Altum

Watch the Sydney Harbour Bridge lights and passing ships as you tuck into a two- or three-course set menu at Altum Restaurant. The work of Head Chef Dionisio Randazzo and his team, the meals are all Mediterranean-inspired, and feature seafood fregola and grilled wagyu Tajima sirloin.

(Lead images: Altum & Spellbound pop-up at Opera Bar / both supplied)

Published 20 May, 2019