November 01, 2011

You won’t find McDonald’shere.

Sydney is joining the ranksof various Asian cities by giving the bland, cafeteria-style food court somehigh-end treatment. Think classy food bars and chic décor inviting shoppers toactually linger over lunch instead of wolf it down.

In the CBD Westfield’s newSydney Room—dubbed a food “atrium,” not a court—shoppers can get lost in thearc of dining stations surrounded by black marble and dim lighting. Branches ofthe dumpling house Din Tai Fung and Mexican chain Guzman Y Gomez sit alongsidenewer ventures like sustainable seafood restaurant Cloudy Bay Fish Co., bySydney fish chef John Susman. Charlie & Co. Burgers is a new gourmet burgerbar by Justin North, owner of French restaurant Bécasse, while Reuben & Moorebrings New York–style sandwiches from Summit restaurant chef Michael Moore.Various dessert stands beckon diners to stock up on gelato, pastries or fruitsalad—or all three—after lunch or dinner.

The food court on theground floor of the CBD David Jones opens into a produce center that windsaround to shiny, silver meat and cheese counters, a wine bar, salad stalls, asushi stand and noodle bar. There’s even a carvery for the meat and potatoestypes. A mini-market, complete with a whole section of American items (hello,Hershey’s syrup), gourmet goods and chocolate stretches down the back inbright, clean rows.

Upmarket food courts arerocking the suburbs, too, as seen northwest of Sydney in Top Ryde Mall’s newdining precinct, La Piazza. Among the eight featured restaurants is Kazbah, aMiddle Eastern establishment featured in T+L’s July 2010 list of 100Best City Restaurants. You can watch dancers and musical acts while youdine, too. Who knew fighting through crowds of shoppers could taste this good?

Lauren Fritsky is an American living in Sydney. You can read her blog, The Life That Broke, here.

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