Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published September 21st 2011
Sydney is often touted as an overrated city, lacking the character and style of Melbourne. This isn't quite true: Melbourne has some pretty overrated parts as well, and at least where food is concerned, Sydney does pretty well for itself. Still, there are places in Sydney that don't live up to their hype, and here are some of them:
At 359 Crown St, Surry Hills, this restaurant sits in the middle of Bill Grainger's restaurant franchise. It offers Modern Australian cuisine, specializing in breakfast food: famously fluffy scrambled eggs and ricotta hotcakes. Its breakfasts are famously delicious – but unfortunately, that's the only good thing about Bills.
Well, at least it looks good.
The food is overpriced, and outside of the breakfast menu not very nice. Stay away from the salmon salad (unless you like oversalted food) and be prepared to get your order scrambled or be hassled by the staff. In some other areas, Bills would still be a good choice, but compared to the other places further down Crown St, it doesn't measure up at all.
At 98 Paramatta Rd, Camperdown, Deus Café's most noticeable feature is its location: inside the Deux Ex Machine motorbike shop. Sadly, the interesting features of Deus Café end here. The food and service are average, and the coffee is sometimes frankly terrible – burnt milk, tasting like it's been run through one of the many engines on display before being served. Sometimes the coffee is quite good, but a place with Deus Café's reputation can't afford to be that unreliable. Deus Café might suit you if you like long waits, grumpy and impolite owners, mediocre food – actually, never mind.
It's almost impossible to discuss Sydney without mentioning its signature landmark: the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Unfortunately, it seems like some other people had that idea as well and decided to make some money off persuading tourists to climb the damn thing. A hundred and seventy-five dollars will get you the chance to clamber over metal on your way to the top and back again. There's no adventure, since everything is harnessed to the bridge (apparently to prevent damage to the cars below by falling phones or climbers), and you can't take photos, since cameras are strictly not allowed on the climb. That second restriction is actually a clever business move: the guide is the only one with a camera, and if you want photos you can spend even more money buying the photos of yourself when you get back down. Instead, spend eight bucks and go to the Pylon Lookout for exactly the same view.
Got other ideas for Sydney's most overrated places? Furious at the inclusion of one of your favourite places in this list? Share your ideas (or your anger) in the comments, and remember that since everyone has individual tastes, you can't judge anyone for what they like. Unless it's really bad, that is.
I actually laughed out loud reading this article, so LOL. I'm probably going to be one of those people who spends too much on the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, and then also spends $80 on the photo too.
I like to give things a try even if they end up disappointing. At least then I can moan about them with some good evidence to support my case. :)
Great article though Sean. I love your humor. Definitely makes a good read, even if you might get a few people who don’t quite agree with you. I’ll let you know if want to rant and rave once I’ve actually spent all that money on the bridge climb.
I almost feel like I should try all of these places just so I can be disappointed and confirm their overrated status.
By Natasha Stewart - senior reviewer Thursday, 22nd of September @ 11:43 pm
Excellent read Sean, Sydney has some great eating places, i think it is human to want to try places because everyone else that goes there says A M A Z I N G you reeeallly must go! You go, you're disappointed, you think it's just you and the place was having an off day. Depends how many people have the 'off day' experience vs those who have the Amazing experience. In my opinion some places are able to deliver rude arrogant service and not so great food at a premium because everyone wants to go there. Pick up your game guys, often what made you so popular in the first place was great food, amazing service and REASONABLE prices. Try to keep the arrogance off the menu, treat your staff well and they should then provide good service. Sure you''ll still get those that want to be seen there regardless but like everyone else, a flash in the frypan, unless you keep on top of the game.
ps I still want to do the bridgeclimb!
By dunne - reader Monday, 26th of September @ 03:08 am
Finally some honesty. I get so tired of reading about how amazing these places are. Done them all. Not impressed by any of them. Thank you for this article. I'd like to add GoodGod (overpriced, mediocre food, service by Rain Man and can I have some actual alcohol with my alcohol), Food Society (what's innovative about placing an entree and main meal in the middle of the table instead of infront of the person who ordered it? That doesn't make it share food. Tapas, mezze and yum cha are share. Oh, and by the way I could have cooked this at home) and The Ivy (meat market for gold diggers and bankers). Best view of Sydney is from Dudley Page reserve and it's free!
By julie222 - reader Monday, 26th of September @ 04:54 am
I do agree with the overpriced bridge climb. however I've done it twice under company's expenses and I would say it was such a great fun to to it but I would not spend my own money to do so.
By amy7 - reader Monday, 26th of September @ 05:33 am
I had a fantastic experience by doing the Harbour Bridge Climb. My wife gave it to me as a present and our children gave her the other ticket. It was the middle of winter so we had to rug up with everything supplied and strapped to us so it didn't drop including handkies if we needed them, this is part of the agreement with the RTA for the permission to run the climbs. The approach to the bridge on the walkways over the properties under the southern approach was very interesting even before we began the climb. The climb, the information and the view were fantastic, it was very cold but the clothes supplied were adequate if not fashionable. We were lucky as we did the climb at the right time to see the sun set from the top (unplanned) The guide, one of the enthusiastic young people, who could answer any question put to her the entire experience was very worthwhile and even though we are Sydneysiders we saw more tha I have ever seen on the Pylon. We enjoyed it so much we bought 2 tickets for our daughters to do the climb later. Alan
By alanm0 - reader Monday, 26th of September @ 07:52 am
Overrated is summer in Sydney.. Too bloody hot to actually go to the beach for fear of frying to a crisp , humidity makes it impossible to walk around , insects crawling or flying everywhere biting and scaring everyone to death. Get into an air conditioned hotel room and wait for autumn please!
By nicks - reader Monday, 26th of September @ 08:35 am
Deus cafe use to be great a couple of years ago and then it opened for dinner and we were so so disappointed. I agree food not that great and over priced. Shame, it looks pretty cool inside.
By hwill - reader Monday, 26th of September @ 08:52 am
Over-rated is probably not the right word for Sydney stuff. Over-priced for everything is probably more suitable such as:
1. Taronga Zoo
2. Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife
3. Luna Park
And list goes on and on.
By Jimmy - senior reviewer Monday, 26th of September @ 11:14 am
I have had breakfast at bills dozens of times and always enjoyed it. Tried lunch once and it was also nice.
By Paula Morgan - senior reviewer Monday, 26th of September @ 12:28 pm
I enjoyed your article too and you're right that some things are just disproportionately hyped up. It's true that everyone has different experiences, and perhaps a 'bad review' reflects a waiter's bad day, or a chef's lack of attention to detail. My own experience with overrated was a couple of years ago at Billy Kwong in Surry hills. I found celebrity chef Kylie Kwong's much lauded restaurant less than ordinary. We had to wait about 45 minutes for a table (they take your number and call you when there is one free) Then you're squashed in with your back literally touching another patron's while your bum aches from the uncomfortable hard seats. When you're finally served the overpriced food, it's underwhelming to say the least - and if you're game to order an expensive drink, be prepared to wait for it to arrive. Well, that was my experience anyway. I love Kylie Kwong, and have several of her cookbooks. But the restaurant left me feeling disappointed (on that night - and maybe it's just me).
By Dora Bona - senior reviewer Monday, 26th of September @ 07:54 pm
Why spend a fortune taking the bridge climb when for a few bucks you can climb the southern pylon, learn about the history of the bridge and get the great view from the top. All without special clothes and guideropes. And I won't eat at any restaurant that won't take bookings. I reckon its the height of arrogance to say "we're so good that you can stand out in the cold until we're ready to fit you in". These places usually end up with plenty of room, just before they close their doors for good. Looking for a great, cheap experience? Take the boat out to Fort Denison and have a coffee in the middle of our not-overrated harbour.
By john5 - reader Tuesday, 27th of September @ 02:54 am
baffi & mo. waited 25 minutes for a takeaway coffee that tasted like crap so i threw it out
By barba26 - reader Tuesday, 27th of September @ 03:24 am
I love Deus cafe, I think they do the best steak sandwich in Sydney and the staff are always friendly and welcoming - I go almost every week! I've also had an enjoyable experience at Bills.
I do have to agree with you on the bridge climb though - vastly overpriced!!
By kate.75 - reader Tuesday, 27th of September @ 03:33 am
I think Bill's is pretty good, myself. We stumbled across it when we were staying in Surry Hills once. But I agree there are lots of good (and better) places up and down Crown St. The Bridge Climb is one of those things that you've got to do. Yes, it's expensive (overpriced? I'm not sure) but I couldn't fault the experience or the service. It's well organised and well run. As for Deus, can't say, never been. I think a lot of venues in The Rocks area are the real rip-offs.
By alons - reader Tuesday, 27th of September @ 04:16 am
Bills has had to be the shittest and most expensive cafe meal (breakfast) in a terrible location. No sun in the morning and next to a busy road. forget it, much nicer places for brekkie on glebe point rd. Deus - we'll that's also a bit cool for school, but on the other hand, i've had good food there.
By Anonymous Tuesday, 27th of September @ 06:54 am
Everyone will have an opinion, however to over rate BridgeClimb....I think maybe you didn't do your home work regarding what to expect before taking the trip. The company does not claim anything that it is not in it's advertising. The company also pays high levies to the RTA and also in insurance and although it does clearly make a profit it is truely a unique experience that you can't do every where.....particularly not on such a beautiful harbour. There are plenty of stale....and not so customer friendly experiences in Sydney that are worthy of this title, Bridge Climb is not one of them. I was lucky enough to start with the company in 1998, and witness 1000's of elated climbers.
By BonBon - reader Tuesday, 27th of September @ 10:27 am
Sydney is the best City in the world sad that people who live in Melbourne can't except that.
By bjewe - reader Tuesday, 27th of September @ 12:45 pm
Deus is friendly service, great coffee and food. I cannot believe the criticism
By micha65 - reader Wednesday, 28th of September @ 05:46 am
yes bills is pretty bad
By grayd - reader Thursday, 29th of September @ 04:51 am
lived in sydney my whole life and to be honest apart from the natural beauty of the harbour what isnt overrated and /or overpriced? Ever lived on the north side? try getting home after 12am no ferries no train line(yes theres one to North Sydney but thats a looong way from the spit bridge which is a complete joke on it's own! and manly etc.) Screw having things to do if you can't even get to them or home from them due to non-existant infrastructure! Live here, hate it, moving to melbourne as soon as i have a job there! bye bye sydney and all the pot holes and wankers :)
By potox - reader Thursday, 29th of September @ 07:01 am
By hans. - reader Friday, 30th of September @ 05:31 am
I totally disagree on both Bills & Bridge Climb. I've had both brunch and dinner at Bills and thought the service was good and the food delicious. I think possibly in Sydney everyone is a little spoiled as there are so many great places. I also think when you see the Bridge every day you can be forgiven for thinking climbing it would be dull, but for people who weren't brought up here such as myself and have only seen the bridge on the TV it's an absolutely awesome experience and worth every single penny. I liked it so much I've been 3 times now with friends & family who have visited me here. I think you've been spoiled with all of the wonderful sights & tastes you have here!
By julia105 - reader Friday, 30th of September @ 10:33 am
i'm only 12, but whenever other people from other countries come they are surprised at how cold it is. i think sydney's weather is overrated.
By Anonymous Friday, 28th of October @ 05:01 am
I've never done the Harbour Bridge climb, but it seems like a very touristy thing to do. Objectively speaking, this article is written well and is humourous. It also sparked defensive feelings, so I guess you have achieved your aim, you've written a provocative and slightly controversial article. Good job! On a side note, I absolutely despised Cafe Vue in Melbourne. It should be number one in overrated places in Melbourne. I'm not brave enough to write an article on a city I don't live in though, hehe.
The bridge climb has been my highlight in Sydney since we moved here 8 months ago. Sure its expensive and the owners must be making a killing but it is a real buzz at sunset.
The Sydney walks (before it gets too hot) are the best low price entertainment. Lost to see for the cost of a bus and an ice cream.
By demps - reader Monday, 7th of November @ 11:10 am
I think you could say the harbourbridge climb is overpriced but can't agree that it's overated. I did it years ago on a day with 100kph winds and loved it! Fantastic and unique views that you don't get "up-the-pylon" Gotta question too, because it has the word "adventure" in its name you were expecting an "extreme sport adrenelin rush???
By richa87 - reader Wednesday, 16th of November @ 07:47 am
Well, i will climb the bridge too when we come to australia next year, and i look forward to do it, it only costs me as much as my hotel will charge me for my WIFI connection for the week... That's what i call a ripp off...
Scenic plane flights in Sydney are btw however, overpriced!
By Anonymous Thursday, 17th of November @ 07:50 am
Sorry everybody but I think Bondi Beach has to the most over rated major attraction in Sydney...... Its not an attractive beach and its surrounded by semi scruffy unattractive buildings!
By Anonymous Wednesday, 4th of July @ 09:02 pm
Hah great idea for an article
Agree bills and deus. More for ppl who think the r going somewhere great.
But if someone tells u they r their fab places then u know going forward to ignore their views
Agree with othe suggestions: the ivy in particular the Italian and steak restaurants, billy kwong, Surry hills pubs eg the clock, bondi is not very attractive, tapas, bill and Tony's
Disagree bridge climb. Yeah expensive ad they do make a lot of profits but amazing experience on one of the mst amazing structures in the world
By arpol - reader Friday, 6th of July @ 10:37 pm
The Bridge Climb IS the most over rated, over priced thing to do. Why? Because for almost HALF the price you can do a scenic helicopter tour all over Sydney, and you can take your own camera. Unlike the bridge climb where there is only one company and no competition, the are LOTS of companies who offer chopper flights.
By Anonymous Thursday, 12th of July @ 11:12 pm
What about all those tacky harbour dinner cruises that serve very ordinary food in a 'food court' like environment. You pay top dollar of cold chicken and salad, and don't get me started on the expensive watered down drinks!!! Views nice though:)
By live_ - reader Thursday, 2nd of August @ 02:04 pm
New reader comment. Waiting for approval.
By Helga10 - reader Wednesday, 10th of August @ 10:33 pm