Wander in through the contemporary government house and you’ll find yourself exiting out into the beautiful hidden courtyard that Raphael’s calls home. Once the stables to this historical building, this secretive outdoor space gives off strong European vibes with its high walls, balconies peaking out and aromas of delicious food in the air. Run by a group of friends who fell in love with cooking and hosting lavish dinner parties for their friends, Raphael’s is a new player in the Sydney CBD game that’s here to make waves in the scene. We were lucky enough to get a preview experience of Raphael’s before it opened to the public and fell absolutely in love with this stunning new venue.
We started the evening with a few glasses of white wine over some incredible sashimi dishes. Immaculately plated rows of fresh salmon, kingfish and scallops came out in an effortlessly well-balanced sauce that was equal parts acidic, sweet and salty. The fish was incredibly fresh, with a buttery-soft texture and subtle oceanic flavour that was perfectly complemented by the sauce.
Every good evening always includes oysters, and the oysters at Raphael’s were some of the biggest we’ve ever seen. Housed in shells large enough to be small bowls, the chefs made good use of this natural dinnerware and filled them with glass noodles and vinegary sauce, topped with the oyster meat, spring onion and an addictive chilli paste. While large oysters can often be too big a mouthful in more ways than one, the flavour of these oysters was wonderfully subtle and the texture extremely soft, making it easy to devour in a few bites, complemented by the noodles.
A nourishing broth came next with chunks of crab meat and quail eggs floating inside. This broth was really comforting, rich in umami flavours and brought forth an interesting flavour pairing between the seafood and the egg that we loved.
The light and delicate dishes we’d already indulged in for the evening were a hard act for the main sitting to follow, but what came next somehow managed to top them. Lavish truffle rice was paired with perfectly pink lamb cutlets dripping in a sticky sweet and salty sauce, packed with aromatic minced garlic and fresh herbs and chilli. A more delicate mushroom noodle dish rounded everything off, giving us a serve of veggies in an unexpected and delicious way.
The incredible creation we were served for dessert sat somewhere between a Golden Gaytime and baklava – caramel and vanilla ice-cream were wrapped in filo pastry, drizzled with chocolate and served with a side of sweet honey crackle granola. This unique take on deep-fried ice cream is not one to be missed when dining at Raphael’s.
As well as the large outdoor dining space, Raphael’s also has a cosy inside area that’s kept a lot of the historical elements of the building it’s in. You can make a booking online to enjoy the experience of this incredible restaurant yourself, or you can wander in anytime as they happily accept walk-ins too.