• Queuing with the crowd for Sydney's best eating spots

Don't get me wrong, I love Melbourne and this is a Melbournian's vegetarian food blog. But I just had to write a note about my recent trip to Sydney.

With a food loving family up north, any trip there revolves around food. This one actually revolved around dance too with Egyptian belly dance mega star, Dina, running workshops and performing - but that's another story.

Getting up early we headed to Bronte for breakfast. We stopped in at Iggy's on the way. I was shocked to see a queue of Sydney-siders in their weekend gym gear lining up at this side street hole-in-the-wall. Reputedly the best bread in Sydney, Iggy's recipes were brought over from the US where their reputation was equally as strong. What is it that makes the bread so good, I asked them. The texture and the subtlety of flavour, they responded.

We then continued down to The Bogey-Hole Café, facing Bronte beach. We got a lovely spot in the sun looking out to a water - something us Melbourne gals don't take for granted. There were a few good vegetarian options on the menu. The eggs Florentine are great with raw shredded baby spinach (instead of the usual wilted spinach) which refreshingly balanced the dish. The eggs were perfectly cooked. The fried eggs with labne and cucumber are also very tasty, and provided different flavours.
The banana crepes were also very nice with lots and lots of maple syrup. Coffee here was decent. The atmosphere was relaxed but slightly trendy - not as trendy as some of the other cafes along this strip.

We later headed to Café Belgenny for lunch. My friend Asma was in the tiny kitchen busily serving toasted sandwiches and coffee. I love visiting Café Belgenny. Right in Taylor's square this café has many regular customers, and for a reason. The coffee is great. The menu is small but varied. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed. I had the goats cheese toasted pide which was delicious. The fruit salad with yoghurt and ground almonds is also a good pick-me-up. There is a selection of vegetarian breakfast dishes. Come here to relax and read the paper, or with a group of friends. The staff remember local's coffee orders and make you feel right at home.

One would think that we would be full by the afternoon, but we could not miss a trip to Bourke Street Bakery. We were again met with a queue to a tiny shop front. The space inside was only big enough for three tiny tables and a squashed line of customers at the counter. I was told that the chocolate milk was the best in Sydney. I wondered how many places actually served chocolate milk other than the usual big brands you can buy at the convenience stores, but it was actually very yummy (especially if you shake up your plastic bottle first so all the chocolate mixes in and it becomes frothy). The ginger crème brulee tart I ordered was amazing. One bite and I was transported back to Europe. The pastry was perfect: crunchy and buttery. The crème was rich and delicious with the balance of the ginger. The brulee topped it off with a sweet and crunchy coating. I found this tart very exciting.

After a walk along the water through the Botanical Gardens and past the Opera House, we then headed off to dinner. I was eager to try Chat Thai as I had heard rave reviews and love Thai food. The queue here was massive and they had a system of writing your name up on a sheet of paper, tearing off the aligning number and waiting near the door till your number is called. 45 minutes later we had a table.
There are not many vegetarian options here. We ordered the water spinach, and the bamboo shoots with sticky rice to accompany. The water spinach had the real wok flavour and was subtly seasoned with chili. The bamboo shoots had a strange smell which I found a bit off-putting but they actually tasted very nice. There are also a couple of vegetarian noodle dishes on the menu including Lad Na and Phad Thai.

We rushed off without dessert to go to Bankstown for the dance concert (the main purpose of my trip) but I vowed that I would return for Chat Thai's dessert some time soon. At midnight, after the concert had finished, we went to the locally recommended Sweet City for supper/dessert. The place is set out like a massive diner and you are greeted with the smell of rose water as you enter. There are so many different types of Lebanese sweets, that I didn't want to look and risk wanting to try them all. My favourite was a thinly sliced Turkish delight, filled with fresh cream like cheese and covered with icing sugar and pistachio nuts.

The details:
Iggy's Down Under
49 Belgrave St
Bronte 2024
02 9369 1650
Iggy's Down Under on Urbanspoon

Café Belgenny
197 Campbell St
Surry Hills 2010
02 9360 0043
Cafe Belgenny on Urbanspoon

Bourke Street Bakery
633 Bourke St
Surry Hills 2010
02 9699 1011
Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Chat Thai
20 Campbell Street
Haymarket 2000
02 9211 1808
Chat Thai on Urbanspoon

Sweet City
Shop 1, 222 South Terrace
Bankstown 2200
02 9790 6886