Establishment neighborhood
46-52 Meagher St., Chippendale
Walking into Ester, deep in Sydney’s Chippendale neighborhood, your shoulders drop about five inches—it’s that relaxing. All the surfaces are smooth and gently curving, all the materials—polished stone and wood—are natural. The space smells smoky and earthy, kind of like a forest, which can be attributed to the massive wood-fired oven that is Ester’s grand centerpiece. And then comes the food, unfussy and distinctly seasonal. If you’ve never had oysters cooked in a wood fire, you should—and you should do it here. The wine list is one of Sydney’s most exciting and unusual, full of the small, boutique vineyards around the world you’ve never heard of. Come hungry and come curious.
White Rabbit Gallery
30 Balfour St., Chippendale
White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale is a pretty big enterprise—four floors of a repurposed Rolls-Royce service depot—with a focus on contemporary Chinese art. Open since 2009, there are two exhibits a year (the space isn’t large enough to display the full, constantly evolving collection owned by art patron Judith Neilson). Most of the artworks were produced post-millennium and are a fascinating look into China’s social transformation post–cultural revolution through the lens of artistic interpretation. Expect to find photography, huge installation pieces, and works by the Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaodong, and Zhang Dali (his 2014 Square installation, inspired by Tiananmen Square, is especially moving).