Many thanks to those who responded to my Sydney query a few wks ago. It's true that it's hard to get a bad cup of coffee there; we didn't do so badly on the dining front either.
Sean's Panorama -- as good as the press it gets. An amazing duck liver pate, sardines wrapped in vine leaves and grilled, cold borscht beety beyond belief. Interesting wine list that the waitresses and waiters know well. Most interesting and, possibly, scrumptious dessert of the trip: intensely fruity raspberry jelly topped with honeycomb ice cream. Yes it's expensive but worth every penny.
Book Kitchen (Surry Hills) -- casual neighborhoody place (that also sells cookbooks) with wonderful lunch and breakfast foods (salads, eggy dishes, sandwiches, and one or two heartier options), open for dinner Thurs-Sat (dinner menu looks promising). Just across the street is a scrumptious bakery ... highlight there was ginger brulee tart.
Doyle's at Watson's Bay -- there's one at Circular Quay but in good weather the ferry trip out is pleasant and there's some good walking in the area. Freshest oysters, fish cooked to perfection. Quiet and no res. necessary on a weekday lunch.
Pello -- "mod Oz" food, which I don't think is up my alley. Great atmosphere, and very nice flavors, but I'm just not crazy abt 3 or 4-part dishes like mud crab salad with gazpacho sorbet and yada yada. It's a matter of taste ... if you like "inventive" dishes (not meant derogatorily) this a good two-hat (Sydney Morning Herald), reasonably-priced (and very popular) option.
Yoshii -- just amazing Japanese-ish food. Choose from set menus at lunch and dinner (most expensive menu at lunch, 6 courses including a generous sushi finale, is 50 AUD per person). Wonderful flavors, sometimes in unexpected combos eg. tuna belly marinated in soy and truffle oil, that worked every time. Wish we'd had time to return for dinner.
Manta -- no fireworks just excellently prepared seafood, delicious oysters, homemade pasta (taglietelle with yabbies), excellent service, great wine list, lovely view. Woolloomooloo right on Cowper Wharf. Our last dinner and it was perfect in every possible respect.
Sydney seafood market -- a must-do but the oysters are not opened to order, so suffer a bit. Bugs are great (but you can get sweeter, smaller ones a couple hours south) but I wished for American-style horseradishy cocktail sauce. Go a bit before lunch (11:30) to beat the tour-bus crowds.
Icebergs -- what a nightmare! The worst service in a restaurant I've ever in my life encountered. A couple of service lapses is one thing, but beginning to end is more than I can handle -- we fled right after entree, no desire to stick around for dessert. So sad we wasted a precious Sydney dinner here.
outside of Sydney -- if you're driving south stop in Berry for lunch or late breakfast at Berry Woodfired Oven Bakery. The bread and desserts (obviously) are stellar ... they also offer a few dishes every day. Our fist-sized Tasmanian mussels in a sweet, tomato-and-white wine sauce (sopped up with the delicious bread) was one of the very best dishes of our trip.
More observations and details (eg. our Icebergs disaster) at link below; there are 3 Australia posts (2 Sydney and 1 Jervis Bay) so scroll down.