An Expert Guide to Sydney: Dean McWhinney

The Grace Hotel chief concierge Dean McWhinney shares his tips for exploring Sydney in March.

In a city known for café culture, who do you think makes the best coffee?
Well let’s clear up something first, Sydney makes better coffee than Melbourne! I find it hard to go past my neighbour Mecca Coffee, which sources, roasts and blends beans from fair trade sources worldwide. Their passion shines through in the flavours and aromas. 

You're known as a keen fisherman. Where's your favourite fishing spot?
Sydney Harbour of course! It provides world-class fishing year-round. You can literally be a cast away from the Sydney Opera House while catching some of the most revered sports fish in the world, such as the yellowtail kingfish, which abounds in Sydney Harbour. My other passion is game fishing. It is not well-known but Sydney enjoys yearly runs of marlin and tuna all within sight of the iconic Sydney skyline.

What would you recommend for a romantic night out on the town?
I would start with a drink at one of our local small bars in York Street, such as The Barber Shop. The hidden venue has that romantic, intimate touch. I would then move across to The Strand Arcade on George Street for a dinner at The Restaurant Pendolino. The Venetian cuisine, Italian wines and atmosphere make for an intimate affair.  

What is your favourite place to catch live music?
I’m a pub cover-band kind of guy and you can’t beat The Rocks’ pubs, such as The Orient Hotel or The Mercantile Hotel for lively bands. It harks back to the working-class spirit of the area.

If you could eat one Sydney meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
As someone heavily raised on seafood, I would have to say that freshly shucked Sydney Rock Oysters—sourced from the pristine rivers of the New South Wales South Coast—would do just fine.