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Aløft

There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Bar Rochford opens in Canberra

Autumn share plates at Bar Rochford

Autumn share plates at Bar Rochford

Canberra gains a new bar, with top-notch bar snacks and a touch of jazz.

For a city obsessed with the need for a narrative background for its venues, Bar Rochford is refreshingly absent of one. Instead, it offers intimate and informed service from a young crew passionate about Canberra's transformation.

Ian Poy, a chef with experience at such notable Sydney restaurants as Sixpenny and Nomad, as well as Braddon favourite Eightysix, produces snacks and small plates that are a cut above other bar-food offerings in the capital. It's just small steps for now - four or five share-sized plates with a focus on high-quality produce that's locally and sustainably farmed.

Lamb tartare with onions and buckwheat is silky, deftly seasoned and spiced, and served with thin grilled slices of Three Mills sourdough. Earthy fig oil and a suggestion of sweetness from Pedro Ximénez vinegar lifts fresh burrata, while seared wagyu flank arrives with a perfectly piquant anchovy hollandaise. There's continuity as well as change in the drink options, including exciting developments from local producers such as Sassafras and Nick O'Leary, alongside Eric Texier's biodynamic and organic Chat Fou from the Rhône.

The well-worn 1920s Melbourne building is an apt location for a bar that's probably more at home in Fitzroy. Seventies-era lampshades and Deco pendants radiate a sepia-tinged glow across the space punctuated by a central bar lined with battleship-green stools. Booths occupy one wall and there's a communal bench at the large arched feature window. It's the perfect spot to take in a cocktail and some of owner Nick Smith's extensive collection of soul, jazz and blues vinyl. The bar has been raised.

Bar Rochford, 65 London Cct, ACT, (02) 6230 6222

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