Mat Lindsay will not particularly enjoy winning this award. At least not the part where he has to get up and accept it and talk to people. Ester, the restaurant he opened in Sydney in 2013, is his stage, and it's here that he has won a loyal following of regulars. The cooking at Ester could be said to reflect Lindsay's personal humility in its more restrained moments (oysters popped in the wood-fired oven and dressed with horseradish; a dessert of young-coconut sorbet and sake that's almost haiku-like in its concision), but it also shows exuberance and generosity, whether it's in the smoked oil and egg butter that distinguish his beef tartare or the lush texture of the signature blood sausage "sanga". Little wonder that he is considered such an inspiration by his fellow chefs, whose votes drive this award. And little wonder Ester plays to a packed house, day in, day out.
Raise a glass to the winners of Gourmet Traveller's 2018 Restaurant Guide Awards, sponsored by Vittoria Coffee, Santa Vittoria and Ilve. What a busy year it's been. While there's lots changing in Australian dining, it only makes us value the basics - impeccable service, inventive menus and carefully curated wine lists - even more. Here are the best of the best.