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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.

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.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.


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.

The dishes we keep coming back for

Steak frites, Montrachet, Brisbane
Montrachet’s steak, frites and salad has achieved legendary status with Francophile Brisbanites, and the appeal of this simple dish – the chips hand-cut and bronzed, the beef tender and pan-fried exactly to your personal taste – shows no sign of abating. About 150 orders are dispatched from Thierry Galichet’s Paddington kitchen each week. The difference lies, as ever, in the detail. “Steak is one of the hardest things to do for a chef," says Galichet. “We all have our own way of doing it. I’ve never been one of those people who say it must be rare – you can still do a beautiful well-done steak, although some do kill them on purpose. You just need good meat, and you must finish it in the oven for 20 minutes at a low temperature.’’
Montrachet, 224 Given Tce, Paddington, Qld, (07) 3367 0030.

Chicken rice, Abla’s, Melbourne
This is one of Lebanon’s most haunting traditional dishes, fragrant with sweet spices, delicate poached meat, nuts and… a touch of magic that comes from doing it all your life. Owner/chef Abla Amad’s chicken rice is simply unforgettable.
Abla’s, 109 Elgin St, Carlton, Vic, (03) 9347 0006.

Daube of lamb, Lebrina, Hobart
This dish is so comforting, it’s just about impossible to tire of it, especially during winter. The meat is braised for many hours in red wine until it’s so soft it’s possible to eat ‘à la cuillère’ (with a spoon). A cannellini bean puree soaks up the juices.
Lebrina, 155 New Town Rd, New Town, Tas, (03) 6228 7775.

Charcuterie plate, Must Winebar, Perth
Perth people who are after a good porking head for Must, where head chef André Mahé’s charcuterie plate has been on the menu since the place first opened in 2001. Mahé trained as a charcutier under his father in Brittany, so it’s little surprise that the plate is his most enduring dish: jambón persillé, the classic jellied ham, a pork, chicken and pistachio paté en croute with some seasonal fruit chutney, pork rillettes, and just a dab of velvety black olive tapenade on the side, and a house-baked baguette. Owner Russell Blaikie, who isn’t averse to mucking  around with the classics when the mood takes him wouldn’t dare to touch Mahé’s charcuterie. “Some iconic dishes are perfect just the way they are,” he says. “You just shouldn’t mess with them.”
Must Winebar, 519 Beaufort St, Highgate, WA, (08) 9328 8255.

Pappardelle with goat ragù, Bar Alto, Brisbane
It takes an average of three goats a week to sate Brisbane’s seemingly insatiable hunger for Bar Alto’s earthy, rich home-made pappardelle with goat ragù. The dish has been on the menu since Alto opened, and chef Pablo Tordesillas says that, though it’s hearty, it remains popular even when the mercury rises. “I never worked in an open kitchen before, and you get constant feedback,” he says. “It’s one of the dishes we get the most compliments for.” The pasta is made in-house from Bellata Gold durum semolina to which Tordesillas adds a little plain flour. “It’s a great local product with a beautiful colour,” he adds. “It makes a very smooth pasta with just a tiny bit of water and free-range eggs from the farm.’’
Bar Alto, 119 Lamington St, New Farm, Qld, (07) 3358 1063.

Congee, Supper Inn, Melbourne
Late at night, when the kitchens are closed, do you think chefs just go home? You’ll find a few every night enjoying a bowl of Supper Inn’s wonderful fish congee, with fresh chilli and long batons of extruded Chinese doughnut. The Inn has a separate congee list but the fish will always be the post-midnight favourite. A perfunctory but highly satisfying experience.
Supper Inn, 15 Celestial Ave, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9663 4759.

Coniglio al forno, Chianti Classico, Adelaide
It’s half a rabbit slow-cooked with pancetta, onions, port and sage, served with rosemary potatoes, and chef Tobias Gush has been cooking it year-round since he started at Chianti Classico more than five years ago. Fortunately, Gush has been able to source enough rabbit to meet the growing demand of diners by forging a close relationship with boutique producer Bushmin Farmed Rabbits of Mallala, north of Adelaide. It’s made to the Tuscan recipe sourced by Luisa Favaro, the mother of Chianti Classico owner Frank Favaro, who still has a hand in assembling the restaurant menu.
Chianti Classico, 160 Hutt St, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8232 7955.

Maltagliati di pane con calamari, Café di Stasio, Melbourne
One of our favourite pasta dishes of all time, reason enough to visit di Stasio: wide ribbons of pasta with breadcrumbs in the dough, sautéed with garlic in butter and olive oil, baby calamari, white wine, fish stock, stems of spring onion and, finally, torn radicchio. Ah.
Café di Stasio, 31a Fitzroy St, St Kilda, Vic, (03) 9525 3999.


This article appeared in the April 2008 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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