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Luxurious new digs in Nitmiluk National Park are opening Katherine Gorge and the culture of its traditional owners, the Jawoyn people, to a new brand of traveller. Rob Ingram explores the escarpment around Cicada Lodge.
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With the flamboyant, bar-owning Moubarak brothers (Lychee Lounge, Laruche) at the helm of this laneway dweller you'd expect a quirky edge. Artfully plated offerings from chef Ben Williamson - smoked Murray cod with almond foam, tender octopus tentacles glossy with a tomato-smoked butter and tart slivers of green strawberry (pictured) - side-step cliché neatly. Looking for rusticity? You'll find spicy sujuk, jewel-bright shirin polow and a saltbush lamb tagine. The Middle Eastern-Med influence is astutely referenced here, and not overplayed. 14-15 James St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3852 3822 FIONA DONNELLY
Demitri's Feast operates as a breakfast and lunch joint year round, but once daylight savings kicks in, owner Jim Karabagias opens his modern Greek gem with a focus on the char-grill from Thursday to Saturday night. There's a small menu, and a glass cabinet full of treats - fish, scallops, Moreton bay bugs, chicken skewers, lamb chops - ordered by the piece and grilled with little more intervention than oil, lemon, garlic and parsley. There are salads too, and ouzo, and a super-cute courtyard out the back. 141 Swan St, Richmond, Vic, (03) 9428 8659 MICHAEL HARDEN
Introducing Co-Op Dining, the new inner-city showroom for Dear Friends owners, and Swan Valley champions, Kiren and Kelli Mainwaring. While the menu is degustation only in the dining room, a tight bar-snack menu is available to those chasing something more casual. Bookings aren't taken for the bar, but standouts like swatches of Mainwaring's rich house-cured ham and wonderfully smoky local macadamia nuts make a compelling reason to try your luck. 11 Regal Pl, East Perth, WA, (08) 9221 0404 MAX VEENHUYZEN
Pigeonhole Café meets local avocado. We played a role in orchestrating this blind date and the relationship was consummated this week. It's a simple thing, avocado on toast, but, done well, it's one of the best breakfast dishes out there. Surprisingly, some of Australia's best avocados are grown in Tasmania, by South Spreyton Avocado, right in the middle of the north-west coast's prime apple-growing country. Pigeonhole Café is one of Australia's best breakfast places, so it seemed only right to introduce them to one another. Pigeonhole's Jay Patey took the bait and, from this week, the breakfast menu features South Spreyton avocados on Pigeonhole's own rye bread. Mission accomplished. Cnr Molle & Goulburn sts, West Hobart, Tas, (03) 6236 9306 SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE