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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.

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.

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.

Gerard's Bistro, Demitri's Feast, Co-Op Dining, Pigeonhole Café

Gerard's Bistro, Brisbane

Gerard's Bistro, Brisbane

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country including Gerard's Bistro, Demitri's Feast, Co-Op Dining, and Pigeonhole Café.

BRISBANE
Gerard's Bistro
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

MELBOURNE
Demitri's Feast
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

PERTH
Co-Op Dining
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

HOBART
Pigeonhole Café 
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

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