Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

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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. 

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.

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Pea and ham soup

Ombra, Senyai, Urbane, Ruby Red Flamingo

Ombra, Melbourne

Ombra, Melbourne

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country including Ombra, Senyai, Urbane, and Ruby Red Flamingo.

MELBOURNE
Ombra
The latest addition to the Grossi food empire, located next to the Florentino mothership in the former Nudel Bar site, is Ombra (pictured), a charmingly decorated salumi bar that's all rustic wood surfaces, unusual wines, jars of pickled produce and glass cabinets full of preserved meat. It does a great line in cicchetti (small snacks, that is, of the tuna-stuffed peppers/smoked lamb cutlets/duck rillettes kind) and salumi, much of it made specifically for Ombra, plus there are three simple, excellent pizze and sweet stuff like bomboloni. It's relaxed and atmospheric with Fleetwood Mac on the stereo and both cider and beer on tap. Ombra, 76 Bourke St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9639 1927. MICHAEL HARDEN

SYDNEY
Senyai
The discovery of a good new Thai restaurant, wrote Brillat-Savarin, confers more happiness on the humanity of Sydney than the discovery of a new star. Which brings us to this rather brilliant little sliver of an eatery on the lower level of the strange and perpetually half-empty Regent Place centre near the George Street flicks. The centre's latest crop-rotation has produced a clutch of highly designed establishments, the pick of which is unquestionably this, Nu Suandokmai's new Sydney venture. The look is hip, with a winning injection of Thai kitsch in the form of movie posters and a wall of still-packaged plastic toys. Roll-your-own betel leaves, po pia jaan crisp prawn pancakes and unusually good north-eastern-style sour pork sausage among the snacks signal a menu of both edge and substance. It's a promise made good on with just-murky-enough kanom jeen noodles and fish balls, a southern-style stir-fry of pork, chilli and petai (aka stinkbeans), and the dead-set winner, the jungle curry of minced quail. Senyai, Regent Place, 486 Kent St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9283 8686. PAT NOURSE

BRISBANE
Urbane
An 11-course dégustation without a single dairy delight or animal protein? It's a brave vision, dreamt up by an Argentine chef espousing veganism to help save the planet. With the best will in the world, it doesn't sound like a formula for instant culinary success. Yet the first two of Urbane's fine-dining vegan feasts sold out in mere hours, and two more are coming: 5 February and 5 March. Chef Alejandro Cancino, named Best New Talent in GT's last restaurant awards, delivers the goods. His deeply savoury, meaty bundle of shimeji with horseradish, set alongside a swathe of super-fresh, finely julienned raw sugarsnap peas with nasturtium leaves and dabs of watercress emulsion, demonstrates the appeal of lightening up. Innovative desserts (a delicate coconut milk ice-cream, fresh blueberries and basil combo, for instance) are another good argument for foraging beyond the usual chef standards. Keen to experiment, but not go the whole hog? Try Urbane's permanent vegetarian dégustation which always fields a selection of vegan dishes. Urbane Restaurant, 181 Mary St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3229 2271. FIONA DONNELLY

ADELAIDE
Ruby Red Flamingo
Chic informality now represents very fine dining in Adelaide. Ruby Red Flamingo has crowds queuing for its cool take on classic Italian - a small selection of dishes (pasta or something from the grill), most in a choice of two portion sizes, with sharing recommended. This style of eating perfectly suits the rustic simplicity of bench tables inside and small tables at an outdoor patio. What started as a pop-up now looks set to become a permanent part of the city's dining landscape, despite the fact it (egad) doesn't take bookings. Roll up and join the queue. Ruby Red Flamingo, 142 Tynte St, North Adelaide, SA, (08) 8267 5769. DAVID SLY

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2017 Restaurant Guide

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