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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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

Melbourne Cup celebrations

The Apollo, Sydney.

The Apollo, Sydney.

Can't make it to Flemington? Don't have time to throw a party? Outsource your Cup Day fun with the help of some of the nation's top restaurants. Giddy-up.

SYDNEY

The Apollo
Cup lunch at The Apollo (pictured above) features the restaurant's signature dishes, plus sweeps, prizes, a screening of the race and two glasses of Laurent-Perrier to get the celebrations started.
$100 per person, includes two glasses of Champagne. The Apollo, 44 Macleay St, Potts Point, NSW, (02) 8354 0888, theapollo.com.au

Noble Canteen & Cocktails
If cucumber sandwiches and scones aren't your thing, head to the brand-new Noble Canteen in the CBD. It's hosting a Thai-style affair with quail egg and minced prawn pops, northern Thai-style banana blossom salad and more. Best dressed wins a bottle of Ruinart Champagne and you'll be given a mystery trifecta on arrival.
$85 per person. Minimum of four guests per booking; includes a glass of sparkling on arrival. Noble Canteen & Cocktails, 50 King St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9299 2929, noblecanteen.com.au

Nomad
Get your taste of one of the city's hottest new restaurants on Cup Day with a five-course menu and some fine Australian fizz.
$90 per person includes a glass of sparkling on arrival.Nomad, 16 Foster St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9280 3395, restaurantnomad.com.au

Palmer & Co
Bring your top hat and pearls and go underground to speak-easy Palmer & Co this Melbourne Cup Day. With cocktails on arrival, canapés and a strong drinks package available, it's set to be a thoroughly convivial affair. Tickets are $98.30 per person. Palmer & Co, Abercrombie La, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 3000, merivale.com.au/palmerandco

Quay
If you're looking to splash out this Cup Day, Quay's your place. Peter Gilmore's three-course Cup menu includes the likes of raw smoked wagyu with dory roe, horseradish juice, soured cream and milk skin, smoked and confit pig jowl with shiitake, shaved scallops, Jerusalem artichoke and juniper and, of course, the mighty snow egg. There'll be big screens to catch the races, sweepstakes and prizes for the best-dressed guests.
$180 per person, includes a glass of Champagne on arrival. Quay, upper level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, NSW, (02) 9251 5600, quay.com.au

BRISBANE

Alfred & Constance
Book in for Alfred & Constance's three-course lunch for the likes of grilled prawns, wood-roasted pork and banoffee pie. Even if your horse doesn't cross the line first, you'll feel like a winner.
$130 per person includes a three-hour drinks package. Alfred & Constance, cnr Alfred & Constance sts, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3251 6500, alfredandconstance.com.au

Aria Brisbane
Aria Brisbane is offering race screenings, prizes for the best-dressed guests, and a three-course lunch menu, with hickory-smoked ocean trout, asparagus and ricotta dumplings, and hazelnut, caramel and popcorn ganache among the options.$145 per person includes a glass of Champagne on arrival. Aria Brisbane, Eagle Street Pier, 1 Eagle St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3233 2555, ariarestaurant.com

Esquire
Esquire is set to dazzle this Cup Day with a six-course menu, sweepstakes and big screens to watch the race. Can't fit six courses in? Sister-restaurant Esq is offering four-courses with sparkling wine for $80.
$130 per person includes a glass of Champagne on arrival. Esquire, 145 Eagle St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3220 2123, esquire.net.au

The Euro
The Euro is going all out this race day with an afternoon of DJs, sweepstakes and giveaway prizes, not to mention a food-and-drinks package that includes Champagne, wine, beer, spirits and canapés.
$230 per person includes a four-and-a-half-hour drinks package.The Euro, 181 Mary St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3229 3686, theeuro.com.au

PERTH

Lalla Rookh
Lalla Rookh's race-day offerings include set-menu and canapé options, both with a glass of sparkling wine on arrival. Whichever option you choose, you won't miss a blink of the action with four screens around the venue to catch the big race.
Set-menu lunch, $72 per person; canapé menu, $46. Lalla Rookh, lower ground, 77 St Georges Tce, Perth, WA, (08) 9325 7077, lallarookh.com.au

The Trustee Bar & Bistro
Yes, there'll be sweeps, prizes for best dressed and live screenings of the race, but the real highlight of The Trustee's Melbourne Cup festivities is the three-course lunch menu, which goes something along the lines of pork belly parcels with apple salad and fried shallots, and slow-roasted beef cheeks with cavolo nero and white bean cassoulet. Yes please.
$99 per person. The Trustee Bar & Bistro, 133 St Georges Tce, Perth, WA, (08) 6323 3000, thetrustee.com.au

MELBOURNE

The Botanical
The Botanical is one of Melbourne's Cup Day capitals, and this year it's splashing out with free entry, all-day dining, a live performance from acoustic guitarist Dylan Wright and a serious wine list that will keep you smiling despite any losses on the track. The Botanical, 169 Domain Rd, South Yarra, VIC, (03) 9820 7888, thebotanical.com.au

Builders Arms Hotel
For those who'd rather do Fitzroy than Flemington, the Builders Arms Hotel is offering bacon sandwiches and Bloody Marys from 9am, followed by a set-menu lunch for $75 per person after noon. There'll be sweeps and the race will be screened in the bar.
Builders Arms Hotel, 211 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Vic, (03) 9417 7700, buildersarmshotel.com.au

Middle Park Hotel
The Middle Park Hotel won't be offering any special menus on Cup Day. It will, however, be screening the race from nine televisions throughout the venue and in private booths, so you and your posse can catch the excitement away from the crowd.
Middle Park Hotel,102 Canterbury Rd, Middle Park, Vic, (03) 9690 1958, middleparkhotel.com.au
 
The Smith
With à la carte menus offered from noon and no reservations necessary, The Smith has Melbourne Cup sorted for those short on time. Free entry, prizes for the best dressed "on the field", and live coverage of the race all help to make this the perfect last-minute destination.The Smith, 213 High St, Prahran, Vic, (03) 9514 2444, thesmithprahran.com.au

 

 

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