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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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pinbone, Supernormal Canteen, Tinderbox Kitchen

Supernormal Canteen, Melbourne

Supernormal Canteen, Melbourne

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Pinbone, Supernormal Canteen, and Tinderbox Kitchen.

MELBOURNE
Supernormal Canteen
Bound to be one of the summer's hottest hotspots, Supernormal Canteen (pictured above) opened its doors this week for a six-week run in a double shopfront space in Gertrude Street, next to Cutler & Co. Billing itself as a "test kitchen" for the real Supernormal, the Japanese-leaning venture Andrew McConnell plans to open in the CBD in March, the Canteen is basically a pop-up restaurant, albeit a meticulously designed one, with an exciting pan-Asian menu from one of Melbourne's favourite food sons. Projects of Imagination are responsible for the design, favouring massed paper lanterns, concrete floors, whitewashed walls, J-Pop-inspired graphics (including a red neon sign) and elegant timber furniture made by Profile Furniture's John Foley. One of the two rooms houses a massive communal table, the perfect spot to consume a menu that's big on skewers (sesame cucumber pickles, pepper- and chilli-cured brisket, sticky chicken snacks), rolls (including the Golden Fields-inspired lobster number) and the grill (fab wood-grilled baby corn with miso butter). There's also soft-serve ice-cream with changeable toppings (peanut and salted caramel, perhaps) and a short, sharp drinks list that includes sake and Japanese whisky. Fun times. Supernormal Canteen, 53 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Vic. MICHAEL HARDEN

SYDNEY
Pinbone
Anyone lucky enough to have had a preview of the Pinbone crew's food at things they've catered or their pop-ups knows that this mob is serious about the quality of the food on the plate and the wine in the glass, but are otherwise pretty irreverent. For their opening menu at the space formerly occupied by Buzo, chefs Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman and maître d' Berri Eggert present the likes of chicken liver parfait chocolate crackles and a savoury, bar-snacky "fairy bread" of brioche toast buttered with mascarpone and dotted with a mixture of roes and Avruga. Those are the kookier examples, certainly, but they work. The wine list, meanwhile, is a heart-on-sleeve dear-diary note of what the team likes to drink right now, which means a lot from the Loire and Rhône with a smattering of interlopers from Heathcote and Jerez, South Africa and South Australia. And in perhaps the best news for the neighbourhood, they're opening for all-day brunching and boozing on Sundays. Sign us up. Pinbone, 3 Jersey Rd, Woollahra, NSW, (02) 9328 1600. PAT NOURSE

BRISBANE
Tinderbox Kitchen
The new wood-fired offering from chef-owner PJ McMillan has definite spark. Carnivores will be licking their fingers, digging into Muscat-glazed quail, with blood orange and salad leaves, or tackling a slab of fork-tender, cumin-rubbed lamb shoulder, paired with house-made quince paste and scattered with smashed green olives and almonds. A decent "market garden" selection ensures veg-centric diners are catered for too. Sweet charred leeks with goat curd, are accompanied by tiny fried capers and cloves of roasted garlic, adding bursts of flavour. The brace of pizze also makes the cut. The Margherita is generously dotted with fior di latte, the supple, puffy base showing telltale marks of the huge curved, zinc-clad oven which dominates the restaurant's matchbox red and charcoal interior. Tinderbox Kitchen, 7/31 James St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3852 3744. FIONA DONNELLY

Got a hot tip for our Hot Plates team? Tweet us at @gourmettweets, or tag your Instagram photos with #GThotplates.


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