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. 

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Alfredo's Pizzeria, The Commoner, Nom Japanese, Mary Street Bakery

Alfredo's Pizzeria

Alfredo's Pizzeria

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Alfredo's Pizzeria, The Commoner, Nom Japanese, and Mary Street Bakery.

BRISBANE
Alfredo's Pizzeria
The music is raucous, the tables are crammed, and you can't book - but this recent Valley arrival (pictured) stays pumping until 3am on Friday and Saturdays. From the same stable as neighbouring Alfred & Constance, Alfredo's is a similarly eclectic spot, jammed with the unexpected. A handsome wood-fired stove is put to good use, producing a stream of rocking pizze, puffy-edged and topped with the likes of Joan Jett (black olives, onion, chilli, capers and anchovies), Ray and Dave Davies (nothing kinky about scamorza and eggplant) while the Margherita, inexplicably, is named for Chuck Berry. There's a small selection of pasta dishes, and they do takeaway, too - should you want to preserve your hearing. Alfredo's Pizzeria, 39 Alfred St, Fortitude Valley, 07 3251 6555. FIONA DONNELLY

MELBOURNE
The Commoner
The Commoner's lengthy trial by fire (a blaze destroyed the Fitzroy restaurant's kitchen and parts of its dining room earlier this year) finally runs its red tape- and tear-strewn course this week as it reopens with a new kitchen, a freshly painted dining area, and co-owner Matt Donnelly as head chef. The opening menu for the post-blaze era includes much-missed favourites such as the brown ale pudding with salted caramel sauce, and wood-roasted carrots with egg and harissa, sticking closely to the meticulously sourced, modern British-influenced template that has earned the restaurant a loyal and fervent following. Donnelly also runs a foraging business, so expect to see the fruits of his labours (wild mushroom croquettes, for example) as a feature. The Commoner, 122 Johnston St, Fitzroy, (03) 9415 6876. MICHAEL HARDEN

SYDNEY
Nom Japanese
Darlinghurst's backstreets don't give up their secrets all that willingly. That's usually a good thing, but in the case of Nom, a Japanese eatery tucked away in a slender Riley Street terrace, it's a secret that really ought to be more widely known. It's a sake bar/izakaya, but rather than sampling and remixing Japanese culture for a gaijin audience, this one's as real as it gets this side of the equator, with a distinctly homely vibe that's utterly charming. At lunch it's a short and sweet menu: well-made gyoza, some grilled fish - mackerel with sake paste, perhaps - and then apple pie or custard pudding to finish. After dark the blackboard menu comes alive as Kinuko Uriu dispenses $5 glasses of sake (hot, cold and sparkling) along with the likes of grated radish with whitebait, tofu wakame salad, fried oysters, tempura okra, potato salad, pickled onions, sashimi, grilled cuttlefish and things with natto in them. With its retro beer posters, the look is vaguely reminiscent of the bar in Okinawa where Beatrix Kiddo buys her katana, and the prices are low, low, low - all the more reason to put Nom on your radar. Nom, 166 Riley St, Darlinghurst, (02) 9332 1156. PAT NOURSE

PERTH
Mary Street Bakery
Why did local hospitality veterans Michael Forde, Alex Cuccovia and Paul Aron open an inner-city bakery? Because they kneaded the dough. Or, more accurately, their bakers did, led by former Greenhouse head chef Courtney Gibb. Considering the trio opened nearby Ace Pizza in May, the axis of eating behind Beaufort Street hotspots El Público and Cantina663 has sure been busy of late, but kept all eyes firmly on the prize. In this instance: great sourdough bread and baked goodies - chicken and leek pies, say, or featherweight wedges of lamington cake - memorable enough to turn morning smokos into the working day's high point. It's not all death by carbohydrates, however. Cold-pressed juices go some of the way to alleviating any guilt lingering after a fried chicken roll binge. Mary Street Bakery, 507 Beaufort St, Highgate, 0499 509 300. MAX VEENHUYZEN

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


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