Healthy Eating

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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.

Alpha, Cellar Bar, Red Chilli Szechuan, The Jetty South Bank

Alpha, Sydney

Alpha, Sydney

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Alpha, Cellar Bar, Red Chilli Szechuan, and The Jetty South Bank.

SYDNEY
Alpha
Peter Conistis is back with a bang. Anyone who ate at Cosmos, Eleni's, Omega or The Civic over the last 20 years will recall Conistis's cooking with a fond heart and a rumbling tum, but it's when you bite into his pastry anew that his finesse bowls you over all over again. The golden spanakopita that's on the menu at Alpha is like the Platonic ideal of the spinach and cheese pie, the filo superbly flaky and crisp, the filling rich and fragrant with dill. The menu sprawls from the newer-fangled likes of ouzo-glazed lamb ribs and mastic-spiced quail with watermelon salad to Conistis classics such as scallop and eggplant moussaka, and rabbit and black olive pie, cheekily corralled under the "vintage dishes" heading. It's already killing it at lunch, and dinner reservations are getting scarcer by the moment - get in for your taste today. Alpha, 238 Castlereagh St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9098 1111. PAT NOURSE

MELBOURNE
Cellar Bar at Newmarket Hotel
After a false start last year, the Cellar Bar at the Newmarket Hotel has re-opened (Thursday to Saturday) with a rejigged agenda that, in keeping with the beautiful, beaded, boothed and mirror-balled retro nightclub décor, is now more cocktail bar than supper club. Still, despite well-made cocktails, bottle lists and much vintage Champagne, food still makes its presence felt here, albeit in snack rather than dégustation form. Taking cues from the upstairs dining room's Latin American moves, the Cellar Bar's list includes toothfish and miso anticucho (Peru's take on the grilled skewer) served with crisped-up taro, and good jamón served with spiced pear. There are tacos and empanadas, a wagyu chilli dog, and dulce de leche mousse, too. The bookable booths seat six to eight so go with friends. Cellar Bar at Newmarket Hotel, 34 Inkerman St, St Kilda, Vic, (03) 9534 1060. MICHAEL HARDEN

PERTH
Red Chilli Szechuan Chinese Restaurant
Perth's newest Sichuan restaurant is hot all right, but its cooking encompasses more than just mouth-numbing peppercorns and capsaicin thrills. The kitchen's fuqi feipian, for instance, uses crushed peanuts and coriander to add crunch and freshness to slices of tripe bathed in a tingly ma la ("numbing and spicy") oil. Elsewhere, wrinkly tubes of smoked bamboo add textural interest to a fiery stew of tender beef brisket. At less than four bucks, a side order of preserved vegetables is a must. Pickled ever-so-briefly and cut thick for maximum crunch, they're an ideal foil to the menu's fireworks. Another welcome addition to Perth's favourite Asian eat street. Red Chilli Szechuan Chinese Restaurant, 865 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park, WA, (08) 6161 2898. MAX VEENHUYZEN

BRISBANE
The Jetty South Bank
A mix of flawless River Quay views and come-hither Bali-meets-Brisbane décor has lured diners to this airy spot since it launched a couple of years back. But the recent arrival of well-regarded head chef Damien Styles is starting to hook in a different demographic. The menu is still slightly scattergun in its approach, but dishes like a fork-tender slow-cooked lamb shoulder, served with a bank of fluffy parmesan-boosted polenta and a herb crumble hit their mark. A glossy nasi goreng, dotted with tiny prawns, and topped with a soft-yolk fried egg and scattering of crunchy deep-fried shallots, joins the lamb as part of a winter weekday lunch deal running until spring. It's hot value at $25, including a glass of house red or white. The Jetty South Bank, River Quay, Sidon St, South Bank, Qld, (07) 3844 8838. 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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