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The benefits of live yoghurt
23.03.2017

Step away from the “dessert yoghurt", writes Will Studd. The real unadulterated thing is much more rewarding.

All-Star Yum Cha
22.03.2017

What happens the morning after the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards? We treat the chefs to a world-beating yum cha session, as Dani Valent discovers.

Honey Fingers, Melbourne's inner-city beekeepers
22.03.2017

Single-source honey putting community and sustainability next to sweetness.

Vermouth is having a moment
21.03.2017

More and more adventurous local winemakers are embracing Vermouth's botanicals, writes Max Allen.

Exploring Indonesia's Komodo National Park
21.03.2017

Indonesia's Komodo National Park is home to staggering scenery and biodiversity. Michael Harden sets sail in a handcrafted yacht to explore its remote islands in pared-back luxury.

The new cruises on the horizon in 2017
21.03.2017

Cue the Champagne.

Seven recipes that shaped 1980s fine dining
21.03.2017

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

Where Melbourne's finest will take the World's Best Chefs
20.03.2017

Leading chefs descend on Melbourne in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We asked local hospitality folk who they’d abduct for the day and where they’d take them to show off their city. There may be coffee, there may be culture, but in the end it’s cocktails.

Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant returns

When Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant reopened in late August after a 21-month hiatus and an extensive refit, its stated ambition to be among Australia's leading restaurants ensured it would attract close scrutiny. And does it make the cut? It's not there yet, but it could be on its way. 

The interior fashioned by designer and restaurateur Pascale Gomes-McNabb makes a strong initial impression. Clusters of bespoke dark furnishings now draw the eye as much as the views across the vines to Adelaide's skyline. Bare blackwood tables and low-slung leather wingback chairs are dramatically offset by slashes of red-hot neon and clusters of Emma Lashmar's illuminated glass orbs suspended above the tables. The décor softens the mood of a once-austere room - it's more casual and relaxed. 

New executive chef Scott Huggins, previously of Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo, and the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, strives for harmony, balance and the pure expression of hero ingredients rather than dazzling spectacle within his five- or eight-course dégustation menus ($135 or $185; $265 or $435 with matched wines). Lightly cured belly of bluefin tuna with asparagus smoked in hay, egg yolk and dehydrated olive crumbs is a shining example. Gentle flavours ensure the luscious tuna texture remains the highlight of this dish. Less cohesive, perhaps, is a lightly poached Coffin Bay oyster in cucumber purée topped by frozen pebbles of bitter apple, the contrasting warm and cold elements seeming awkward rather than intriguing. Pastry chef Emma Shearer impresses though, with a dessert of toasted hay-infused ice-cream offset by crumbled walnut and a dark wafer of coffee and linseed. 

The main course shows Huggins's intentions best: wagyu striploin (seared, chilled, rested in 62C oil, sprayed with soy and rosemary then grilled over charcoal) is modestly seasoned and embellished with roasted sesame dressing and confit baby garlic as a foil beside powerhouse red wines: Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon for the five-course menu, or 2008 Grange with the eight-courser. It's a tough gig for any ambitious chef; Penfolds wines are always going to be the star of this show.

Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant, 78 Penfold Rd, Magill, SA, (08) 8301 5551

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