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Smith Street Alimentari, Happy Boy, Beaufort Street Festival, The Beach Taverna

Smith Street Alimentari, Melbourne

Smith Street Alimentari, Melbourne

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Smith Street Alimentari, Happy Boy, Beaufort Street Festival, and The Beach Taverna.

MELBOURNE
Smith Street Alimentari 
To simplify their lives and spend more time with their kids, husband and wife team Linda and Paul Jones decided to knock down the wall separating their two businesses - food store Smith Street Alimentari and restaurant Gorski & Jones - to make a bustling (bordering on chaotic) daytime-only food store and licensed café with a brilliant outside courtyard. It's an excellent move that has made all the best parts come into focus. Removing the seating from the shop means the fridges full of take-home meals (lasagne, risotto, sauces, stocks, house-made pasta) and the grocery shelves are properly accessible for the first time. The glass counter has been extended, making it easier to get served. There are more places to sit in the café and the open kitchen lets the menu expand beyond the famed Alimentari sandwiches, salads and rolls (try an eggwhite omelette with smoked salmon, dukkah and feta or a pan-fried gnocchi with broad beans and cauliflower purée). The former Gorski bar has been given over in part to an expanded coffee selection including pour-over alongside the regular espresso and a weekly changing single-origin coffee. Altogether, it's a very fine example of a successful lightbulb moment. Smith Street Alimentari, 302-304 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic, (03) 9416 1666. MICHAEL HARDEN

BRISBANE
Happy Boy
Brisbane's temperature must have dipped by at least 10 degrees when this cool little Chinese eatery dragged up its roller-door last month. Hidden down a back street in an old garage that used to be Little Tokyo, Happy Boy's interiors are the antithesis of the pan-Asian, boho-eclectic look currently in vogue. Instead it favours stylish industrial chic, pared back almost to the point of austerity - bare brick walls, polished-concrete flooring, simple dark wooden tables and banquettes. The glasses, though, are Riedel, reflecting the serious intent of a clipped but savvy list featuring boutique Australian vineyards. The menu cherrypicks a tasty track through regional China. Whole snapper is served with ginger, spring onion and sesame-soy sauce, its belly refilled with crisp-battered fish bites. And at $30, it's the most expensive dish. Most offerings, including deliciously addictive popcorn-sized bits of Chongqing chicken generously scattered with chilli, weigh in at around half that. Don't leave without ordering the fish-fragrant eggplant. Get happy! Happy Boy Eating & Drinking, 2/36 Mein St, Spring Hill, Qld, 0413 246 890. FIONA DONNELLY

PERTH
Beaufort Street Festival
While Beaufort Street is a rewarding destination any time of year, the annual Beaufort Street Festival is a particularly memorable day (and night) out. This Saturday marks the fifth instalment of the swarming street party and the neighbourhood is celebrating in appropriate fashion. While the day will feature strong music, art and fashion components, we're looking forward to the many edible and quaffable attractions. El Público, for instance, will again be transforming its car park into the Shady Shack and serving Mexican libations and food from 2014 GT Best New Talent winner, Sam Ward. Across the road, Five Bar's outdoor pop-up will be returning for another day of alfresco mischief while team Clarences will be slinging gin punches and deliciousness from its garden bar. Come early, thirsty and hungry; leave with good memories and, ideally, a copy of Recipes and Ramblings, the festival cookbook being launched this weekend. MAX VEENHUYZEN

KANGAROO ISLAND
The Beach Taverna
Kangaroo Island's top-end caterers Rachel Hannaford and Sasha Sachs, serving as providores and chefs to guests at LifeTime Private Retreats and other luxury Kangaroo Island accommodation, have extended their services to The Beach Taverna - a former boatshed on the sand at remote Snellings Beach used in the past only for private functions and now converted into an idyllic casual dining taverna. It's open for lunch bookings, and their long, lazy meals present a procession of dishes that feature the seasonal stars of Kangaroo Island produce. This includes fillets of locally caught trevally and nannygai in beer batter, and lamb kofta (sourced from ace producers Essence of Kangaroo Island) with local red lentil, eggplant, pomegranate and a sauce of Island Pure sheep's milk yoghurt and mint. The Beach Taverna, Snellings Beach, Kangaroo Island, SA, (08) 8559 2236. DAVID SLY

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


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