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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Kirk's Wine Bar, Melbourne

Ian Curley, Kirk's Wine Bar, Melbourne

Ian Curley, Kirk's Wine Bar, Melbourne

Fans of Melbourne's City Wine Shop have a new offshoot to discover on the edge of the city's legal precinct: introducing Kirk's Wine Bar.

The latest offering from executive chef Ian Curley and business partners Con Christopoulos and Josh Brisbane (known best for The European, Melbourne Supper Club, Siglo and Spring Street Grocer), opened without fanfare on the corner of Hardware Lane and Little Bourke Street on Wednesday, but it was humming within an hour. It takes its name from the corner building's first tenant in the 1860s, Kirk's Bazaar Hotel.

Christopoulos's initial plans for a humble café were rejigged after tradesmen restoring the floorboards discovered a hidden cellar. A circular staircase now leads down to the underground lair, and its musty old walls are lined with some of the City Wine Shop's most popular bottles. Soon a 12-seater dining table will fill the space for private bookings.

The menus Ian Curley has designed for Kirk's keep comfort to the fore day-long. "It's like the City Wine Shop, but with a bit more finesse," says Curley. "And nothing on the menu will be over $25." It opens at seven for breakfast with the likes of a restorative croque-monsieur and Harris Smokehouse salmon on potato blini with a sunny-side-up egg. From noon to 11pm, it segues into wine-friendly snacks such as freshly shucked oysters, kefalograviera saganaki and pork-belly parcels ($15), along with a rotating selection of suitably ripe cheeses.

Nearby office workers will also be pleased to see a hole-in-the-wall takeaway opening beside Kirk's later this month, too. Organic Kitchen will serve cold-pressed juices, salads and wraps - all with Curley's seal of approval.

Kirk's Wine Bar, 50 Hardware La, Melbourne

Looking for more Melbourne dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Melbourne.


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