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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.

Three Lanes and Seven Alleys, Red Hook, Sprolo, The Flinders Street Project

Red Hook, Brisbane

Red Hook, Brisbane

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Three Lanes and Seven Alleys, Red Hook, Sprolo, and The Flinders Street Project.

SYDNEY
Three Lanes and Seven Alleys
And here we were thinking Dixon Street was getting in on the bowling craze. But no - the alleys in question are a historic site in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province, and this eatery is more about bringing nuance to Chinatown's picture of Chinese food than AMF action and rented shoes. There have been other restaurants in Sydney doing the food of Fujian - there was one just around the corner on Little Hay Street, in fact - but Three Lanes is a step up. There's certainly plenty of mushrooms, shacha sauce and other regional signatures on the menu, lychee pork and plenty of soups among them. Braised offal abounds, and the carte is packed with noodle dishes, including a smattering from Yunnan, plus the house special, a spicy beef noodle soup. That's one more of the eight great schools of Chinese cooking covered - now, how about a really sizzling Anhui place? Three Lanes and Seven Alleys, 50 Dixon St, Sydney, (02) 9281 7770. PAT NOURSE

BRISBANE
Red Hook
Don't come to this hole-in-the-wall on bustling Gresham Lane searching for serious cocktails and artful plates. You'll find those at these guys' other venue, Public. Here, the focus is squarely on fun, and the likes of the Creek Street Julep and Dr Pepper Depth Charge ensure things go off with a bang. The snacks read like a top 10 of food-truck hits - cheeseburgers, kransky dogs, brisket-stuffed tacos, battered pickles and more. At lunchtime you'll need to queue at the chipboard counter to order, and your $20 Red Hook lobster roll, a toasty split bun stuffed with chunks of crustacean, will arrive in a takeaway box. Ditto the kung fu duck tacos, a tasty mess of hoisin, barbecued duck, coriander and shaved cucumber with shreds of cabbage. Need to sit somewhere less frenetic during the lunchtime craziness? The Gresham Bar next-door has cleverly decided to welcome BYO snacks. Now, that's civilised. Red Hook, Shop 3, 88 Creek St (enter via Gresham La), Brisbane, (07) 3220 0462. FIONA DONNELLY

PERTH
Sprolo
Aussie cafés might be taking over the world one flat white at a time, but we're still mad to embrace all manner of breakfast rituals back home. A case in point: kaya. It's the rich "jam" (spreadable custard might be a better description) made with eggs and coconut that's slathered on white toast throughout Singapore and Malaysia. And now in Perth it's synonymous with the Canning Highway, too. At least if you're starting the day with Sprolo's traditional Singaporean. A comforting meal-deal featuring gorgeous house-made kaya, thick-cut toast and two sous-vide eggs, it's a winning alternative to the same-old café fare peddled around town. Outstanding coffee is another reason to drop by: the beans are roasted on-site, the greeting is friendly and locals are already firmly on-side. Sprolo, 138 Canning Hwy, South Perth, 0401 625 134. MAX VEENHUYZEN

ADELAIDE
The Flinders Street Project
Stewart Wesson planned for his new Adelaide dining venture to be a conventional restaurant, but the acquisition of a mighty old-fashioned baker's oven gave the project a new focus. The Flinders Street Project is, aptly enough, all about the bread, not least the dark sourdough made with grenache grape lees. Have it for lunch in robust Danish-style open sandwiches, topped with Berkshire pork terrine and apple, or with roast chicken, stuffing, iceberg and aïoli. Better still, Wesson will soon be doing monthly dégustation dinners. The Flinders Street Project, 276 Flinders St, Adelaide, SA, (08) 7230 1817. 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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