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Nel Restaurant, Sydney

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Nel Restaurant, Sydney.

Last things first: what's not to like about a restaurant that concludes a meal with a nod to its chef's heritage in the form of a tiny, perfect Eccles cake? Here at GT we're acolytes of the Church of St John, so given the choice we'd probably opt for a bit of Lancashire cheese with it rather than the dab of lemon curd, but what the hey? At $35, the lunch version of the dégustation offered at this carefully hidden new basement restaurant is excellent value. Nelly Robinson likes his plates quite worked, so after the relative restraint of "green peas, ham" (pig's head meat pressed and crumbed into something like a porcine fish-finger, with pea purée and tendrils), "chilli crab" is an explosion of petals, foam and colour around little parcels of crab enveloped in slices of daikon, while ultra-rich lamb belly arrives on an exuberant mess of mustardy diced potato and carrot purée with a slick of lamb sauce and a zucchini blossom stuffed with feta. Dessert is a sweet, showy swizzle of pistachio ice-cream, white corn, choc "soil" and cherry under a tuft of fairy-floss. Throw in Iggy's bread and bottomless bottles of Badoit, and it's a deal.

Nel Restaurant, 75 Wentworth Ave, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9212 2206

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