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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.

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.

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.

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.

Hot Plates: Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie, Melbourne

Rôtisserie chicken with gravy and stuffing.

Rôtisserie chicken with gravy and stuffing.

Scott Pickett's new deli serves breakfast in the morning and transforms into a wine bar at night.

Scott Pickett has form spotting gaps in the market, as his success at ESP, Saint Crispin and Estelle Bistro prove, but at his latest venture he has spotted a gap at the Market. Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie is on the Elizabeth Street edge of the Queen Victoria Market and, as it turns out, is just the kind of smart-casual dining option that one of Melbourne's oldest and largest markets needs.

The rôtisserie chickens come from either Bannockburn or Milawa and are worth a visit on their own. Served by the quarter, half or whole, and accompanied by roast vegetables and a silky, salty gravy, the spice-rubbed birds are firm and juicy with the kind of golden skin grandma would be proud of.

Read our first look interview with Scott Pickett

Beyond the chook, the tight single-page menu lists oysters, pickles, charcuterie and snacks down one side (sardines and smoked tomato on toast delivers a spirit-lifting flavour punch) with larger dishes such as big-flavoured wagyu meatballs served with crisp-edged cuttlefish and jamón on the other.

Charcuterie board.

Pickett's looks great, the dark-hued Hirsch Bedner Associates fit-out teaming recycled timber - herringbone floor, communal table top - with a marble counter, dark-stained timber shelving stacked with house-made pickles and vinegars, glass display boxes for pastry and charcuterie and a sculptural, box-like light fitting framing the high ceiling.

Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie.

Most of the seating is around the communal table or at tables outside on Elizabeth and Therry Streets with other options at window benches and a few seats at the counter, bathed in the glow of the rôtisserie.

The deli does breakfast too, including a bacon and brown sauce roll, fried free-range egg optional, using thick-cut house-cured bacon. Coffee is supplied by Dukes and the compact but comprehensive drinks list has 15-20 wines that change daily, Old and New World, and all available by the glass, flagging Pickett's ambitions as a wine bar after dark.

Rôtisserie du jour baguette.

The Queen Vic has never been short of eating options but, until now, the best of them have been about bratwurst and börek with not a glass of wine in sight. Pickett's Deli changes all of that. It feels like a step in exactly the right direction.

Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, open Thu-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun- Wed 7am-5pm, 507 Elizabeth St (cnr Therry St), Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9328 3213, pickettsdeli.com

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