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Sydney's best dishes 2016

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Hot Plate: The Apo, Fortitude Valley

The Apo's sand crab, nasturtium and finger lime

The Apo's sand crab, nasturtium and finger lime

You'd probably guess that the new offering from the Moubment Group would be wild, but The Apo's Paris-inspired dreamscape fit-out is a tonic - the perfect antidote to a surfeit of predictability, not least in Brisbane. Lift your eyes from the concrete-capped table and there's a rough-edged window draped with freeform leather hides that wouldn't be out of place in Westeros, while an outsized solid Carrara marble orb occupies the downstairs fireplace, matching the room's theatrical, leather-topped marble banquettes.

The Moubarak family, the force behind Moubment, has been making Queenslanders sit up and take notice since unveiling Lychee Lounge in West End in 2000, replete with an eye-catching Barbie-head chandelier. Lychee was sold in 2015, but The Apo, a two-storey bar-restaurant housed in a former apothecary shop built in 1862, is the latest in a string of successful ventures from these operators. It joins neighbouring bar Laruche, the Middle-Eastern influenced Gerard's Bistro and its darkly handsome sibling, Gerard's Bar.

The Apo has plenty of nooks to explore - its idiosyncratic interiors sit lightly juxtaposed against a backdrop of the building's heritage brick walls and exposed ceiling beams. It's all nicely in tune with Braden White's skilful and progressive menu of share plates. These run from the likes of crisp dill pickles paired with fermented fennel cream, to chicken liver éclairs - choux pastry puffs packed with an airy mousse-like parfait that comes with a dipping bowl of warm chicken stock and a confit egg yolk.

Interesting textures abound: a rectangle of crisp-topped suckling pig sits over parsnip purée with smoked yoghurt and slices of dehydrated apple; a split buttery brioche roll comes laden with chunks of lobster meat in a chive-dotted mayonnaise. There's Rangers Valley skirt with chermoula, and some cracking house-cut chips. 

Booze-wise, expect a deft line up of European and Australasian options that come by the glass and half-bottle. Most drinkers, though, will be lured by Pez Collier's cocktail magic, whether it's a bottled, single-batch vodka Martini or The Apo's Bloody Mary; unfiltered vodka, tomato juice, herbs and spices spiked with porcini and wild mushroom. Just what the doctor ordered.

The Apo, Bakery Lane, 690 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3252 2403


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