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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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

First Look: Otto, Brisbane

Otto Brisbane

Otto Brisbane

The Fink Group has expanded to Queensland with Otto Brisbane, which opens next week, though it's not just a replica of its Sydney location.

"Take a look at King's Row," suggests John Fink, indicating the space alongside a floor-to-ceiling window with views of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge. "This will be the el primo seating - but every chair here is good." We're at Fink Group's first interstate restaurant, Otto Brisbane. The 120-seat northern outpost for the group behind Sydney venues Bennelong, Quay Firedoor and Sydney's original Otto on the Finger Wharf will open on 14 June and fills a generous chunk of the fourth-floor atrium at Dexus Property Group's 480 Queen Street office building.

If you were expecting a faithful replica of Otto Sydney, think again.

The branding is intact - white linen and striking water panoramas in place - but the menu veers in the opposite direction to Sydney's, doffing a cap to southern Italy, rather than the chillier north. Will Cowper, former sous-chef in Sydney for eight years, will head the open kitchen, with Alan Hunter, former longstanding sommelier for E'cco Bistro in Brisbane, wrangling wines. Sam Pask (ex-Selah, Sydney) will lead the floor.

Sydney's $100 lobster spaghetti won't make the trek north, but signature baby barramundi fillets with salsa verde will, along with the likes of pepper-crusted swordfish with Noosa red tomatoes; Sardinian-style globe artichokes; white anchovies with fennel, muscatels and pine nuts; spatchcock with char-grilled lemon, and more. Otto Brisbane will also serve a vegan menu, as Sydney does.

Smoked ham hock carbonara, pecorino 

Architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer have used elements of Otto Sydney's DNA. But there are distinctly Queensland touches: timber flooring, timber-slatted Jenga-style screen walls, and dramatic magenta and purple fabric fans, "Les Danseuses", sourced by Fink Group chairman Leon Fink at the Venice Biennale.  A private dining room with seating for 20 overlooks the copper dome of Brisbane's Customs House.

A covered alfresco bar, Bar Otto, sits adjacent to the restaurant, offering all-day dining with coffee from Brisbane roaster Blackstar and milk from Maleny Dairies. "We want to serve the best coffee in the area. There are 4,000 people upstairs - we want to rust them on," says Fink.

An aptly Italian wine list, featuring Italian and Australian-grown Italian varieties, has been drafted by Hunter and consultant Ned Goodwin. It fields a clever selection of biodynamic and natural wines, but Fink says there will also be a healthy smattering of wines people "just want to drink".

Otto Brisbane opens on June 14, Parkland Level 4, 480 Queen St, Brisbane, QLD, (07) 3835 2888, ottoristorante.com.au/brisbane/

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