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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.

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.

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.

Shaun Presland hired by Chris Lucas

Shaun Presland

Shaun Presland

He's made a fortune based on predicting the whims of the crowd, so Chris Lucas's unexpected move to the finer end of the dining spectrum should have the crystal ball gazers looking on with interest. 

Chris Lucas, the restaurant impresario behind Melbourne's Chin Chin, Kong, Baby and Hawker Hall - restaurants that seem to float on the tide of pop culture as well as food fashion - has announced plans to open an ambitious three-level Japanese restaurant on Flinders Lane with ex-Sake chef Shaun Presland and sommelier Philip Rich (ex-Prince Wine Store).

"We love what we've done in the casual space but this is quite a step up from what we've rolled out in the last few restaurants," says Lucas. "We're doing a lot of things differently on this one. Everyone's prattling on about fine dining coming to an end, but I think when the crowd is all going one way it's good to go the other."

Fêted architects Wood Marsh have been hired to transform the narrow 1960s office building opposite Andrew McConnell's Supernormal. The yet-to-be-named restaurant, slated to open in March next year, will have a hot kitchen in the basement and sushi restaurant on the ground floor, plus "a very traditional omakase sushi restaurant of a truly international standard" on the top floor with its own dedicated sushi master, sommelier and manager.

"The idea is that it's a restaurant within a restaurant - a bespoke experience where customers make a booking and curate the experience. If they want the best tuna in the world, we can get it," says Lucas, who credits a meal at New York's Masa of white truffle nigiri sushi as opening his eyes to its luxurious possibilities.

Presland is best known as the founding executive chef for the Sake chain of restaurants. He's also worked for Nobu and Merivale's Sydney restaurant Sushi-E, but Lucas promises it won't be the brassy, party Japanese those establishments are best known for.

"Shaun learned his craft at kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto and wants to go back to what he did in the early years. I lived in Japan for three years and want something that reminds me of that time. Basically, it was a meeting of minds and we set ourselves a task to do something really different."

There's plenty more on the Lucas plate, too, including a Sydney version of Chin Chin due to open in Surry Hills later this year, while plans for his recently acquired Smith Street site are to be decided after consultation with the council. But first Lucas and Presland are off to Tokyo in a few weeks to meet their as-yet anonymous sushi master.

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