The February issue

Our March issue is out now. Welcome autumn with blood plum galettes, make the most of apricot season and more.

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Fig recipes

Figs. We can't get enough of them. Here are a few sweet and savoury ways to add them to your summer spread.

Australia's best rieslings

We’re spoilt for variety – and value – in Australia when it comes to good riesling. Max Allen picks the top 20 from a fine crop.

Top Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2017

A lot has changed since we first published our pick of the best chefs to follow on Instagram (way back in the dark ages of 2013). Here’s who we’re double-tapping on the photo-sharing app right now.

Curtis Stone's strawberry, elderflower and brioche summer puddings

"Think of this dessert as a deconstructed version of a summer pudding, with thinly sliced strawberries macerated in elderflower liqueur and layered between slices of brioche," says Stone. "A dollop of whipped cream on top is a cooling counterpoint to the floral flavours."

Christine Manfield recipes

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Most popular recipes summer 2017

Counting down from 20, here are this summer's most-loved recipes.

Sleep in a Grampians olive grove this autumn

Under Sky are popping up with a luxe camping hotel experience at Mount Zero Olives this April.

Chorizo hotdogs with chimichurri and smoky red relish

A hotdog is all about the condiments. Here, choose between a smoky red capsicum relish or the bright flavours of chimichurri, or go for a bit of both.

Hot Plates: Higher Ground, Melbourne

Higher Ground cafe in Melbourne's CBD

Higher Ground cafe in Melbourne's CBD

The line between café and restaurant is blurred at the CBD’s Higher Ground.

Involuntary, uncool gawking around is a given for first-timers at Higher Ground. With its 15-metre ceilings, bank of Playschool-on-steroids arched windows and 160-seat capacity over mezzanine and split levels, the former power station space is seriously, consciously impressive. Even more amazing is that the cavernous proportions feel intimate with noise levels hovering at a pleasant cathedral-like burble.

Initial positive feelings towards Higher Ground come in part from the flush of success at finally gaining access - there's often a person-with-a-clipboard-organised wait during the day ranging from 15 minutes on a Tuesday morning to nearly two hours at peak brunch on Sundays. But the good vibes are mostly down to being looked after by a team that seriously knows their café stuff.

This behemoth counts Kettle Black and Top Paddock as siblings and the family resemblance is marked. The coffee (from three machines, one cleverly stationed outside for takeaway customers and queuers) is solid with a menu that runs to filter, batch brew and several single origin options, complete with tasting notes. Service is calm, efficient and friendly, and the multiple seating options - communal tables, bar and lounge seating, banquette-like couches - all strike a distinct, clean-cut, Scandinavian-Japanese pose.

But the clearest similarity is with the café-meets-restaurant approach to the food. Clearly plated with Instagram in mind, it's good looking but it's good eating too. A lamb sausage roll arrives as a golden pastry-encircled slice of deliciously seasoned lamb mince sharing a plate with house-pickled cucumbers and aïoli flecked with tiny pieces of anchovy. Roasted and pickled mushrooms are dumped on soft, pale yellow polenta, and textured with hazelnut and sourdough crumbs. There's a delicate dish of cured kingfish served with seaweed and ponzu, a hefty bacon sandwich with brown sauce, and pretty sweet things that read like breakfast (ricotta hotcakes with maple syrup, seeds and grains, fruit and flowers) and look like dessert.

The something-for-everybody approach here is confident, measured and restrained so that it avoids looking overly eager or obsequious. It's a mature approach that bodes well for Higher Ground's longevity beyond the initial flush of being the latest greatest thing.

Higher Ground, open Mon-Wed 7am-4pm, Thu-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 8am-4pm, 650 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, (03) 8899 6219

highergroundmelbourne.com.au 

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2017 Restaurant Guide

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