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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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Pea and ham soup

Gateway Sydney: the new-look Circular Quay

Artist's impression of Gateway Sydney

Artist's impression of Gateway Sydney

Circular Quay's dining scene is about to be completely shaken up with a with a brand new food and retail precinct. Here's what to expect.

Seagulls and McDonald's fries. The Paragon. Pokémon GO. Circular Quay holds a special place in many Sydneysiders' hearts, but perhaps not for its sophistication or quality dining. This is set to change in September, when the first stage of a flash $60 million food and retail development is revealed.

The new precinct, named Gateway Sydney, spans three blocks from Alfred Street to Loftus Street and Reiby Place. Woods Bagot, the firm charged with the new design, is positive that Gateway Sydney will help to rejuvenate and redefine the Quay. "It's deepening the quality and complexity of the community there," says Domenic Alvaro, the firm's principal architect. "The idea is that it will become more of a destination."

The heart of the new precinct will be a three-level glass-fronted and sandstone-wrapped dining space housing a number of new eateries - with Neil Perry's fifth Burger Project, a Chat Thai, Adriano Zumbo and Gelato Messina among them. Popina, a 200-seat Mediterranean-leaning restaurant and rooftop cocktail bar, will also open on the top floor - a collaboration between the owners of Salt Meats Cheese and Shuk café in North Bondi. The materials chosen for the site are a nod to the maritime history of the area and The Rocks.

Neil Perry says the redevelopment is a no-brainer. "Circular Quay is such an integral part of Sydney. Thousands of people pass through every day, whether it's on their way to work, on their way home or to simply take in the surrounds of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge," he says. "Gateway will give people a good reason to stop and enjoy, rather than just pass through."

The project has been in development now for more than two years, and Woods Bagot has looked to Sydney suburbs such as Potts Point and Surry Hills for inspiration. "What we're trying to do is bring that level of sophistication and character to the Quay," says Alvaro. "It's not a mall, we're trying to avoid that and keep a boutique quality."

Gateway's various eateries will begin opening in September and continue into October and November. Across the harbour, Tramsheds Harold Park, at the heritage-listed Rozelle Tramshed Depot, is also slated to open in September with new ventures from Bodega, Tokyo Bird, Eugenio Maiale, Belles Hot Chicken and more.

Gateway Sydney, Alfred St, Circular Quay, NSW, gatewaysydney.com.au

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