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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.

Hot Plates: Hello Please, South Brisbane

Crisp Pork Belly Bao with Peanut Hoisin, Coriander and Cucumber

Crisp Pork Belly Bao with Peanut Hoisin, Coriander and Cucumber

It doesn't get much more casual than Vietnamese snacks eaten in the open air. Or, to be specific in this case, eaten in a laneway behind a repurposed shipping container in what used to be a car park. Even the gritty overhead train line off to one side somehow feels right. But ambience aside, it's the extras you don't encounter in every street-side joint that will encourage diners to say "xin chao" here more than once.

Seasoned staff ferry dishes promptly to communal picnic tables. There's drinks-of-the-day - a mandarin and Aperol-laced gin concoction say, or a lychee orange-blossom "Martini" - and decent glassware to hold them. Co-owner Maris Cook has put time in at Melbourne's Gingerboy and MoVida, and is a former manager at Woolloongabba favourite Pearl. Colleague Dan Ward is behind Ascot's The Stables Craft Bar & Kitchen. Their care for detail is evident across the board. 

Hello Please exterior.

House-made sodas, bottles of 333 and cans of Bia Hanoi feature in tight drinks list, together with a couple of sparkling options - Cava Mas and Champagne Choisel, plus a handful of mostly Australian white and red offerings. The remaining choices on your placemat menu are equally succinct. You'll need to arrive at lunchtime for banh mi; together with a bowl of pho it's a combo worth leaving the office for. Rice noodles, bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint, coriander and slices of poached chicken float in the golden, aromatic chicken broth. Chicken appears again in the banh mi, with a robust chicken pâté, pickled cucumber, grated carrot and coriander. 

As the overhead festoon lighting sparks up, the focus switches to bar snacks - steamed bao and dumplings, salads, spring rolls and crisp chicken ribs. Hello? Please. 

Hello Please, Fish La, South Brisbane, Qld, helloplease.co; open Tues-Sun, midday − late.


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