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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

O Tama Carey's fried eggs with seeni sambol, coconut and turmeric

"I first cooked a version of this dish - inspired by the excellent deep-fried egg dish at Billy Kwong - while working at a restaurant in Sri Lanka," says O Tama Carey. "The lattice-like eggs are doused in a creamy turmeric curry sauce and topped with seeni sambol, a sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish. This dish is equally perfect for an indulgent breakfast as it is served as part of a larger meal." The recipe for the seeni sambol makes more than you need, but to get the right balance of spices you need to make at least this much. It keeps refrigerated for up to three weeks; use as an onion relish. The curry sauce can be made a day or two ahead.

Neil Perry pulls out of haute cuisine; Eleven Bridge to close

Eleven Bridge's partridge topped with a dashi broth

Eleven Bridge's partridge topped with a dashi broth

Eleven Bridge, Neil Perry's fine-diner in the Sydney CBD, will carve its last partridge on May 13. The restaurant wasn't part of the merger Perry made with the Urban Purveyor Group last year, which involved his Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta and Spice Temple eateries, but when Eleven Bridge reopens in June as a high-end Chinese restaurant, it will be as part of the newly formed Rockpool Dining Group. Chef Phil Wood, meanwhile, plans to leave the company.

It's the latest chapter in what has been one of the more tumultuous stories in Australian restaurants. Despite positive reviews, Eleven Bridge has lasted less than 12 months, and was itself a retooling of the original Rockpool flagship after Perry relocated the restaurant to Bridge Street in 2013 from its original site at The Rocks where - stay with us - it had also briefly been rebranded as Rockpool (Fish) in 2007 after it had been eclipsed by the runaway success of its sister restaurant, Rockpool Bar & Grill. 

Wood says he's "excited, nervous and a bit sad all at once" about the decision, but says that he leaves the Eleven Bridge counting Perry as a friend, and is and proud of their achievements. "I couldn't be happier with what I've done over the last eight years, but now it's time to look at the eight years to come." He says work overseas is a possibility, but for the moment he's keeping his options open.

Phil Wood (left) and Neil Perry at Eleven Bridge.

By Perry's admission, Eleven Bridge was a passion project and struggled to make money. When he and his new partners were scouting sites for a new Cantonese restaurant, the Bridge Street premises, he says, seemed a natural choice.

The as-yet unnamed project will open following a $500,000 refurbishment, with Eleven Bridge sous chef Peter Robertson heading the kitchen. Perry, whose Spice Temple brand specialises in the schools of Chinese cooking beyond Cantonese, says he's keen to immerse himself afresh in one of his favourite cuisines. He also brushes off questions about the wisdom of opening a high-end Cantonese restaurant on the same block as Mr Wong, Sydney's most successful high-end Cantonese restaurant. 

"You wouldn't think twice about it in Chinatown," he says. "I think Sydney probably has room for four or five more great high-end Chinese restaurants anyway."

He's also surprisingly stoic about leaving haute cuisine, even as he acknowledges a "massive end to an era, after 28 years". Plans are afoot for Phil Wood's send-off. In the meantime, the restaurant will serve a greatest hits menu in the lead-up to its closure. And what of the signature chicken wings with kombu butter? "I'm sure they'll follow Phil wherever he chooses to go," says Perry. "We'll have wings here, though they're probably going to be spicier."

Eleven Bridge, 11 Bridge St, Sydney, NSW (02) 9252 1888, rockpool.com

 

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