Healthy Eating

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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.

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.

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.


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.

No 1 Bent Street, Sydney Review

Mike McEnearney and head chef Jeffrey De Rome

Mike McEnearney and head chef Jeffrey De Rome

With No 1 Bent Street, Mike McEnearney brings his grown-up, produce-driven food to the heart of the city, writes Pat Nourse.

Chicken is back. It never really left, of course, but thanks to the appearance of chicken skin on everything from sandwiches to congee as the go-to garnish of the moment, and a nationwide mania for fried chicken done in the styles of Seoul, Nashville and everywhere in between, the bird is no longer a byword for boring on menus. It stars in a fricassée at Hubert, swims in a classic (ish) cream sauce at Bar Brosé, and flies off the rôtisseries at Mercado and The Paddington by the flock.

And then there's the chicken vinaigrette at No 1 Bent Street. Mike McEnearney was known for his mastery of the wood-fired oven in his time at Kitchen by Mike in Rosebery. Now he's the proud owner of a larger, even better oven at his new CBD digs. Ironwood provides serious heat, roasting the birds golden.

McEnearney slices the breast, dresses it with roasting juices, then tosses the wing and leg with green beans, toasty hazelnuts, sweetly tender leek and chives in a tarragon-rich vinaigrette. It's a reason to visit in itself.

Roast chicken vinaigrette.

Picture something like a cross between St John in London and Ester in Chippendale and you've got a good idea of what the food at Bent Street is about. Produce most definitely comes first, but the plates are composed with an unfussy finesse that McEnearney, who held three stars for Rockpool when he was head chef in the late noughties, executes with unusual confidence.

The room is sparely decorated but has a similar sure-footed quality. Plenty of timber and texture, and the theatre of a kitchen pass arranged around an island bench before the roaring oven give the restaurant warmth, heading off the potential chilliness of a lot of concrete spread across a low, wide space almost entirely devoid of fabric and soft furnishings. The acoustics are brutal, and half the seating is elbow-nudgingly communal, so prepare to put your ear-trumpet to good use.

The fire in the open kitchen, the expanse of the room and the rough-hewn quality of the bigger tables conjure something of an air of feasting. It's an atmosphere simpático with McEnearney's preferred mode of eating. The food is cooked with care and expertise and plated with an eye for impact, but you never get the sense that anyone has spent too long teasing the micro-herbs with the tweezers, or carefullyturning all the nasturtium leaves upside down. It often comes out hot, too - much of it straight from the oven in cast-iron skillets - something of a luxury in these dégustation-blighted times.

The service is for the most part grown-up, too, with many a veteran hand on the floor (the lovely Colin Nelson, an alumnus of Est and Sailors Thai, among them). Sometimes grown-up can translate to dufferish - soup arriving without a spoon, for instance - and the restaurant's popularity can overwhelm any sense of organisation at times. But on a good day the floor staff gently work the theatre at the table in a way that fosters the sense of conviviality.

The chicken liver pâté is spooned tableside from under a butter crust from a large bowl and served with quatre-épices salt. It's a pâté - something you see less in Sydney today than the more butter-rich parfaits doing the rounds - so the liver itself is more to the fore, but it's still smooth and by no means inelegant, with a little bowl of watercress leaves served on the side to bring some freshness. Bread is offered in doorstop slabs for the diner to pluck from a banneton, while the whole flathead, done with pancetta and romesco sauce, is cooked on a curved, Spanish-style terracotta tile. These quiet flourishes and little bits of interaction make a pleasant break from the many-composed-plates-of-tiny-things school.

Twice-cooked goat's cheese soufflé.

The focus on the wood fire might suggest rusticity, but while Bent Street's offerings are certainly full of flavour, McEnearney has fine control over the effects on the plate. A whisper of rosemary through the batter tempers the farmhouse twang of his gooey twice-baked goat's cheese soufflé. The white beans and squid in a Spanish-inspired braise are tender, but not so acquiescent that they've surrendered all resistance to the tooth, making for an attractive textural contrast to the coarse slices of chorizo with which they're paired.

Tiny dice of baked apple and a suggestion of cinnamon provide a quietly interesting undertone in a creamy chestnut soup that's savoury with the taste of dried porcini, while chestnut leavens pork in the stuffing of a quarter of Savoy cabbage, seasoned lavishly with thyme.

At no stage do you get the impression that the food here is made with powders and goo: the flavour is built from the ground up with very good meats and fish, ripe grain and vegetables and fruits. Honesty could be said to be one of the guiding principles in the kitchen.

Lamb and pear? The shoulder comes out of the oven just giving enough. Taste it on its own, and it seems underseasoned; try it again with the tapenade and it swims into focus. But what of the small pear roasted with it, a corella one week, a bergamot the other? It's fine, and doesn't jangle, but nor does it seem to add much. "It's just lamb and pear," says a friend. "It's not one of those one-plus-one-equalsthree combinations."

But the pot pie is more than the sum of its parts.

A heavy iron skillet filled with a mixture of oxtail, beef cheek and a hunk of marrow bone in a lush gravy under a sweet suet crust, it's a welcome touch of Fergus Henderson's nose-to-tail thinking. Offal here is prepared in a way that makes it seductive rather than a dare - underscoring the pleasures that lay beyond the fillet.

If the tripe is offered as a special, make sure you order it. McEnearney tames - but doesn't denature - the flavour of the giving honeycomb ribbons with an intense tomato braise and a powerful hit of pecorino.

That soffritto, the gravy, the vinaigrette under the chicken, the cheese sauce on the soufflé, the dregs of the soup, even the lamb and pear sauce, all these things call for something to mop them up. Good thing, then, that the loaves at Bent Street are quite possibly the best bread baked in a restaurant in Sydney. McEnearney is no stranger to the alchemy of the oven, honing his baking working at Iggy's, and his wood-fired sourdough has a paradoxical lightness, heft and chew that make it an essential order. Pepe Saya salted butter on the side is a welcome touch.

House-baked wood-fired bread.

Speaking of welcome touches, the concise wine list offers classic pleasures, such as good Chablis by the glass, alongside some walks on the wilder side with leading local natural producers, including an interesting sauvignon blanc-driven organic house white blend from Mudgee winemaker (and longtime McEnearney collaborator) David Lowe. The advice on the wine from the floor, however, isn't quite as tight and lucid as the list itself.

Dessert is a highlight, for the most part putting good fruit front and centre. Rice pudding dolloped with jam: yes. Wood-fired quince with a saffron-gilded custard and joyfully thick pistachio brittle: absolutely.

Rum baba with clotted cream and last summer's cherries preserved in booze: truly, madly, deeply. But the pick of them is the impeccable apple tarte fine. Its mere presence (along with the bold colours of the superb tea-towel napkins) will bring back happy memories for anyone lucky enough to have scored seats to the guerrilla feasts McEnearney staged under the Mike's Table banner at French antiques store Ici et La in Surry Hills back in 2010 and 2011. Scallops of apple glistening under a syrup glaze on buttery puff, crowned with a vanillaspeckled ball of ice-cream: no sprinkles, no herbs, no "crumb", no quenelles, no smears? No competition.

Apple tarte fine with vanilla ice-cream.

Bent Street pulls focus on shared plates, genuinely seasonal, ingredient-driven wood-fired cooking, and wines made by farms rather than factories. Ideas that are of the moment, but that are also just common sense. Throw in such niceties as outstanding bread and butter, and do customers the courtesy of offering them the opportunity to reserve tables in advance, and it starts to look a lot like a place where the comfort and pleasure of the diner comes first, the whim of the chef second. The street may be bent, but the arrival of Mike McEnearney in the CBD is a straight-up win for lovers of honest, full-flavoured dining.

No 1 Bent Street

1-7 Bent St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9252 5550,


Open Lunch 11.30am-3pm Mon-Fri, dinner 5.30pm- 11pm Mon-Sat


Prices Entrées $12-$21, main courses $21-$39, desserts $14-$17

Vegetarian Two entrées, three main courses

Noise Noisy

Wheelchair access Yes

Minus The noise

Plus The integrity (and the bread)

No 1 Bent Street

1-7 Bent St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9252 5550,


Open Lunch 11.30am-3pm Mon-Fri, dinner 5.30pm- 11pm Mon-Sat


Prices Entrées $12-$21, main courses $21-$39, desserts $14-$17

Vegetarian Two entrées, three main courses

Noise Noisy

Wheelchair access Yes

Minus The noise

Plus The integrity (and the bread)

Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

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Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

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2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

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