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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. 


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.

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.

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.

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.

Advance Australia fare

First, we take Manhattan… Aussie-themed restaurants are bringing some Down Under flavour to New York.

At The Australian, a raffish bar and restaurant in New York that evokes suburban Rozelle, a table of bewildered patrons is raising a hue and cry about the dinner menu. "Are you serious?" announces one defiantly. "They eat kangaroo?" The group's unfamiliarity with elements of modern Australian cuisine could be forgiven. Only recently has 'Australian' entered the local vernacular as a bona fide culinary genre, wedged between Asian and Austrian in restaurant listings. Questions about the merits of marsupial are to be expected. "A lot of people say they don't want to eat the cute little kangaroo," quips The Australian's owner Matt Astill. Until, that is, Astill explains how lean the meat is. Then they hop to it.

Did someone sprinkle a handful of wattle seeds over New York? How else to account for the proliferation of antipodean eateries of late. The Australian is the most patriotic, rearing up in midtown Manhattan last September like an old-school pub with a slightly kitsch sensibility. The walls are lined with vintage brewery posters, the Victorian-style bar serves Blue Tongue and Barons Black Wattle, and the menu is punctuated with such gastro oddities as damper loaf, roo satay sticks and Tim Tam tiramisù. "I wanted it to be unapologetically Australian," says Astill, a former Sea Eagles front-rower who crash-tackled the glut of Irish bars in his neighbourhood. "Everyone loves it," he adds. The dining room, at the rear of the long, narrow space, has seating enough for 120, which they're filling several nights a week.

The Sunburnt Cow in the East Village doesn't have any trouble enticing revellers, either. On a recent Friday night, it took barely two rounds of cocktails with names like Whinging Pom and Fremantle Doctor for the venue to spring to life. A DJ spins dance tunes (no Men at Work here), the ambience is boisterous, and the service, from chatty Aussie waiters, reliably genial. "We're often said to be the friendliest place in town," says Sydney-born owner Heathe St Clair. There are an estimated 13,000 expat Australians in New York - a captive audience if you dangle a Tim Tam in front of them - but the only Aussie accents I hear at the Cow stem from our table. The boîte opened in 2003 and, while it serves respectable renditions of prawn cocktail and chicken schnitzel, I prefer Bondi Road, St Clair's second venture, which emerged last year.

Located on the Lower East Side, Bondi Road seeks to replicate the archetypal fish and chipperies of Sydney's beaches - they even do potato scallops. "Bondi Road gets more Aussies than the Cow," confirms St Clair, so I'm not alone in my partiality. A photomontage of the famous beach decorates the walls, and patrons sit at high tables and chairs. The set-up is as uncomplicated as the décor. You're handed a paper menu and a pencil and asked to nominate your preferred fish (they typically have barramundi, John Dory, Tasmanian ocean trout and gold band snapper) and cooking method (breaded, grilled or fried) as well as a side. That all this costs just $15 has much to do with its appeal. "It's great value," says St Clair who, even after 15 years in the US, signs off exchanges with "Good on ya, mate".

Speaking of mateship, a tangible camaraderie exists between the proprietors of New York's Aussie restaurants. Each has his own interpretation of native nosh, and they all happily coexist. At Ruby's in Nolita, burgers and coffee get all the raves. In fact, Ruby's has the best flat white in town, not least because you can order one without having to explain what it is. At Tuck Shop in the East Village, it's about pies, lamingtons and Coopers Ale. At Eight Mile Creek in Nolita, the more rarefied dishes include emu carpaccio and pink peppercorn pavlova. Brothers Will and Frank Ford opened their pioneering restaurant in 1999, a time when Crocodile Dundee still lingered strongly in the American psyche. Since then our intrepid expats have experimented with all manner of hoary and new recipes, simple and sophisticated approaches, sourcing Australian ingredients such as lemon myrtle, barra and lamb. "American lamb just doesn't have the same flavour," says Sheep Station's Jason Crew, a longtime friend to the Fords.

Are meat pies replacing cupcakes as New York's portable snack du jour? Not yet, but their numbers are flourishing enough to one day pose a threat to that insidious little sugar bomb. Commercial baker Down Under Bakery Pies opened a storefront in the Brooklyn 'burb of Carroll Gardens, while the menu at The Pie Shop in Brooklyn's Prospect Park reminds people that the iconic treats are "designed to be eaten from your hand like a sandwich". Patrons sidling up to the retro counter at Tuck Shop choose between the traditional and more esoteric versions, including Thai green chicken curry and tiger prawn. Coming soon: a pie filled with buffalo chicken wings and blue cheese. "I wouldn't have thought of that in Australia," says the waggish Melbourne-born baker Lincoln Davies, who averages some 1500 pies per week at the downtown branch alone; he has a midtown satellite, too.

Emboldened by their success at Ruby's, Nick Mathers, Lincoln Pilcher and Nick Hatsatouris revved their entrepreneurial engines with Kingswood, unveiled last year in the West Village. Despite its larrikin name, Kingswood doesn't pitch itself as an Australian restaurant. The chef, Ben Towill, is British ("I've never even been to Australia," he protests) and the exceptional menu is a melting pot of ethnic styles from seaweed salad to crab linguine and Goan fish curry. But, to my mind at least, this is precisely what makes Kingswood the most authentic Australian restaurant in New York. With its laid-back vibe, its Asian-French-Italian-inflected fare, and its wine list heavy on Down Under drops, Kingswood approximates classic restaurants such as Sydney's Bistro Moncur. "Our atmosphere is very Australian in that we're casual but the food is very polished," says Mathers, who also cites the Grand National and Centennial as influences.

Sniffing out a homegrown hotspot, expats are pouring through the glass doors at Kingswood ("Aussies make up maybe 30 per cent of our clients," says Mathers), and this passel of nostalgic possums will only increase in March when the boys open a subterranean bar. Designed in collaboration with the Ksubi duo, the lounge is equipped with black mosaic tiles, enormous glass cabinets and resident mixologists serving fashionable libations. At the other end of the spectrum, and the outer boroughs of New York, is Sheep Station in Brooklyn's Park Slope. It qualifies as the Cheers of expat bars for the core of wistful regulars who frequent the place. "I like the idea of providing a respite for Aussies who just want to come and hang out," says Jason Crew. "New York can be a tough city." Though the bar is rendered in corrugated metal, recycled wood and pressed tin, it still manages to resonate with a cosy vibe.
Sheep Station has generated column inches for its burger with the lot - fried egg, roasted beetroot and pineapple, natch - with some reviewers expressing bafflement with the idiosyncratic creation: the New York Times described it as "a hamburger in drag". But Crew rushes to the defence of his Priscilla burger. "I tell people to give it a try and take out what they don't want," says the personable Brisbane native. "Once they try it, they love it." Aussie burgers are also on the menu at Wombat, a Williamsburg diner launched recently by two American chefs. Asked what prompted them to open an Australian-themed restaurant, Craig Allen-Bailey says, "It's something different". For a fledgling cuisine in the Big Apple, imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

The fine print

Bondi Road 153 Rivington St, +1 212 253 5311,

Down Under Bakery Pies 193 Columbia St and 211 Prospect Park West, +1 646 202 9412,

Eight Mile Creek 240 Mulberry St, +1 212 431 4635,

Kingswood 121 West 10th St, +1 212 645 0018.

Ruby's 219 Mulberry St, +1 212 925 5755.

Sheep Station 149 4th Ave, Brooklyn, +1 718 857 4337,

The Australian 20 West 38th St, +1 212 869 8601.

The Sunburnt Cow 137 Ave C, +1 212 529 0005,

Tuck Shop 68 East 1st St, +1 212 979 5200,

Wombat 613 Grand St, Brooklyn, +1 718 218 7077,

The fine print

Bondi Road 153 Rivington St, +1 212 253 5311,

Down Under Bakery Pies 193 Columbia St and 211 Prospect Park West, +1 646 202 9412,

Eight Mile Creek 240 Mulberry St, +1 212 431 4635,

Kingswood 121 West 10th St, +1 212 645 0018.

Ruby's 219 Mulberry St, +1 212 925 5755.

Sheep Station 149 4th Ave, Brooklyn, +1 718 857 4337,

The Australian 20 West 38th St, +1 212 869 8601.

The Sunburnt Cow 137 Ave C, +1 212 529 0005,

Tuck Shop 68 East 1st St, +1 212 979 5200,

Wombat 613 Grand St, Brooklyn, +1 718 218 7077,

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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