Want a snapshot of the movers and shakers in the Australian food scene? Look no further than the nominees for this year’s GT Restaurant Awards.
Jul 15, 2010 1:18am
Want a snapshot of the movers and shakers in the Australian food scene? Look no further than the nominees for this year's GT Restaurant Awards.
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Helvetica, Perth, WABAR OF THE YEAR The Crosstown Eating House, Brisbane, Qld The Crosstown is tough to pigeonhole. The owners call it a boutique gastropub but the name itself directs focus back on to what’s at the end of your fork. This much is clear – owners Matt and Benn Christensen and Matthew Howland have blended all that’s good about going out to refuel and relax into something simply cool and different.
Eau de Vie, Sydney, NSW Is Eau de Vie a bar, or is it a perfect storm of bartending talent? It’s a place where the conversation is as good as the drinks, and the drinks are as good as it gets.
Helvetica, Perth, WA (pictured) Squirrelled away in a microscopic back-alley behind a street-smart graffiti facade, Helvetica could so easily fall victim to its own coolness. But the eclectic crowd puts paid to any notions of elitism, just as the personable service and the whisky list, probably Australia’s biggest, bring the assurance of substance.
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Manly Pavilion, Sydney, NSWWINE LIST OF THE YEAR NOMINEES Aria, Brisbane, Qld The fantastic list at Aria Sydney is a past winner of this award, and while the new Brisbane list shares many of its attributes, it’s very much its own creature, especially in its excitingly serious spotlight on Queensland’s best wines – something seldom seen, even in other top Brisbane restaurants.
1889 Enoteca, Brisbane, Qld A textbook demonstration of a beautifully laid-out and mouth-watering wine list which is totally appropriate to the establishment. There are lots of lovely bottles from Australia and around the world, but the focus is Italy, both well-known names and fabulous obscurities.
Manly Pavilion, Sydney, NSW This ticks all the boxes of the modern restaurant wine zeitgeist: grower Champagnes; natural wines; fascinating and obscure apéritifs; a diverse selection of wines by the glass and carafe; some exceptional well-cellared bottles – all wrapped up in a bundle of flair and personality.
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Maze, Melbourne, VicNEW RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR NOMINEE Gordon Ramsay’s first Australian outpost is a surprisingly generous, low-key, ego-free kind of place, and between crack personnel such as chef Josh Emett and sommelier Lincoln Riley, it has already earned a reputation for pleasing rather than preening.
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REGIONAL RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR Appellation, Barossa Valley, SA Renovations during the past year have provided Appellation with more dining space, a cellaring area and a patio overlooking vineyards – and the addition of a large kitchen garden tended by executive chef Mark McNamara, who picks supplies from about 20 crops to inspire a menu that celebrates regional freshness.
Loam, Drysdale, Vic In a modest building on an olive grove in the back blocks of the Bellarine Peninsula, Aaron Turner and his wife Astrid have created a restaurant that’s generated more buzz than most in Victoria this year. Local ingredients drive the menu and there’s a calm efficiency to the service style that’s as appealing as the wonderful view.
Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, Vic Executive chef Dan Hunter honours the commitment diners make when they embark on the lengthy trek to Dunkeld by rewarding weary travellers with a dining experience that often borders on the ethereal
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Aaron Turner, Loam, Drysdale, VicBEST NEW TALENT NOMINEE Aaron Turner, Loam, Drysdale, Vic We’ve been hearing good things about Aaron Turner for some time now. Mostly they’ve been about clever, interesting food that’s both experimental and nourishing, but they’re also about the excitement over what’s to come from a new talent now really hitting his stride.
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Shaun Quade, Urbane, Brisbane, QldBEST NEW TALENT NOMINEES Shaun Quade, Urbane, Brisbane, Qld (pictured) At Urbane, Shaun Quade’s sometimes mind-boggling confections combine a rare lightness of touch with a dash of whimsy and a definite tendency towards the theatrical. Favouring natural forms, his fabrications are playful and intelligent as well as flavourful.
Matt Stone, Greenhouse, Perth, WA You don’t have to look far past the tattoos and piercing to see that Matt Stone is no culinary Boy Wonder trying to prove himself with smoke and mirrors, but rather a supremely confident young chef trying to remind Perth of the simple joys of sublime ingredients treated with respect and a careful hand.
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Stephen Tso, Me Wah, Hobart, TasMAITRE D’ OF THE YEAR NOMINEES Adam Cash, Cutler & Co, Melbourne, Vic “Informed but informal” is a style Adam Cash has been honing over the years as both a waiter and a manager in places such as Vue de Monde, Ezard, and Three, One, Two. It’s a great balance, one that lets his customers relax, confident that he’ll be there when they need him.
Peter Sullivan, Aria, Sydney, NSW; Aria, Brisbane, Qld Chef Matt Moran might be the most visible face of Aria, but it’s the deeply affable Peter Sullivan, Moran’s front-of-house collaborator since the pair’s days at The Paddington Inn Bistro nearly 20 years ago, who has been responsible for possibly its greatest asset: service.
Stephen Tso, Me Wah, Hobart, Tas It helps, of course, that Stephen Tso can read minds, but his earthly gifts – his eagerness to please, his impressive wine knowledge and the fact that he can silver-serve with his eyes closed – also contribute in no small part to his richly deserved reputation.
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Lincoln Riley, Maze, Melbourne, VicSOMMELIER OF THE YEAR NOMINEE Lincoln Riley, Maze, Melbourne, Vic Lincoln Riley’s secret might just be his innate knack for quickly gauging just how much (or little) you know about wine and keeping the conversation at that level, gently guiding you into untried territory without making any of it feel like a sales pitch. Add his carefully constructed list which includes strong half-bottle and by-the-glass offerings (well suited to the structure of Maze’s menu) and you get the altogether comforting feeling of being in very safe hands.
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Michael Fullgrabe, The Wine Underground, Adelaide, SASOMMELIER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES Michael Fullgrabe, The Wine Underground, Adelaide, SA Working across The Wine Underground’s restaurant, bar and wine shop, Michael Fullgrabe (pictured) has made the most of his contacts with boutique South Australian producers, ensuring a diverse range and museum stock on the restaurant list, by the glass and at tastings hosted by hip winemakers, restoring Underground’s status as a wine industry clubhouse.
Franck Moreau, Est., Sydney, NSW Though his laser-like palate and encyclopedic knowledge of wine are put to good and thorough use as head sommelier for the Merivale restaurant group, it’s seeing Franck Moreau on the floor at Est. that makes it clear that this Burgundy-born individual really does have wine in his veins. It’s tempting to describe Moreau’s manner as almost giddily enthusiastic, but he’s just far too lucid and down-to-earth in communicating his interest for it to be truly apt.
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Ortiga, Brisbane, QldNEW RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR NOMINEE Ortiga, Brisbane, Qld Simon Hill has done it again. This time around, the restaurateur’s gift to Brisbane is an Iberian-influenced, casually glam temple of cool with a smart menu from chef Pablo Tordesillas and a wine list to match.
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Manly Pavilion, Sydney, NSWNEW RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR NOMINEE Manly Pavilion, Sydney, NSW Waterside digs were a good start, and the wine list is almost worth a visit in itself, but putting whip-smart chef Jonathan Barthelmess in charge of the contemporary Italian kitchen was the masterstroke, and has given Manly a restaurant to be reckoned with.