Restaurant Awards

The winners of the Gourmet Traveller 2022 Restaurant Awards, revealed

The places and faces to have on your radar...
Loading the player...

“It may seem a little odd to be celebrating the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards at a time when parts of the industry are just beginning to reopen. Sydney is just entering its third week of lifted restrictions; Melbourne, meanwhile, has only just emerged from its sixth lockdown, and a cumulative 262 days of restrictions.

“So what better time, in fact, to celebrate the joy of dining out and all those who make it so special. One of the most exciting things about this year’s awards and guide is how many new restaurants feature. Places that have not only managed to navigate the new and ever-changing landscape – but delivered exciting and exceptional experiences in the process. Without question, the past 18 months have challenged and changed the industry – but they have also sparked new depths of creativity and resilience. And that is most definitely worth celebrating.

“And now, the winners of the Gourmet Traveller 2022 Restaurant Awards, presented by Levantine Hill.”

— GT editor Joanna Hunkin

Words: Fiona Donnelly, Michael Harden, Joanna Hunkin, Tory Shepherd & Karlie Verkerk.

Want to read all about the GT Restaurant Award winners in print? Find it in our November issue, on sale now. Better yet, become a subscriber and receive a bonus copy of Stephanie Alexander’s latest cookbook, Home.


This year, we singled out a winner from each state, which went on to become a finalist for our national Restaurant of the Year award.


PILOT, Canberra




ELSKA, Brisbane




FICO, Hobart




MILLBROOK, Jarrahdale

And the winner is….



Red Hill, Vic

Presented by Levantine Hill

Tedesca Osteria seemed to land on the Mornington Peninsula fully formed. From the day it swung open its impressive hand-tooled timber front door and fired up its sprawling bespoke hearth, the relaxed simplicity of the restaurant was so assured it was easy to forget this was a brand-new restaurant. It also masked the fact that Tedesca is doing something quietly radical: reimagining what a restaurant can be.

Chef and owner Brigitte Hafner has been shaping Tedesca in her head for years, driven by frustration at the limits placed on her in the tight confines of her former business, Gertrude Street Enoteca and by the idea that the existing punishing-hours restaurant model was no longer working for her.

“Tedesca sprung from something I’d been thinking about for a long time,” says Hafner. “It grew in my heart, from my thoughts, from conversations and how I like to cook. It is a deeply personal expression of what I perceive hospitality to be. I wanted it to be a response to nature, a farm restaurant surrounded by garden and art and wine, a place that’s beautiful to be in with a team that operates like family.”

Tedesca takes the traditional Italian osteria formula of five or so loosely prescribed courses made with local and seasonal ingredients and then attaches a looser new-world filter so it’s less about cuisine and more about ingredients. What it also adds is a sense of pace.

The restaurant only opens for one night and several lunches a week. With just one seating per service, a meal here stretches for hours and can include a stroll around the garden, a visit to the wine cellar or a chat with Hafner who works at a blackened timber bench in front of the gigantic hearth that’s in the dining room. The pitch-perfect, well-spaced design of the room (by Hafner’s architect husband Patrick Ness) adds to the calm and the charm, as does the service and the finely crafted wine list from James Broadway.

Tedesca Osteria is obviously a restaurant but it offers something more, and less. It’s sophisticated and elegant but also operates in a way that’s both humble and intensely personal. It could be a template for the shape of things to come.

Tedesca Osteria chef and owner Brigitte Hafner.

(Photo: Parker Blain)



Sixpenny, Sydney, NSW

Presented by PorkStar

Humble. Quietly confident. Fiercely independent. These are the words that surfaced time and time again when we asked chefs to describe Daniel Puskas, chef and owner of Sydney’s Sixpenny and the recipient of this year’s peer-voted Chef of the Year award.

Puskas, who has been working in the industry for more than 20 years and perfecting his craft at the lauded inner-west fine-diner for nearly 10, is not one to steal the limelight. Instead, he is the first to admit that it takes a village to run a restaurant – or in the time of coronavirus, a bakery. It’s this modest disposition, combined with sheer talent and determination, that truly sets Puskas apart.

“Dan is a talented young chef who knows what he wants and really strives to push the envelope of cuisine into the future,” says Peter Gilmore, executive chef at Quay.

“He [Dan] is not brash or braggy or cocky in any way,” adds James MacDonald, executive chef at Odd Culture Group (The Old Fitzroy Hotel, The Duke of Enmore). “He just quietly goes about his business and does what he wants to do but in a confident way.”

Sixpenny has not only been dishing up some of Sydney’s finest dining for the best part of a decade, but in more recent times pivoted to a successful bakery model that attracted long lines each weekend during lockdown. Puskas has tackled the challenges of the past 18 months with vigour and creativity, and has in turn helped pave the way for others.

“When we first went into lockdown last year Dan was so focused on keeping all of his staff employed so he switched to operating as a bakery almost instantly,” says Jason White, head chef at Firedoor. “It was really inspiring for others in the industry.”

Most impressive, though, is that Puskas is a strong believer in work-life balance. Something the industry has ignored for far too long.

“Although Sixpenny is at the top end of the scale, Dan is not somebody who demands that staff give over their entire lives to the restaurant,” says MacDonald. “The chefs who come out of Sixpenny all have nothing but nice things to say about the culture and vibe he’s created in the kitchen. He allows young chefs to really grow and learn from him.”

Puskas has created a recipe for success even in the most fickle of times. He strikes the perfect balance between mentor and leader, all while duly crediting the people who surround him. And, like fine dining itself, it’s those considered details that make all the difference.

Daniel Puskas, chef-owner of Sydney’s Sixpenny, and Gourmet Traveller‘s 2022 Chef of the Year.



Melbourne, Vic

Presented by Sub-Zero Wolf

Andrew McConnell’s newest restaurant is a departure of sorts. The other diners in his Trader House group (Cumulus Inc,

Cutler & Co, Marion, Supernormal etc) have featured a deliberate edginess in both design and food that has led in-the-know diners to perfectly understand the meaning of “an Andrew McConnell restaurant”. With Gimlet he’s flipped the narrative and turned to the familiar.

It could well be a case of function following form. A sensational renovation has made the gorgeous corner space in the 1920s-era Cavendish House building in Melbourne’s CBD seem ready-made for a take on the big city restaurant in the mode of

The Wolseley or Balthazar. Taking those places as reference rather than model, Gimlet’s central bar, tiered seating, open kitchen, horseshoe booths and uniformed waiters slinging cocktails, caviar, strip steak and French fries bring a timeless quality and classic atmosphere that gives Gimlet the swagger and confidence of a veteran.

“The room is really special,” says McConnell. “There’s a sense of theatre and drama to it that’s fun and not too serious and I’ve noticed that the energy in the room builds as the night goes on. It comes from the customers, especially after a few cocktails, but it also comes from the staff. They love working in the space because it flows beautifully and the lighting makes everyone look glamorous.”

The packed houses (or the pandemic version of packed) that have been the norm since Gimlet opened seem to attest to the room’s pull. But Gimlet is the sum of many parts and the decision to model it as a cocktail bar adds flexibility to the equation so that cocktails and oysters are as legitimate an option as full feasting on a shareable serving of wood-grilled scampi and clams on saffron rice or an 800gm dry-aged T-bone. The enormously popular weekend late opening hours and supper menu also enhance its flexible bar credentials. Gimlet is new but it has an old soul. It’s a new classic.

The luxe dining room at Gimlet, GT‘s Best New Restaurant for 2022.

(Photo: Sharyn Cairns)

Seeking Gourmet Traveller‘s Top 80 Restaurants of Australia for 2022?



Chae, Melbourne, Vic

Presented by Longines

A six-seat restaurant with a waiting list of 8000 is a clear sign of doing something right. A supply and demand issue might also be involved but anyone who’s eaten Jung Eun Chae’s food, prepared and served in an inner-Melbourne apartment, will understand that it’s worth the wait and the hype. The flavours of her cooking, so different to the more familiar Korean dishes in Melbourne, are reason in themselves to score a booking. But Chae also gifts us something extra: an exciting reminder that with many cuisines in Australia, we’ve only just scratched the surface.

Chae’s cooking is heavily influenced by her mother who’s from South Jeolla province in South Korea. It’s a region renowned for seafood, salt and fermentation and the dishes Chae is serving – heavily reliant on traditional Korean ways of fermenting and preserving condiments – echo the ‘making from scratch’ ethos she learned from her mum. The tofu, gochujang, doenjang and kimchi? All handmade by Chae. And the best is still to come.

The restaurant is temporarily closed ahead of a move from her Brunswick apartment to a house in Cockatoo in the Eastern Dandenong Ranges. The bigger space will not only increase Chae’s ability to ferment and preserve (including using the traditional onggi earthenware, which have mostly been out of the question because of space considerations) but will also mean she will be able conduct workshops in Korean preserving and fermenting at the house.

One aspect that won’t change is the six-seat limit. “People always ask me to increase the number of people but I always say no because I don’t want to compromise,” Chae says. “I like to focus on the cooking and offer a small group of people a quality dining service. My dream is what I am doing now – serving traditional Korean food to a small number of people and enjoying myself doing it. I want to do this as long as I am physically able – it’s a lifetime journey.”

It’s a dream to eat at Chae, too. Cockatoo is about to become Melbourne’s latest culinary pilgrimage.

Jung Eun Chae, winner of GT‘s Best New Talent.

(Photo: Parker Blain)



Fino Vino, Adelaide and Fino Seppeltsfield, Seppeltsfield, SA

When the going gets tough, Sharon Romeo gets going. The co-owner of South Australia’s Fino Seppeltsfield and Fino Vino is a whirlwind of energy at the best of times. But the past 18 months have only dialled up that legendary vip and vim, as Romeo has worked the floor to keep her busy winery restaurant humming at the same time as trying to bed-in a new CBD venue.

Fino Seppeltsfield is both well established and well loved. But the city iteration, Fino Vino, opened just before Christmas in 2019 – the holiday season, when things are typically a little quiet in the city. Festival season kicked off in February, a period when everyone is out, but mostly at Adelaide Fringe venues. These are expected lulls. Just when things should have been ramping up, bushfires struck South Australia, causing chaos with supply chains and diminishing crowds – it didn’t feel like a time to celebrate. Then the pandemic arrived, forcing Romeo to close both venues.

“It’s heartbreaking when you don’t know when the light at the end of the tunnel is going to shine,” she says. But Romeo has deep reserves, fuelled by her love of hospitality, her passion for people, and her generous Italian spirit. “Head down, bum up,” she says, adding that she owed it to her staff to stay strong – despite her own struggles. “You can hide in the kitchen, but the front of house have to put on a brave face and pretend it’s all okay… I felt so much support. It was so beautiful, and that kept me going because I’m here for the customers, I love what I do, I’ve always loved it. Like my mum, it’s in my blood. Welcoming people and looking after them. It’s very satisfying.”

That satisfaction is more than mutual, as anyone who has experienced Romeo’s highly enthused, no-nonsense service will attest. She may love to play host but she is not one to pander. From her classic-leaning wine list to her quick-witted banter, Romeo does things on her terms.

And with joyful, bustling dining rooms day-in and day-out, they are terms her customers are happy to accept.

Sharon Romeo, GT‘s Restaurant Personality of the Year.

(Photo: Julian Cebo)



Oaks Beach, Qld

Balmy tropical breezes, appetising wafts of wood-smoke, and restful green-on-green views into a lush jungle of exotic, edible plants.

The best destination dining is nothing if not transportive – and taking a seat for the intimate, laid-back chef’s table at Oaks Kitchen and Garden will lift you as far from the high-street experience as it’s possible to be raised (that’s if you can still move when you’re feeling this de-stressed).

But first, you have to get here. You’ll find Oaks Kitchen and Garden in the Far North Queensland coastal hamlet of Oak Beach. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stopover on the sweeping Great Barrier Reef Drive, 15 minutes drive from the marina town of Port Douglas.

Bookended by Coral Sea and Wet Tropics Rainforest, it’s the kind of idyll urban dwellers daydream about, particularly after hellish years like this one. Oaks founders, chef Ben Wallace (ex-Longrain, Melbourne) and wife Rachael Boon, a former front-of-house talent at Lee Ho Fook, fled the city early, back in 2017.

Initially, they imagined the sojourn would provide a breathing space. But bringing an overgrown hectare back to life acted as a catalyst for a new direction. Boon now spends her days making art, welcoming diners, and wrangling wandering chooks while tending to a permaculture garden. Wallace dreams up and delivers seven- to eight-course Thai-inspired dégustations, dished in a tin-roofed, open-air kitchen. Earlier this year the pair were joined by sous-chef Keelan Gallogly, a Rockpool alumnus and fellow Melbourne escapee.

Oak’s long lunches start with a stroll around Boon’s plot, a sprawl of companion-planted nourishment – plants ranging from scud chillies and Thai eggplants to tamarind trees, pandan leaves and well beyond.

“If it’s tropical or native and grows in the area then it makes sense to use it,” Wallace explains. “We’re gradually using more and more native ingredients – but just the bits that make sense and work with Asian food.”

Wattle seeds, for example, might be toasted and turned into a nutty crumb for a pandan-infused parfait, or sprinkled on papaya salad in place of roasted rice. Local green ants add a citric note to paperbark-wrapped fish, while pumpkin and wombok sit above the grill until they’re dark and smoky, ready to be slathered with curry sauce. Almost everything is cooked over fire, fuelled with local timbers – like black wattle and stringy bark.

As Australians rediscover the tropics, this unique experience offers the perfect opportunity to taste the region anew. It’s destination dining at its most relaxed and vibrant.

The open-air kitchen and dining area at Oaks Kitchen and Garden’s, the winner of GT‘s Best Destination Dining award.




Sydney, NSW

Presented by Waterford

The kids call it a glow up; the process by which getting older makes you more attractive. At nine years old, Monopole had become a veteran of Sydney’s fickle hospitality landscape. So the time had come to cast off its dark and brooding persona and step into a new lighter, brighter era. That move saw it relocate from Potts Point to Sydney’s CBD and embrace a quirky, colourful new aesthetic.

Chef and co-owner Brent Savage devised a snackable new menu, while Nick Hildebrandt, co-owner and wine guy, curated a fresh wine list of affordable French and Australian drops. Wines from the Jura feature extensively, which Hildebrandt explains are “like drinking Burgundy, but at half the price”.

To accompany the 500-plus bottle collection, Savage serves up elegant snacks (baby cucumbers topped with smoked sour cream and salmon roe; tiger prawn rolls with yuzu mayonnaise) and plates of modern European flavours made to share.

But it’s happy hour where Monopole truly shines, as the space mellows and unwinds with the setting sun. In warmer months, the bifold windows that enclose the room melt away to create an alfresco mood to marry with your Americano and snacks. In fact, with bottles of NV Louis Roederer Champagne served for just $88, Monopole may well be home to Sydney’s happiest hour.

The decision to focus on value was deliberate and borne of the current climate. As Hildebrandt explained at the time of opening, “We want to offer value. You can get a glass for $10 … But if you want a $40 glass of wine, you can have that as well.” Add to that relaxed yet polished service and an atmosphere that invites lingering and you’ll find this city spot monopolising your diary.

Sydney’s Monopole, GT‘s Wine Bar of the Year.

(Photo: Kitti Gould)

Related stories