BERT'S, SYDNEY, NSW
Apply a dash of Slim Aarons, a good helping of beach-house chic and throw in a splash of Fantasy Island, and you've got one of the most glamorous restaurant fit-outs Sydney has seen in years. The luxe vibes are conjured with framed etchings and oils, caged finches and tasselled lamps against a backdrop of pastel walls and northern beaches sunshine. It's a perfect match for Jordan Toft's menu. Hand-picked crab with Basque spice? Coal-roasted flounder filleted tableside? Frosty Martinis and a huge wine list? What's not to like?
In short: The king in the north.
LAURA, MORNINGTON PENINSULA, VIC
The serious ambition and coin thrown at the restaurant and sculpture park at Pt Leo Estate have not rattled chef Phil Wood. The flagship restaurant, Laura, which occupies one end of a dramatic sweep of statement architecture, displays a level of calm maturity and forensic sense of place in food, setting and service that make for a sublime regional dining experience. Wood's food is as artful as the surrounding sculptures, able to surprise and delight, never neglecting the delicious. It captures the essence of the Mornington Peninsula as succinctly as the amazing view.
In short: A place to appreciate how great Australian winery restaurants can be.
ROSETTA, SYDNEY, NSW
New Restaurant of the Year? Isn't this just a carbon copy of a fancy trattoria Neil Perry opened in Melbourne in 2012? Not by a long shot. There are similarities of course – the broad, pan-regional sweep of the menu, the reassuring heft of the prices, the white-jacket service. But between the glamour of the room and the gutsy finesse head chef Richard Purdue and his team bring to the menu, is it just possible that this is the rare sequel that surpasses the quality of the original?
In short: The Godfather: Part II of the restaurant world.