Food & Culture

What to eat, see and do this month: your GT news wrap for February

There's a boon of new restaurant, wine bar and hotel openings across the country, plus sculptural cheese pillars to enjoy. It's going to be a good month.

By Jordan Kretchmer
The Truffle cheese pillar by Fine Grazing.

RESTAURANT NEWS

SYDNEY
Daniel Pepperell (ex-Hubert, 10 William St and Alberto's Lounge) has opened Bistrot 916 alongside Michael Clift (Rockpool and Fat Duck alumnus) and sommelier Andy Tyson (ex-Swillhouse). The Parisian-inspired neighbourhood diner sits on the old Lotus 2.0 site, and will bring platters of raw shellfish served on ice, steak au poivre, lobster frites, tuna tartare partnered with beef-fat fried potatoes, and boudin-noir spring rolls, which see house-made blood sausage wrapped in brik pastry then fried and served with an aromatic apple cider dipping sauce.
In other bistro news, Pyrmont's Bistro Clementine has undergone a makeover with new head chef Bilent Peel (ex-Café Paci and Sixpenny) coming on board to refresh the menu. Peel joins owner Eric Morris and partner Monica-Paula Zotti, who together have shaped the local favourite since it opened in early 2019.
Surry Hills has welcomed newbie Foreign Return. The modern Indian bar and restaurant sees head chef Siddharth Kalyanaraman bring to life a menu of snacks (chakhna), lunches inspired by traditional working lunches served in stacked containers (dabba), plus regional curries, crisp roti rolls and vegan salads. Kalyanaraman is the official touring chef of the Australian Cricket Team usually, and he's set to use his extensive knowledge of Indian cuisine with a playful Australian twist.
Bistro Clementine's owner Eric Morris with partner and stylist Monica-Paula Zotti. Photo: Supplied
ADELAIDE
Unico Go is the new micro-wine bar from Adelaide Hills winemakers Unico Zelo. Housed in an old recording booth attached to the back of Brklyn cocktail bar in Adelaide's CBD, the intimate five-seat wine bar was inspired by the team's digital happy hour created during last year's lockdown. Unico Go ("go" meaning five in Japanese) will showcase an ever-changing roster of five unique Australian and international wines.
HOBART
Sun Day Fish is a new pop-up take-away project from chef Ali Currey-Voumard formerly of The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery. The pop-up is running out of the Hamlet café on Sundays, and will see Currey-Voumard focus on cooking up different, lesser-known seafood, caught by local fisherman.
QUEENSLAND
Bianca is set to open in Brisbane's James Street precinct. The project is spearheaded by Ben Williamson (Same, Same and Agnes) with Callum Gray and Mario Asero in the kitchen. The casual trattoria will focus on anitpasti and spuntini, so you can order chicken liver crostini, pancetta and peaches, focaccia with porchetta and anchovies, and melanzane with walnuts and garlic.
Italian is also the ticket for Coolangatta, with Cross Eyed Mary opening, with chef Ashley Kent (ex-Biota and Three Blue Ducks) turning out classic pastas and a full vegan menu.
VICTORIA
The Mornington Peninsula's Laura at Pt Leo Estate has undergone a makeover. Overseen by culinary director, Phil Wood, the restaurant offers both à la carte and eight-course menus on weekdays, and a long lunch (four or eight courses) on weekends. A focus on locally sourced ingredients will be shown through dishes such as rabbit and mussel curry with butter chicken spices and curry leaf fritter; lobster flambé, smoked cabbage and medlar sauce; and raspberry soufflé and raspberry ripple ice-cream.
Back in the CBD, New Quarter has undergone a makeover, offering a more succinct Vietnamese-focused menu, by head chef Scott Lord (ex-Sunda Dining and Cumulus Inc). You can work your way through a "pressed" banh mi with whipped chicken parfait, chicken skin and pickled cucumber; beef tartare, egg yolk, pho jelly, tapioca and anchovy crisps; and clams steamed in parchment, bánh canh cua broth (a crab and tapioca noodle soup) and burnt tomato.
New Quarter's roasted chicken with green nahm jim and annatto oil. Photo: The Space Between

THINGS TO DO, THINGS TO EAT

CORNERSMITH COOKING SCHOOL
The waste warriors, flavour saviours and pickling pros behind Cornersmith are heading up a new masterclass series, relocating their much-loved Cornersmith Cooking School to Carriageworks for three months. Along with their in-depth classes, each Saturday they'll also host a 90-minute class, centred around saving and preserving food. In March, you can head along to learn how to make seasonal shrubs, hot sauce and pickled mushrooms, with more workshops running right through until mid-April.
carriageworks.com.au
MUSHROOM FORAGING WORKSHOP
Italian-born nature lover, Diego Bonetto, affectionately known as "The Weedy One", forages herbs, seaweed, greens and mushrooms from the shorelines and forests of New South Wales. In March and April as we move into prime pine mushroom foraging time, he will host a series of workshops teaching you how to safely identify and pick the edible mushrooms.
$95, diegobonetto.com
FINE GRAZING CHEESE PILLARS
Fine Grazing is a new chic catering option in Melbourne, offering custom "cheese pillars". Founder Helen Oltran has applied her background in fashion design to fromage, developing the unique cheese sculptures in lockdown. "By taking a dessert-making approach to cheese, I want cheese-lovers to feel the same excitement that dessert fiends feel when a beautifully constructed dessert arrives at their table," says Oltran. Working with her father, Oltran developed a device to cut and slice cheese so she could shape it in novel ways. The cheese, which is sourced from local producers such as Yarra Valley Dairy and Holy Goat, is paired with pastes and dried fruits.
finegrazing.com
LULU'S 'NDUJA CHILLI OIL
If there's one condiment you'll always find in the Gourmet Traveller office fridge, it's Lulu's Remedy. The chilli oil really does taste good on everything, and they have now welcomed a new flavour to the family. The 'duja + Chilli version amps up the umami with the addition of pork sausage paste, and goes perfectly with pasta and seafood.
$15 for 250gm, @lulus.sydney

Orange F.O.O.D week

Orange's very own food and wine festival is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. Back in 1991 before "paddock to plate" was the phrase du jour, the volunteer-led F.O.O.D (Food of Orange District) event was established to help showcase the provenance of produce from the region. Now, 30 years on, the event is still going strong, and in 2021 Orange F.O.O.D Week returns with a bumper 10-day program. Highlights include the long-table Sampson Street lunch (April 10) and several meet-the-producer workshops (April 12-18). With autumnal weather arriving and a packed program of events, April is the ideal time to plan a trip to Orange and check out one of Australia's longest running regional food festivals.
April 9–18, orangefoodweek.com.au
Exploring vineyard during Orange F.O.O.D week. Photo: Supplied.

HOTEL NEWS

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
McLaren Vale is now home to two new luxury off-grid lodgings by Cabn. The secluded dwellings blur the line between indoors and out and feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls that frame coastal views through to Port Willunga. Guests can also enjoy a sunken outdoor bath, sauna, lounge space and log fire, plus easy access to organic vineyard Gemtree Wines.
cabn.life
VICTORIA
Quincy is set to open its first property in Melbourne. Following in the footsteps of its first location in Singapore, Quincy Melbourne will bring Southeast Asian flair to Flinders Lane, and will include its own rooftop bar, pool and lounge.
quincy-hotels.com
NEW SOUTH WALES
Mister Percy has welcomed a new chef who's set to revitalise the wine bar situated within Sydney's Ovolo 1888. Head chef Courtney Blyde has spent time on the pans at The Apollo and Cho Cho San, and will refresh the vegetarian menu at the Pyrmont bar.
ovolohotels.com
Sydney will also welcome its first 25hours Hotel late next year, with the Accor-owned brand taking over the heritage building where Don Peppino's restaurant once resided. The brand is working with Sydney-based interior designers Acme & Co (who are behind the interiors of Mimi's, Gimlet and Fred's) to develop the hotel's rooftop bar, restaurant and café offerings, while
the hotel will include 105 guest rooms.
Mister Percy's chef Courtney Blyde. Photo: Jiwon Kae
SHAREPIN
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