Best new restaurants in Sydney
The maestros behind Italian-Japanese fine-diner LuMi and Surry Hills' Lode Pies have added another style of baking to their résumé, opening a wood-fired pizzeria in Manly. Avoja is slinging Neapolitan-style pizze, with northern beaches local Federico Zanellato leading the charge, joined by Matteo Ernandes, who was previously head pizza chef at Bondi's Da Orazio and Matteo Double Bay. Expect blistered-crust pizze topped with Emilio's Butcher sausages, sliced potato, smoked provolone and rosemary; or puréed broccoli with umami anchovies, chilli and burrata. There are also snacks of fritto misto (fried calamari, school prawns, whitebait and zucchini); Fremantle octopus with chickpeas; and old-school meatballs; plus a devoted children's menu; and a wine list that trots around Italy.
Nearby in Rozelle, Chez Blue brings French finesse and an ex-Bistro Moncur chef to the table. The 90-seat bistro and cocktail bar comes from Solotel (Aria, Chiswick and North Bondi Fish) with head chef Mark Williamson taking cues from Parisian brasseries. Expect a mash-up of tuna tartare and tuna Niçoise, served with a potato galette, egg and green beans; croque monsieur with a rich Comté sauce; a chicken roulade made with tender thigh meat and a mushroom duxelle; and a hefty rib-eye served with béarnaise sauce. Chic desserts are served from a tableside trolley including a Paris-Brest and opera cake; while a French-led wine list is joined by a cocktail list that includes a croissant-washed gin Martini.
In Wynyard, Soul Dining has relocated from Surry Hills. The modern Korean diner may have a new location but its signature bites remain, including tuna carpaccio with a gochujang-tomato sauce, caperberries, crisp Jerusalem artichoke chips and dots of wasabi aïoli; moreish squares of rice wine-fermented rice bread; and kingfish in a white kimchi water.
In the CBD, chef Khanh Nguyen has taken on a broad Asian brief at King Clarence. Co-owners Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt (who are already behind an impressive swag of Sydney stalwarts including Bentley Restaurant & Bar, Monopole, Yellow, Cirrus and Brasserie 1930) lured Nguyen back to Sydney for the executive chef role. Nguyen, who worked with The Bentley team seven years ago, is happy to return to the fold. "They've both been amazing mentors for me and I'm so excited to work alongside them once again." King Clarence will take its culinary cues from China, Japan and Korea. The restaurant boasts a custom-built barbecue and grill. Plus, there's a large live seafood tank reminiscent of Sydney's old-school Chinese restaurants, past and present. In line with all Bentley Group venues, King Clarence has an extensive wine program, with current Cirrus Dining sommelier Polly Mackeral taking on the role of head sommelier.
House Made Hospitality is on a roll and is showing no signs of slowing down. Not long after announcing the arrival of southern French restaurant Martinez, the team has opened new the Southeast Asian diner Easy Tiger in Bondi. Slotting into the ground floor of the Pacific Bondi Beach, just five minutes from sister venue Promenade, Easy Tiger takes over the space that was previously home to House Made's colourful summer pop-up Rancho Seltzo. Head chef Andy Wirya (ex-Queen Chow, Mr Wong) brings his Indonesian heritage to a tight, snack-focused menu, alongside influences from Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. For $42 per person, diners can build their own banquet, choosing from classic dishes with creative modern twists; such as a crisp corn "larb", featuring pops of twice-fried corn in place of the traditional pork; and rich beef rendang wrapped in pastry, to create a hot take on a classic party pie.
Martinez brings South of France flair to Sydney's Quay Quarter Tower, courtesy of the House Made Hospitality team, who gave us Hinchcliff House and Promenade Bondi. You'll find Lana chef Alex Wong overseeing the French Riviera-inspired menu as executive chef, joined by head chef Andrea Sonnante (ex-Sagra).The sprawling outdoor terrace boasts harbour views and will pull focus on the lighter side of French cuisine.
Best new restaurants in Melbourne
Pirate Life Melbourne
In South Melbourne, Adelaide brewery Pirate Life has opened its first Victorian outpost. Located in a former mechanic's garage, close to South Melbourne Markets, the brewery's kitchen has a simple and fresh approach to food, with a menu designed to sit well with a beer or two. Dual head chefs Maria Delengas and Nicolas Lopez (who have both come over from Adelaide, after cooking at Loc Bottle Bar and Arkhé respectively) oversee the menu. Lopez is doing a take on Cajun seafood rice and Mallorcan arroz brut, resulting in a dish that looks a little bit like paella, replete with bugs, clams, fish stock and bomba rice. You can also order up flank steak skewers marinated in achiote and pale ale; or a slow-cooked pork roll, which sees pork neck cooked over fire and thinly sliced, served with a spicy sauce and fresh onion salad. South Australian architecture firm Studio Gram brings a slice of Adelaide and industrial chic to the space with exposed bricks, polished concrete and large-scale murals. And of course, Pirate Life's core range of beers – which span from coastal-inspired pale ales to acai-spiked sour beers – will be on tap alongside one-off brews.
This new Carlton North wine bar with a gun team is a confident nod to European wine bars. The team here aren't reinventing the wheel — and that is Brico's charm. Acknowledging its roots and citing inspiration is core to the Brico team. It's even in the name with Brico a play on the French word 'bricolage', a creation made from a diverse range of available things. And Brico is certainly a sum of its parts: a collation of ideas from the team's favourite European wine bars; a tribute to the iconic Melbourne venues before it; and the team and their respective skills, with impressive resumes spanning London's Brawn; Sydney's Poly and 121 BC; and Melbourne's Embla, Bar Liberty and MoVida Aqui.
Cue Sydney rock oysters with a bright white pepper mignonette; crudités with taramasalata; and fresh, crunchy baguettes from Iris Bakery served with cultured butter. Further down the menu, you'll find Dream Goat Dairy goat's curd with marinated zucchini and lovage; and grilled McIvor Farm pork neck with apricot and fig.
In the CBD, Korean food is setting the city abuzz, with Doju opening on Collins Street. Mika Chae (whose surname you may recognise as the cousin of eponymous restaurant owner Jung Eun Chae) heads up the operation, slinging South Korean-meets-modern Australian snacks with an emphasis on using top-notch produce. This may mean charred leeks come with crisp chicken skin, cashew cream and brown butter; or West Australian marron is served with garlic butter, stinging nettle noodles and green sauce. There's also odes to some of Korea's most loved dishes including galbi (Korean beef short rib) with horseradish, shiitake mushroom and chive kimchi; and market fish hwe (a sliced raw fish dish) with sunrise lime, doenjang (fermented soy bean paste), cucumber and Yarra Valley roe.
Toddy Shop by Marthanden Hotel
Melbourne chef Mischa Tropp has taken over the former Mono XO space, opening Toddy Shop by Marthanden Hotel. The compact but flavourful eatery hones in on crisp South Indian dosas and flaky porota. A roster of specials – perhaps a spicy fish nadan (a Keralan tamarind fish curry) with Spanish mackerel; or pork pepper roast (a curry underpinned by black pepper and punchy green chilli) – bolster the menu, while golden ghee dosas are made daily. Alongside the kicking curries, there are wines and brews from local South Asian-Australian producers and an Indian disco soundtrack to keep things up-tempo. "This Toddy Shop is a replication of everything I love about the south of India, incredible food made by locals for locals at a great price," says Tropp. "This is a venue to make my community proud, something for people to cross town for because they miss the food of the motherland."
Johnny's Green Room
Karen Martini has stepped in as culinary director at the revamped Johnny's Green Room. The Carlton rooftop – which resides above swish grocery store King and Godfree – closed to transform the space, which now features a semi-retractable roof to allow for year-round enjoyment (while still being able to enjoy your Aperol Spritz in the sunshine). Owners Jamie Valmorbida and Luca Sbardella enlisted interior architect Dion Hall (who is responsible for Her's Music Room, Supernormal and Rare Hare) to oversee the renovation. Meanwhile Martini is overhauling the menu with her signature breezy but excellent Euro plates — think pizzas made with 48-hour slow fermented dough, or calamari spiedini with Italian-style tartare sauce and fried parsley.
Over in Collingwood, a new day-to-night dining destination with Latin American tunes, tipples and sticky snacks has opened. Pincho Disco may be an unlikely combination of terms (pincho meaning stick or skewer and disco referring to the music style as much as the club vibe) but together they form a lively late-night dining and cocktail spot on Cambridge Street. Latin America will serve as the expansive brief for Pincho Disco, with chef Diego Cardenas taking over the Josper oven and woodfire-powered kitchen. The Colombian-born chef worked extensively across Spain and Peru before coming to Australia and will use this time to inform the menu. Cardenas plans to devote a section of the menu to the venue's namesake skewers. "Then [we'll do] a ceviche (raw fish cooked in tiger's milk), aguachiles (a Mexican-style ceviche) and crudo, done with octopus, snapper, kingfish, snapper, scallops and more," he says. This lighter, snackier part of the menu is ideal for quick bites across the two-level venue joined by cocktails, or for whetting the appetite before diving into the larger meat-focused plates.
Best new restaurants in Brisbane
Newstead welcomes two new venues to its culinary ranks, starting with industrial wine bar and grill Bosco. Sommelier Simon Hill (who is also behind New Farm's Bar Alto) has opened the 80-seater in a converted warehouse, complete with lofty sheer curtains, brick walls and salvaged timber benchtops. Referencing the olive oil regions of Europe, the menu shines a spotlight on coastal dishes such as pig's trotter flambadou oysters (an eye-catching technique which involves dousing the bivalves in melted down fat from a red-hot cast iron cone); coral trout with pil-pil sauce (a Spanish salted cod and garlic emulsion); and pipis with txakoli (a dry Basque wine), all served alongside Hill's tome-like wine list. Also one of Australia's most loved adopted Spanish snacks – the gilda – will kick off the menu, showcasing Cantabrian anchovies, olives and peppers, served alongside oven-cooked flatbreads.
Next door, Sydney's excellent specialty roaster Single O brings its signature self-serve coffee taps and flagship reservoir blend to an edgy, light-filled café. Taking cues from its southern counterpart, the concise menu brings much-loved staples to Brisbane (try the banana bread with espresso butter) side by side with locally sourced produce including Agnes Bakery's flaky pastries and smoked potato bread.
To round things out, Establishment 203 is executive chef Ben O'Donoghue's flash new steakhouse in Fortitude Valley. Styled by interiors expert Tamsin Johnson, expect elevated booth seating in an open dining area, joined by a 30-seat bar for casual eats. The restaurant's owners – cattle-farming family and beef producers Stanbroke – are working closely with O'Donoghue to showcase the best of Queensland's grass-fed beef. Order up a tomahawk, bistecca alla Fiorentina and rib-eye Angus beef; bone-in eye fillet or sirlon wagyu, joined by a classic béarnaise, chimichurri, or borolo-spiked hollandaise. The rest of the Italian-leaning, carnivore-ready menu is stacked with wood-fired starters (such as bone marrow caponata with potato flatbread; and peppers alla Piemontese) and handmade pasta (including a wagyu Bolognese); plus sorbets and gelato-stuffed brioche to finish.
Acclaimed chef Martin Boetz has opened Shortgrain, a Thai restaurant-grocer in the Valley. After departing Surry Hills stalwart Longrain in 2013, followed by a time in the Hawkesbury running the Cooks Co-Op, Boetz settled in Brisbane in 2022. So far, the move suits him. "Brisbane is buzzing," he says. "It reminds me of Sydney in the time before the Olympics, how it came alive." For his Queensland concept, Boetz is going brighter and more casual with a day-to-night restaurant and a grab-and-go grocer adjoined.
At lunchtimes Shortgrain will focus on dine-in set dishes. "We're doing quite a few one-dish wonders, so curry, rice and relish in a bowl; khao soi with braised beef; and crispy pork with chilli jam," explains Boetz. Come evening, the lights will be dimmed just a touch. "The dinner will have more Longrain-style shared meals so curries, salads and small little bites," says Boetz. And it's here you'll find some of Boetz' longtime favourites, from an incarnation of the eggnet with prawns to the deeply caramelised pork hock, a masterstock braise that celebrates the sweetness of pork. These will be served alongside starters of spiced cauliflower and coriander fritters; and salt and pepper cuttlefish. Mains include crisp fried fish with green chilli, galangal, nahm jim; and spiced chicken braised in turmeric with rice, sweet chilli, galangal and mint sauce. "For dessert we're also doing a duck egg caramel custard in a pork fat pastry, so they are little tarts; and my favourite coconut sorbet is going to be back on the menu," says Boetz.
In Hamilton, Fosh is a 700-square-metre, Hamptons-style venue with sweeping river views. Chef Vikash Gurung (Greca) and sous chef Daniel Hernandez (Agnes, Restaurant Dan Arnold) serve caviar bumps, scallops, oysters, dry-aged fish and pan-seared snapper. Outside, nab a picnic table at Fosh Tails for laidback dining or fancy fish-and-chips takeaway.
Best new restaurants in Adelaide
A grand new rooftop bar and restaurant has opened nine levels above Pirie Street. Sora is a 400-person-capacity rooftop oasis, with executive chef Adam Liston (Shōbōsho) at the helm. Liston has executed a menu that starts with seaweed crackers topped with tomatoes and whipped tofu; and twice-cooked potato skins with a yuzu-spiked sour cream, egg white, chives, caviar and roe. The charcoal- and wood-fired grilled section of the menu includes dry-aged beef from rib-eye to rump cap, joined by Asian-inflected condiments such as Karashi mustard, ssamjang (a spicy Korean sauce), shiitake-infused soy, smoked soy, and yuzu kosho. There's also a burger that takes cues from Korean bulgogi beef, which sees a wood-fired wagyu beef patty seasoned with gochujang, ginger, sesame oil, honey and garlic; served with kimchi, pickled cucumbers, and slaw. These can all be joined by sides of fries with a spiced, smoked salt; wok-fried Asian greens; or a spin on a Caesar salad, complete with char siu-style bacon and a soy-poached egg.
North Adelaide has a buzzy new bistro, Odé. Spearheaded by Simon Ming (ex-Orana and Arkhé) and sommelier Bhatia Dheeraj who brings his experience working across Dubai, Cape Town, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and now Australia. Riffing on modern Australian cuisine's evolution, the menu has native ingredients alongside globe-trotting references. The menu includes torched kingfish with celtuce, celery, tomato consommé and apple granita; crab udon with cherry tomatoes, basil, cured yolks and crisp chilli oil; beurre blanc infused with eucalyptus served with fish en papillote; and beef tartare with pearl onion and potato chips.
Niña is a vibrant new late-night Basque-inspired spot in the centre of Adelaide. Owner and executive chef Leonardo Loureiro (ex-Aria and Orana), who named the restaurant after his daughter, is serving up pintxos with punch. Expect gildas; pan con tomate with folds of jamón and Olasagasti anchovy soldiers; cured Espelette-spiced tuna; charred octopus with romesco and fennel; and wagyu brisket with chimichurri and mustard.
The team behind Brighter Later gin distillery and bars, Pink Moon Saloon and Clever Little Tailor, have opened Longplay Bistro. The name is a nod to its vinyl soundtrack, played through a Funktion One sound system and optimised by custom-built soundproofing to enhance the listening experience. This is joined by European-leaning plates by co-head chefs Jude Hughes and Calum Horn (ex-Three Blue Ducks, You Beauty and Summertown Aristologist). Snack on gildas and Goldstreet Dairy grilled jersey cheese before ordering house-made pastas (like the bootleg bucatini with vodka sauce or vongole with chilli, lemon and pangrattato) or rib-eye on the bone with béarnaise and shoestring fries. Drawing on the team's collection of wine and spirits thanks to their bar-owner origins, you can also find an extensive drinks list, featuring international and local gems.
Wilson Shawyer of Good Gilbert has opened his second venue, Good Burger in Daw Park. Chef Ashley Peek has taken cues from old-school American diners while still elevating the handheld offering. The headlining burger, for instance, is crafted from A-class ingredients such as a potato bun, relish, wagyu smash patty, raclette cheese, cornichons and diced onion. Much like its sibling venue Good Gilbert, it will be joined by a carefully curated wine list, which will be smaller in size and will focus on a constant rotation of bespoke producers.
Good burger is slated to open soon. Keep an eye on its Instagram to stay updated.
Best new restaurants in regional Australia
Adelaide Hills, SA
Adelaide Hills, SA
Woodside's Bird in Hand winery has transformed its dining room with executive chef Jacob Davey taking the lead. Davey joins the fold at LVN Restaurant off the back of his head chef position at Restaurant Botanic, whose dedication to provenance carries over here. The farm-to-table menu includes sheoak and kangaroo from the surrounding Adelaide Hills, mutton bird and wallaby from northern Tasmania and pipis and coastal fruits from the southern end of Adelaide, joined by ingredients plucked from the kitchen garden. Bird in Hand's rare museum wines will also take a starring role, while a gallery of local and international artworks don the walls.
Gold Coast, Qld
Gold Coast, Qld
A new coastal-inspired bar and grill restaurant has opened in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. With light and bright interiors, this easygoing venue promises food cooked over flames, an impressive wine list and cocktails to boot. Food-wise, expect dry-aged T-bone steaks, char-grilled bugs with harissa bisque, Mooloolaba king prawns with fermented chilli and wood-fired chicken served with punchy garlic yoghurt. Whole wood-fired lobsters are also available on request, plus the venue boasts a few theatrics such as seafood towers, and caviar and Champagne trolleys.
The Smoking Camel
Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay, NSW
Byron Bay has welcomed a sprightly new bar from the team behind Light Years. The Smoking Camel will focus on mezze-inspired bites including smoked baba ghanoush and a seafood take on kibbeh nayeh (usually a raw lamb dish) with sumac-spiced tuna. A charcoal grill will bring a charred kick to share plates such as baharat beef shish and shawarma-spiced chicken, while king prawns are barbecued and served with a take on Café de Paris butter with curry leaves and lemon. Interiors are bright and bold, with neon accents and golden arches, all courtesy of Weekdays Design; while the drinks list has both spiced cocktails and interesting alcohol-free options.
Three Blue Ducks
Back down on the mid north coast Three Blue Ducks has opened at The Lodge Bellingen. Set upon 16 acres of gardens at the edge of Dorrigo National Park, the open-air terrace and 80-seat dining room sees local and organic producers interwoven in the menu, with dish highlights including smoked eggplant, tofu and macadamia dumplings with mushroom ponzu; pork belly bao with Oomite (a locally made miso take on Vegemite) hoisin and pickles; and masterstock chicken with chilli and cinnamon myrtle.