Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Tomah Gardens Restaurant, Gertrude Street Enoteca at Avani Red Hill, Newstead Brewing Co, and Pleased to Meet You.
Tomah Gardens Restaurant
It might seem counterintuitive to head away from the beach in summer, but for a cool change (or to make the most of mixed weather), your best bet right now is Sean Moran's new restaurant at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah. The gardens average a comfortable 24C in January, meaning a turn around the proteas or a wander through the heath and heather garden can be more about hunger-inspiration than perspiration. At the refurbished restaurant in the visitor centre, the vibe is casual and the pace sedate, but the food is excellent. Moran, chef and owner of Sean's Panaroma in Bondi, is a long-time resident of the region and makes the most of local produce - the apple juice, unsurprisingly, is a must. A beef and mushroom pot pie is a glorious mess of gooey brisket under a fine pastry dome, while roast chicken finds perfect partners in carrots, spring greens and excellent hand-cut chips with pan gravy. Desserts double as the morning and afternoon tea menu: blueberry scones with honey butter, say, or chocolate and walnut mousse cake. Make the detour. Tomah Gardens Restaurant, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah, Bells Line of Road, Bilpin, NSW, 0421 552 746. PAT NOURSE.
GT pop-up: Gertrude Street Enoteca at Avani Red Hill
Is this the hottest plate of the month? Well, we might be a little biased. Over the next couple of weeks we're teaming up with Gertrude Street Enoteca, Red Hill winery Avani and Cobram Estate to bring you our very first pop-up restaurant, and we're seriously excited. The venue? A pretty mud-brick building in the Avani vineyard, where winemakers Shashi and Devendra Singh make biodynamic shiraz. The food? Daily changing three-course menus crafted by Gertrude Street chef and GT regular Brigitte Hafner, featuring the likes of stinging nettle ravioli with burnt sage butter and mustard fruits, steak with Béarnaise and bratkartoffeln, and dark-chocolate mousse with poached cherries and crème fraîche Chantilly. And to drink? A selection of wines from across the region. It's open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday until 26 January, so get in while it lasts. We'll see you there. Gertrude Street Enoteca at Avani Red Hill, Avani Red Hill, 98 Stanleys Rd, Red Hill South, Vic. Cost is $65 for three courses, book on (03) 9415 8262 or at gertrudeenoteca.com. For menu updates, follow us on Instagram. MAYA KERTHYASA
Newstead Brewing Co
Sure, you could head to the coast and cool off with a dip and a sea breeze. But if you're stuck in the inner city, then a beer "paddle" at Brisbane's newest craft brewery is a smart option for summer. A $12 paddle-board gives you a mix of four 150ml pours and provides a tasty excuse to work up a thirst munching your way through the kitchen's crisp crumbed jalapeño poppers - four fiery peppers stuffed with molten cheddar. Chewy flatbread wafers made from spent grain are a flavoursome accompaniment for dips and there's a brace of heftier options, such as lamb pie or generously topped pizze, if more serious ballast is required. Twelve brews are offered on tap (eight are Newstead's own) and the suitably workaday high-ceilinged bistro overlooking the brewery's shiny steel tanks is a convivial spot to park while exploring the team's creations. Newstead Brewing Co, 85 Doggett St, Newstead, Qld, (07) 3172 2488. FIONA DONNELLY
Pleased to Meet You
No signage. No phone number. No reservations. The only way Pleased to Meet You could be any more now was if it traded as a fixie repair shop by day. Its menu - a hand-scrawled document borrowing liberally from American and Asian street-food cultures - reads like a checklist of everything that's hot in casual dining. Owner Clint Nolan describes the cooking as "indoor food truck", but "affordable and delicious" works too, certainly if the salt-and-pepper squid banh mi or cornbread are on the agenda. Juicy charcoal-roasted suckling pig is another early standout, as is the gussied-up raw beef sang choi bau. We dig the beer selection, too. Offering everything from tinnies of Export to growlers of Kölsch, it's chock-full of excuses to stay that little bit longer. Well met, Mr Nolan. Well met. Pleased to Meet You, 38 Roe St, Northbridge, WA. MAX VEENHUYZEN
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