Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: L'Americano, Sydney.
The brief shared with Alex Kearns when he wrote the menu for L'Americano was "The Talented Mr Ripley". Given that the room is all timber, leather, Venetian trinkets and miniature runabouts, and the (apparent) absence of homoerotically charged duplicity and murder, I'm guessing they were thinking more of the sumptuous mise-en-scène of Anthony Minghella's 1999 film treatment and less the twisted psychology and elegant froideur of Patricia Highsmith's 1955 novel of the same name. Anyway, in practice it means that Kearns, whose day job is running the kitchen at Glebe Point Diner, has written a menu that reads a bit like Harry's Bar as played for Alexandria's designer-pram set. It's a small work of genius. L'Americano is a new café that's part of Coco Republic. It opens onto noisy O'Riordan Street, so you can access it without going through the store, but also offers the perfect pick-me-up for the homewares lover overwhelmed by choice after a morning spent perusing the likes of vintage surveyor sticks ($695), a very large eight-ball ($1195) and mounted faux sawfish bills ($595). There's the tiny, perfect sandwiches - golden pan-fried fennel salami, say, or a Waldorfy chicken number on sliced white - plus judiciously topped crostini and decent coffee. The pastries are bought-in and unimpressive, but the "signature" chopped cos and radicchio salad is a thing of joy. It's big on herbs, dressed with finesse and punctuated with feta, figs, cherry tomatoes, walnuts and shreds of pancetta. A tip of the hat to the talented Mr Kearns.
L'Americano, 34 O'Riordan St, Alexandria, NSW, (02) 9318 1442.
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