Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Charlie Dumpling, Showbox Coffee Brewers, The Cat's Tongue Chocolatiers, and Bill's Bar and Bites.
There are plenty of good non-dumpling options at Charlie Dumpling - sticky barramundi skewers, good sashimi, fried chicken, textural salads with ingredients such as puffed rice and soba noodles - but to come here and not eat the dumplings would be silly. Chef Dylan Roberts (ex-Cutler & Co and Claremont Tonic) knows just when to push the boundaries with his well-made dumplings and when to let the classics speak for themselves. Steamed pork dumplings and har gow with prawns and bamboo shoots sport classic cred while others - a superb snapper, chilli, lime and black bean number; beef with peanuts, lemongrass and coconut - gently push the boat out in other directions. It's a fun place to eat and good-looking with its wall of artfully distressed shutters and craypot light fittings; just be ready for some push and shove if you're sitting at the timber and tiled bar when the narrow space gets crowded. Still, dumplings like these make a little shoving bearable. Charlie Dumpling, 184 High St, Prahran, Vic, (03) 9510 4213. MICHAEL HARDEN
Showbox Coffee Brewers
Manly, say hello to Showbox, a hot new café on Whistler Street serving killer coffee, breakfast and lunch, with a fun, unpretentious vibe to boot. The beans, courtesy of Mecca for white coffee and Reuben Hills for black, are brewed under the expert eye of owner Bo Hinzack (formerly of The Penny Royal in Mosman), while the eats span everything from black buckwheat tacos with snow crab, green papaya, chilli and lime to glorious stacks of fluffy coconut and carrot pikelets, jazzed up with agave syrup, spiced walnuts, raw honey and natural yoghurt. A worthy addition to the 'hood. Showbox Coffee Brewers, 19 Whistler St, Manly, NSW, (02) 9976 5000. MAYA KERTHYASA
The Cat's Tongue Chocolatiers
For years Andy Abramowich has been teasing Tasmanians with his exquisite chocolates, producing them in such tiny quantities they were virtually unobtainable, and all the while threatening to open a chocolate shop. It's finally materialised and it's oh so sweet. With his workshop visible through a window, and an almost room-filling, glass-fronted display case, his chocolates finally have the space they deserve. There are classic chocolates, such as a silky ganache enrobed with 70 per cent single origin and his cat's tongues, but unique flavours, too, such as the sweetly sour lime love jellies. The chocolates would make this place special anyway, but he's managed to squeeze in a few small tables, supplemented with outside picnic tables, and at weekends there's a café menu, too, with decent coffee. It's all very tasty stuff: smoked eel, potato and manchego tortilla, for example, salt cod fritters, and house-made soft buns with four different fillings, as well as some delicious breakfast dishes. The go-to dessert is Belgian waffles, which come with scoops of the Cat's Tongue's own vanilla and chocolate ice-creams, and a choice of sauces. Chocolate? Dulce de leche? Salty caramel? Maple syrup? It's not an easy decision. The Cat's Tongue, Shop 3, 11-13 Wilmot Rd, Huonville, Hobart, Tas, 0428 411 455. SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE
Bill's Bar and Bites
No, Bill Grainger isn't expanding into Western Australia, but in anticipation of impending renovations, the Leederville Hotel's front room will see out the rest of 2014 as Bill's Bar and Bites. Named for the ghost of a book-keeper that supposedly haunts the site, this temporary venue offers Leedervillians on-trend food and drink in an equally contemporary setting (Cale Mason - the man behind the room's stripped-back, modern look - counts El Público and Ace Pizza as satisfied clients). While the well-priced menu won't win points for originality, little flourishes give the food punch. Thick-cut swordfish stars in a pristine ceviche; sharp piccalilli lifts a meaty slab of chicken and pork terrine; lightly pickled onions and a piquant salsa add oomph to a tangle of pulled pork. Although Bill's is still finding its feet (what's with the bizarre decision to serve disposable cutlery with every dish?), it's a safe bet this casual seven-day-a-week venture will make plenty of friends. Bill's Bar and Bites, 742 Newcastle St, Leederville, WA, (08) 9202 8222. MAX VEENHUYZEN
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