Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Acme, David's, Lennons Restaurant & Bar, and EightySix.
Of all the acronymic possibilities Andy Emerson, Cam Fairbairn, Mitch Orr and Ed Loveday could have chosen for their Bayswater Road venture, ACME is perhaps the best result. (MACE seems like a very different sort of establishment, let alone CAME.) Anyway, let's lose the all-caps - Acme isn't that sort of place. The design may be slick and the wine list is almost aggressively hip, but the mood is resolutely casual - Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain" playing in the background tends to scotch notions of formality - and the welcome is warm and witty. Chef Orr doesn't want to corral his cooking here into the Italian bracket, which gives him licence to pop wheelies on tradition and borrow freely from other cultures in the name of deliciousness. There's precisely nothing Italian about the tartare of diced wagyu sauced with a cream of walnuts and made crunchy with witlof and more toasted walnuts - it's just here because it happens to be extremely tasty. And the macaroni (just one example of Orr's fine pasta-making) is sauced with the meat from a pig's head and an egg yolk, and has a vinegary tang that keeps you wanting another forkful, owing as much to the Filipino dish sisig, which combines pork, vinegar and egg, as it may the carbonara tradition. Acme is inventive and intelligent, friendly and fun. Sydney, this is where you want to be eating right now. Acme, 60 Bayswater Rd, Rushcutters Bay, NSW, (02) 8068 0932. PAT NOURSE
David's Giaconda Wine Dinner
Those in need of a little show-stopping food and wine pairing in their life might want to consider the Giaconda wine dinner being held at David's in Prahran on Saturday. Aside from the obvious attraction of getting access to not one but three vintages of the ethereally lovely Giaconda chardonnay (2010, 2011, 2012) and of being in the room with Giaconda founder and winemaker (some might say chardonnay whisperer), Rick Kinzbrunner, there's also the exciting prospect of seeing how well Kinzbrunner's wines play with David's home-style Shanghainese food. Think about pan-fried cod and green beans in salty chilli jam paired with the 2010 chardonnay. Or the 2012 Giaconda Warner shiraz getting friendly with black pepper beef. Or the matching of Forrest of Shanghai, a vegetable dumpling served on a bed of sesame- and vinegar-infused black fungus, with the 2012 chardonnay. There's dessert and sake in the mix and the opportunity to buy some of the Giaconda good stuff on the night, too. David's Giaconda Wine Dinner is at David's, 4 Cecil Pl, Prahran, Vic, on Saturday 18 October. $150 for six courses, including wine. (03) 9529 5199. MICHAEL HARDEN
Lennons Restaurant & Bar
Queen Street Mall is stepping it up. The new first-floor diner at Next Hotel is smartly casual, with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows offering a different perspective on the city's pedestrian thoroughfare. There's a slight corporate edge to the layout, but, like the menu, it's flexible and sufficiently well thought-out enough to get the nod from hotel guests, shoppers and city workers alike. Chef Todd Adams is best known for his work at Stokehouse and you can taste the breeziness in his grilled Moreton Bay whiting, sprinkled with fennel, rosemary and lemon salt and served whole; or in the likes of local Moreton Island flathead tails, zinged up with spiced yoghurt and topped with herbs, flowers and leaves. A well-priced, small-plate starter section is ideal for snacking - wagyu bresaola, say, paired with a sour cream, broad bean and potato salad, or an above-average rendition of kingfish crudo. A selection of these and a glass or two from the "other varietals and blends section" would leave most late-night shoppers pleased with their haul. Or beef it up and choose from a selection of grass- and grain-fed steaks cooked on the parrilla. Lennons Restaurant & Bar, Next Hotel, 72 Queen St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3222 3222. FIONA DONNELLY
They're a pretty irreverent lot down at EightySix, whether it's the sometimes off-the-wall patter of the floor staff or the kooky creativeness in the kitchen. Who better, then, to offer a Sunday brunch menu that runs the gamut from a bowl of Nutri-Grain to fried chicken with waffles and maple syrup to a toastie stuffed with Bolognese sauce. It's all good fun, but we're quite enamoured of the English muffin laden with a runny-centred fried egg, a crisp slice of spicy black pudding and slivers of gently pickled red onion. For a sweet finish, consider the goat's curd, pear and honeycomb on brioche soldiers. And to drink? How about a long cooler of orange, passionfruit and elderflower liqueur in place of the usual OJ. Brunches might just be a trial for Good Food Month in October, but here's hoping it hangs around a bit longer. EightySix, Mode 3 building, Elouera St, Braddon, ACT, (02) 6161 8686. GARETH MEYER
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