Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Hoo Ha Bar, Ombretta, University Asian Restaurant, and Neighbourhood Wine.
Hoo Ha Bar
Despite the name, this spacious spot (pictured) is a less-is-more venue devoid of hoo-ha. And until 21 May it's also an alcohol-free zone. But grab a sunny table, add a slice of Le Sebastien sourdough topped with dill-laced feta and ricotta, mix in a fresh-pressed glass of lychee and pineapple juice, and all will be well. The daytime menu is big on flavour: wagyu polpette with capers and ciabatta, or perhaps tapenade, artichoke and buffalo mozzarella on sourdough with balsamic vinegar and walnuts. When evening trade starts, the focus will shift to charcuterie, cheeseboards and the like, and you'll be able to celebrate with a glass of Feral Hop Hog. Hoo Ha Bar, 41 Tribune St, South Brisbane, Qld. FIONA DONNELLY
Taking over tiny Glebe local Italian La Tavolaccia is… tiny Glebe local Italian Ombretta. This very new, sweet little trattoria is barely a fortnight old, so the menu is still a mixed bag, and the main courses need work, but among the hits are broccoli and sausage orecchiette, fierce with red chilli, and ribbons of tagliatelle tossed with mushrooms, and a bittersweet contorno of grilled radicchio. Of special note is the welcome plate of mozzarella in carrozza, just the sort of fried bready goodness you want this close to winter. Ombretta, 355 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, NSW, (02) 8060 7893. PAT NOURSE
University Asian Restaurant
Never mind the coats and scarves - for us, nothing signals the imminent arrival of winter better than the re-emergence of University Asian's wondrous master-stock pork belly. Featuring thick slices of deeply flavoured braised pig tucked into squishy mantou buns, it's a glorious picture of pork-bun virtue. Heads up: a limited number of serves is available each day so pre-ordering is a must. But regardless of the pork belly situation, the restaurant's repertoire of predominantly Cantonese-style dishes make this a worthy candidate for BYO high jinks. University Asian Restaurant, 88 Broadway, Nedlands, WA, (08) 9389 1168. MAX VEENHUYZEN
Located in a former illicit gambling den, Neighbourhood Wine has retained a charming, club-like feel, with the only games of chance now taking place on the full-sized billiard table in the back room. Today the action centres on the bar and open kitchen where Almay Jordaan (ex-St Jude's) pumps out great classic bistro food at very reasonable prices. Carnivores shouldn't miss the expertly cooked bavette steak served with a red wine and shallot butter, chips with a scintillating crunch and a salad that's simply, expertly dressed. It's a good idea to book ahead - word is getting out fast. 1 Reid St, North Fitzroy, Vic, (03) 9486 8306. MICHAEL HARDEN
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