Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Molly, The Noble Experiment, The Ramblin' Rascal, and the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival.
"-35° 16' 46.45" S - 149° 7' 35.23" E" Not the most helpful of addresses, no, but the thrill of discovery is a big part of this speakeasy-style bar's charm. There's more than a dash of influence from the likes of Sydney's Palmer & Co, Baxter Inn and Shady Pines in the look and feel - from the back-alley basement location to the mugshots on the wall to the salumi-slicing station to the hexagonal tiles on the floor. But it's far from the first Canberra bar to lift a few ideas (the latest iteration of Garema Place stalwart Hippo owes substantially more to the Baxter, for instance), and it's put together with a flair that's all its own. There's CW Stoneking on the playlist, hooks for handbags and coats, atomisers for the vermouth and bottle-lockers for high-flyers. The back bar and beer fridges are well stocked, the kids behind the bar know what they're doing, and the crowd of mostly young, mostly professional types is lapping it up, two-gin Martinis and Old Fashioneds flying from the shelves. To quote co-owner Lorenzo Focarile: "We just wanted to open the sort of place where we'd like to drink." Just so. Molly, Hobart Pl, Canberra. PAT NOURSE
The Noble Experiment
Another day, another new bar on Smith Street, with the latest hat in the ring being thrown by The Noble Experiment, a two-storey (plus basement) bar formerly known as Agent 284. With its Prohibition-themed décor, barrel-aged cocktails and Americana-style menu you could never accuse The Noble Experiment of lacking trend awareness, but there's plenty of substance here - from the quality of the cocktails and excellent whisky selection to the menu from young chef Cameron Bell. Not shy of big flavours, Bell dishes up heartiness in the form of half a roasted chicken with fermented radishes, a changing roster of slow-cooked meat, a whole head of cauliflower roasted with cheese and beer, three different cuts of steak (flank, flat-iron, hanger) and a banana-cream pie brûlée. A nightcap in the upstairs cocktail bar finishes the night on-song as well as on-trend. The Noble Experiment, 284 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic, (03) 9416 0058. MICHAEL HARDEN
The Ramblin' Rascal
It's a family affair. Just as Shady Pines begat Tio's and Earl's Juke Joint, so too has sister bar the Baxter Inn now spawned a second generation. Like its alma mater, the Ramblin' Rascal is a dimly-lit basement venue big on booths, booze and the occasional beard. Proprietors Sebastian "Cosmo" Soto, Charlie "Charlie" Lehmann and Dardan "Dardan" Shervashidze play plenty of old Stones and classic Prince, put out bowls of corn nuts for their customers and offer a six-dollar tinnie of the week, but also stock a good whack of Cognac and they mix a mean cocktail. Try the Tombstone, a sort of whisky frappé, that's sure to put the spring back in your step. Just watch those steps, ramblers. The Ramblin' Rascal, basement, 60 Park St, Sydney. PAT NOURSE
Noosa International Food & Wine Festival
Dinner drummed up by Sydney's Ross Lusted (The Bridge Room) and Brent Savage ( Bentley Restaurant & Bar) with Greg Doyle, Noosa's Timothy Montgomery (ex-Bacchus, Newcastle) and Ryan Squires of Brisbane's Esquire alongside? Yep, the prospect is enough to perk the interest of most food-lovers. But add in the talents of the illustrious David Thompson (Nahm, Bangkok, voted best restaurant in Asia and number 13 in the world), London's Bruno Loubet (Bistrot Bruno Loubet and Grain Store), plus Bo Innovation's Alvin Leung (Hong Kong and London) and it's an eight-course dégustation worth buying a plane ticket for - whatever section of the globe you inhabit. Westpac's Premier International Dégustation on Saturday 17 May is one of the highlights of the sensory overload that is the annual Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, on 15-18 May. Did we mention Julien Royer (Jaan, Singapore) and Franck Elie-Laloum (Jade on 36, Shanghai) are coming, too? Mid-May is looking mighty tasty in Queensland. Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, Noosa Heads, Qld, 15-18 May. FIONA DONNELLY
Got a hot tip for our Hot Plates team? Tweet us at @gourmettweets, or tag your Instagram photos with #GThotplates.