Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including LuMi Bar & Dining, Mezzalira Ristorante, Longtime Restaurant & Bar, and Mestizo Cocina Peruana.
LuMi's bar menu
What's the only thing better than a restaurant serving a delicious contemporary Italian tasting menu? A restaurant serving a delicious contemporary Italian bar menu, of course. As much as we love the food at LuMi Bar & Dining, not every occasion calls for the whole eight-course enchilada, so the new bar menu is a very welcome appearance (even if the bar area is a little bit small and odd). It displays all the flair of Federico Zanellato's larger carte, whether it's the parmesan crispness of the savoury churros with eggplant, the salumi-packed simplicity of the classic piadina or the hilarity of the kitchen's take on tinned pasta - a textbook example of chitarra-cut spaghetti in an Amatriciana sauce, served in a tin. Everything's $14 or under, and nothing's short of delicious. LuMi Bar & Dining, 56 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont, NSW, (02) 9571 1999. PAT NOURSE
Inspired, perhaps, by the impressive showing their CBD hole-in-wall "pizzicheria", Da Rosario, has made this year, the Trimboli brothers have renovated their flagship restaurant Mezzalira. Clean lines, neutral tones and plenty of fine-grained timber surfaces contribute to a polished but more relaxed dining experience, and the makeover has given the place a new lease on life. The tortellini are a standout, the sweetness of pumpkin, buffalo mozzarella and leek complemented by nutty burnt butter and sage. The wood-fired oven, meanwhile, does a smashing job with the likes of suckling pig, served with fennel and mustard fruits. The early-bird dinner option, which offers two courses and a glass of wine before 7pm, is excellent value at $39. Mezzalira, Melbourne Building, West Row, Canberra, ACT, (02) 6230 0025. GARETH MEYER
Wondering if you've hit upon the right Fortitude Valley alley? If you're in the laneway adorned with a golden rickshaw and green oil drums, you're on the money. Cross the threshold to Longtime and choose wisely - perhaps a high stool at the bar for an Asian-inspired cocktail and a volley of excellent bar snacks? Or maybe you'd prefer a chair at the communal table. Securing a quieter side-booth could be trickier. There's a no-bookings policy after 6.30pm and limited seating for groups of more than eight after 7.30pm. Whatever your final destination, it's clear that chef Ben Bertei (ex-Spirit House, Yandina) knows his stuff - and doesn't mind mixing it up a little. There's plenty of noise and buzz to deal with here, but clever morsels like his "Bangkok tacos" crammed with prawn larb, crisp shallot, garlic, baby gem and Sriracha more than compete; ditto the likes of the fresh banana blossom salad served with and a beautifully balanced coconut dressing and organic chicken. Overwhelmed by the options? Go for the chef's choice or end your weekend with the Sunday curry-only menu. Yep, we love you, Longtime. Longtime, 610 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3160 3123. FIONA DONNELLY
Mestizo Cocina Peruana
Taking a lead from Adelaide's newfound city laneway vibrancy, Mestizo Cocina Peruana brings an authentic taste of Peru to the coastal suburb of Glenelg. In a laid-back setting, with diners scattered among tables, ottomans, lounges, and high stools at the bar, chefs Renzo Canepa and Justin Hamam offer an array of shared plates that showcase the diversity of flavours and culinary influences that lay at the heart of modern Peruvian food. The menu ranges from starters of pork tamalitos and daily specials of ceviche (fish or prawn, depending on availability) to flame-grilled pork ribs marinated in huacatay (aka Amazon black mint) or excellent fried fillets of garfish with chalaca salsa and aïoli spiced with rocoto chilli. The kitchen is about to start a more seafood-focused summer menu, so be quick to catch the delicious skewers of grilled beef heart or seco de carne (beef and coriander stew in beer with steamed yucca). The bar serves a decent Pisco Sour and Peru's delicious malty Cusqueña beer, making it an ideal site to linger and graze through a long, lazy meal. Mestizo Cocina Peruana, 114 Partridge St, Glenelg South, SA, (08) 8294 0295. DAVID SLY
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