Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Luxembourg, Ester, Old Faithful Bar & BBQ, and Kaffana.
Call it upcycling. Chris Watson, former head chef at Cutler & Co, goes into partnership with Andrew McConnell at the former Golden Fields site in St Kilda, changing it from an Asian diner to a European bistro - and from the deal emerges Luxembourg. The room, subtly made over with cloths on the tables, taxidermy dotted here and there, gold lettering on the front windows, and a green curtain near the front door, seems destined to play the role of modern French bistro, and Watson's flexible, attractive menu brings that destiny home emphatically. After being confronted by a display of oysters on ice near the door you're almost obliged to try them and there's plenty more where that came from: raw fish (including a brilliant sea bream sashimi with fresh horseradish), offal (superb tripe with cuttlefish), quality charcuterie, a couple of steak choices, pine mushrooms served with duck egg, and, to close, Sauternes ice-cream with carrot granita. All this, plus smart wine and cocktail lists and fine service... and they even take bookings. Luxembourg, 2/157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, (03) 9525 4488. MICHAEL HARDEN
Ester's World Series
Berta has its brilliant sagre, mini-festivals celebrating particular ingredients, and Vini has its popular regional Italian dinners. Now sister restaurant Ester gets in on the game with its World Series dinners. Kicking off on June 4, each Wednesday dinner will be dedicated to the food and drinks of a particular country for the month. Throughout June it'll be France, and while the menu will remain a surprise until the evening, says team Ester, you can expect their take on "traditional French classics such as coq au vin, rillettes, gougères and canelés de Bordeaux". At $55 a head for four courses, or $100 with matched booze, it's also a total steal. We'll see you there. Ester, 46-52 Meagher St, Chippendale, (02) 8068 8279. PAT NOURSE
Old Faithful Bar & BBQ
Could it be? A serious American barbecue joint for Perth? The early signs are promising at this new venue from the Ezra Pound team: smoke, meat and quality drinks rule. The kitchen pays homage to barbecue traditions with burnt-end beans, serious house-made sauces and pickles galore, and adopts a multi-regional approach to its cooking. Saucy Memphis-style chopped pig, for instance, shares the menu with beef brisket, sliced and plated unadorned in the Texas way. In fact, Old Faithful is broad enough in its reach to also take in juicy Aussie-style lamb enhanced by native spice, while a dill-heavy potato salad is a nod to owner TJ Andersen's Danish heritage. Like any self-respecting barbecue den, beer is a key part of Old Faithful's brief, both on tap and in mixing-tins: hello, Black Daiquiris made with Gosling's rum and a smoked porter syrup. Old Faithful Bar & BBQ, 86 King St, Perth, 0406 082 607. MAX VEENHUYZEN
Doing its bit for Peel Street's evolving and vibrant dining and bar scene, Kaffana presents a mod take on traditional Serbian home-style cooking. Run by the Vujic family, formerly of Zorro's in Hahndorf, the restaurant puts meat front and centre - cevapcici, pleskavica and flame-grilled steaks ahoy. If you're into comfort classics with an appealing twist, you're going to like this place. Consider karadjordjeva (a rolled schnitzel), make sure you order that pleskavica (the Balkan take on the hamburger patty) with plenty of chilli and kajmak curds on top, and pony up to the bar for snacks chased with slivovitz, the classic Balkan damson brandy. Kaffana Bar & Grill, 23 Peel St, Adelaide, (08) 8231 7682. DAVID SLY
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