Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Paramount Coffee Project, Shop Ramen, and Hatch & Co.
Paramount Coffee Project
If the revival of the Paramount building in Surry Hills were any hipper than thou it might tear the fabric of space-time. It's a splendidly refurbished Deco building that's home to a Japanese bike shop, a screening room-bar and headquarters to the local branch of Vice. And yet somehow there's enough élan here to carry the day before the average customer's thoughts turn to arson. Tying it all together is Paramount Coffee Project. It's the latest from Russell Beard and the team from Reuben Hills. That means the coffee is right up there with the best and most interesting in town, and the snacks are gutsy and fun. Throw down your small-batch Ethiopian Konga ("smooth mouthfeel; berries and orange citrus") with the PCP waffle (topped with a fried egg, guac, pico de gallo and maple bacon), or chase that Cajun-ish blackened bream and potato salad with a filtered Hacienda Esmerelda Speciale ("delicate and delicious; jasmine, peach and bergamot"). It's fresh, it's fun and GT food and style director Em Knowles reckons it has the finest polished-concrete floor in the state. Paramount Coffee Project, 80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, NSW. PAT NOURSE.
Shop Ramen may have noodle otakus scoffing about its authenticity (or lack thereof), but a place that is the spawn of a pop-up and bills itself - in colourful neon no less - as a purveyor of "ramen, buns and pies" can probably be assumed to be here for a good time, not a worthily authentic one. The sparsely furnished room has a central communal table surrounded by timber Ikea stools - it's light on the Japanese drag and feels a little like a workers' canteen. It makes for an appropriate backdrop for the three varieties of ramen, all with house-made noodles and dark, powerfully flavoured broths, both carnivore and vegetarian. The pork-belly shoyu is great comfort food, with fatty pork joined by oyster mushrooms, half an egg, spring onions, noodles, nori and watercress in a shoyu-flavoured chicken-based broth. The buns are steamed and come in pork or tofu versions while the pie, perhaps pumpkin and yuzu, constitutes dessert. Shop Ramen, 329 Smith St, Melbourne, Vic. MICHAEL HARDEN
Hatch & Co.
While there's a definite design link between Hatch and Gerard's Bistro (Hatch's hip Fortitude Valley sibling), Hatch's mood is more unbuttoned: it's lighter and brighter, with views to parkland beneath the skinny ribs of the old Gasometer at Gasworks Plaza. A copper-covered pizza oven dominates the handsome open kitchen but only a trio of pizze are offered. Sweet San Marzano Napoli sauce and smudges of fior di latte are a good foil for the Margherita's puffy base. The oven also works its magic on treats to share such as Boston butt of pork with apple jam and scratchings, or lamb shoulder with lemon and garlic dressing. Prefer to go it alone? Try just-seared tiles of tuna on house-made angel hair pasta amped up with lemon and garlic and a modicum of chilli. Hatch & Co, shop a, Gasworks Plaza, 76 Skyring Tce, Newstead, Qld, (07) 3257 2969. FIONA DONNELLY
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