Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Spice Temple Sydney, Mama's Buoi, The Catbird Seat Bistro, and Jarmer's Kitchen.
With Spice Temple's yum cha menu now running ahead at full steam, it's high time to get down and renew your devotion. The menu isn't limited to Cantonese classics, the usual har gow and wonton favourites are here joined by dishes from other Chinese provinces, including Hunan-style barbecue pork buns. The Melbourne restaurant has been doing yum cha since 2012, and the Sydney menu includes a few straight lifts. We're particularly enamoured of the gua bao - little pockets of steamed dough served cold - one stuffed with white-cut chicken and pickles, another a nicely XO-spicy number packed with prawns. On the more luxe side, there's a fat lobster siu mai topped with flying fish roe (not cheap at $12 for a single dumpling, but loaded with lobster) and rice-noodle sheets rolled around spanner crab flavoured with black bean. Pair this lot with some favourites from the broader Spice Temple menu - the superb quail with steamed savoury custard and peanuts, say, or the fried eggplant with hot ginger and garlic dressing - and you've got a lunch of champions. And the best news? Team Spice will be serving it in the bar from lunch through the end of dinner service. Spice Temple, 10 Bligh St, Sydney, (02) 8078 1888. PAT NOURSE
Mama's Buoi Pop-Up at Roll'd
The team behind the rapidly expanding Roll'd chain of Vietnamese takeaway joints is about to head upmarket. In August, they're launching three versions of their new Vietnamese bar/restaurant Mama's Buoi, two in Sydney (Surry Hills and Crows Nest) and one in Melbourne, at the GPO in the city. In the meantime, a Mama's Buoi pop-up is taking over the Roll'd store in Hardware Lane in the CBD from 5pm until midnight every night, offering punters a preview before the real thing opens. Where the food at Roll'd is about the takeaway trade, Mama's Buoi focuses on home-style Vietnamese recipes taken from cookbooks belonging to co-owner Bao Hoang's mother and aunt. The menu includes a sweet-and-sour tamarind soup with fish heads, nem nuong sausage skewers, crab and tomato noodle soup and crowd pleasers of the pho/spring roll/spicy-chicken-rib kind. Mama's Buoi also offers a range of Viet-inspired cocktails and a good selection of Asian beer. Mama's Buoi Pop-Up at Roll'd, 15 Hardware Ln, Melbourne, (03) 9670 8884. MICHAEL HARDEN
The Catbird Seat Bistro
It's a comforting 45-seat neighbourhood-style bolt-hole, the kind you were once able to find easily in Paris. Husband and wife team James Guldberg and Erinn Jordan are squeezing their all into their first venture as operators. He's a chef with runs on the board (Aquitaine Brasserie, The Survey Co). She's an enthusiastic front-of-house professional (Aquitaine, Piaf). Interiors are no-fuss - low-key polished concrete floors, wooden tables, classic bentwood chairs. It's the European-leaning food that does the persuading. The rich, slow-braised goat paired with juniper and quince is organic, broken-down in-house and served with intensely flavoured roast heirloom carrots. Wagyu arrives with smoked bone marrow, and a little sauerkraut and kohlrabi salad to cut the beef's marbling. Kick off with the smoked mackerel and fennel escabeche, or house-cured meats and pickles. Add a glass of something suitably European from the list and you'll be sitting pretty. The Catbird Seat Bistro, 888 Stanley St, East Brisbane, Qld (07) 33 92 2645. FIONA DONNELLY
Chris Jarmer, son of Adelaide's retired fine-dining champion Peter Jarmer, spreads his wings with a second eatery at Bowden to complement his fine seafood restaurant Scool Eatery & Bar at Glenelg. Having taken over the former Plant 13 eatery, within the state government-owned Bowden urban renewal development, Jarmer's Kitchen has a menu that reads like the Jarmer family's greatest hits of simple comfort foods - from fried Hungarian lángos bread to duck croquettes, gnocchi with porcini and parmesan sauce, and Chateaubriand as a special Saturday evening treat. The proper pan-fried Austrian veal schnitzel, lightly crumbed and tender, is also notable, served with a gutsy Russian-style potato salad. The card favours shared plates with Mediterranean flavours running through breakfast, lunch and dinner. Jarmer's Kitchen, 18 Park Tce, Bowden, SA, (08) 8340 1055. DAVID SLY
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