Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Clever Polly's, Wild Porteno, Kutchi Deli Parwana, Gerard's Bar, and The Kitchen Door Restaurant at Penny's Hill.
Long weekend Mondays: great for recovering from long weekend Sundays, but often not so awesome for eating out. Or at least not till Wild Porteño came along. Chefs Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz combine their twin passions (no, not hair and cars or tinned fish and tattoos - food and music) to host a four day pop-up restaurant and bar at Carriageworks as part of the Vivid festival. The food will be much along the lines of what they do in Surry Hills, while on the musical side, they've got a line-up of artists from their favourite LA music label, Wild Records, including Gizzelle, Luis & the Wildfires, and The Delta Bombers. "It'll be like an outdoor Porteño," says Abrahanowicz, "The bands we play at the restaurant will be playing live there, then we're doing some of the cooking that we do at the restaurant and it'll be pretty fun food." The big day with the bands is 9 Monday, but the space will operate as a pop-up restaurant from 6 Friday, with some of the city's top rockabilly DJs (Rusty & Boonge, Yo Grito DJs and La Mancha Negra DJs among them) keeping the good times rolling.
The Porteño pop-up restaurant is open 6-9 June at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh, Sydney, NSW. Entry to the pop-up restaurant is free from 6-8 June; tickets to Wild Porteño on 9 June are available from Ticketmaster at $49.80 per person. MAYA KERTHYASA
Clever Polly's, a wine bar and bottle shop with a penchant for natural wines (the list is almost entirely about encounters of the minimal interventionist kind), has also been turning heads for its food, particularly since the recent arrival of chef Adam Qureshi (late of Brooks). From a tiny kitchen set up behind the recycled timber bar, he crafts small dishes that are ingredient-centric, friendly to wine, boisterously flavoured and sometimes eccentric. They're balanced and measured, too, from the seemingly simple - a pretty "crudité salad" consisting of bracingly fresh chunks of raw vegetables teamed with a surprisingly friendly lemon-verbena dressing - to meatier fare like the big-flavoured wallaby carpaccio teamed with apple or calf's liver served with slippery jack mushrooms and a subtle coffee-flavoured sauce. Those who find matching natural wines with food a bit of a challenge are well served by the short list of good sake and a small selection of craft beer. Clever indeed. Clever Polly's, 313 Victoria St, West Melbourne, (03) 9077 9294. MICHAEL HARDEN
Kutchi Deli Parwana
A woman in a headscarf singing a verse from a leather-bound Koran softly to herself; Elvis Presley, meanwhile, is crooning about girls on the stereo. On the walls are decals of screaming eagles, old family photos, postcards of Mecca and pictures of snowy peaks. In the open kitchen, meanwhile, a poster for Rambo III is taped to the splashback. This is no ordinary Afghan restaurant. But then this sliver of an eatery - more a lunch counter, really - is the next-generation offering from the same family behind treasured Torrensville landmark Parwana. Their new venture, with a little help from their friends at Mash Design, fits perfectly into the fancy-bike-shop-and-single-estate-coffee milieu of Ebenezer Place without sacrificing any of their cred. The menu is short but sharp: two grills (morgh chicken or lamb kebabs) with naan, salad and chutney, two curries (a kofta option, say, and a dhal), bolani (Afghanistan's answer to gozleme, with pumpkin, potato or lamb), and mantu, steamed onion-rich dumplings topped with minced lamb, split-pea sauce, yoghurt and a crumbling of mint. The food is good, the pricing is as friendly as the welcome, and the lineage can't be beat. Kutchi Deli Parwana, 7 Ebenezer Pl, Adelaide, PAT NOURSE
The chatter pre-opening was all about charcuterie - particularly the vegan house-made cold cuts - fermented, salt-baked celeriac, say, or beetroot. Now it's the cram-it-in-your-mouth-and-order-another-one-quick cheeseburger that's creating the buzz. No mean feat for a bar without cook-tops. House-made potato-buttermilk buns, the perfect ratio of relish to pickle, and juicy, blowtorched patties (made from three wagyu cuts plus bacon) explain some of the allure of this guilty thrill, but the magic, really, is in the way the elements combine. Tartare of mahi mahi is also worth consideration: morsels of raw fish boosted by punchy kimchi liquor, sprinkled with fermented cabbage 'salt', tiny chunks of smoked lardo melted over it at the table. Drinks are suitably cool, with a concise but grown-up offering by the glass and a handful of Sherry cocktails. Moody interiors mix raw and polished concrete with vintage Fowlers jars of pickles lining the shelves and striking feature tiles. The well-stocked charcuterie window out-front confirms you've hit the spot, handily located a short saunter behind sibling Gerard's Bistro. Gerard's Bar, 13a, 23 James St, Fortitude Valley, (07) 3252 2606. FIONA DONNELLY
The Kitchen Door Restaurant at Penny's Hill
The first major public showing from Dioni Flanagan, new executive chef for The Kitchen Door Restaurant at Penny's Hill, will be a five-course seafood lunch during the McLaren Vale Sea & Vines Festival, held across this coming holiday long weekend. Flanagan's menu follows the festival theme of pairing local wines to seafood dishes. Her cured and fresh kingfish with pickled green strawberries, beets, coriander and puffed wild rice has been teamed with pinot grigio by Penny's Hill winemaker Alexia Roberts, while crisp-skin snapper fillet on celeriac, apple and lemongrass with porcini brioche croûtons is matched with chardonnay. Tickets to the $120 lunch have sold out for Sunday, but can be booked for noon on Monday. The Kitchen Door Restaurant at Penny's Hill, 281 Main Rd, McLaren Vale, SA, 08 8557 0800. DAVID SLY
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