Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Lutece, Jimmy Grants, The Kitchen Door Restaurant, Ester.
Lutèce Bistro & Wine Bar
Classic bistro dishes done well. It sounds simple, but even in Lutèce's namesake Paris, they're getting harder to sniff out each year. This unlikely suburban eyrie, with its leafy, inner-city views, is Strasbourg-born chef Romain Bapst's first Brisbane venture as owner, and he's belting out the regional treats in fine voice. Hello flammekueche, nice to see you again. Salut baeckeoffe with your slow-cooked cargo of beef cheek and stuffed pig trotter. And so pleased to eat you, country-style terrine of calves' tongues (especially as it's served correctly here: at room temperature). A plate of lightly smoked ocean trout with a generous slick of riesling butter sauce, choucroute and sautéed potatoes also presents a convincing argument in favour of preserving tradition. Lutèce Bistro & Wine Bar, 1/60 Macgregor Tce, Bardon, Qld, (07) 3161 1858. FIONA DONNELLY
George Calombaris's latest is a cute-as-a-button licensed souvlaki bar in a Fitzroy side-street. It's named after the 1950s rhyming slang for "immigrant", but even better than the playful name (and a fit-out that riffs on a Cyclades island beach shack, replete with graffiti) is the authenticity of the main event: the souvlaki. Of course, being Calombaris souvlaki, liberties are taken with the ingredients - trad lamb and chicken versions sit alongside others stuffed with prawn and honey or falafel and yoghurt - but the soft bread and the presence of chips keep things suitably Athenian. The Bonegilla, a mix of chicken and lamb with mustard, chips, onions and parsley, looks like a crowd-pleaser, but chicken from the spit, excellent taramasalata, Greek doughnuts and a bar stocked with Hellenic beer, wine and ouzo also have their allure. Jimmy Grants, 113 St David St, Fitzroy, Vic [no phone]. MICHAEL HARDEN
The Kitchen Door Restaurant at Penny's Hill
One notable highlight of chef Ben Sommariva's winter menu combines the rich and luxurious likes of lobster tail and wagyu oxtail in a robust warm salad. The striking contrast in protein textures is offset by the softer vegetal notes of braised celery hearts, beans and small pieces of toasted brioche. The mix is piqued by small pieces of Emme, a striking raw goat's cheese from Hindmarsh Valley Dairy - the first of its type produced in Australia. The Kitchen Door at Penny's Hill, 281 Main Rd, McLaren Vale, SA, (08) 8557 0840. DAVID SLY
Chippendale edges into the culinary big league (or bigger league at least) with the arrival of this sweet little bar and eatery from the Vini family. Of its siblings, it's perhaps closest to Berta in style, but without the Italian accent. The focal point instead for former Billy Kwong chef Mat Lindsay and his team is the wood-fired oven. From it issues the full-flavoured likes of rustic, garlicky chicken, and a standout roasted half-head of cauliflower with mint and almonds. The bar snacks are ace too (don't miss the oysters with horseradish) and, this being tied to Vini in provenance, it's vinous by nature, so the wine list, though concise, has plenty of thrills. Hot stuff. Ester, 46-52 Meagher St, Chippendale, NSW, (02) 8068 8279. MAYA KERTHYASA
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