Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Guillaume, Dutch Courage Officers' Mess, This Little Piggy, and Leonards Mill.
It's a case of win-some-lose-some for Guillaume Brahimi groupies at the chef's new restaurant on the former Darcy's site in Paddington. If you were hoping for the crab sandwiches from Bennelong, they're yet to make an appearance. On the plus side, though, the old basil-infused tuna, which has been a signature since as far back as his early days at Pond, is here (albeit only as the amuse on the dégustation menu). In terms of the setting, the Opera House is a hard act to follow; the muted tones and gold-framed Matisse drawings of Hargrave Street are more retro-Right Bank than soaring wonderment. Conversely, though, the food now arrives at the table hot, which seems almost novel by comparison. Brahimi's veal sweetbreads and tongue with almonds and raisins is resplendent under its beret of gingerbread sauce, seemingly in higher definition than it was ever rendered before, while the royale of artichoke, a creamy custard decorated with black truffle and mud crab, is the picture of spoon-licking lushness. In terms of pitch, price and wine list this a Fancy Restaurant and (for now at least) it has some of the stiffness that used to be a defining trait of that species. But if you hanker for the days when a great night out at a restaurant didn't involve mucking around with their website, joining queues, sitting on bar-stools, sharing tables, eating foams or paying restaurant prices for truck-stop classics, the new Guillaume will make you very happy indeed. Guillaume, 92 Hargrave St, Paddington, (02) 9302 5222. PAT NOURSE
Dutch Courage Officers' Mess
It's as much about what's in your glass as it is about the share-plates at this gin-centric Fortitude Valley staging post. There's more than 90 gins behind the bar, each served as either a 45ml Spanish-style gin tonic, a 30ml traditional gin and tonic, or a 60ml dry Martini. Add in a handful of different tonics and a choice of botanical garnishes and it could all descend into a delicious dilemma for the decision-averse. Housed at street level in a modern office block, the exterior lacks the come-hither party vibes of neighbouring Kwan Brothers and Alfredo's, but voluminous hessian drapes concealing clever, split-level interiors from passers-by add to the evocative British colonial ambience beyond the carpeted threshold. Eats-wise, it's hard to ignore camel loin (if only because you're feeling curious). The Dutch Courage version is flavoursome and tender, sliced and topping a slightly flabby rösti encircled by juniper berry juice. Ham hock croquettes fail to soar but there are plenty of reasons to flex those drinking muscles and raise your spirits here. Dutch Courage Officers' Mess, 51 Alfred St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3852 4838. FIONA DONNELLY
This Little Piggy
A pop-up restaurant selling southern Californian food out the back of a café on weekends? This Little Piggy is the very definition of hot, not least because the cooking of surfer, photographer and American food enthusiast Max Kordyl is no mere cash-in. Weighing in at just three dishes - four if you include the ice-cream sandwich dessert - the menu here isn't long, but it's definitely strong. Sandwiched in a crunchy sourdough bun, Kordyl's juicy pulled pork is a wet, savoury tangle that rates as one of the city's best. Even juicier are his excellent chicken wings, generously spiced and jointed for your eating convenience. The tacos, meanwhile, are non-negotiable. Cradled in a thick, corny tortilla pressed and grilled by local food trucker Lil Tortilla Boi, they're another win. This Little Piggy goes to market from 5pm till 9pm Friday to Sunday at Short Black Sheep. For now it's BYO and cash-only, so bring the folding stuff, something from the wine rack and a sense of fun. This Little Piggy, 259 Queen Victoria St, North Fremantle, WA, 0450 039 090. MAX VEENHUYZEN
A former 1990s hotspot in a revitalised stone mill at Second Valley is back in the spotlight on the impressive Fleurieu dining landscape thanks to the new kitchen team of South African-born Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Durr. Coming to SA after three years at Lake House in Daylesford, the husband-and-wife team's winter menu features luscious braised beef brisket with horseradish buttermilk, winter tarragon, pumpernickel and salted herring roe, and kingfish sashimi, fried octopus, dashi pearls, shaved daikon and yuzu lightly infused with apple-wood smoke under a glass dome. Try both dishes and more in a superb dégustation, The Tasting, for $125 a person. Leonards Mill, 7869 Main South Rd, Second Valley, SA, (08) 8598 4184. DAVID SLY
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