Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Kiyomi, Fino at Seppeltsfield, Propeller, and Akiba.
A casino isn't normally the place you'd go looking for a safe bet, but the odds are stacked in your favour at Kiyomi's timber-topped tables. First-rate sashimi and sushi, and a muscular charcoal grill selection ensure traditionalists are catered for as well as those seeking innovation - and there's plenty on offer. Kingfish miso ceviche arrives as a reworking of fish and chips in miniature, the fish beneath a nest of crisp-fried potato straws. Snapper tempura is equally fresh, paired with coriander greenery, more finely sliced chilli and a black pepper amazu dipping sauce. By-the-glass wine and sake choices are limited and neither is poured at table, an oversight at this level of dining. At dessert, green tea mochi ravioli made from pounded glutinous rice and filled with frozen strawberry milkshake may require a leap of faith to order, but the unique texture will repay the brave. Kiyomi, Jupiters Hotel & Casino, Broadbeach Island, Broadbeach, Qld, (07) 5592 8443. FIONA DONNELLY
Fino at Seppeltsfield
The historic Barossa winery's grand cellar door refurbishment includes a smart second incarnation of Willunga's Fino restaurant. Head chef Sam Smith understands the seasonal/regional philosophy of Fino owner David Swain, which manifests itself in a typically stout Barossa signature of Sherry-braised hock in bacon broth with yellow and green peas, and a gently spiced Hutton Vale lamb pasty with silverbeet and sheep's milk yoghurt. Tables outside under the shade of towering palm trees are enticing, but for maximum wow-factor, book a table in the alcoves converted from 1860s wine-blending tanks. Fino at Seppeltsfield, Seppeltsfield Rd, Barossa Valley, SA, (08) 8562 8528. DAVID SLY
Never mind naughty or nice: Kurt Sampson was a busy boy over the Christmas period. Fresh from opening The Dominion League with Hamish Fleming and Siobhan Blumann late last year, Sampson is now on the pans at Propeller, a cheery all-day venue focused on fun rather than formality. The food leans casual and robust, yet the former Pata Negra chef has zero intention of sticking to the status quo. The jaffles, for instance, come of a morning stuffed with the likes of pancetta, Gruyère, minted peas or other atypical fillings. Then there's the menu proper, a document low in pulled pork sliders and cheeseburgers, yet high in pungent taramasalata, pickled quail eggs and other examples of Sampson's bold, earthy cooking. Evenings, meanwhile, are pizza-time, the selection ranging from Levantine pies - pumpkin fatayers and Lebanese manoushes topped with lamb, say - to more trad-inspired Mediterranean configurations. Ably assisted by easy-going staff and thoughtful booze choices, it all makes for a compelling addition to this emerging food and drink precinct. Propeller, 222 Queen Victoria St, North Fremantle, WA, (08) 9335 9366. MAX VEENHUYZEN
Akiba was always going to be a highwire act with its merging of dim sum, raw bar and barbecue. Early indications are that the Harrington brothers, who also run Sage, together with Dino Jugovac are pulling it off. The once fishbowl-like ground-floor space of the ACT electricity and water building has been transformed with wall-to-wall bar seating. Lee Potter Cavanagh, a Sydney bartender of repute fresh from a stint in London, brings big-city smarts to the bar and his cocktails are as out-there as anything the capital has seen. There's a similar appetite for risk in the kitchen, whether it's the pancake of kimchi and angasi oyster with Sriracha, Kewpie mayo and itogaki or another of spiced pork jowl pickled white peach and cucumber. Some of it even works. Akiba is loud, brash, ballsy and slightly unhinged. In short, the perfect addition to the neighbourhood. Akiba, 40 Bunda St, Canberra, ACT, (02) 6162 0602. GARETH MEYER
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