Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Alfio's, Green Park, E'cco Bistro, and Wood & Coal.
Full Circle, the gang who brought us Chippendale pop-up The Eat In in 2013, is back, with Alfio's. There's certainly no suggestion of The Eat In in the look of the place - an untouched neighbourhood Italian eatery replete with red brick walls, Amalfi Coast murals and yellow and blue fairy lights dangling from the doorway - but chef Daniel Johnston's menus, written fresh daily, have that same focus and elegance that made Chippendale such a hit. He pairs house-made ricotta with smoky roast peppers, crisps sea mullet in the pan and serves it with almond and butter-dressed beans, tops homey gnocchi with beef ragù, and plates up poached pears with zabaglione. It's a total a steal at $50 a head for five courses, and to top it all off, it's BYO. Alfio's, 71 Renwick St, Leichhardt, NSW, (02) 9560 2447. MAYA KERTHYASA
Exit stage-left St Ali North and co-owner Salvatore Malatesta. Enter stage-right Green Park with co-owner Jesse Gerner (Bomba, Añada) and a new team of talented partners - Jamie Munro-Lynch (ex-Charlie Dumpling, Cutler & Co) and chef Howard Stamp (ex-MoVida, Le Bon Ton) among them - taking over the refurbished park-side space. The new fit-out, courtesy of design firm Eades & Bergman, makes the most of the extensive banks of windows and cleverly divides the potentially cavernous building into smaller areas without sacrificing the sense of space and light. There's a bar down one end that kicks off every day around 3pm with a list of cocktails and its own snack menu (oxtail croquettes, asparagus with aïoli), while the main dining space, with a terrace that opens onto the park (and Capital City Bike Trail), has an excellent breakfast menu (Scotch egg with black pudding, rosemary-glazed bacon and house-made brioche), plus a lunch menu that ranges from pan-fried fish to filled bagels. An excellent soundtrack, personable service, fresh juices and decent wine list all suggest that Green Park will morph into the super-cool community hub it already resembles. Green Park, 815 Nicholson St, Carlton North, Vic, (03) 93805499. MICHAEL HARDEN
Twenty years on and everything old is new again at chef-owner Philip Johnson's city-fringe digs. A speedy five-day revamp has seen the installation of Tom Dixon-style copper mirror-ball lights and the application of a subdued monochrome palette in place of its Burgundy walls. The menu has had a polish, too. An expanded line-up of openers and mid-sized options offer a bit more flexibility and there's also a new dégustation option - a five course "chef and somm's choice", plus a couple of lunchtime deals. Sweet sautéed duck livers exemplify the polished yet unfussy bistro fare on offer, arriving with tomato pain perdu and an agrodolce sauce sharpened with Sherry vinegar. Nicely crusted fillets of monkfish come paired with a meticulously dressed salad of shaved asparagus, fennel and baby capers, while Roman-style gnocchi with clams and twists of San Daniele prosciutto are resplendent in a pecorino-laced sauce. The plating won't win any beauty prizes, but flavours are bang-on, as is the newly concise wine list. E'cco Bistro, 100 Boundary St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3831 8344. FIONA DONNELLY
Wood & Coal
Wood & Coal is the latest and probably the most polished venture to join the barbecue craze gripping the capital. John Apostolopoulos has channelled his Greek heritage in the design, conjuring a contemporary space from rendered arches, exposed brick, vines and marble. At lunch, a souva is the way to go - charcoal chicken, pork or lamb arrives straight from the spit wrapped in freshly cooked pita. Buns stuffed with maple-glazed pork neck, pickled carrot, cucumber and coriander, meanwhile, have a following all of their own, and with plenty of craft beer and a surprisingly on-trend wine list, ranging from rising Greek stars to the latest in orange wines, drinks are by no means an afterthought. Wood & Coal, shop 7/125 Bunda St, Canberra, ACT, (02) 6162 0055. GARETH MEYER
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