Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country including Bulletin Place, Crumb Street Kitchen, Chowhouse, and Bintang Café.
Not so much a hot plate as a hot glass, Bulletin Place (pictured) is one of the most impressive cocktail bars to have opened in our fair city in years. If you're looking for food, look elsewhere - tamari smoked almonds are just about it. And the décor, while pleasant enough (think spruced-up-old stockroom), isn't the hook. No, friends, it's all about the drinks. Tim Philips, Adi Ruiz and Robb Sloan are like the Harlem Globetrotters of the bartending world, albeit with less in the way of ladders and whistling. Whether it's working with the fruit they buy daily from their provedore (in, say, a Tequila Grape Collins), or more classical booze-on-booze combinations (a Hanky-Panky spiked with Unicum, for instance, or a Cognac Negroni), their craft is exemplary and their taste unerring. And they make it all look so damned easy. These drinks aren't cheap, but you certainly get what you pay for. Essential Sydney drinking. Bulletin Place, level 1, 10-14 Bulletin Pl, Sydney, NSW. PAT NOURSE
Crumb Street Kitchen
Hobart has never seen a phenomenon like Crumb Street Kitchen, a cheap-as-chips barbecue joint that opened the weekend before Christmas. Queues form each day in anticipation of the midday opening, there's a panicked surge, and an hour later it's all over. Theoretically open until late at night, no matter how much Zac Shearer and his partner Sian King increase the production, they've hardly made it past 2pm since they opened. This town is clearly more than ready for 18-hour smoked brisket, fall-apart ribs, pulled-pork sandwiches, daily-changing tacos (smoky eggplant, anyone?), and sides of spot-on coleslaw and potato salads. It's BYO and they do takeaway as well. But please don't go there - the queues are already too long as it is. Crumb Street Kitchen, 144 Harrington St, Hobart, Tas, (03) 6234 7002. SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE
Thai chef Timmy Kemp is renowned for her winning ways with duck but it's the caramelised pork belly that's the go-to dish at her latest venture, Chowhouse. The generous, anise-redolent slab comes with crisp slivers of chewy pig's ear, while on top a tangle of watercress and tart orange segments help deliver the necessary tang and heat needed to balance the sweetness. Since reopening late last year as a replacement for James Street Bistro, Chowhouse has been packing in the crowds with its eye-catching wood-framed exterior, judicious pricing and casual alfresco seating. An eclectic menu, a laid-back hodgepodge of predominantly pan-Asian dishes with a Mod-Oz slant, suits a busy position next to Palace Cinemas. Breakfast offerings include nasi goreng, house-made coconut crumpets and passionfruit curd, while post-midday mains might feature gremolata lamb rack next to steamed buns, and green tea-smoked duck breast with hoisin. Chowhouse, 39 James St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3852 5155. FIONA DONNELLY
Bintang Café While rarely discussed with the same vigour as the ramens, phos and wonton mees of the world, Indonesia's mie ayam is capable of providing just as much comfort as its soup noodle brethren. Out west, the discussion begins - and pretty much ends - at Bintang Café, a poky diner squirrelled away in the ethnic food oasis of Victoria Park. The dish's MVP is undoubtedly the house-made noodles - a tangle of eggy, flavour-hoovering deliciousness packing plenty of al dente bite - although studs of juicy chook and ladle-yourself soup play their part as well. Sweeten the deal with sticks of Madurese-style lamb saté, plates of babat goreng (aka fried tripe) and a fridge filled with Teh Botol and Bintang's appeal to Indonesian expats is clear. Bintang Café, unit 11, 910 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park, WA, (08) 9472 9788; (no website). MAX VEENHUYZEN