Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Jacques Reymond, Da Mario, Mighty Mighty, and The Odd Fellow.
The hottest, rarest ticket in town right now is a table at Jacques Reymond. The restaurant, which has its final service on December 21 after 25 years in business, has been booked out since owner-chef Jacques Reymond announced his decision to close back in September. There's a waiting list, and we've heard word that cancellations really do happen, and waitlisted diners really can land seats. If they're lucky. For the final few weeks, the restaurant has gone into dégustation-only mode - six- or nine-course menus or a nine-course vegetarian dégustation - that are something of a greatest-hits list combined with a rollcall of Reymond's influences. The native Australian ingredients that he helped introduce to fine-dining - wallaby, pepperberries and lemon myrtle among them - are present, as is the meticulous plating and classic French technique that have helped keep this restaurant near the top of the heap for so long. It's the last (very slim) chance to get a look at a restaurant whose closing truly marks the end of an era. Jacques Reymond, 78 Williams Rd, Prahran, Vic, (03) 9525 2178. MICHAEL HARDEN
Sometimes a sequel can be as good as the original. Sometimes it can even be an improvement, and it's our great pleasure to report that Da Mario, the new Rosebery offshoot of Pizza Mario, falls squarely into the Godfather Part II camp, and not Part III. It's bigger in every way - the space, the menu, the drinks list, the ambition - but the star of the show is, if anything, an improvement on the Surry Hills version: puffy, smoky, saucy and dangerously digestible pizza, if the Margherita extra is any guide. Ascolana-style olives are good even when they're bad, which makes these fat green olives stuffed with a fine forcemeat, crumbed and fried a must, especially with a Campari and soda. The pasta is impressive enough to seriously rival the farinaceous treats issuing from the oven; the bigoli (think fat spaghetti) with duck ragù is more or less compulsory. Da Mario, 36 Morley Ave, Rosebery, NSW, (02) 9669 2242. PAT NOURSE
Conferring signature status on a dish in an opening menu is a risky gambit. Happily, newcomer Mighty Mighty's slow-roasted cola lamb ribs deliver: sweet, smoky meat, melting, properly rendered fat, and crisp, lightly charred skin. Add a slather of green peach relish and a trio of cheesy hush puppies and wait for the yeehaws to ring out. The squid gumbo is worth dipping a spoon into, all tender squid in a pepper- and sassafras-spiked tomato sauce with fried okra. It's a simple, modern fit-out in a buzzy brand new precinct, but like the American smokehouse-style menu and craft-beer-studded drinks list, it has soul. Urban cowboy? Mighty Mighty Cue & Brew, Shop 6/7, 100 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3666 0184. FIONA DONNELLY
The Odd Fellow
Matilda Bay Brewing Company. The Must Winebars. The new-look Cottesloe Beach Hotel. Garry Gosatti is no stranger to hospitality venue success, but for his new basement bar at the Norfolk Hotel, he's getting personal. Exit stage-left the hotel's grungy band room (and former rehearsal space for ARIA-winning psych-rockers Tame Impala), enter stage-right The Odd Fellow, a cosy hangout celebrating Gosatti's love of good music and good living. The menu is a study in impeccable sourcing: David Coomer's Spanish deli Xarcuteria supplies the chori-fuet, jamón and smallgoods, while Blue Cow Cheese oversees the fromage department. Being a Gossatti venue, smart wine choices are a given, but the real surprise is the liquor cabinet, both in scale and accessibility. Rare is the venue pouring Sazerac 18-year-old rye whiskey, particularly at the (relatively) bargain price of $30 a nip. The warm welcome from bartenders John Schmidt and Claire McDaid, however, is free and reason enough to set sail for Freo. The Odd Fellow, 9 Norfolk St, Fremantle, WA, (08) 9335 5405. MAX VEENHUYZEN
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