Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Nithik's Kitchen, 85 Miskin St, Kusina, and Maylands Hawker Markets.
Nithik's is the little restaurant that could: a pleasantly no-frills sort of eatery where the food surprises with its quality over and over again. The mostly southern Indian menu trips from the samuthiram, a mixture of blue swimmer crab meat, fennel, ginger, chilli and served with a slick of caramelised onion spiked with the funk of dried prawn, to barramundi in a coconut-based curry tempered with curry leaves and mustard seed and garnished with sails of gently astringent green mango. The unctuous lamb chukka, rich with spice, and the impeccable vegetarian dishes suggest there's also plenty here for the meat-lover and animal-lover alike. The room may be basic, the service way, way too verbose, but otherwise the detail is impressive, whether it's the breads (diverse, full-flavoured), the pickles (clever and refreshing) or the desserts (unusual, delicious). Nithik's Kitchen, 679 Darling St, Rozelle, NSW, (02) 8084 8921. PAT NOURSE
85 Miskin St
The white gloves have been banished. The tablecloths are off. But despite talk of Brent's finding a casual groove in its new incarnation as 85 Miskin St, plenty of fine-dining flourishes remain. The same team is at work under chef-owner Brent Farrell and they're not relinquishing their microgreens - or standards - any time soon. A berry dessert arrives in a terracotta pot, a thick dusting of chocolate soil dotted with edible blooms concealing the creamy, fruity, Eton-style mess of strawberries and meringue beneath. Lightly spiced goat tenderloin comes with a fat slice of hay-baked pumpkin, a scatter of toasted farro adding texture and a lovely nutty flavour. Dutch purple carrots are sweetened with honey from the restaurant's native bees and teamed with a cumin-spiced yoghurt and sprigs of fenugreek for balance. It may not be the radical surgery diners expected, but the nips and tucks should attract new fans while keeping the old crowd happy. 85 Miskin St, 85 Miskin St, Toowong, Qld, (07) 3371 4558. FIONA DONNELLY
Of course you knew that Canberra's best (read: only) Filipino restaurant was in Weston, but did you know they also do breakfast? The ads used to say that Cooleman Court's chief virtues were that the shopping is easy and the parking is free - no one ever mentioned getting anything good to eat. But between the frankly excellent coffee made from Sensory Lab beans at Lava Espresso and the eats at Kusina, things are looking up in the Creek. No Pinoy restaurant worth its coconut vinegar would dare offer a breakfast menu without garlic rice, and it's here in force, offered with tapa (dried beef), tocino (sweet cured pork) and longganisa, the excellent house-made garlic pork sausage. There's also eggs B, pancakes and that sort of nonsense, but we're all about the omelette stuffed with adobo, the garlicky, vinegary, braised-chicken pride of the Philippines. Carve off a slice of purple yam cake for breakfast dessert and you're there. Kusina, Cooleman Court, Weston Creek, ACT, (02) 6288 8461. PAT NOURSE
Maylands Hawker Markets
Maylands is a suburb going places. Thanks to the efforts of fun, singular venues like gun café Mrs S, pâtisserie par excellence Sherbet and cosy, French-themed Swallow Bar, this inner-city 'hood is fast winning admirers. The latest reason to be jealous of the 6051? Its new Saturday night food market, which kicked off last weekend near the Maylands Hall. While the weekly event promises affordable, family-friendly eating in the style of the open-air food courts of South East Asia - we're expecting the demand for Bangkok Jump Street's charcoal-grilled pork to be typically huge - the line-up isn't strictly Asian. Then again, considering local market favourites Marcelita's Empanadas and Delish Ice are among the names setting up shop, I doubt too many people will be complaining. Maylands Markets, The Rise, 28 Eighth Ave, Maylands, WA, no phone. MAX VEENHUYZEN
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