Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Noble Canteen, Thomas Olive, Primo Estate Winery, and Morks.
The high-low twist to the name speaks, in a fashion, to the way Noble Canteen (pictured) bridges the gap between the city's grassroots Thai places and its more ambitious offerings. There are some questionable nightclubby touches to the décor and soundtrack (seriously, what's with the music?), but thanks to the presence of former Sailors Thai chef Pacharin "Air" Jantrakool in the kitchen, the food is worthy of a detour. Things get only occasionally fiery, but the likes of the dry red curry of pork with snake beans and the hor mok-inspired barramundi fillets grilled in banana leaves certainly don't want for flavour, and there's an inventiveness on show with the noodle-crusted quail's eggs (halfway between son-in-law eggs and their Scotch equivalents) that's easy to enjoy. Noble Canteen, 50 King St, Sydney, (02) 9299 2929. PAT NOURSE
In far-flung Florey, Morks flew somewhat under the radar, but with a recent shift to new digs on the Kingston foreshore, it's about to get a lot more attention. The menu still keeps to a contemporary Thai formula, with traditional flavours meeting fine-dining sensibilities and experimentation. Kick off with the angel prawns. Something of a signature dish, they sizzle away in an intense kaffir lime and coconut sauce. Slow-cooked duck with red curry sauce, lychees and crisp rice cake stands out among the main courses. Complementary aromatic whites are a highlight of the concise wine list. And with family members in the kitchen and on the floor, there's a warmth of service here pretty much unmatched in the nation's capital. Morks, 18/19 Eastlake Pde, Kingston Foreshore, ACT, (02) 6259 0112. GARETH MEYER
Collingwood's Saint Crispin has struck such a chord with diners that owner-chefs Scott Pickett and Joe Grbac have upped their booking receptionist numbers from one to three. This Friday they're hoping to repeat the magic with the bar crowd by opening their upstairs bar, Thomas Olive. The freshly painted and plastered space, reached via stairs in the courtyard behind the restaurant, is decked out with Chesterfield couches and French bistro tables. The bar is overseen by Scottish bartender James Tate (formerly of Der Raum and Tonka), who will be cutting his own ice, reworking classic 1930s cocktails, bumping up the whisky lists and serving up a series of snacks from the kitchen downstairs. Pickett says that Saint Crispin signatures such as snap, crackle and pop, and eel croquettes feature on the list but that the combination of "salty, sour and sweet things" will be a moveable feast. Thomas Olive, Upstairs, 300 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic, (03) 9419 2202. MICHAEL HARDEN
Primo Estate Winery
Fleurieu Peninsula farmers Ed Vercoe and Nick Hart have established a small Chianina herd (one of only two in Australia) at Carrickalinga, and to celebrate the first animals being ready for sale Primo Estate Winery is hosting a feast at its cellar door on Saturday 2 November. Nigel Rich, chef-proprietor of The Elbow Room restaurant in McLaren Vale, will be on site to cook a beast and present it through multiple courses: a mini burger with smoked tomato chutney; carpaccio with baby radish, horseradish, ginger beer jelly and Chianina jerky; slow-braised shoulder with barbecued artichoke and stinging nettles; and a bistecca Fiorentina. Primo owner-winemaker Joe Grilli will also present his aged Joseph wines beside new releases. Primo Estate Winery, McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale, SA, (08) 8323 6800. DAVID SLY
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