Licensing laws enough to drive people to drink
FOODDetective ’ s Melbourne colleague, George Megalogenis, who reports this week on the new Nobu at Crown Casino ( Tables , p10), has sniffed out a fresh surge of intercity rivalry, set in motion by global Nobu co-owner Robert De Niro’s visit to the Melbourne opening. This time the envy is from the Sydney side, and it’s not about De Niro.
One Sydney commentator has seen Nobu’s choice of Melbourne over Sydney as further endorsement of Victoria’s liberating liquor licensing laws and their civilising effect on the city’s dining scene in general. Since the early 1980s, Melburnians have been able to take a quiet drink in small European-style bars, more or less when they feel like it, and without necessarily eating.
Brent Savage, chef at Sydney’s Bentley Restaurant & Bar, tells Detective that Sydney restaurant bars must provide food for about 70 per cent of their bar customers. For independent bars there are also strict time frames; very few have nightclub licences, otherwise 1am is about the limit.
Savage believes restaurant bars such as the Bentley would neither gain nor suffer from changes, but that Sydney would be a better place for residents, tourists and late workers if people could go into a cafe in the middle of the day and have a glass of wine, for example. As it is, Sydney drinking is dominated by pubs and clubs.
Sydney’s TheDailyTelegraph recently reported a move to ban dangerous drinking practices in the hot-spot beachside suburb of Manly, to ‘‘ reduce the level of anti-social behaviour’’ and ‘‘ make pubs more friendly’’. Need Detective say more?
AFTER a longstanding love affair with Italy, Rob Fairall, the owner of di Lusso Estate wines in Mudgee, is taking his love to town.
Although not Italian, Fairall spends a lot of time in Italy and makes luscious Italian varietal wines at di Lusso. He has been hosting quarterly food events at the vineyard, and has now formalised the food side of the business with the opening of Cucina di Lusso, on the corner of Glebe Point and Parramatta roads in innerSydney Glebe.
Rob’s son, chef James Fairall, comes via Armstrongs, Bathers’ Pavilion, Rouge and extended stints cooking and eating in Italy. Cucina’s banquet-style menus will feature alto-borghese cooking, eaten by the merchant classes of the renaissance. Open for breakfast and lunch, Tuesday to Sunday; dinner, Wednesday to Sunday. www.dilusso.com.au.
PAUL Wilson, chef at Botanical, Melbourne’s much-lauded brasserie, released a beautifully photographed book of his recipes ( Botanical ) earlier this month. Next Wednesday, Wilson will prepare a special degustation menu of dishes from the book: warm poached egg with reggiano, truffles and soft polenta for starters. Dishes will be matched with Henriot champagnes. Four courses plus wine, $95 a head.
While there, diners will be able to buy a copy of the book, signed by the chef, for a 10 per cent discount. (03) 9820 7888; www.thebotanical.com.au.
TASTES of Gold Coast still has a week to run, finally packing up its pots and pans on September 2. Local food, wine and dining is the focus. This weekend watch chefs from across the region compete in a Gold Coast signature dish cook-off, on stage at Tedder Avenue, Main Beach (Saturday); on Sunday there’s a Slow Food and Wine Hinterland Trail to hit, as well as a day of food and fun at Coolangatta’s Queen Elizabeth Park (free entry, food plates from $3-$8), with cooking demonstrations, Bollywood dancers and more (10am-4pm). On Monday night the signature-dish winners will be showcased at a three-course dinner at Visions Restaurant, Ashmore. More: www.tastesofgoldcoast.com.au.
CLOSING moves: Nhut Huynh chef at five-year-old Sydney restaurant RQ, in Crown Street, Surry Hills, and co-owner Jeremy McNamara, are going out in style.
Closing in mid-October to pursue other paths (Asian travel and cookbook research, for example), Huynh will be offering a series of specially created fivecourse menus of the restaurant’s best dishes, with matching wines. Week one (September 4-9) includes such RQ favourites as banana-flower salad with prawn, chicken and coconut, and ovenroasted baton of blue eye with lilly buds and morning glory; $120 with matched premium wines. Until October 14. www.rqfood.com.au.
On their return from Asia, Huynh and McNamara will focus on their takeaway venture Snakebean (Oxford Street, Darlinghurst) and an expanded catering business.
BRASSERIE class: Melbourne’s Electrolux Kitchen has launched its new cooking series. With French chef Philippe Mouchel, formerly of Paul Bocuse’s global set-up and now head of his own The Brasserie at Crown, learn how to whip up your own casual bistro food. Queen Victoria Market Cooking School, 69 Victoria St; September 2 at 12.30pm, $85. Bookings: (03) 9320 5835.
The series continues throughout the year, with sessions as diverse as high tea and dessert cakes, Thai and sushi. www.qvm.com.au.
ADELAIDE’S biennial food extravaganza, Tasting Australia, has released its 2007 program. Plan for eight days of feasting for the mind and body, October 13-20. Madhur Jaffrey, Rick Stein and Antonio Carluccio will be among the guests. There will be winery lunches in the Adelaide Hills, special dinners at local restaurants, cooking classes, talk sessions (hear Will Studd on cheese), tastings, markets and more. www.tasting-australia.com.au.
MEANWHILE, tastes of Japanese takoyaki, Peruvian ceviche, Vietnamese goi cuon and more will feature at Sydney’s Pacific on a Plate festival, with food stalls from countries across the Pacific basin (dishes $10 and under). There will be migrant-related museum exhibits and non-stop entertainment. Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour, Sydney; September 1-2, 11am to 5pm. www.anmm.gov.au.
FIND of the week: Forget the desperately dim image of dark, oldfashioned rum, suitable only for the medicine cabinet; 10 Cane Rum is a pale golden liquid that comes in a long-necked bottle, embossed with an elegant coat of arms and tagged with a narrow orange label like a luggage tag. It’s from Trinidad via Moet Hennessy; the collaboration is the last word in subtlety. It’s made of firstpressed sugar cane (most rums are made with cane molasses). It is then fermented, double distilled and aged in French oak. Your mojitos will never be the same. www.10cane.com.
DETECTIVE loves: The newly released 2004 Rymill Coonawarra mc2, a plummy, berry-rich blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a touch of cabernet franc. This fine South Australian maker says 2004, with its long, cool summer, was a great year in the Coonawarra: the ready-to-drink evidence is here at a reasonable $17. www.rymill.com.au.
DETECTIVE loathes: Sydney’s stitched-up laws on the licensing of small bars and cafes. Just who does the stitching? The pubs and clubs are surely the only winners.
New book: Wilson