What’s new (and hot) on the restaurant, bar and café scene
Our monthly guide to exciting openings, upgraded offerings and changing chefs.
NSW ANTHONY HUCKSTEP ↓ A1 CANTEEN
2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale (02) 9280 3285 a1canteen.com.au Open seven days for breakfast and lunch and Tuesday-Saturday for dinner
The relaxed sibling of audacious Automata is the everyday eating house Sydney has yearned for. A1 is the place to enjoy quality produce – simple combinations with big flavours – and killer drinks. Light floods through the floor-to-ceiling windows onto concrete floors, banquettes, timber furnishings and the open kitchen. Breakfast offers curried eggs folded like silk sheets, spectacular snags and almond granola with black sesame and rhubarb yoghurt. But it’s lunch that delivers the most talked-about sandwich in Sin City: the monolithic muffuletta, sliced to reveal a colourful cross-section of olive salad, mortadella, salami, artichoke, peppers and spinach. For mains, choose from grilled kingfish, roasted celeriac or braised lamb shoulder with a salad (freekeh with fermented pumpkin is a must). At night, shaved fennel and fermented red cabbage add spark to oozing burrata, anchovy butter brings out the sea in diamond shell clams, while Espelette pepper plays against the sweet flesh of whole flounder. These may be everyday eats but they’re A1. ↓ BISTECCA
3 Dalley Street, Sydney (02) 8067 0450 bistecca.com.au Open Wednesday-Friday for lunch and Monday-Saturday for dinner
Some restaurants aim to be all things to all people. Then along comes one that puts all its money on a single dish: the classic Tuscan bistecca alla Fiorentina, aka T-bone steak. It’s the only main on the menu but fear not – there are about 12 sides and a bounty of Italian wines to add colour to this carnivores’ dream. To get there, head downstairs, put your name on the list and order a cocktail. Before long, you’ll be whisked through a concealed door to watch your $13-per-100-grams steak cooked over charcoal in front of you. Grab a big red and three or four sides – the sprouts with pecorino and sour cream or broccolini with skordalia are the picks – but save room for the tiramisu.
↓ THE BOTANICA VAUCLUSE
2 Laguna Street, Vaucluse (02) 9191 8989 thebotanicavaucluse.com.au Open Saturday-Sunday for breakfast, Wednesday-Sunday for lunch and Wednesday-Saturday for dinner
Embrace the purple carpets, pink upholstered chairs, hanging greenery and flora on the wallpaper. Chef Perry Hill’s food is worth any décor. With a menu that relies on produce from the eatery’s own farm in Jamberoo Valley and an ethos to source ethically caught and grown seafood and meat, Hill uses classic techniques to let them shine on the plate. A long crouton houses a small fillet of John Dory for a lovely morsel. King salmon is smoked in eucalyptus and garnished with crisp wisps of ginger and shredded cucumber. There’s steamed hapuku in a clear duck broth and horseradish and Dutch cream potatoes with rich Rangers Valley Angus corned beef. No ego, no tricks, just mighty fine cooking.
QLD MORAG KOBEZ ↓ LITTLE VALLEY
6 Warner Street, Fortitude Valley (07) 3193 9484 little-valley.com. au Open Thursday-Sunday for lunch and Tuesday-Sunday for dinner
It doesn’t have the killer ocean views but the sister venue to Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads has an excellent pedigree. This Fortitude Valley sibling is a city slicker, with a laneway entry, an outdoor courtyard and a striking industrial-chic fit-out over three levels. The format follows the same fun approach to pan-Asian fare. Settle in with a Beijing Sling and order the chilli crab and pork xiao long bao for a big flavour burst or the Eastern take on tartare with chopped Wagyu and Sichuan mayo. Share whole steamed baby snapper in a pork, ginger and shaoxing wine broth.
↓ ALTITUDE ON MONTVILLE
94-96 Main Street, Montville (07) 5478 5889 altitudeon montville.com.au Open SaturdaySunday for breakfast and seven days for lunch and dinner
Former Survey Co. chef Nick Stapleton’s fare is now served with crisp mountain air and a beautiful view of the coast. Highlights of his innovative menu include crunchy, umamirich XO rice fingers with soy shiitake, furikake and Kewpie mayo; sweet spanner crab with earthy kombu butter, seaweedsalt-roasted sweet potato and black sesame; and barramundi with gnocchi, kale and vibrant mojo verde.
SA NIGEL HOPKINS ↓ HEY JUPITER
11 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide 0416 050 721 heyjupiter.com.au Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner
What began as a cute little café with a French accent has morphed into a fully-fledged restaurant that wouldn’t look
out of place on the boulevard down from the famous Les Deux Magots in Paris, complete with closely spaced traditional pavement tables. The express lunch menu features staples such as beef cheek à la bourguignon with mashed potato, while the dinner menu might start with mussels steamed in white wine with saffron then progress to classic dishes such as steak (a choice of three cuts) with exemplary frites and sauce béarnaise. Alternatively, if you have a yen for whole deboned pan-fried trout almondine with green beans or a traditional hand-cut beef fillet tartare, this is where you’ll find it. The wine list sticks to the theme with a fine choice from France.
VIC LARISSA DUBECKI ↓ LAURA
3649 Frankston-Flinders Road, Merricks (03) 5989 9011 ptleoestate.com.au Open Thursday-Sunday for lunch and Thursday-Saturday for dinner
The jewel in the crown of Pt. Leo Estate – the newly minted Mornington Peninsula landmark that encompasses a vineyard, sculpture park, cellar door and bistro – Laura restaurant is a 45-seat portal into the delightfully unstuffy future of once-straight-laced winery fine dining. As you’d expect of a long-time Neil Perry lieutenant, chef Phil Wood is approaching the task with a steely focus on regional produce and conjuring magic from ingredients both exotic and commonplace. The former: a meaty lion’s mane mushroom in an Asian-style glaze hooks up with abalone and radish in a puddle of shiso-spiked beetroot. The latter: a soft confit potato and chewy nubs of pistachio nougatine are topped with brûléed miso cream, trout roe and caviar. Some of the best waitstaff in the business have washed up on these wild Western Port shores. They’ll even encourage you to take a mid-meal wander outside to visit Laura’s namesake statue, a captivating eight-metre-tall woman’s head that is best contemplated with a glass from the broad international wine list in hand.
18 Punch Lane, Melbourne (03) 9654 8190 sunda.com.au Open Friday for lunch and Tuesday-Saturday for dinner
Pan-Asian food meets its fun-filled future at Sunda, where chef Khanh Nguyen takes traditional Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese dishes, gives them a modern shake then adds Australian native ingredients for good measure. What could be a confusing mess is a triumph of imagination, thanks to the buttery-perfect roti with improbable (and improbably good) Vegemite-spiked curry (see page 80) and beef rendang buns with fiery roasted sambal and cooling pickled radish. There’s also a sublime take on otak-otak, the Malaysian
The Botanica Vaucluse in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs
Pan-Asian restaurant Little Valley in Fortitude Valley (above); roti with Vegemite curry at Sunda, Melbourne