EAT + DRINK Quay, Sydney
Heads spun this year as chef Peter Gilmore revealed the new version of his harborside fine-dining icon. Gone were the white tablecloths (gasp!), replaced with a more organic design—timber ceilings, volcanic stone details, earthy leather chairs—and Gilmore controversially retired his beloved snow egg dessert. New dishes shout out Aussie producers: South Australian razor clams, Tasmanian uni and an exclusively grown redspeckled pea are just a few.
The A$4-million facelift helped Quay 2.0 scoop the country's top 2019 food awards, including Gourmet Traveller's Best Restaurant. quay.com.au; six-course menu A$210.
While contemporary takes on Southeast Asian cuisine abound Down Under, this new laneway restaurant—named after the Indo-Malay archipelago—has a decidedly more creative take, with a justenough-Aussie twist. Signatures include their veg curry, served with roti and Vegemite; the delicately plated otak-otak, made with a coconut-curried spanner crab and served with finger lime; and larb-style cured kangaroo with nahm jim. Head chef Khanh Nguyen is an alumni of Red Lantern, Mr Wong and Noma's Sydney pop-up. sunda. com.au; mains from A$24.
MONA, Tassie's avant-garde, cooler-than-cool modern art museum, opened their second restaurant, Faro, in the new Pharos wing. Not just an eatery, the dining space is part of the art, engaging guests in two in-house installations by light-artist James Turrell: Unseen Seen, a giant orb that projects a kaleidoscopic trip of lights to those inside; and the opposing Weight of Darkness, a pitch-black maze. The European menu dishes out plates like pan-roasted quail and char-grilled Berkshire pork. To drink, order the freaky black margarita. mona.net.au; mains from A$28; art viewings are an extra A$25, book ahead.
Malt & Juniper, Adelaide
A new neighbor on Adelaide's Peel Street small-bar hub, this dim-lit, retro-fitted drinking hole focuses, as its name suggests, on all things whisky and gin. The mature design fixates on dark green, which colors the marble bar and leather booths. The back bar holds an impressive line-up of 260 bottles, while the G+T list reads like a tour of South Australia's best gin-makers, including Kangaroo Island's
KIS gin served with orange and pepper, or Ambleside gin from Hahndorf served with basil and olives. fb.com/maltandjuniper; drinks from A$14.
STAY The Calile Hotel, Brisbane
A resort oasis in the middle of the city, this boutique beauty in trendy Fortitude Valley is just what Brisbane—and, the country—was missing. Located in the James Street Precinct, tropical vibes ring through the chic design, with rooms featuring crafted oak furnishings, brass and marble finishes, and private terraces. Cabanas and sun-loungers hem the glimmering turquoise pool and Greek restaurant Hellenika offers alfresco dining. thecalilehotel.com; doubles from A$207.
Adding a more spirited dose of high-end opulence to the city was the opening of the W, a 312-room hotel hyped as the first five-star accommodation to open in Brisbane in 20 years. Presenting views that stretch across the Brisbane River to Queensland Museum, GOMA and the mountains beyond, the property's quirky design is inspired by the Australian outback and rooms take on the look of typical Queenslander homes, including a reimagined 10-gallon-drum tub for a bath. Byron restaurant Three Blue Ducks has opened inside, and an Away spa and Edwards and Co hair salon extends the indulgence. wbrisbane.com; doubles from A$350.
CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Sunda's Southeast-Asian bites; white coral is Quay's new dessert; star anise smoke finishes Malt & Juniper's espresso martini; Faro's artistic take on dining; a spa with a view at W Brisbane.