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Dish it up: Australia's best new restaurants August 2017

The dining experiences Australians are queuing up for this month.

By Anthony Huckstep
Published: 23 August, 2017 

A landmark Sydney opening and the continued dominance of the modern Australian bistro: this month, Australia’s best new restaurants champion excellent local produce in sleek, modern surrounds.

Sydney and surrounds

Bondi Trattoria, Sydney, New South Wales

Bondi Trattoria

The Tratt”, as it is affectionately known, has been sating diners on the shores of Sydney’s most famous beach for more than two decades. But with new owners comes a new dawn for the much-loved eatery. Chef Joe Pavlovich and restaurant manager Alasdair France earned their stripes as major players in the empire of Australian restaurant magnate Luke Mangan. Their expertise shows in an experience that is relaxed and welcoming. With a dining space of pastel green-painted timber paneling, warm brown classic bistro furnishings and mismatched crockery, it feels like a home away from home (al fresco dining overlooking the ocean doesn’t hurt, either). And the food, although technically astounding, is like a big hug from your mum. Start with tarama dip and charred flatbread, followed by steak tartare covered in shaved horseradish and parmesan. Then jump into a thick, toothsome casarecce pasta with lamb sausage, before ogling an olive oil and lemon syrup cake. This is a fuss-free shared feast, perfect for travelling companions and families alike.

Paper Bird

Paper Bird is one of Sydney’s landmark openings of 2017. Created by the team behind the dearly loved, now-closed Moon Park – a restaurant that gave the city its most explorative take on modern Korean cuisine to date – this all-day eatery combines the flavours and textures of Korean cuisine with those of South-East Asia to great success. Paper Bird benefits from a wine list as adventurous as it is accessible thanks to wine gun Ned Brooks. The food of Ben Sears and Eun Hee An bridges the gap between familiar and fanciful in a smart-casual subterranean space serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Step inside a room awash with shades of green apple, emerald and warming wood tones for a drink and meal like no other. Shellfish oil and avocado underpin thick slabs of cobia sashimi. Spanner crab, egg, Brussels sprouts and nori star in a light, delicate bibimbap. And there’s the signature shrimp-brined fried chicken, too. With the recruitment of some of Sydney’s best talent and a combination of value and adventure on each plate, this is a must-visit for locals and visitors alike. 

Melbourne and surrounds

The Smith, Melbourne, Victoria

The Smith

After a multimillion-dollar makeover, bustling Melbourne bar The Smith has expanded to include the recently purchased next-door premises – and it is thriving in its new skin. Admire the new enclosed piazza-style bar with its retractable roof or head inside to gawp at the striking interior walls, on which it appears that the paint is actually melting thanks to contemporary artist Ash Keating, who used a fire extinguisher to paint them. The Smith merges the lines between quality drinking establishment and restaurant by letting you choose the kind of evening you want to have. Imbibe with friends in a myriad of rooms and enjoy the morsels on a global-inspired snack menu; or hit the restaurant proper for food that delivers big on flavour outside culinary bounds. Hiramasa kingfish gets a big spicy slap from jalapeno nam jim sauce. Beef is braised Cuban-style and served with a corn and bean salsa and tortillas, while John Dory is pan-roasted and arrives in a puddle of ponzu sauce. Just leave room for the raspberry souffle with white chocolate sauce before heading into the bar for a nightcap.

Luxe Brasserie

Luxe Brasserie is the final, and much-anticipated, eatery to open in the Wilson & Market food precinct, footnoting the return of the brasserie-style food that made celebrity chef Paul Wilson famous at nearby The Botanical many moons ago. Luxe Brasserie, located in Melbourne’s fashionable Prahran neighbourhood, offers a spectacular showcase of Australian seafood in a bright, clean and understated space featuring white paneling and dark furnishings. Enjoy an aperitif at the gin and vodka bar, then take a seat and enjoy a few jewels from the crustacean and oyster bar. Start with a round of Moonlight Flat rock oysters from Batemans Bay or maybe Coffin Bay Pacific oysters from South Australia. Then perhaps a spanner crab and seaweed crepe or whiting carpaccio with fennel. Terrestrial proteins also get time in the spotlight, with rotisserie chooks, suckling pig and a 1kg (35oz) dry-aged rump to share. Luxe Brasserie is as much a celebration of stunning Australian produce as it is a rekindling of Wilson’s well-earned reputation – a real boon for the diner.

Brisbane and surrounds

The Coop Bistro, Brisbane, Queensland

The Coop Bistro

The chicken classics – rotisserie and fried – have had almost as much of a boom Down Under as the burger. The Coop Bistro may well be the best purveyor of all your clucky cravings. In fact, it’s being touted as Brisbane’s best chicken pub and, given it was created by the team of the popular Flying Cock, you can understand why. Don’t let the focus on fried and rotisserie chook fool you, this mighty fine modern bistro has found a niche and is knocking the ethos out of the park with quality produce, solid cooking techniques and a cocktail/drinks list that would not shame a stand-alone bar. Big bulbs hang from the bare industrial concrete ceilings while diners sit on high stools at communal tables, rolling their sleeves up in anticipation of the feast ahead. Buttermilk fried chicken has its own secret herbs and spices, and pickled pawpaw and nori mayonnaise add panache to the fried chicken burger. “Our Famous Chicken Parmy” (Parmigiana) relies on a crunchy slaw for balance. Oh, and if chicken ruffles your feathers, there’s also a beef burger and a 400g (14oz) rump steak.

Adelaide and surrounds

Tuno Izakaya

Over the past year, Australia has had a real appetite for all things Japanese as the proliferation of authentic Japanese eateries continues across the country. The latest – Tuno Izakaya in Adelaide – delivers a glimpse into the drinking, snacking and ramen obsession of those from the Land of the Rising Sun’s food capital, Osaka. Duck under the noren curtains of this quaint eatery and pull up a pew at the beautiful wooden bar to watch the pros slice fresh seafood, char sticks of chicken, beef and vegetables over binchotan (charcoal) and stir the ramen pot containing handmade noodles made every morning in-house. For those wanting to plumb the depths of Japan’s famous soup, try the sancho spicy miso ramen with double egg and pork. Then work your way through yakitori pork, corn, mushrooms or charcoal chicken. With a broad sake list equally enticing to beginners or aficionados, you’ll have a rollicking good time and be yearning for more as you step out the door.

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