12-Micron, Sydney, New South Wales
Offering everything from native Australian lunches to late night desserts, these six new restaurants highlight the culinary trends sweeping the nation.
By Anthony Huckstep
Published 20 March, 2017
Dining out is an integral part of modern Australian culture, with new bars, cafes, pubs, tuck shops, kiosks, wine bars, dining halls and fusions of all the above popping up every day. These six spots are just a handful of the restaurants opening this month, but they hint at the diversity of excellent dining experiences you’ll find across Australia.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Sydney may be home to Australia’s newest sugary sensation – a 64-seat late night dessert bar – but it took Melbourne’s legendary pastry chef Darren Purchese to bring it to life. The bar is part of 12-Micron, a monolithic new Barangaroo restaurant and bar overlooking the glistening ripples of Sydney Harbour, where the focus on Australian produce is just as mesmerising as the view. Steamed King George whiting shimmers beneath lemon verbena. Celeriac puree adds a savoury swagger to a medley of pickled mushrooms. Fermented strawberry brings zing to cheesecake. Come for dinner; make sure you stay for sweets.
One of the defining features of the Australian dining landscape is the access it offers to the best of every cuisine on the planet. Sydney’s Bistro Rex – backed by six veterans of the city’s restaurant industry – exemplifies the wonderful French renaissance sweeping the nation. From the get-go you’ll be welcomed into a sultry space with dark woods, brass fixtures, mosaic tiled floors and pillars and designer French bistro chairs. Pull up a pew at the kitchen bar to enjoy the theatre of it all. Pork terrine brings out the panache of pâté. Spanner crab shines inside an oozing omelette. A velvety Café de Paris adds dimension to classic steak frites. Voila.
Perhaps it’s the European influence, the cooler climes or the overwhelmingly good nature of the professionals, but Melbourne certainly knows how to deliver intimate dining. The Recreation bistro and bottle shop embodies the heartbeat of what it means to eat in Australia’s food capital. Red-brick walls, smart black- and-white etchings and racks of wine set a serious yet relaxed agenda, while the food leans on a multitude of techniques, influences and ingredients to add a creative spark to deeply satisfying and comforting contemporary Australian cuisine. Wasabi rouille adds a smack to veal tartare. Goats’ cheese cream adds earthiness to smoked eggplant. Tempura zucchini and salsa romesco balance the natural mushroom earthiness of our very own barramundi. Chimmichurri cuts through the rich delight of O’Connor flat iron steak. You’ll leave with a full belly and happy heart every time.
Dining out is a national pastime among urban Australians, and some venues have responded by blurring the line between wine bar and restaurant to provide the ultimate night out. Take new Billie H, which offers a stellar wine list and drop-in wine bar vibe that takes the fuss out of finer dining, but dishes up food that’s just as good as any at the pointy end of Perth’s dining scene. Slivers of corned beef get a huge lick of horseradish cream, while goats’ curd adds an acidic kick to smoked king brown mushrooms. Meanwhile, a spicy mandarin glaze brings a spark to perfect Peking duck – what more do you need?
Born in Brunswick
Hobart may be one of our smallest major cities but it is fast becoming a hotbed of culinary talent. Born in Brunswick has joined the throng of new-wave restaurants eager to explore and champion Australia’s gorgeous native ingredients in a contemporary setting. Polished concrete walls and floors, blond woods and native plants provide a stylish platform for food that awakens the tastebuds. The twang and crunch of pickled fungus is mellowed by the toothsome, creaminess of cuttlefish before black garlic and poached stone fruits gift a sweet kiss to slender pieces of cured venison. Then a playful savoury-meets-sharp juniper and wattleseed cheesecake turns a classic on its head with wit and whimsy. Brilliant.
The foundations of Australia’s culinary landscape arise from our multicultural society in a marvellous manifestation of global flavours, and new Brisbane restaurant Fenek (Maltese for rabbit) is the nation’s best expression of Maltese cuisine set in a contemporary Australian context. Black leather chairs and a grey brick wall adorned with chalkboard specials provide a neutral canvas for the colourful brushstrokes of this underrated cuisine to come to life. Maltese margherita pizza is as good as that of the Italian neighbours over the ditch, while quail surrenders to a saltimbocca style atop green pea puree. Oh, and of course rabbit stars on a bed of fettuccine in white wine sauce. Very satisfying.
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