Australian dining experiences to put on your must-visit list right now.
By Leah Dobihal
From fine dining to beachside bites, the Australian culinary scene has welcomed a horde of incredible new restaurants in recent months. Whether you’re in the city, suburbs or countryside, Australia serves up new restaurants that are worth a stop.
New South Wales
Poly is one new Sydney restaurant that really brings the heat – literally. Fire is the hero here, as is the extensive 12-page wine list. Nestled in Sydney’s Surry Hills, Poly offers a wine-bar atmosphere with a full restaurant menu. Like many Australian venues, Poly changes its modern Australian menu often to showcase limited produce, which means your experience will differ each time you walk through the door. The eatery has even been nominated for ‘Arrival of the Year’ by The World Restaurant Awards 2019. Try the list of small plates, like rock oysters and scallops, before digging into heartier dishes like whole flounder.
Stroll down a hidden alley in The Rocks, one of Sydney’s most popular neighbourhoods, to find Tayim, a new Israeli street food restaurant set within a sandstone cavern. Here, Executive Chef Ran Kimelfeld brings a new approach to old cuisines, crafting a menu that focuses on bold, exotic share plates. Settle into the bustling brick venue and taste everything from roasted figs with chardonnay dressing to Wagyu beef cigars with turmeric tahini. Accompanying the dinner menu is a drinks list crafted by Reuvin Lim, who has also worked with Sydney favourites Saké and Tequila Mockingbird. Choices include beer, creative cocktails and wines from as far as Turkey and Italy.
Boasting a long list of awards and an inspiring young chef, Melbourne’s Sunda promises vibrant flavours and tasty share plates. In fact, the entire menu is meant to be shared either at the long communal tables downstairs or the individual tables upstairs. Chef Khanh Nguyen’s menu draws from both Asian and Australian cuisine, blending traditional herbs and spices with native Australian ingredients. You won’t want to leave without indulging in dishes that bring the best of both regions, like rock oyster with coconut curry vinaigrette or Fremantle octopus with lemongrass sambal. Select a sampling of the small and large plates, or let the kitchen choose for you with a beautiful set menu with matched beverages.
Congress, located in the hip Melbourne neighbourhood of Collingwood, believes that the act of eating is both instinctive and profound. Their philosophy is simple: offer superb service, promise great food and create genuine enjoyment. The menu showcases the same simplicity with a dash of intrigue, offering dishes like barramundi wings with pickled daikon and oyster with yuzu. Order a selection of the delicious dishes or opt for the chef’s set menu. Accompanying the thoughtful menu is a range of both Australian and international wines perfect for pairing.
If you love Japanese cuisine and innovative cooking techniques, then Adelaide’s Shobosho is a dining experience you don’t want to miss. Shobosho uses smoke, steam and fire to create flavours that are both interesting and true to the ancient traditions of Japanese yakitori, or grilled meat. Take a journey through the menu as you move from raw sashimi to spit-roasted meats, each simply seasoned to allow the cooking process to shine. The menu here changes daily depending on the seasonality and availability of the produce, but expect a high-quality range of noodles, bao, dumplings and seared meats and vegetables.
Australia’s abundant coastline has produced a true appreciation for fresh, local seafood within the country’s culinary scene. SeaSalt is the perfect example of the importance Australian cuisine places on using locally-caught, sustainable seafood. Located in the seaside neighbourhood of Henley Beach, just twenty minutes from Adelaide, SeaSalt’s menu changes daily depending on what the local fishers reel in each morning. While fish is a large part of the menu, diners will also enjoy fresh oysters, smoked eel, fried squid and chilli mudcrab. Sit down under brightly-coloured sun umbrellas and enjoy the coastal views before digging into a light lunch or hearty dinner. If you’d rather dine on the sand, SeaSalt will serve your meal to-go through their beachfront take-away window.
Nestled in the seaside town of Dunsborough in the southwest corner of Western Australia is a restaurant with a real sense of place. From the dishes to the décor, Yarri Restaurant and Bar reflects the land on which it sits. The restaurant’s interior features limestone, worn leather, copper and terracotta, hinting at the colours and textures of the surrounding bushland. Yarri’s ingredients also come directly from the region, celebrating the growers, farmers, distillers, fishers, butchers and cheesemakers from the local area. These fresh and sustainable ingredients allow chef Aaron Carr to create a menu that’s subtle, seasonal and authentic. Think torched kingfish, wood-grilled prawns and burnt cabbage with miso. The restaurant also features a range of dining options, from a chef’s table ‘theatre bar’ for degustation dining to relaxed outdoor dining under the trees in the courtyard.
Three Blue Ducks
Australia’s love for the acclaimed team from Three Blue Ducks is by no means new, but the restaurant’s recently-opened location in Brisbane is. The traditionally beachside restaurant has moved riverside, into the third level of chic hotel W Brisbane. Three Blue Ducks focuses on honest food, allowing sustainability and seasonality to dictate the menu. While Three Blue Ducks Brisbane has stayed true to the team’s paddock-to-plate philosophy, it has also brought Queensland’s fresh, local ingredients to the table. And with views over Brisbane River, it’s a dining experience that comes full circle. Try a plate of Moreton Bay bugs with lemon and fermented chilli, or dig into raw fish with paw paw and red onion. In addition to seafood, the menu features vegetarian plates and breads from the wood oven.
A recent renovation of Brisbane’s heritage listed Howard Smith Wharves has brought forth a new wave of riverside restaurants. Greca, located beneath the city’s iconic Story Bridge, is one of the region’s delicious newcomers. A contemporary Greek taverna by one of Australia’s most exciting restaurateurs Jonathan Barthelmess, Greca is inspired by the Mediterranean way of life – simple, slow, yet passionate. The menu celebrates the pleasure of eating together, offering up share plates ranging from artichokes with garlic sauce to grilled octopus with oregano. Order a sampling of the menu, or opt for the menu’s ‘Full Greek’ option, which serves up several courses of Greek cuisine.