March 2017, Amaru
Big Eye Tuna / Sweet Ginger / Trout Pearls / Cured Melon Juice
With the sustainability of fine dining under siege, it is hard not to argue that restaurants like Amaru and sixpenny, which redefine the boundaries, without the largesse and costs that are undermining others at the top end, are the more progressive way forward. Chef Clinton McIver, and his small but talented brigade, present dishes with notable finesse and balance, that speak and connect with a new generation of diners. This beautifully balanced, and vibrantly uplifting dish, resonated with a delicacy of flavours which is indicative of the new wave of impressive talent that is shaping our culinary future.
1121 High Street, Armadale
Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm, Friday and Saturday from 12.30pm
Reservations: (03) 9822 0144
February 2017, sixpenny
Tomatoes w Clam butter & Caviar
There is a notable maturity and self assurance at sixpenny, both in terms of the narrative and structure of the menu, and with how gracefully the front of house showcase the overall experience. The departure of Chef James Parry has seen Aaron Ward confidently fill that void for Daniel Puskas, who continues to surprise and wow diners with his intuitive vision and exceptional execution. This restrained yet sophisticated dish is just one example, with the precise acidity and clarity of the core ingredient offset by the lush silky mouth feel of the divine clam butter, with caviar being a fitting exclamation mark.
83 Percival Road, Stanmore
Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm
Reservations: (02) 9572 6666
January 2017, Eleven Bridge
Hand rolled strozzapreti w Moreton Bay bug & crustacean butter
There should be a new reference point for the definition of sublime in the dictionary. Chef Phil Wood’s exquisite crustacean butter is extraordinary, and the joy from it being served with flawlessly hand rolled strozzapreti, and succulent Moreton Bay bug ticks all of my boxes. That rare gift of an intuitive sense of balance is bestowed upon very few in the culinary world, yet every single dish I taste from this Chef, convinces me he fully deserves to be considered in that elite category. If Eleven Bridge maintains these standards, it will forge a legacy in its own right, and I for one look forward to following its journey very closely.
11 Bridge Street, Sydney
Monday to Saturday from 5.30pm, Monday to Friday from 12pm
(02) 9252 1888
December 2016, Popolo
Squid ink fregola, calamari ragout, cuttlefish crudo, bottarga
There is an inherit beauty found within dishes embracing the simplicity of well-sourced produce, cooked with both love and respect. This memorable dish from the talented and ascendant Chef Naomi Lowry, and Popolo’s soulful pasta Chef Stefano Gaspa, is a perfect example of that timeless premise. The lushness of the flawless house-made squid ink fregola , offset by the clarity of flavour from the stunningly fresh calamari, amidst the nuance of textures, and haunting resonance of the sea, embodies the very essence of my love of food. It is a dish of abundant joy and promise, that celebrates the ethos and generosity of spirit, that passionate owner/operator Flavio Carnervale has encouraged, and seen flourish at Popolo, since opening in the shadow of more grandiose adjacent concepts, long since passed. This is a restaurant, that is genuinely both for, and of the people…
30 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay
Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm, Friday to Sunday from 12noon, 11.30am to 2.30pm, Saturday to Sunday from 8am
(02) 9361 6641
November 2016, Bistrot Gavroche
Sautéed veal sweetbreads, with green peas, onions and bacon
Head Chef Frederic Colin pays homage to his grandfather Henri, who mentored him from the age of ten, with dishes from the heart, just like this one. The simple comforting joy of well cooked sweetbreads unfortunately been lost to a modern generation of diners, but occasionally there is a Chef nostalgic enough to revive them with as much humility as Bistrot Gavroche did on their menu. This classic dish is all about flavour and texture, and rarely is it as skilfully executed, and with as much love, as was evident here.
Level 1, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Monday to Saturday 6pm to late, Sunday 6.30 to 9.30pm, Monday to Friday 11.30am to 2.30pm, Saturday to Sunday 10.30am to 3pm
(02) 8065 7223
October 2016, Bishop Sessa
Coal grilled Burrawong Gaian Pekin duck breast
The synergy between the Chef and a Producer, who share the same ethical and sustainable philosophy, is “The Grail” that every true food lover searches for endlessly on every plate. In my opinion, award-winning Burrawong Gaian is the best poultry producer in Australia, and Chef Paul Cooper is one of the best exponents of showcasing their genuinely pasture raised produce in the land. The resonant smokiness from the sublime duck breast being astutely grilled over coals, served with intensely evil duck fat fudge, hay braised carrots, and a memorable coffee and pumpkin puree, ticked all of my boxes. This is what real dining is all about, spectacular produce, respectfully and innovatively prepared by a Chef at the very top of his game!
527 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Monday to Saturday (Lunch & Dinner)
(02) 8065 7223
September 2016, O Bar and Dining
Hand Picked Crab Salad
As the seasons change, so do the construct of dishes. Spring evokes a lighter and more vibrant touch on the plate, and Head Chef Darren Templeman playfully celebrates the breadth of that spirit, with this beautiful tribute to natures awakening. Stunningly fresh Fraser Island Crab, is delicately paired with smoked almonds, cultured curds and an eye-catching nasturtium dressing. This elegant dish of the month welcomes both the new season in style, underpinned by the culinary Holy Trinity of balance, textures and flavours…
Level 47, Australia Square
264 George Street, Sydney
7 nights from 5pm to late, Wednesday to Friday from 12 noon
Lounge Bar 7 nights from 5pm to late
(02) 9247 9777
August 2016, Otto
Confit Duck Leg, parsnip, cherries, pistachio
Less is more. The beautiful simplicity of a well-executed dish is too often undervalued, but the Chef who understands the beneficial strengths of restraint, is at the very top of their game. Chef Richard Ptacnik at Otto showcases that philosophy, with dishes that deliver flavour and joy in abundance. His take on this timeless classic is both subtle and respectful, yet is delivered with distinctive texture and clarity. Less is more…
Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo
Monday to Sunday 12pm to 10.30pm
(02) 9368 7488
July 2016, Pilu at Freshwater
Melanda Park free range oven roasted suckling pig
Signature dishes are often thrust upon restaurants by the dining public, who simply make it impossible to remove it from the menu, as opposed to being immodestly self-appointed by the Chef. Sometimes, even despite its popularity, familiarity breeds a strange form of contempt through constant repetition, when far more innovative dishes sadly remain unloved on the menu. However, when quality suckling pig is lovingly oven roasted ‘old school’, with this level of intuitive precision, and such heavenly texture and flavour, you simply have to chalk one up for the power of the people, and be entirely thankful for their undying vigilance in ensuring others have the same opportunity to savour it as well!
“On the beach”, Moore Road, Freshwater
Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm, Tuesday to Sunday from 12noon
(02) 9938 3331
June 2016, eightysix
Pumpkin & mascarpone tortellini
The restaurant scene in Canberra does not get much hipper than eightysix. The next generation front of house and brigade have a distinct swagger about them, but significantly they walk the talk, delivering dishes as accomplished as this one. The textbook house-made tortellini is absolutely flawless, with a silky pumpkin filling that harmoniously sings with the moreish burnt butter sauce, and crispy sage. The mascarpone adds a lush element, that seals the deal.
cnr Elouera & Lonsdale Streets, Braddon (ACT)
Monday to Sunday 6pm to late, Friday 12 to 3pm
(02) 6161 8686
May 2016, Aubergine
Pork belly, cuttlefish, sweet corn, kimchi butter & radish cress
The recent evolution of the culinary landscape in the ACT, owes much to its passionate local advocate, Chef Ben Willis, and his fine dining restaurant Aubergine. The standards set since 2008, have been of a consistency that very few have been able to maintain, and is one of the significant reasons why the legacy of this restaurant will continue to resonate for a substantial period of time. By way of example, this exceptional dish, epitomises the nuance of balance, sublime texture and innovative flavours, that clearly identified Aubergine as the best restaurant in this region. The techniques and produce that underpin this dish, are precisely why it remains a destination restaurant for lovers of fine food throughout the country.
18 Barker Street, Griffith (ACT)
Monday to Saturday from 6pm
(02) 6260 8666
April 2016, Ume
Sesame Roasted Broccolini, Fried Summer Squash, Roasted Baby Onion, Dashi Braised Carrot, Buckwheat Custard, Sake Lees Vinegar Dressing
Chef Kerby Craig, who worked with Tetsuya Wakuda at Rozelle, showcases his own take on contemporary Japanese cuisine at Ume. This impressive standout from the 7 course tasting menu ($96), is one of the most cohesive and memorable vegetarian dishes that I have had; a veritable master class of technique, texture, flavour, and balance. Apart from each element being executed with precision, the synergy between the elements was absolutely outstanding.
478 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Tuesday to Thursday 6pm to 10pm, Friday to Saturday 6 to 10.30pm, Saturday 12 to 2.30pm
(02) 9380 7333
March 2016, Regatta
The classic signature dishes of Damien Pignolet will always remain timeless. Since taking on the role of Executive Chef at Regatta, Sydneysiders’ who fell in love with his memorable French food at Claude’s and Bistro Moncur, and perhaps even earlier than that, will have the chance to relive and sigh their way though some of his memorable dishes again. The magnificence of this dish lays within the lightness of texture and balanced resonance of flavours. The fact that is also seasoned precisely, and has risen perfectly with a caramelised dome, is all part of the sound techniques that Head Chef Ben Fitton brings to the table at this beautiful location.
594 New South Head Road
Tue-Sat (12pm to late), Sun (12 to 5pm)
(02) 9327 6561
February 2016, momofuku seiōbo
Marron, young coconut, koji butter
This is without doubt the most divine marron dish I have ever tasted, which is not surprising given the outrageous quantity of koji butter that Chef Paul Carmichael lovingly applied whilst it cooked on the robata grill. The sublime texture, smoky flavour and moist defibrillating ratio of residual butter with each mouthful, just makes me quiver thinking of it. Seasoned to the edge, it is served together with an equally rich busted roti, onion and muntries, but it’s a case of ‘double jeopardy’, as I have already flat-lined in the best possible manner!
Level G, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street
Mon–Sat (Dinner), Sat (Lunch)
(02) 9777 9000
January 2016, Berowra Waters Inn
Scallop. White Bean. Chorizo
Put simply, Chef Brian Geraghty has resurrected this much revered culinary icon back to the where it deservedly belongs; at the very top of the culinary tree. This dish selected from a dizzying degustation of immense high points, was simply flawless. Two pristine, beautifully plump and perfectly executed seared scallops, counterpointed with a chorizo crumble, white bean puree, and plated more exquisitely than I had envisaged it, was an absolute joy. The skill set that underpinned the precise texture, seasoning and balance was humbling, from any critical perspective. Having dined just two weeks after the Chef had taken over the reigns in 2012, I never countenanced the possibility of the quantum leap that he has achieved since, both quietly and purposefully. Bravo!
Via East and West Public Wharves, Berowra Waters
Fri-Sat (Lunch & Dinner), Sun (Lunch only)
December 2015, Da Vinci’s
Homemade orecchiette w Italian sausage & broccoli drizzled w EVOO
The simplicity and sheer joy of a dish made with both love and care is timeless. Da Vinci’s in Summer Hill is the quintessential friendly neighbourhood trattoria we all wished was just around the corner in our suburb to share with friends and family. The fact it may just serve the best gelato and pizza in Sydney and surrounds is something that I will revisit in more detail at another time, as this humble yet divine orecchiette dish deserves a special mention. Not one element needed to be tweaked, as each mouthful delivered the harmony and passion of a kitchen that is immensely proud of both its culture and tradition…
25 Lackey Street, Summer Hill
Monday to Friday 5pm to 9.30pm, Saturday to Sunday 11am to 3pm & 5pm to late
(02) 9716 9000
November 2015, Billy Kwong
Crispy Skin (Burrawong Gaian) Duck
What culinary magic is possible on the plate when celebrated Chef Kylie Kwong collaborates with award-winning Mid-North Coast Burrawong Gaian poultry producers Beth and Hayden McMillan?
The result is a spectacular signature dish of exquisite balance and harmony, spicing, textures, and flavours. The Humane Choice accredited pasture raised duck is trimmed, covered with Szechuan pepper and salt, and left to marinate overnight. It is then steamed for one and a half hours, cooled, de-boned and then coated with plain flour, deep-fried until perfectly crispy, and finally left to rest. What seals the deal is the spectacular citrus sauce that features sublime organic Davidson’s plums, consolidated with caramel (water and brown sugar), cassia bark, fish sauce and star anise.
Ultimately, a Chef’s primary job is to interpret, honour and showcase the integrity of the produce, and I am not sure I have seen a better example recently of that synergy than this…
Shop 1, 28 Macleay Street, Potts Point
Seven nights from 5.30pm (and from 12 noon to 9pm for lunch and dinner on Sundays)
(02) 9332 3300
Squid ink spaghettini w chilli & orange
Owner Stuart Knox sensibly has never allowed Fix St James to be something it is not, which allows Chef Mark Archer to produce such simple, but immensely satisfying dishes like this divine squid ink pasta. The texture and silky mouth-feel, delivered with along with a stunning clarity of flavour, with just the faintest hint of a heat note from the chilli, balanced off nicely by the orange zest, completes a very more-ish dish that represents the DNA of this very popular restaurant.
The bonus of having a such a diverse and intriguing wine list, presented by such well-informed and passionate front of house, seals the deal as you relax and just watch the frenetic pace of the world pass you by…
111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Monday to Wednesday 12pm to 9pm, Thursday 12pm to 9.30pm, Friday 12 pm to 10pm, Saturday 5.30pm to 9pm
(02) 9232 2767
September 2015, O Bar and Dining
White miso-glazed ruby tuna w robata-charred asparagus, Japanese turnips, lemon and quinoa
Some dishes read particularly well on a menu, then seduce the eye and senses, and this was one of them. Chef Darren Templeman and Owner Michael Moore have made eating well a guiltless pleasure, as they continue to redefine the limitless possibilities and boundaries of healthy eating. This was a fresh produce driven dish, that was a masterclass of balance, textures and flavour, from a kitchen that is fully delivering on its promise.
Level 47, Australia Square
264 George Street, Sydney
Monday to Sunday from 5.30pm to late, Friday from 12 noon
Bar & Tapas 7 nights from 5pm to late
(02) 9247 9777
August 2015, ONE6EIGHT
Braised pork jowl w lemon balm, caramelised parsnip & fennel salad
There are certain Chefs who can deliver the core flavour profile of produce better than others, and Chef Leigh McDivitt is undoubtedly one of them. However, that clarity of flavour and layering of textures is underpinned by very sound technical skills that enable him to assemble a multitude of components on a plate with both cohesion and purpose. This simpler, but nonetheless extremely well executed dish, is an unapologetic homage to everything that is entirely joyous about food. The sublime richness of the fatty jowl and reduction, is intelligently cut across by the freshness of the lemon balm and fennel, leaving the diner in a state of sheer unadulterated bliss.
233 Darling Street, Balmain
Wednesday to Friday 6pm to midnight, Saturday to Sunday midday to midnight
(02) 9555 8750
July 2015, Raita Noda Chef’s Kitchen
What better way to showcase premium hand harvested sea urchin, than to slice impossibly thin sheets of fresh cuttlefish, to form a pristine sashimi take on ravioli. Garnished with luscious salmon pearls, black salt, yuzu zest and sesame, it is the very essence of divine culinary perfection, that dissolves like a stolen kiss. With only just eight seats, immensely talented Chef Raita Noda (ex Ocean Room) has the privilege of creating such masterpieces, literally in the moment…
Suite 1, 222 Riley Street, Surry Hills
Monday to Saturday 7pm to late
Reservations: (02) 8093 9807
June 2015, LuMi Bar & Dining
Ravioli w Gruyère & porcini butter
What happens when absolutely perfect house made ravioli is entirely self-sauced by a warm decadent liquid filling of Gruyère, goat’s cheese, porcini butter, and perhaps a touch of cream? Something akin to wow, blissful, sigh worthy, and just pure damn sexy! Some very respected palates, had insisted to me on numerous occasions that Lumi Bar and Dining was a must visit, and they were 100% correct. Like last month, this incredible dish touched upon the very essence of perfection.
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont (opposite Star Casino)
Wednesday to Sunday 6 to 10pm, Friday to Sunday 12 to 2.30pm
Reservations: (02) 95711999
May 2015, Marque
Smoked Eel w Parmesan Gnocchi & Pumpkin
The great chefs strive for perfection with every dish. Whilst it is impossible to fulfil that aspiration, that elusive quest has relentlessly driven Mark Best and his world-class restaurant for the past sixteen years. Extraordinary thin slices of astutely smoked eel, sit temptingly amidst a delicate consommé, with the texture of the gnocchi transcending the very definition of sublime. The overall nuance and balance of flavour is absolutely breathtaking, essentially making it flawless in every aspect.
4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Monday to Friday from 6.30pm, Saturday from 6pm, Friday from 12noon
Reservations: (02) 93322225
April 2015, The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay
Pan fired Coffin Bay Red Mullet, Ink, Spelt, Chorizo & Squid
The Boathouse at Blackwattle Bay, home to its much revered snapper pie, has a proud tradition of quality seafood dishes. Chef Colin Barker, whose career can be traced back to Banc, continues to talk the talk and walk the walk at the helm of this very talented and proficient kitchen. Coffin Bay red mullet, is flawlessly pan-fried, showcasing both the freshness and flavour profile spectacularly. The real key for me though, is the intelligent pairing with the luxuriously squid ink coated spelt and chorizo, which offers just the right balance of flavour and texture to a fish, that is deserved of a wider audience.
123 Ferry Road, Glebe
Tuesday to Sunday from 6pm, Friday to Sunday 12pm to 3pm
Reservations: (02) 95189011
March 2015, A “Tail” of Two Chefs, O Bar and Dining
Blood macaron, quince & Stilton
Chef Phil Whitmarsh talks, walks and breathes the nose to tail concept of dining, but even knowing that, the concept of a blood macaron even bended my mind. Replacing the egg whites fully with blood, and also incorporating it into the icing sugar and almond mix, without losing the effect of lightness, is quite brave and brilliant. To balance the underlying sweetness, and quirky resonance of the savoury aspect, with the saltiness of the Stilton, and the acidity from the quince, is right up my alley. Apparently, Fergus Henderson didn’t love the version he tried with the bone marrow custard, but I was absolutely besotted by this take. I unashamedly begged, borrowed and stole for more! In a month of quality dishes, this is the one that unequivocally captured my interest…
A ‘Tail’ of Two Chefs was a collaboration between Phil Whitmarsh and Darren Templeman, the first in a series of ‘pop up’ guest chef dinners to be held at O Bar and Dining.
February 2015, Booth Street Bistro
Confit leg & roasted breast of Tinder Creek duck, braised red cabbage, caramelised apple & green pepper sauce
Life without duck confit; sorry I cannot even countenance that possibility! So having being deprived of an exceptional offering since Jeremy Strode’s at Bistrode (Surry Hills), the search for the next great one had at times been quite unforgiving, until now! Chef Wayne Borgese-Coom, not only delivered an absolutely sublime confit leg that had all the angels singing, but threw in a perfectly roasted breast for good measure. This is why I love food, and I will be back for it again, and again…
127 Booth Street, Annandale
Tuesday to Friday 7.30am to 12am, Saturday to Sunday 8am to 12am Reservations: (02) 96606652
January 2015, Fix St James
Raw tuna w avocado, apple & pork skin
Fix St James has always presented the type of comforting food that I like to eat on a regular basis. What is noticeable however is the touch of refinement that Chef Mark Archer (ex Tomislav, Pello & Becasse) has recently added to the plate since taking over the role as Head Chef. Solid combinations, elegantly plated with a little twist fit the brief here perfectly. Whilst this dish involved little actual cooking, it was the lovely cohesion of flavour and textures that made it an absolute pleasure to eat. The bonus of course is what Owner and Sommelier Stuart Knox can put in your glass, making it the type of restaurant that will have you returning for more.
111 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
Monday to Wednesday 5.30pm to 9pm, Thursday 5.30pm to 9.30pm, Friday 5.30pm to 10pm, Saturday 6pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday 12noon to 3pm
Reservations: (02) 9232 2767
December 2014, Dragoncello
Crispy skin barramundi w cauliflower puree, buerre noisette & vadouvan spice
Chef Roy McVeigh (ex sous chef at Berowra Waters Inn, Bar H and Bathers Pavillion, with Guillaume at Bennelong, Michelin experience in Hong Kong, and stages at Attica and Royal Mail) has serious time and weight behind him in quality restaurants to justify heading up the kitchen, and opening Dragoncello. His pedigree is patently obvious in this dish, with absolute precision cooking of the fish, sublime sense of balance using a very complex blend of spicing, in a most intelligent take on a dry fish curry. Cleary, the fish has been handled very astutely, and with the technique and innovation to showcase it properly, a simple dish has been elevated to something memorable.
466 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
Wednesday 5pm to 11pm, Friday 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm, Saturday to Sunday 7am to 11am, 12pm to 3pm, 5pm to 11pm
Reservations: (02) 83990907
November 2014, Guillaume
Glacier 51 Patagonian Toothfish w peas, confit onion, speck, chicken jus & béarnaise
Matthew Evans, former SMH food critic, now far better known from SBS’s popular Gourmet Farmer TV series, recently raised the publics general awareness surrounding the lack of sustainable fishing practices within the worldwide seafood industry. Fortunately, Heard Island’s Glacier 51 Toothfish with an MSC certification, meets and exceeds those expectations whilst showcasing this amazing deep-sea fish to food loving diners. Renown for its sublime texture, Guillaume takes it to another level with an incredible display of technique and intuitive execution. Garnished with a benchmark béarnaise, and accompanied by an exquisitely balanced chicken jus, it is simply a flawless dish with the speck, asparagus and peas adding counterpoint texture and flavour.
92 Hargrave Street, Paddington
Tuesday to Saturday from 5.45pm, Friday to Saturday from midday
Reservations: (02) 93025222
October 2014, Rockpool
Sterling caviar w soft poached egg, crispy potato & allemande sauce
From an absolutely stunning dinner in which any course would have been worthy to be selected as Dish of the Month, both the simplicity and quality of the elements brought together so harmoniously with such a level of finesse, resonated with all the diners at my table. A humble, yet perfectly poached organic hens egg, sitting on a light potato blini, coated with a luscious allemande sauce under a crispy potato netting is a playful and clever idea. However, the generous garnish of Sterling Caviar, combined with the oozy texture of the yolk, elevated the dish to one of those rare culinary dining moments when everyone goes fervently quiet. Sharing that joy with friends in the sumptuous new dining room in The Burns Philp Building made it even more memorable…
11 Bridge Street, Sydney
Monday to Saturday from 6pm, Monday to Friday from 12pm
Reservations: (02) 92521888
September 2014, Eschalot
Beef fillet, smoked brisket, pumpkin & caramelised onions
Chef Jerad Dunnohew, originally from Wyoming can certainly cook protein with both confidence and precision. Having previously worked in Omega, Manta and Restaurant Balzac sensibly he does not overcomplicate the flavour combinations, and rather places trust in his produce and technique to deliver a robust dish that could turn the most devout vegan. Alternating slices of exquisitely rare beef fillet and astutely smoked tender brisket are accompanied by a thick unapologetic concentrated jus that hits all the right primal notes. Despite the peripheral textural plays, this is not a dish that will not be remembered for its nuance, but I would not change a thing.
24 Old Hume Highway, Berrima
Dinner Wed to Sat 6 to 10pm, Lunch Thu to Sun 12 to 3pm
Reservations: (02) 48771977
August 2014, Berta
Burrawong Duck Terrine Marsala w pistachio & mustard
In a perfect world, there would be zero separation between a Chef and the Producer, delivering dishes of unrivalled integrity and harmony. The collaboration between Beth McMillan of Burrawong Gaian poultry and Time Out Chef of the Year O Tama Carey for Berta’s special Duck Sagra dinner is an inspired example. From a menu of many highlights, the thickly cut rustic Marsala duck terrine was a textural and flavour driven masterpiece, showcasing in my opinion, the best and most genuine pasture raised poultry in the country. The unmistakable point of difference shone like a beacon through the sadly diminishing old school technique of charcuterie; which has always been the true measure of a Chef. The respect shown throughout this dish, from paddock to plate, is the grail that all passionate and sustainable driven diners seek.
17-19 Alberta Street, Sydney
Tuesday to Saturday 6pm to late, Friday 12pm to 3pm (Aperitivo 3pm to 6pm)
Reservations: (02) 92646133
July 2014, Mantecato
Tagliatelle alla Carbonara Tartufata
What a better way to showcase an incredible season of stunningly aromatic Tasmanian truffles than making freshly house made tagliatelle using eggs stored with the truffles. The result of this very simple but effective step is an exceptional Carbonara, taken to the next level, with truffle permeating throughout every aspect of the dish. The pancetta, parmesan and cream are kept in exactly the right proportions, to avoid the usual mistakes made with this humble, but gratifying dish when it is done this well. It should be mentioned that risotto is the house speciality, so make sure you try that also, as the Alla Milanese con ossobuco ran a very close second.
125/89 Reynolds Street, Balmain (White Bay)
Tues to Sun 6pm to 10pm
Reservations: (02) 9810 9125
June 2014, Edible Journal Dinner
Chawanmushi w lotus root & sea urchin
When Chef Darren Templeman (formerly Restaurant Atelier) started exploring and incorporating a diversity of Asian influences into his cuisine, it was a clear diversion from the more French influenced style that he was more renowned for. This intensely profound and personal journey recently culminated with the opportunity to work with respected Michelin starred Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa, and the results of that are entirely stunning. The concepts that previously had relevance and purpose, now had the cohesion and clarity to make them complete. This perfect dish of sublime nuance and textures, signified a culinary epiphany for a Chef, who at great personal cost, had refused to accept the boundaries that existed within the restaurant environment and bravely trusted his instincts…
Note: Chef Darren Templeman is currently using the blank and unrestricted canvas of the pop-up environment to continue to explore and challenge the boundaries of his food style.
May 2014, Armidale Pop-up and Sugarcane (dual winners)
Slow wood roasted Milly Hill lamb shoulder w minted roast Dutch crème potatoes, carrots & brussel sprouts (Armidale Pop-up) / Milly Hill lamb ribs w chilli jam & basil (Sugarcane)
In a first, we have a split decision this month, the common denominator being the award winning Milly Hill Lamb from New England. In order, a slow cooked lamb shoulder (8 hours at 120°c) by Chefs Darren Templeman, Adam Moore and Dylan Carter, finished off in a spectacular wood fired oven for 10-15 minutes at 390°c, had the pop-up sighing as soon as the first shared plates hit the table. Exceptional integrity of flavour, with absolutely sublime texture is proof that less is indeed more, particularly with produce of this calibre. Nothing more needs to be added, other than the minted roast Dutch crème potatoes, carrots and brussel sprouts that were drizzled in lamb fat, and wood fired with sea salt. Then, a different Pan Asian twist to the produce at Sugarcane from Chef Milan Strbac, but equally as stunning, with sticky caramelised chilli jam ribs falling off the bone delivering that distinctive core flavour from a different perspective, but with the same result; total gratification! Ultimately, both are entirely honest and uncomplicated dishes that showcase this produce at its very best.
40A Resevoir Street, Surry Hills
Wednesday to Friday 12-2.30pm, Monday to Saturday 6 to 10pm
Reservations: (02) 9281 1788
April 2014, Bitton Café and Bistro
W.A Scampi carpaccio w Perigord truffle sabayon & bush herbs salad
This sublime dish, specially prepared for a Gault & Millau “Fashion meets Food” event, which featured a stimulating discussion on emerging global food trends, showcased absolutely sensational Australian produce in such an incredibly sophisticated and delicate manner. The subtle and exquisitely light play of textures simply kissed the palate, with the local Tasmanian truffle adding a seductive aromatic that properly welcomed Chief Judge Marc Esquerré from France. The touch of seasoning on the truffle sabayon, and the light drizzle of Rylstone olive oil finished off a very memorable course that was befitting of such an occasion.
36-37A Copeland Street, Alexandria
Breakfast and Lunch (Monday to Sunday) Dinner (Wednesday to Saturday)
Reservations: (02) 9519 5111
March 2014, Bishop Sessa
Wagyu heart tartare w capers, chilli, pickled garlic & sweet peppers
There are few Chefs that not only embrace, but fervently practice the art behind the nose to tail philosophy like Paul Cooper. He came to Sydney from Melbourne with a very strong reputation for respecting and fully utilising every aspect of the entire animal. Whilst some other kitchens may prefer to cherry pick pre packaged premium cuts, Bishop Sessa orders in whole, or sides, of ethically raised animals, and breaks them down using old school in-house butchery skills, which clearly offers benefits to both the diner and restaurant. Rarely seen elsewhere on menus, the Wagyu heart tartare at Bishop Sessa is an exquisitely balanced dish that has a dreamy texture, with quite a subtle yet refined flavour profile. This lovely dish fully epitomises the point of difference that a commitment to sustainable techniques and produce can offer the diner through some basic respect being shown.
527 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Monday to Saturday 12pm to late
Reservations: (02) 8065 7223
February 2014, The Devonshire
Devonshire tea crème brûlée w scone ice cream, cherry jam & whipped cream
The stunning aspect of this signature dessert from respected Chef Jeremy Bentley (ex The Square, London and Restaurant Balzac) is the absolutely flawless execution of each element in this innovative and playful take on a classical Devonshire tea. The exquisite consistency and balance of the tea flavoured crème brûlée works a dream with the unique scone ice cream, the slight tartness of the cherry jam, and richness of the fresh whipped cream. The sum of those elements quintessentially tap the sense memory of those traditional Devonshire teas that you have previously enjoyed, with a wink and a nod from one of Sydney’s most talented and experienced Chefs.
204 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills
Tuesday to Saturday 6pm to 10pm, Friday 12pm to 2.30pm
Reservations: (02) 9698 9427
January 2014, Fig (Sawtell)
Milly Hill lamb rump w onion chickpea puree, mixed grain salad, orange cumin roasted carrots, port thyme jus w yoghurt & mint
Chef Phil Woolaston (ex Fins), is a champion for showcasing the produce of the Mid North Coast region and surrounds. Underpinned by the technical expertise to back that philosophy up, and you have the perfect formula for everything a memorable regional restaurant should aspire to. Enter the respected Milly Hill Lamb, with a spectacularly flavoursome rump cut that is simply cooked beyond compare, and it is game on. The mixed grains work perfectly as the textural element, with the onion chickpea puree, minted yoghurt and port thyme jus bringing the dish together perfectly. It is some of the most joyously cohesive and robust cooking that just makes me want to return immediately for more. Enough said.
2 First Avenue, Sawtell
Wednesday to Monday from 5.30pm
Reservations: (02) 6658 3638
December 2013, Restaurant Atelier
Chef Darren Templeman, who was trained in the great battleground kitchens of London, has always provided the most generous and well executed foie gras dishes in Sydney, for those not polarised by the concept. With such a decadent high fat content, it takes confidence in your skill and intuition to cook it to absolute precision, and given the cost, failure is not a viable option. Seasoned, and flash seared for roughly 20 seconds on either side in a red-hot skillet, it is astutely served with charred summer squash, golden raisins, capers and red veined sorrel which provides just the right sweetness and acidity to perfectly balance the dish. I could not think of a more sublime offering for any last supper…
Restaurant Atelier sadly closed on 31 December 2013
November 2013, Ceto
Carpaccio of Mango
The optimist always believes the next great dish is just around the corner. However, never did I envisage finding the best dessert I had tasted this year in Ulladulla, or even in nearby Mollymook for that matter. This sublime and stunning seasonal dessert from Pastry Chef Jean-Charles Sommer (ex Bilson’s) is simply perfection on a slate. A compressed carpaccio of new season mango, with lime and lime zest is heavenly in isolation, but with the flawless mango sorbet, fascinating native Australian lemon aspen jelly and vanilla cream and puffed rice, it is elevated to one of those rare and divine moments that just simply makes one sigh…
5/84 Princes Highway, Ulladulla
Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday 6pm to late, Friday to Sunday 12pm to 2.30pm
Reservations: (02) 4454 2486
October 2013, sixpenny
Snow Crab, Macadamia & Camomile
Natural restraint with a lightness of touch is a gift that very few Chefs are fortunate to possess. It adds both clarity and nuance to a dish, that achieves far more than a plate full of bold and incoherent flavours. The success of Sixpenny is that Daniel Puskas and James Parry use that skill throughout their entire menu and the perfect example is the Snow crab, macadamia and camomile dish which has been there since day one in various guises. The number one mistake with crab dishes, is other ingredients being allowed to muddle and overwhelm its beautiful distinctive flavour for absolutely no good reason. No such folly is committed here with beautifully steamed snow crab, camomile, macadamia milk, oil and shavings combining in a symphony of such delicate notes, it almost brought a tear to my eye…
83 Percival Road, Stanmore
Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm
Reservations: (02) 9572 6666
September 2013, Brooks of Melbourne
Nic’s souvenir of Laguiole Meli of vegetables
There are some dishes that just instantly steal your heart when they hit the table, and this is one of them. Chef Nic Poelaert, pays homage to his time spent with the legendary Michel Bras, with a breathtakingly beautiful tapestry of nature, comprising of an absolute stunning plethora of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers that are a harmonious composite of flavours, temperatures, acidity and texture. With individually dressed components, and a series of purees that offer a multi dimensional aspect, depending on your palate and combination of components chosen, this dish would turn any seasoned carnivore on first glance. The overall provenance, and integrity of the foraged items used, takes it to the next level and ensures it completely delivers on its seductive promise.
Basement 115-117 Collins Street, Melbourne
Monday to Friday 11.30 am to late, Saturday 4.30pm to late
Reservations: (03) 9001 8755
August 2013, Chin Chin
When talented Head Chef Benjamin Cooper of Chin Chin said he was trialling some new dishes for the menu whilst I was on a recent Melbourne trip, both curiosity and anticipation got the better of me, despite excessively indulging up to that point in a city that has such an enviable dining culture. However, from the very first look as it hit the table, as the aromatics of the Beef Rendang instantaneously ignited the senses, I intuitively knew it was potentially a bit special providing that could translate into flavour. A gentle nudge with the chopsticks, confirmed the texture of the beef was absolutely exceptional, whilst the consistency and dark colour of the curry paste, painstakingly perfected through four evolutions, was absolutely flawless. On tasting, the seductive balance of flavours, precise seasoning and beautifully resonating heat note, fully delivered on its promise. For those like me wanting Benjamin’s recipe after they try it, I have been assured it will be a strong contender for inclusion should a second Chin Chin cookbook get a start.
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Monday to Sunday 11am to late
Reservations for one table of 10-12 people: (03) 8663 2000
July 2013, Luke Burgess at Sixpenny
Creamed heirloom corn from last summer, uni & walnut
All that Luke Burgess learnt between his apprenticeship at Tetsuya’s and his stint at Noma has been expressed with humility and grace at his restaurant Garagistes. So the opportunity to try his food in a dream collaboration with the equally respected and talented duo of Daniel Puskas and James Parry was too irresistible to miss. In truth, any number of dishes from this special Sixpenny and friends event could have been picked, but for me this dish best summed up the ethos of these three Chefs. Superb heirloom corn from the last summer had been dried between four to five months, and then milled only two days before to retain all the natural starches and the sugars. It was cooked in buttermilk and stock for seven hours, and finished with a touch of butter, walnuts and uni (sea urchin) to achieve a breathtakingly stunning clarity of flavour and texture. The combination of inspired produce, patience and simplicity is proof that less is indeed more with just a little thought…
83 Percival Road, Stanmore
Dinner: Wednesday to Saturday from 6pm, Lunch: Saturday and Sunday from 12pm
Reservations: (02) 9572 6666
June 2013, Biota Dining & Rooms
Pork cheek, celeriac, persimmon, chestnuts & autumn ashes
Rarely would a large table with such an eclectic mix of aspiring and experienced Chefs, bloggers and seasoned diners ever openly admit to agreeing on anything, but this dish from the immensely talented James Viles and Grant Croft at Biota Dining achieved 100% consensus. Considering the overall lofty standard of the degustation, for one dish to stand out so clearly, deserved not only dish of the month, but also its place as a very strong contender for dish of the year. The texture and flavour of the sticky pork cheek transcended sublime, as a collective silence descended on a fairly animated table as we all had a moment. Celeriac, persimmon, chestnuts and intriguing ‘Autumn ashes’ played a part in balancing out the dish, but it was all about that oh so perfect pork cheek we had on such an equally divine day in The Southern Highlands…
18 Kangaloon Road, Bowral
Dinner: Thursday to Monday (excluding Sunday), Lunch: Thursday to Monday (including Brunch on Sunday)
Reservations: (02) 4862 2005
May 2013, Sepia
New Zealand scampi cooked over Japanese charcoal w sudachi lime, pumpkin, shellfish mousse & shiso
The wow factor on the charcoal grilled NZ scampi is simply ‘off the charts’. The dish is without peer in terms of flawless execution and harmony, served on Japanese pumpkin, with a sudachi lime gel, heavenly shellfish mousse, and topped with salted crumb made from the shell of the scampi, with a garnish of shiso. Too rarely I encounter dishes that truly brush with perfection, but this is as close as it gets, where texture and flavours exist in blissful harmony.
Ground Floor, Darling Park, 201 Sussex St, Sydney
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm, Lunch: Friday & Saturday from 12noon
Reservations: (02) 9283 1990
April 2013, Libertine
Escargot de Bourgogne
Having only recently emerged from the age of molecular gastronomy, and various other phases of deconstruction, minimalism and re-interpretation, the simplicity and joy of the Escargot de Bourgogne is as breathtaking in terms of gratification as anything I have had recently. The pleasure of a timeless uncomplicated dish, done without ego, and from the heart is what food is truly about at the end of the day.
Note: Libertine sadly closed in June 2103.
March 2013, Billy Kwong
Caramelised Wallaby tail with black bean & chilli
The choice for “Dish of the month” was a tough decision. The pasture-fed wallaby sourced through the Madden family’s Flinders Island Meat Company just edged out Beth and Hayden McMillan’s Burrawong Gaian Free-Range Peking Duck. In reality, both these dishes at Billy Kwong are sensational examples of produce which have an entirely transparent and ethical process from ‘paddock to plate’. The Wallaby is gathered strictly on a quota basis, which is mindful of maintaining a population size that is sustainable for the unique environment it inhabits. Chef Kylie Kwong does not hold back with a magnificent mound of ‘sticky’ caramelised tail meat, coated with an unsurpassed black bean sauce, and a precise chilli note for the occasion that is “sigh worthy”. The “wow” factor on this dish is “off the charts”, and a perfect way to showcase a unique and relatively new meat to the local dining landscape.
Shop 3, 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Mon-Thu 6pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 6pm to 11pm, Sun 6pm to 9.30pm
Reservations: (02) 93323300
February 2013, 3 Weeds
Braised lamb pie with garlic, mushrooms & tarragon jus
Who would have thought that the humble pie could reach such lofty and blissful heights? Chef Lauren Murdoch, now at 3 Weeds in Rozelle, delivers divinely braised lamb in a golden dome of textbook puff pastry that sits proudly like a monument, amidst a sea of unctuous tarragon and mushroom jus, that is quite frankly lick your plate worthy. This dish encapsulates technique, gratification and desire all on one plate. Combine it with a side of silky garlic mash and you are simply in heaven…
193-197 Evans Street, Rozelle
Tue-Sat from 6pm
Reservations: (02) 98182788
January 2013, Restaurant Atelier
Confit King Prawn with charred baby cos, smoked pork belly, dashi radish, black olive & yarrow leaf
22 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Tue to Sat from 6pm
Reservations: (02) 95662112
December 2012, Berowra Waters Inn
Slow cooked rib of beef with potato terrine & braised cos
Via East and West Public Wharves, Berowra Waters
Fri-Sat (Lunch & Dinner), Sun (Lunch only)
Reservations: (02) 94561027