September Dish of the Month (O Bar and Dining)

Hand Picked Crab Salad

hand-picked-crab-saladAs 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

Website: http://www.obardining.com.au

Twitter: @0bardining

See previous winners…

August Dish of the Month (Otto)

Confit Duck Leg, parsnip, cherries, pistachio

ottoLess 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

Website: http://ottoristorante.com.au/sydney/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ottoristorante

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ottoristorante/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ottoristorantesydney

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July Dish of the Month (Pilu at Freshwater)

Melanda Park free range oven roasted suckling pig

melanda-park-free-range-oven-roasted-suckiling-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

Website: http://www.pilu.com.au/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pilurestaurant

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Piluatfreshwater/

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June Dish of the Month (eightysix)

Pumpkin & mascarpone tortellini

pumpkin-mascarpone-tortelliniThe 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

Website: http://eightysix.com.au/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eateightysix/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eightysix/480462502008403

See previous winners…

May Dish of the Month (Aubergine)

Pork belly, cuttlefish, sweet corn, kimchi butter & radish cress

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

Website: http://www.aubergine.com.au/

Twitter: @aubergineben

Instagram: @aubergineben

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/auberginerestaurant

See previous winners…

April Dish of the Month (Ume)

Sesame Roasted Broccolini, Fried Summer Squash, Roasted Baby Onion, Dashi Braised Carrot, Buckwheat Custard, Sake Lees Vinegar Dressing

Sesame Roasted Broccolini, Fried Summer Squash, Roasted Baby Onion, Dashi Braised Carrot, Buckwheat Custard, Sake Lees Vinegar DressingChef 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

Website: http://umerestaurant.com.au/

Twitter: @umerestaurant

Instagram: @umerestaurant

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/umerestaurant/

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December Dish of the Month (Da Vinci’s)

Homemade orecchiette w Italian sausage & broccoli drizzled w EVOO

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

Website: http://www.davincispizzeria.com.au/pizza/

Instagram: @davincisitalianrestaurant

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Da-Vincis-Ristorante-Pizzeria-Gelateria/307337916059745

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November Dish of the Month (Billy Kwong)

Crispy Skin (Burrawong Gaian) Duck

Crispy Skin DuckWhat 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?

Chef and Producers

Chef Kylie Kwong with Beth & 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

Website: http://billykwong.com.au/

Twitter: @kwongkylie

Instagram: kylie_kwong

Producers: http://burrawonggaian.com/

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October Dish of the Month (Fix St James)

Squid ink spaghettini w chilli & orange

Squid ink spaghettini w chilli & orangeOwner 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

Website: http://www.fixstjames.com.au/

Twitter: @fixstjames

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September Dish of the Month (O Bar and Dining)

White miso-glazed ruby tuna w robata-charred asparagus, Japanese turnips, lemon and quinoa

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

Website: http://www.obardining.com.au

Twitter: @0bardining

See previous winners…