Monday, February 14, 2011

Critics' Choice: Chef's Hats Restaurants



Below is a list of the most highly commended Chef's hats restaurants in Australia, so no matter where you are traveling, you are sure to find fabulous restaurants near you.

New South Wales

Rockpool

107 George Street, The Rocks | +61 2 9252 1888
When you book at Rockpool, the reservations manager as often as not double-checks: “This is Rockpool, sir, not Rockpool Bar & Grill?” It’s easy to think the almost 22-year-old flagship of Neil Perry’s restaurant empire has been eclipsed by its bigger, fancier younger sibling. Yet the original remains the creative engine.

Marque

4/5 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills | +61 2 9332 2225
The first time The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide honoured Marque with its top rating of three chef’s toques, chef Mark Best was typically laconic in his acceptance speech: “What took you so long?” Accolades are now commonplace for the 10-year-old restaurant – at the last SMH ceremony, Best accepted the Restaurant of the Year gong via video.

Sepia

201 Sussex Street, Sydney | +61 2 9283 1990
Greek wine. Murray cod. Port Lincoln squid. Japanese citrus fruits. Such are the seemingly disparate elements that can come into play over the course of a meal at Sepia, yet the cooking here, ultimately, is really about a Japanese-inspired philosophy of harmony and seamlessness.

Lochiel House

1259 Bells Line of Road, Kurrajong Heights | +61 2 4567 7754
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2011 named Lochiel House its Regional Restaurant of the Year, but we’d like to give it a prize for being the best reason to take Bells Line of Road next time you’re driving through the Blue Mountains. Then again, Tony Milroy’s food is probably worth a trip in itself regardless.
 
Queensland

Ortiga

446 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley | +61 7 3852 1155
The well-fed scribes at Gourmet Traveller called it the nation’s best new restaurant and the Courier Mail gave it the double whammy of Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year (for Pablo Tordesillas). Apart from the serious talent in the kitchen, there has been an investment here in getting things right, whether it’s putting together a floor team that’s pleasant, efficient and informed, or a wine list that has sparkle as well as depth.

Nu Nu

123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove | +61 7 4059 1880
Reading the Nu Nu menu, you get the impression proprietors Nick Holloway and Jason Rowbottom might be just a little bit silly. Sure, Nu Nu was named the Courier Mail’s 2011 Regional Restaurant of the Year, but how many of the other contenders offered cocktails such as the Chicky Chicky Chow Chow and the Ohh Yeah?
Northern Territory

Moorish Cafe

37 Knuckey Street, Darwin | +61 8 8981 0010
The 2010 Gold Plate award for Best Informal Dining confirmed what savvy Darwinites already know: Moorish Cafe is the goods, especially for a group. The food is loosely Mediterranean and North African, with an admirable focus on local seafood. If the main meals, which always include a tagine of the day, don’t tempt you, there’s bound to be a tapas or three to suit..

Evoo

Skycity Darwin, Gilruth Avenue, The Gardens | +61 8 8943 8888
Evoo must be doing something right: it has now won its second Gold Plate Restaurant of the Year award in a row, as well as picking up this year’s gongs for Best Fine Dining and Best Hotel Restaurant. It offers an experience worth dressing up for, which is often hard to find in the casual north.
 

Victoria

Attica

74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea | +61 3 9530 0111
Even before being one of the four Australian restaurants – and the only Melburnian – to make San Pellegrino’s prestigious World’s Best 100 Restaurants list in 2010, Attica wasn’t the easiest place to secure a table. Ben Shewry’s meticulously realised, gorgeously plated food, combined with a sharply directed wine list and charming service, always meant Attica’s dining room regularly nudged capacity...

Embrasse

312 Drummond Street, Carlton | +61 3 9347 3312
Embrasse scored not one but two gongs in the 2010 Restaurant & Catering Victoria awards, with owner/chef Nic Poelaert winning Chef of the Year and his gem of a modern French restaurant given the nod for Best European Restaurant. There’s a lightness of touch and an almost ethereal freshness to Poelaert’s cooking...

Cutler & Co

55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy | +61 3 9419 4888
Anointed by Gourmet Traveller as its 2011 Restaurant of the Year, Cutler & Co was given the nod not just because it’s a unique, beautifully designed space with one of the best chefs in the country, Andrew McConnell, at the helm, but because it injects a welcome sense of playfulness into the dining experience...

Scopri

191 Nicholson Street, Carlton | +61 3 9347 8252
New owners and a change of name saw Carlton institution Arrivederci morph into Scopri last year – and score an award from The Age Good Food Guide for Best BYO Restaurant. Certainly the expertly cooked take on classic and modern Italian dishes in these comfortable surrounds would be a good place to bring a treasured bottle of wine, but Scopri’s list, particularly its Italian collection, is no neglected afterthought...
 
South Australia

Chianti Classico

160 Hutt Street, Adelaide | +61 8 8232 7955
For many of its 25 years, Chianti has been winning awards, but perhaps most telling is for “most popular” in the 2009 Restaurant & Catering SA awards. It’s a place where the whole package comes together: good cooking from non-Italian chef Tobias Gush under the eagle eye of a nonna or two; attentive service; an excellent wine list with an especially good range of Tuscan reds; and one of Adelaide’s best corner locations...

Dhaba at the Spice Kitchen

252 Kensington Road, Leabrook | +61 8 8431 4288
Adelaide seems to be the Indian restaurant capital of Australia, with three restaurants named Australia’s best in successive national awards. The Spice Kitchen, which describes itself as a dhaba (Hindi for a casual roadside eatery), is one of the latest, though its claim to fame really started 22 years ago when spice queen Ragini Dey opened what was then an unassuming casual eatery...
 
Western Australia

Aquarium Chinese

202 Great Eastern Highway, Ascot | +61 8 9478 1868 
The best Chinese in the Restaurant & Catering WA awards 2009 and 2010 is housed in a large, new room with all the comforts of fine dining. There are two sections to the menu – one that caters to Western tastes and a second that offers more exotic dishes: Sichuan duck feet, stewed beef brisket, chilli pepper-fried whitebait...

Divido 
170 Scarborough Beach Road, Mount Hawthorn | +61 8 9443 7373
Jason Jujnovich’s small 60-seater has won a coveted star in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide and is ranked third in the west. It’s a sensibly tiny menu with five light and fresh starters, three entrees (often risotto or fresh pasta dishes) and four mains from the wood-fired oven...
 
Australian Capital Territory

Pulp Kitchen

Shop 1, Wakefield Gardens, Ainslie | +61 2 6257 4334
Local scribes attest that suburban dining in the national capital doesn’t get better than this, with the Canberra Times voting it the city’s best restaurant. It’s not fine dining – the rough polished-concrete floors, corrugated iron, and aged wooden tables attest to that. Instead, Pulp Kitchen has won over hearts and minds with an unabashed dedication to fine bistro cuisine...

Mezzalira

55 London Circuit, Civic | +61 2 6230 0025
Italian and Sons in Braddon may be generating all the buzz lately, but the Trimboli brothers’ flagship Mezzalira also continues to win plaudits (Best Italian Restaurant in the ACT/Southern NSW Restaurant & Catering Awards 2009). The cuisine has kept better pace with the times than the primary-coloured space complete with late-’90s feature walls...
 
Tasmania

The Red Velvet Lounge

24 Mary Street, Cygnet | +61 3 6295 0466
The Red Velvet Lounge National awards are rare for Tasmanian restaurants, which makes Steve Cumper’s recent award as Australian Country Style magazine’s Country Chef of the Year a significant achievement. For most of the week, his Red Velvet Lounge is a relaxed country cafe in the charming village of Cygnet, south of Hobart...

Source Qantas The Australian Way January 2011

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