Running a restaurant is hard. Between intense competition and tiny profit margins, experimenting with a new idea is high-risk.
Below are four new restaurants trying something new; whether it’s using challenging ingredients, or pushing the boundaries of a style of cuisine. We celebrate anyone sticking their neck out, but not only do we admire these restaurants, we highly recommend them, too.
While Australian palates are much more adventurous than they used to be, cuisine restaurants still have a habit of “dumbing down” unfamiliar dishes we may find hard to swallow, or may not order at all.
Ôter is challenging. Head chef Flo Gerardin believes its diners will take a chance on real French food – that which congeals and jiggles, and comes from parts of the animal you didn’t know were edible.
See the tete du veau – whole calf head, brined for two days, braised in consommé, pressed into a terrine and finished on a teppanyaki grill.
Take a first date and see what they’re made of.
We’re pretty accustomed to Turkish cuisine – at least, we think we are. With his new Balaclava restaurant Tulum, chef Coskun Uysal reminds us just how vast the Turkish table is; and what it tastes like in 2016.
Uysal takes dishes he learned to make from his mother and filters them through clever, contemporary techniques.
Despite the dehydrated dusts and petals adorning the dishes, it’s not all modern: he still makes his own tahini (as well as cheeses, yoghurts and pickles) by roasting the seeds over a campfire and grinding them in a stone mill.
With head chef Florian Ribul, husband-and-wife team Majda and Nedim Rahmanovic present a clever restaurant and bar in the backstreets of Brunswick with a menu that changes depending on what’s good on the day. It’s nice to see indigenous ingredients pop up, too, such as saltbush, pepperberry and finger lime.
While you decide on dinner, order a glass of Mac Forbes and snack on a plate of potato crisps served with whipped blood butter – where else can you do that?
The menu at chef Adam Liston’s three-month-long pop-up at Hotel Windsor is divided simply into “Noodles” and “Not Noodles”. For a noodle shop, it’s about as high end as it gets in Melbourne (bowls sit between $21 and $26), but so is the quality of the ingredients.
Honcho is also one of the only places in Melbourne committed to a range of noodle styles, rather than focussing on one style (such as pho or ramen only).
There’s a charcoal-duck noodle; a fiery-red soup with kimchi and a slab of pork belly; and a couple of vegetarian options.
A soupless spanner-crab udon is made with a smoked butter and dashi stock, then sprinkled with nori. It’s like eating a rich crab pasta, but with Japanese ingredients.