Your monthly hit-list of the restaurants, diners, bars, cafes and eateries to visit now, or on your next interstate visit. We've done the digging and research so you don't have to. Enjoy.
Celebrated restaurateurs Ben Williamson, Tyron Simon, Bianca Marchi and Frank Li are the names behind some of Brisbane’s favourite restaurants. (Their collective CV boasts Agnes, Honto and Same Same). For its next trick, this formidable hospitality crew has turned its attention to cucina Italiano, and the result is this playful house of carbs, replete with tiling and a warm, peachy glow. Gun chef Williamson has designed a straightforward menu of snacks, entrees, seven house-made pasta dishes and a clutch of main courses. The pastas are intended to rotate, although a pork-and-fennel lasagne and the paccheri pomodoro with stracciatella will always be on the menu. In addition to a dedicated antipasti section, the kitchen has a list of deeply Instagrammable desserts as well as an Italian-made Carpigiani soft-serve gelato machine, an enviable ace up its sleeve.
“It was time for vegans to be the priority and everyone else to make the alterations.” Strong words, certainly, but when it comes to Smith & Daughters chef Shannon Martinez, strong words – and even stronger convictions – are par for the course. For her latest project, Melbourne’s vegan trailblazer has teamed up with British-born, Melbourne-based chef and hospitality consultant Ian Curley (the former European Group executive chef) to open Lona Misa, an all-day, all-vegan restaurant at Melbourne’s new Ovolo hotel. The menu leans heavily into Latin culture, running from vegan breakfasts such as huevos rancheros and spiced-black-bean-packed burritos to oyster-mushroom ceviche and tostadas with smoked watermelon and refried black beans. To finish, expect veganised desserts including chocolate tarts, flan and rice pudding alongside plant-based cocktails and mocktails.
There are recycled ideas, and then there’s Re-, a Sydney bar that employs recycling, repurposing and regenerative thinking to tackle the wasteful practices of hospitality head-on. Opened by influential bartender Matt Whiley of London’s Scout bar, Re- sweats a hell of a lot of details – from banquettes adorned with “leather” of pineapple-leaf fibres, to the tabletops and staircase made from recycled milk bottles. (Yes, really). Market surplus and trim from sister restaurant Icebergs informs the snack menu, which stars puffed beef tendon with togarashi and a sorbet made from pineapple skin and other fruit offcuts.
There’s more than a touch of New York to Fugazzi, the buzzy new Italian restaurant from prolific Adelaide restaurateur Simon Kardachi. The Big Apple informs everything from the opulent fit-out by designers du jour Studio Gram – think a statement marble bar in the front room, intimate booths, and plenty of timber and brass throughout the dining room – to the name, taken from the American-Italian slang word “fugazi”, meaning fake or phoney. Food-wise, local food power couple Laura Sharrad and Max Sharrad (she’s a glamorous presence on the floor, he’s overseeing the kitchen) have dug into their shared Italian history to turn out a vast menu taking in everything from crisp, Roman-style pizza to playful snacks (mortadella sandwiches!) and a yoghurt sorbet with Davidson plum jam, Kangaroo Island honey and “bubblegum oil”, a throwback to Laura’s time on Masterchef.
Experienced hospitality folks setting up shop in suburbia is nothing new in Perth – cast your mind to operations such as Mason & Bird and Hampton & Maley, the Vic Park cafe by Carolynne and Hadleigh Troy of Restaurant Amuse fame. This April, the inner-north suburb of Dianella got in on the action with the opening of Nogi Lane, a neighbourhood spot from former Cecchi’s and Dainty Dowager team member Callum Ellis. Here are three key facts you need to know: the cafe is named after the laneway it backs onto (the name rhymes with “doggie”). In the kitchen is chef Jason Nicholas, whose CV includes time at Vasse Felix and Hotel Rottnest. Nicholas’s Indian and Burmese heritage is on display in reimagined brunch favourites such as pulled beef lifted with clove and cinnamon, and eggs Benny with a cardamom-spiked hollandaise sauce. (Although, having said all that, the heaving, styled-for-Instagram banana pancake with butterscotch sauce and a vanilla ice-cream cone looks set to be Nogi Lane’s calling card).