Australians are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out, from Melbourne’s hip bars to Adelaide’s farm-to-table restaurants and Sydney’s seafood markets, there’s something on offer to suit all palates.
Now, the 2019 Good Food Guide has revealed Australia’s top destinations to wine and dine across the country. And if you’re planning a visit anytime soon, Starts at 60 got the low-down from the winners to see which dishes you must try and what makes these eateries so great.
Orana, which means ‘welcome’ in some Aboriginal languages, has been named the country’s best restaurant. The small, intimate Adelaide eatery received three hats from the Guide – the highest ranking it awards – for it spectacular use of Australian ingredients with fine-dining techniques. Judges said the eatery “ticks every box” and captures the mood of the nation and what it means to be a world-class restaurant.
Orana, which is run by celebrated chef Jock Zonfrillo, honours Australia’s diverse food history and celebrates Indigenous ingredients.
A staple meal at the restaurant is the much-loved buttermilk with strawberry eucalyptus, while one of the signature drinks with delicious homemade juice is a must try.
“The non-alcoholic pairings are a signature for us and change constantly — at the moment we have a great pink lady and bottlebrush juice,” chef Jock said.
Set on a hillside in Victoria, Brae has been named the country’s best regional restaurant. Judges said the winning establishment provides “a restaurant experience comparable to anything in the city but remain[s] uniquely regional”.
Brae, run by Dan Hunter, showcases “unique Australian cuisine built around an immense respect for nature and seasonality”. The contemporary restaurant offers an ever-changing set menu from the highest quality ingredients sourced and selected from the property and local farms.
For the first time in the Guide’s history, a regional restaurant, Laura, has beat out all city contenders in Australia for the best new restaurant title. The intimate, refined eatery is part of the Pt Leo Estate in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular region and boasts an award-winning menu that also received two hats. Judges said the restaurant “sets the agenda” and “represents everything that’s fresh, hot and interesting about dining”.
“We want people who journey to Laura to have a food experience that is unique to the Mornington Peninsula,” Pt. Leo Estate General Manager Ainslie Lubbock said.
It’s a must-visit if you’re ever in the area and looking to try some of the best local produce Australia has to offer.
Culinary Director Phil Wood says Boneo — a dish made up of mashed potato, smoked flathead and roasted almonds — is a menu must-try. Match it with a 2016 Pt. Leo Chardonnay, and you’ll be in foodie heaven.
Set in an iconic riverside location in Brisbane, Otto offers a truly personal experience. The city favourite has won an award for its eclectic wine list, and also received three hats.
Judges praised the restaurant for its versatile range of vintages and its ability to choose wines that enhanced its classic Italian menu of pastas, cured meats and rustic country-style dishes.
Run by sommelier Alan Hunter, the wine menu features plenty of classic Italian blends, such as Sangiovese, and a few great drops from the famed Chianti region. Beyond Italy, the menu showcases wines from Australia, France and New Zealand.
If you’re planning a visit anytime soon, Hunter recommends digging into carpaccio di manzo — a traditional antipasto dish of thinly slice meat — which he matches perfectly with Frank Cornelissen ‘Susucaru’ Rosato (rosé).
“[It goes] great with the saltiness of capers and the truffle dressing – think of it more like a chilled red,” he explains.
If you’re keen on local whisky or love tucking into a delicious glass of red, it’s time to make a trip out to the The Dolphin Hotel Wine Room. The contemporary bar has been named the country’s best bar, and it’s easy to see why.
Boasting an extensive list of wine, cider and whisky, the Wine Room is the perfect destination drink and be merry. The judges said this all-round bar nails “service, drinks, vibe and decor”, while adding “something new or different to the drinking scene”.
HELLO WEEKEND! A Mediterranean vibe in the wine room tonight.. With our windows wide open and delfinos smiling, come in and celebrate Spring with this combo;Grilled Fremantle Octopus, Nduja Pesto and Smoked Almonds, washed down with a little Fiano from Campania. Mineral, zesty, fresh ????#ciropicariello #fiano #campania #wineroom #realwine
The menu features a selection of delicious Italian dishes, including homemade gnocchi with spanner crab and ginger, charcoal octopus with celery and smoked almond, cured meats and plenty of fresh seafood.
If you live in Victoria and love a wine or two, it’s time to put Wickens at the Royal Mail on your weekend radar, as the regional favourite has won an award for its fabulous wine list. Judges said the winning eatery “displays a diverse selection that complements the restaurant’s food and style while reflecting the unique qualities of the region”.
Aside from its stellar wines, the restaurant offers a diverse and delicious menu that focuses on homegrown produce.
“Our wine list award reflects the fact that we offer a range of matching wines with our five or eight course degustation menus. These range from an Iconic Australian match to a 100 per cent French match. These wines change regularly as our menus change so often,” a spokesperson said.
“Our philosophy is very much driven by our dedication to growing our own produce.
“We are different from other winners of hats, whose menus may be set for the year, with slight tweaks to suit seasons. Our menus change weekly and within that are tweaked from service to service as we may run out of an ingredient sourced from our garden for example.”