100 GREATEST AUSTRALIAN GOURMET EXPERIENCES
The best of the best foodie experiences from around the country, as determined by Australian Traveller Magazine’s panel of experts.
Click the links below to check out each of the 100 Gourmet Experiences:
About the 100 Greatest Australian Gourmet Experiences
What an audacious project. To judge and rank the Greatest Australian Gourmet Experiences has never before been attempted. Restaurants are ranked almost every other day. Producers and providores ditto. But experiences that encompass restaurants, producers and anything remotely connected to food, all ranked together in the one list? Not on your life. Until now.
Why this has never before been attempted is pretty obvious. It’s close to impossible (because Australians can’t agree on daylight savings let alone gourmet experiences), and extremely dangerous (because chefs have very sharp knives). So we called in the big guns – a panel of experts so universally applauded and respected in Australia that their consensus opinion would outweigh the most passionate of singular arguments. Their brief was to help decide how great an experience was on the basis of their own opinion or how strongly they would advise a close friend to seek out the experience.
That was the easy part. To arrive at the 100 we scoured the continent for potential experiences that emphasised food + location + sense of occasion, and after many weeks had gathered more than 900. The panel received a shortlisted version of these, which they then judged, opting out with an N/A if they had no opinion or were personally involved in any way. We averaged out the scores for each of the experiences to arrive at our list.
And what a list. Some movers and shakers bubbled to the surface while other well-known names fell from contention. Whichever way you look at it, finally there’s a guide for Australians that stretches the length and breadth of the country and the spectrum of gourmet experiences.
We’re sure you’re going to immediately think of half a dozen you’d include. And that’s great. Log in and share them with others, as we’ve established a page where the staff picks that didn’t make the list have been posted. We’d love to hear yours.
The Australian Traveller Team
Click HERE to view our Expert Judging Panel.
Deep in a little corner of the Derwent Valley surrounded by fertile and bucolic Tasmanian countryside lies the ultimate Australian gourmet experience. Revered restaurant critic Leo Schofield describes it as “one of the most seductive and sophisticated cooking schools in the country.” Founded by ex-Gourmet Traveller Magazine food editor Rodney Dunn, The Agrarian Kitchen is a “closed loop”, self-sustaining cooking school. It’s housed in a charming 1887 schoolhouse with the kitchen overlooking the vegetable patch. “Rodney Dunn is doing great things in Tassie.” – Michael Ryan This immersive and hands-on cooking school of the future draws its inspiration from the...
In a space that’s more designer boutique than family butcher, there isn’t a piece of fake parsley in sight at Victor Churchill’s top-notch chop shop. Brass sausage-link handles open the door into a world of meat so unique and never-imagined that all newcomers get that bewildered “deer in the headlights” look for the first few minutes before acclimatising. On the Chook Cam Wall, 15 security cameras keep a glass eye on the daily special, a scene only the very observant might recognise from Louis Vuitton’s 2008 autumn window displays. “The best butcher shop in the country.” – Matt Moran A...
Quay Restaurant is a profound Australian dining experience not to be missed or underestimated. Head Chef Peter Gilmore creates exquisite dishes that are unrivalled in their creativity, texture and flavour. The signature dish, the Sea Pearls, have been through several incarnations, while Gilmore is credited with the modern pairing of pork belly with scallops. You’d need a very, very big bookcase to house all the accolades and awards that have come Quay’s way. Gilmore’s secret is largely due to a zealous and tenacious pursuit of innovative, rare or artisan produce. Legend has it he has wasabi flowers posted from Tasmania....
The Brits may have invented fish ‘n’ chips, but we sure as hell perfected it. Australia is internationally renowned for the quality of its seafood, and there’s no question we have some of the best beaches in the world. Although in these fancy modern times the humble fish ‘n’ chips can often be unrecognisable, especially when so-called gourmands in Sydney or Melbourne get hold of them: we’re talking delicate cubes of translucent sashimi in designer containers, nestled on a bed of rocket with a few sweet potato slices masquerading as chips. As 100 Greatest Gourmet Experiences Judging Panellist Michael Ryan...
The name says it all. Holy Goat Cheese deserves its self-proclaimed divinity – and the only expletives you’ll hear are when someone discovers that their favourite fromage frais has sold out. “Amazing product from two women determined not to destroy the artisan quality of their product by becoming larger. Their La Luna is probably the best cheese in Australia.” – Alla Wolf-Tasker Carla Meurs and Ann-Marie Monda’s organic chèvre hails from some very content herbivores grazing on the granite plains of Sutton Grange, just south of Bendigo in the middle of Victoria. This might otherwise be known as thoroughbred country...
No-one takes the production of organic yet tasty and interesting foodstuffs more seriously than the folk at Daylesford Organics. Heirloom vegetables, fruits, nuts and free range eggs are all grown on this family farm owned by Brendon Eisner and Kate Ulman an hour and a half northwest of Melbourne. “An amazing little farm punching well above its weight and winning national awards and accolades. Lots of passion, innovation and gumption.” – Alla Wolf-Tasker Apples from the farm’s organic orchard are best sellers at local food markets and Matt Wilkinson from Melbourne’s Circa The Prince has chosen Daylesford Organics’ heirloom radishes...
Australia’s biggest international claim to culinary fame, Tetsuya’s has sliced, diced and whisked the global food scene into a frenzy and is riding high on top restaurant lists around the world. Someone completing Tetsuya’s 13-course degustation disappointed is as rare as one of his delicate slivers of Wagyu beef. Dining at Tetsuya’s is practically a right of passage for foodies and the Heritage-listed site is, to many, hallowed ground – even though you could walk past his restaurant’s non-descript front door and miss it entirely. Throwing down $200 a head is the least it’ll cost you to set a foot...
Shannon Bennett wants to create food we can’t recreate at home. With the likes of Jamie, Nigella and Bill telling us gourmet feasts are as easy as one two three, Vue de monde’s smug “don’t even bother” takes a weight off every would-be cook’s shoulders. Leave the sweat and rising blood pressure to the latest contestants of Masterchef and allow the professionals at Vue de monde to do their job. You don’t need to worry about missing a night of reality TV either; the busy open kitchen is in sight of all and sundry. “Flashes of brilliant creativity. There’s no...
The existence – and popularity – of Jon Healey’s artisan cheeses prove once and for all that antiquarian techniques are anything but dated. Using 100-year-old equipment and methods from the same era, Pyengana Dairy in northern Tasmania has been manufacturing cheese for more than a century. So it would seem that cheese vats from the 1950s are, like Elvis and Andy Warhol, pretty much timeless. The fourth-generation dairy farmer and cheesemaker must have some family secrets – his English-style cheddar has quite a reputation. It could be the Friesian milking cows; members of the prime milk-producing breed live happily in...
When AT rang George Biron to chat about Sunnybrae Restaurant and Cooking School, he was out watering the truffle trees. The two-year-old grove is his pride and joy, along with the rest of the kitchen garden. All 1.5 acres of it. From a farm near Birregurra two hours southwest of Melbourne, Biron’s weekly intimate cooking classes and dinners make the most of produce that makes the field-to-fridge journey in under a minute. “George Biron is a wonderful talent” – Michael Ryan At the moment pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes and a whole lot of lettuce are on hand for basic salads but...
Coconut: good. Chocolate: good. Chocolate-rolled, coconut-covered sponge cake: great. The exact origins are under debate but the cake is named after Lord Lamington, Governor of Qld 100 years ago. Who doesn’t love a good lamington? Whether it’s creamed and jammed shut or left plain and simple, the lamington is a national treasure. And, like the Queen’s Birthday, ANZAC Day and Christmas, it even has a day to prove it: July 21 is National Lamington Day, when the country stops (okay, should stop) to savour the long history of this tasty treat. The exact origins are under debate but the cake...
To get good Extra Virgin Olive Oil you once had to go a lot further than Griffith in south-central NSW. Not any more. Gone are the days when you popped to the supermarket once a year for a ten-litre can of Extra Virgin shipped from Italy. “Excellent oil and great packaging.” – Maggie Beer The Mancini family are among a select few Australia providores perfecting the art of EVOO and foodies are embracing the goods from their homegrown groves. The Little General culinary oil is produced in a pocket of rural Australia with conditions ideal for olive trees. Sam Mancini...
It’s lean, clean and not made by a machine. Hand-reared Mandagery Creek Farmed Venison is shedding the meat’s 1980s reputation, coming back into fashion on the menus at Sydney hotspots like Marque, Guillaume at Bennelong and Quay. Venison's gamey goodness reads like a diet dream; low in calories and cholesterol, with less than half the fat content of beef and chicken, venison is like the goji berry of the meat world. From the family farm in Orange, Tim Hansen works hard to maintain the quality of his hand reared charges. The pasture-fed produce comes straight from the farm and other...
The lunch stop during a day on the slopes used to be nothing to look forward to. Pre-made sangas or chips and gravy were the best on offer in clinical cafeterias charging three times the standard price. Leave the wet gear on the heaters, the kids in the cafeteria and the snow outside. The family-run Merritts Moutain House on Thredbo Mountain is a point of difference. Step inside the faux-European lodge and your frosty nose will thaw out immediately. A little bit of snow doesn’t stop this bistro from serving superb food at 1225m. Each day staff load 200 boxes...
In the middle of three and a half acres halfway between Laura and Wirrabara north of Adelaide sits the Old Bakery Stone Hut. Dennis and Margaret Wheatley moved the bakery to their property five years ago from nearby Wirrabara. The old stone hut on the site dates back to the days when mail coaches trundled past and is the property’s namesake. Today, loyal customers travel to the new site of this old bakery for a range of homemade treats. Margaret says Saeid’s camel pie, made using a spicy Iranian recipe, is a popular lunchtime choice along with the roo, venison...
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