From fine dining to relaxed pub fare – there’s always something new happening in the world of Australian food.
This year, the culinary scene has welcomed an array of brand new and exciting ventures. And below are our pick of the lot, organised by state…
New South Wales
JONES BAY WHARF
Chuuka, located on Sydney’s funky Jones Bay Wharf, is helmed by award-winning chefs Chase Kojima and Victor Liong (pictured above) who have created a menu blending Chinese flavours with Japanese attention to detail using the best Australian produce.
There’s a focus on seafood, with a dedicated raw menu, delicious desserts and an outdoor bar that is going to be the place-to-be come summer.
Lotus, the award-wining, much-missed bistro in Sydney’s Potts Point, is making a triumphant return to Challis Avenue as an extended pop-up concept during spring. Chef Dan Hong is returning to the restaurant where he made a name for himself back in 2008 as are some menu cult classics like its cheeseburger and the tuna with sweet wasabi.
The return of Lotus is planned as a farewell to the Challis Avenue property, which has been owned by the Hemmes family since 1988, and which was sold recently.
Coogee Wine Bar
The blissful beachside Sydney suburb of Coogee has gained a chi-chi wine bar with the opening of the Coogee Wine Room. The passion project of Coogee locals Tom Hardwick and Michelle Morales, the space by architects Tom Mark Henry has a refined industrial vibe, with its exposed brick walls and concrete floors softened with timbers, leather and marble. There are over 400 wines on offer, representing just about every key wine region on Earth (30 available by the glass), and a Mediterranean-influenced menu by head chef Sandro Di Marino (ex-A Tavola) featuring Sydney rock oysters, pork cheek sliders, cheese and charcuterie and more.
Any Southern Highlander will tell you about the noise that’s been happening around Birch.
Stamped with innovation and packed full of personality, Birch places seasonal produce at centre stage, delivering a polished, evolving menu that reflects the best of the region and surrounds.
The venue interior is simple and chic, with slight styling changes introduced each season including a fabric wall drape and florals.
Much-loved Harbourside spot, Q Dining, has reopened with a vengeance.
Following a full refurbishment, the elegant dining destination has been reborn with a new identity, taking inspiration from its obviously iconic location.
The a la carte menu focuses on land and sea dishes, infusing native flavours and using only sustainable, ethical and locally sourced produce. The kitchen team also worked closely with Aboriginal communities to source rare, artisanal ingredients, which form the basis of many dishes at Q Dining.
The Bon Restaurant
Gosford CBD now boasts a glamorous new meeting spot: The Bon Pavillion.
Set in a relaxed and informal setting, Sean Connolly’s passion for premium produce and classic technique are evident in this thoughtful, precise and delicious menu of Australian and globally influenced cuisine.
An Espresso bar, Bon Bon bar, Public bar and Bonfire bar make up the pavilion – each varying in terms of venue scale, formality and menus. One thing is for certain though, none will disappoint.
Get your fill of modernised Cantonese classics on Sydney’s lower north shore at Jason Chan’s (ex-Queen Chow Head Chef) new restaurant, Canton Kitchen.
Chan blends traditional Chinese restaurant fare with modern flavours to create a menu that serves up the best of both. Think silken tofu with vegetarian XO sauce topped with soy bean floss and crispy wonton skins, roasted Aylesbury duck served Peking style with steamed pancakes and sticky Mongolian lamb ribs with a herb salad.
Go with a group and order the 10 course banquet, just so you can taste as many dishes as possible.
Another element of Sydney’s much-hyped Darling Square development has slotted into place with the opening of XOPP. Housed in the fantastical Kengo Kuma-designed Exchange at Darling Square, the modern Cantonese eatery comes courtesy of the Wong family, of Golden Century fame, and features flavoursome updated classics on the menu and a design-forward dining room.
Kitchens on Kent
After a five-month reimagining, The Langham Sydney’s new culinary offering, Kitchens on Kent, is set to reinvent the concept of the hotel buffet. The sophisticated 180-seat space has eight interactive cooking stations serving up dishes influenced by tastes from around the world including stone-baked pizza and pasta, Japanese robata grill, tandoor and a too-tempting dessert buffet.
New dining group The Jewel Pantry has just opened its first restaurant Canton! Canton!
Inspired by the hustle and bustle of Canton’s vibrant markets, Canton! Canton! serves up home-style dim sum and roast meats in the classic bamboo trays we all know and love.
And if the food wasn’t enough to transport you, the space itself was designed with vintage markets in mind. Expect dinner booths inspired by opium beds, recycled Chinese shipping crates, vintage wedding sedan chairs and classic Asian artwork.
New addition to the Surry Hills food scene is the 4 Pines, a restaurant that fuses the best friends of the culinary world – the beer and the burger.
The beer and burger bar boasts unbeatable beverages (including cocktails) and with the Crown Royal on the menu (a double angus patty, tasty cheese, smoked bacon and pickles) you will know where to find us on the weekend!
The latest project from Liquid + Larder, The Gidley is a subterranean steak house in Sydney that aims to emulate the great grill restaurants of the world, with an Aussie twist. Head chef Pip Pratt’s menu will elevate char-grilled meat to new heights, while the wine list features world-class varietals and styles.
SAKE RESTAURANT & BAR
For far too long the Japanese lovers of Manly have been deprived of the famous Rockpool Dining Group restaurant that Sydney-siders have long known and loved – but not anymore.
Saké Restaurant & Bar recently made its northern beaches debut, opening the doors on the new rooftop of Manly Wharf.
Saké Restaurant & Bar Manly boasts a section of nigiri, sashimi and sushi rolls, all made to order from the freshest of local seafood at the interactive sushi counter.
The modern Japanese eatery by the team behind Toji Sake is officially open.
Founders Shar & Yuta Kobayashi have teamed up with head chef Dan Chan to offer an uncomplicated approach to authentic Japanese dining. The cuisine is inspired by Kobayashi’s Australian-Japanese upbringing, along with Chan’s passion and experience with Japanese cooking. The extensive menu highlights his time at Yardbird, with dishes specialising in yakitori, hibachi and sharing plates.
Mod Japanese eatery Bincho Boss, located on Little Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD, features authentic izakaya-style dishes, which are all the rage at the moment, many cooked on a traditional earthen konro grill over binchō-tan, white charcoal used in Japanese cooking to produce unique flavours.
The menu, by chefs Tomotaka Ishizuka and Keiji Ishida, includes house-made fresh tofu, soy ginger-flavoured chicken karaage with lemon and mayo and Ishizuka’s signature dessert of espresso-flavoured cream caramel with chestnut sauce.
On Tuesday, 4 June, Chef Restaurateur Scott Pickett’s Smith Street restaurant site reopened as Lupo.
The relaxed, contemporary Italian offering accurately reflects its Melbourne locale, focussing on fresh, in-house made pasta, alongside modern Italian dishes peppered with ingredients from the Australian larder.
BAIA DI VINO
Seaside Melbourne favourite, Sandringham will welcome a new resident to its shores, Mediterranean restaurant, bar and wine store, Baia Di Vino.
Literally translating to ‘wine bay’, Baia Di Vino is set to be a contemporary expression of the simple European coastal life, offering the buzz and hospitality of a central city venue, complimented by the ease of a neighbourhood location.
Menu highlights include tuna tartar, pickled daikon, fried sardines and a ‘Brodetto Di Pesce’ – featuring scampi, king prawn, Cloudy Bay clams and Port Arlington mussels.
ESTELLE WINE BAR AND RESTAURANT
Chef restaurateur Scott Pickett is celebrating a new era in Northcote with the launch of Estelle, a bar and restaurant inhabiting the much-loved Estelle Bistro and Estelle by Scott Pickett (ESP) sites.
Estelle is a venue designed to suit all occasions. Guests can take their pick of a number of contemporary Australian dining options.
The space will offer lighter snacks and share plates at the bar, with a more substantial offering in the dining room serving hungrier patrons.
Dari Korean Cafe and Bar
Korean street food is starting to give Japanese a run for its money as the go-to for foodies in the know; the debut of the green-hued Dari Korean Cafe and Bar in Melbourne’s Hardware Lane is only going to build on this. Its name translates to ‘bridge’ and owner Yoon Ji Park combines Australian and Korean cafe culture with a range of fusion sandwiches and sweets served up during the day, and larger dishes and cocktails after dark.
This February, head to the Docklands for an unexpected culinary experience. With a focus on local ingredients and fresh products, expect meals like the beetroot pappardelle, with its homemade beetroot pasta, fresh asparagus, broad beans, taleggio and walnuts.
Also offering quality cocktails (try the Rock and Rose) and great service, in a clean-cut industrial style interior, this is must try this Feb.
Harlow, Richmond’s flavour-packed, good-times charged pub is now open.
Bringing new life to what was the old Great Britain Hotel, the 300pax Church Street property has been reborn as an all-occasions destination, with a spacious outdoor courtyard, basement and balcony dining.
Open 7 days a week from midday.
ZA ZA TA OPENS
The Middle Eastern inspired bar and kitchen opens this month with The Emporium precinct in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley as part of designer hotel; Ovolo.
Paying homage to the spice blend zaatar, the venue is a place where guests will experience a rich mix of soulful and dynamic Middle Eastern cuisine. With the menu showcasing a playful and bold take on dishes from across the region alongside a curated collection of cocktails, spirits, and wines.
The 200-seat venue sprawls into multiple rooms, each with its individual purpose of charm, buzz and personality. The design of Za Za Ta, was inspired by the conservatories of the Victorian era, with nooks reminiscent of 1940s cocktail cabinet.
GOLDFINCH OPENS IN BRISBANE
Brisbane’s dining fare just got a whole lot more lavish.
Originally occupied by the iconic Goldfish Bar (the notorious home to Fitzgerald-era deals) on Ann Street and diagonally opposite King George Square, Goldfinch brings a fresh-faced offering to a site steeped in Brisbane and Queensland’s history.
Expect stunning greenery and light-filled layout, served alongside Pacific seafood, local ingredients and plenty of coffee.
ONE FISH TWO FISH
Combining the best of upmarket seafood restaurants with everyone’s favourite local fish ‘n’ chip shop, One Fish Two Fish is a fresh take on the suburban restaurant and bar, with something for all schools of seafood lovers.
For those who welcome a relaxed and low-fuss dining experience set to a lively ‘80s soundtrack, this might just be the place for you.
With classic fish and chips done perfectly, new-school fancy fish dishes, and versatile and irresistible sides, One Fish Two Fish is the new go-to for midweek dinners, lazy weekend lunches and as many oysters as you can muster.
Recently opened, this upmarket bar is Newstead’s new hotspot for an evening beverage. With world class cocktails, pastel pink tiling, striking gold accents and a glorious menu, this is the perfect place to set yourself up for an evening on the town.
The menu boasts an exotic variety: pan-seared cuttlefish and pomegranate salad, sesame crusted tuna sliders, lamb cutlets with Hasselback potatoes and roasted bone marrow with sourdough crisps. Each dish can be paired with one of the 40 drops on offer, and voilà! Night sorted! All you need to bring is the company.
BRISBANE POWERHOUSE, NEW FARM
Mary Mae’s is rollin’ on the Brisbane River, taking over WATT Bar & Restaurant’s space at Brisbane Powerhouse.
The new Mary Mae’s is proudly helmed by an all-female hospo superstar team. It has high hopes of reinvigorating Brisbane Powerhouse’s all-day dining scene, with quirky Southern-inspired soul food, proudly Brissie-brewed beers, and an innovative cocktail list.
THE DEN BISTRO
We may only be a few months into 2019, but Adelaide has kicked things off right with the launch of The Den Bistro.
Located inside the schmick Mayfair Hotel, it’s the third venue joining the inner city boutique hotel, alongside uber-chic rooftop bar Hennessey, and the upmarket Mayflower Restaurant.
The Den gives patrons simple high-quality bistro dishes in stunning surrounds, servicing everyone from in-house guests, to those seeking informal social get-togethers, to relaxed business meetings.
In addition to a full menu, the space also features an enticing cake display and of course the very best barista coffees.
New Thai fusion eatery, 8020BK is the answer to the prayers of many Adelaidians.
Located in up-and-coming laneway Blythe Street, the restaurant promises plenty of good food and plenty of good times.
Expect all the favourites from a good Thai menu, accompanied by an extensive Thai-inspired cocktail menu, and local wine, Asian beers and plenty of mocktails for the drivers.
Located in Perth’s Pan Pacific hotel, UMA is a modern Peruvian restaurant led by executive chef Alejandro Saravia. The menu navigates the regions of Peru, starting at the ocean (mar) with ceviches, to the valleys (valles), serving seasonal vegetables, to the paddocks (granjas) with meats including beef, lamb and chicken.
Also opening is Bar UMA, with pisco sours on the menu.
Since opening their doors this Feb, Mummucc, the little sister of the famous Monsterella Italian restaurant, promises fine wine and cold cut meats, fresh bread and pasta specials.
Meaning ‘Mother’ in Abruzzese, it’s aptly named, with the owner Tania Nicolo working with her mother to bring these fine Italian delicacies to Perth.
Perth’s latest world-class destination, Hibernian Place, has welcomed a Guy Grossi establishment to its already buzzing food scene.
Garum is the latest venture by the Italian chef and television personality, which he describes as “simple and delicious food that ticks a lot of boxes for me.”
As for cuisine, diners can expect Roman classics on the regularly changing menu: think carbonara, chilli-spiked bucatini all’Amatriciana, and ancient grains. Wines from Lazio will share cellar space with local West Australian wines.
EAST VICTORIA PARK
Those who frequent Fremantle Markets will be well aware of Get Chunky, the home-baked cookies with a constant Sold Out sign.
Hearing your prayers, the team behind the ever-so-popular stall have decided to open up an East Vic Park shop, featuring Australia’s first ‘Make-your-own’ edible cookie dough bar.
Expect an insta-ready pink photo wall, an incredible location, and as much Get Chunky as your heart (and stomach) desires.
One venue, two personalities – that’s the way new Canberra dining venture, Alter Ego, describes themselves.
The venue features different zones, ready to cater for all types of dining. If you’re in the market for the perfect high-end restaurant, where you can also enjoy an intimate date, or just a place or to stop for coffee – then Alter Ego really does tick all your boxes.
Sourcing the best possible produce, the menu is a celebration and fusion of exquisite global dishes with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner available. You can also expect smaller menus for mid-afternoon and some late nights.
The new Bradley Street restaurant precinct has seen some pretty schmick openings, one of which is The Bavarian.
The Rockpool favourite offers the very best of Bavaria, providing a relaxed indoor and outdoor dining setting for both big and small groups.
The venue features a signature custom-designed vintage veer barrel wall, best enjoyed alongside the family-friendly menu that heroes the legendary crispy pork knuckle and an assortment of schnitzels.
And it wouldn’t be a Bavarian venue without a pretty impressive beer selection. Enjoy one of the 20 beers on tap, which can be served in the beer stein chandelier that holds over 500- 1 litre glass steins.
FLINDERS ISLAND WHARF
Flinders Island, located off the coast of Tasmania, has become synonymous with the annual star-studded food and crayfish festival, held in late March. And now, locals Jo and Tom Youl, are hoping to keep this momentum going, with the opening of The Flinders Wharf.
The licensed café/restaurant is offering breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days of the week, utilising the extensive flora and fauna that the island provides.
Not only this, but the project will see the utilisation of a zero-waste distillery, day spa, beehives, live cray tanks and a tourism office that can arrange accommodation, foraging or fishing tours, as well as long lunches in remote locations and scenic flights.
The incredible mezzanine level offers up sea and sunset views, alongside a private function area for group dining events. The space will also have hot desks featuring high speed internet, for those who simply cannot live without. It’s 2019, we get it.
Formerly a North Hobart favourite, Berta is the new CBD offering for those in-the-know to get their caffeine fix.
Expect a contemporary menu that leans European, in a brand new space that will be a central meeting point for coffee, catch-ups and everything in between. We expect big things…
It’s hard to think of anything Dier Makr owners Sarah Fitzsimmons and Kobi Ruzicka can’t do – and with their new wine bar Lucinda, they pretty much proved it.
The new casual drinking venue features an array of classic French foods, prepared just how you’d expect them. Tasty, easy-to eat and packed full of flavour.
Like Dier Makr, Lucinda will serve an array of dynamic wines, with a more extensive number of options by the glass. So if you’re heading to Hobart in the near future, you know where to find us…
COSSIES POOLSIDE BAR AND BISTRO
Boasting a brand new renovation and rebrand, Cossies poolside bar and bistro is the local, tropical hangout that make both locals and guests squeal with delight.
Enjoy views of the landscaped gardens and lagoon pool while feasting on the brand new menu. Expect the best local produce that Darwin has to offer, including wild caught barramundi, delicious salads and mouth-watering burgers. It really doesn’t get any better than that.