Where to Find 2023’s Hottest Food Trends

Gildas, NSW

Lobster rolls are everywhere, flowers aren’t just on plates for their pretty factor and high-gloss dining is bigger than ever. Here’s where to book to jump on these new dining trends before they disappear.

Lobster, prawn and bug rolls are casualising seafood

Australia might not have invented the idea of crustaceans in a bun – the original lobster roll is credited to a restaurant in the lobster heartland of Connecticut in the 1920s – but the idea of turning a luxury ingredient into a sandwich feels deeply Australian. One of the best you’ll try is the legendary Moreton Bay Bug Roll at Rick Shores on the Gold Coast but laid-back bites are popping up on plates all over the country:

Monopole, NSW: The tiger prawn sandwich is served as a nuggety little brioche with slim slices of cucumber and yuzu mayo and it’s one of the most decadent bread-based bites you’ll find anywhere in Sydney.

Supernormal, Vic: One day they may well write sea shanties in praise of the lobster roll at Supernormal, with its Breadtop bun and Kewpie mayo. Add a glass of chablis and you have the perfect high-low pairing.

Lobster & Co, NSW, Vic, Qld

Lobster & Co, NSW, Vic, Qld: This pop-up (above) serves one thing only: lobster rolls, with a side of truffle fries. The vintage silver caravans are scheduled to appear all over the east coast this summer, including Arts Centre Melbourne, Gasworks Plaza in Brisbane and the NSW Surf Lifesaving championships in Sydney’s Manly.

Spanish is the new Italian

Gildas, NSW

Australia’s love affair with Italian food isn’t going anywhere but sultry, salty Spanish is beginning to make waves. Dedicated pintxos-style bars are appearing across the country, but you’ll also find Mediterranean flavours popping up on menus of all kinds. Get stuck into a glass of sherry at any of these:

Gildas, NSW: The must-have dish at Gildas (above) is – of course – the Gilda. Chef Lennox Hastie brings a delicious trio of olives, anchovies and guindilla peppers together, making a thing of briney beauty when twinned with a manzanilla sherry.

Sailing for Oranges, WA: In the heart of Fremantle you’ll find Western Australian produce with Spanish flair. The pintxos picks include Freo octopus with thyme and chorizo oil and a saffron oil-smothered sardines escabeche.

Saint Malo, ACT: As soon as you step into this chic multi-venue space you’ve left Canberra and entered Catalonia. Breezy, bright and Mediterranean, the whitewashed curved booths beckon you to while an afternoon away with a plate of charcuteria, croquettas and a bottle of tempranillo.

Sbagliato is one TikTok trend we can get behind

Bar Conte, NSW

If 2022 was the year of the negroni, then 2023 is all about the toned-down take: the sbagliato, which is basically a negroni with a splash of prosecco. It’s suddenly on every bar list thanks to a viral TikTok video where House of the Dragon’s Emma D’Arcy names the tipple their drink of choice.

Bar Conte, NSW: This bubbly bar in Surry Hills (above) specialises in negronis – in fact there are a whopping 20 on the menu. Naturally they have the sbag in the bag. Fancy a dessert-style chaser? The negroni tiramisu has you covered.

Il Lido, WA: The “Australia’s Choice” winner of 2022’s Wine List of The Year awards may be best known for its reds and whites, but there’s a cracking cocktail list here, too. Follow up your sbag with a comforting bowl of pasta.

Alba Bar & Deli, Qld: Brooklyn meets San Sebastian at this slick wine and snack bar in the Brisbane CBD. The sbagliato is only one drawcard: you’ll also want to be here for the Spanish-style small plates (when the puff pastry pisseladiere is on the menu, order multiple).

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways To Experience England a Little Differently

Upscale dining is here to stay

When we flung our doors back open after lockdowns, everyone seemed to crave indulgence, elegance and excess and this desire isn't showing any sign of slowing down soon. Caviar and four-figure champagne? Here is where you’ll find it:

Society, Vic: Unapologetically opulent, this multifaceted Collins Street supper club – with the adjacent Lillian Brasserie – is all about tableside theatre and big-impact dining. Order a martini and a Wagyu Striploin and imagine you’re in Manhattan.

Rothwell’s, Qld

Rothwell’s, Qld: The main restaurant (above) is glamorous enough, but to step it up a notch, book the 12-seater private dining room and order half-shell scallops with café de Paris butter and the 1890s cognac for a digestif.

Oncore, NSW: The flawless choreography of the floor staff is all you need to see to know you’re in high-class heaven. And then you take your first bite of three Michelin-starred chef Clare Smyth’s intricate, artistic plates of food. The seven-course tasting menu is an unmatched special occasion event.

The rise of floral food (that doesn’t taste like perfume)

Bennelong, NSW

Floral flavours in food tend to be polarising: lavender and rose can skew potpourri-like if applied too liberally. But today’s chefs are harnessing flowers with a far more delicate touch, sometimes for subtle flavouring, such as the jasmine tea and elderflower caramel at Redbird in Sydney, or as a bold decorative statement, like the wreaths encircling plates at Van Bone in Tasmania and Restaurant Botanic in Adelaide. Here’s where else to get a floral fix:

Bennelong, NSW: Peter Gilmore is one of the pioneers of using the tiny flower as a delicate decoration and flavouring (above). Sourcing all his florals from Newcastle Greens, he dots his scallop sashimi with white phlox and embellishes his pork belly confit with tiny radish flowers.

Fugazzi, SA: The Ultraviolet cocktail at this classy Italian bistro gets its piercing lavender colouring from Violette liqueur, as well as a clean, floral flavouring that stops just short of perfumy.

Chauncy, Vic: The plump oeuf mayonnaise at Heathcote’s Chauncy is so beloved it’s made a comeback after a brief hiatus from the menu. The silken eggs are given a splash of colour with salmon roe and bright blue borage flowers.

Omakase is everywhere

Chef Jun Oya, Warabi, Vic

There’s nothing quite as thrilling as handing over control of your meal to a master, and omakase is exactly that. Right now, Japanese multi-course meals that force you to laser-focus on tiny, perfect morsels (aged edomae sushi is particularly popular) under the guidance of a single chef feel like the ultimate indulgence.

Sushi Oe, NSW: Bookings for each month are only released midway through the month prior, so you’ll have to keep an eye on their social media channels to secure yourself a spot. Once you’re there, Chef Toshihiko Oe presents a procession of perfection, from hand-shaped nigiri to precision-sliced fish.

Warabi, Vic: Head chef Jun Oya’s exquisite knife skills – demonstrated directly in front of guests – are as much of a drawcard here as the ever-changing nine-course set menu. There’s also a stunning range of sake to choose from, but we’d recommend having sommelier Rosie Kim lead the way.

Minamishima, Vic: Eating under the guidance of Chef Koichi Minamishima is not something you’ll forget in a hurry. Driven by the pursuit of perfection, this is a restaurant where every grain of rice, and each soft curve of fish, is crafted with reverence.

Bar Conte, NSW

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SEE ALSO: This is Where Australia’s Top Chefs Want to Eat Tonight

Image credits: Nikki To (Bennelong and Gildas); Steven Woodburn (Bar Conte)

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