There’s hot, hotter and hottest. But these 10 food experiences are so hot, they’re downright cool.
Local spirit producers’ new-found love for native botanicals has taken a quantum leap with their discovery of green ants. With a flavour described as zesty, limy and tart, the native ants – sustainably harvested in the Northern Territory in partnership with traditional owners – add a six-legged kick to gin, including the Australian Green Ant Gin by Adelaide Hills Distillery.
How to win friends and influence people: 1. Book the private dining room at Vue de Monde, Shannon Bennett’s glittering fine-diner in Melbourne. 2. Request The P2 Ultimate Experience, a collaboration with Dom Pérignon that starts at $900 a head for 10 to 12 courses with champagne. 3. Take a brass token and head downstairs to cap off the evening with a bottle of chilled 2006 vintage from a vending machine dubbed the “Illuminator”. Fun with a capital “F”.
Image: Lauren Bamford
The Bloody Mary has proven itself endlessly adaptable, with bartenders mixing up all kinds of bespoke blends. Melbourne’s Uncle gives it a Vietnamese twist with a hint of fish sauce. Perth’s Odyssea Beach Café opts for tomato and clam juice, while Mary’s in Sydney serves it with a Yank-tastic garnish of bacon and cheese.
Perhaps it’s because we’re more health-conscious or maybe mocktails are finally getting interesting but the non-alcoholic drink-matching trend is taking hold in Australia’s top restaurants. From Sydney’s Momofuku Seiōbo to Adelaide’s Orana and Melbourne’s Attica, it’s the time for creative juices, spritzers, sodas and infusions. In 2017, going booze-free doesn’t have to be spiritless.
A cut above
There are only eight seats, which book out in a flash when they’re released months in advance, but the sushi counter at Sokyo warrants diarising. The calm eye of the buzzing salaryman storm at Sydney’s glamorous Japanese diner is worthy of anyone’s bucket list, thanks to the skills of sushi chef Takashi Sano, who precision-cuts the finest seafood into swooningly good examples of art.
Slow food, African style
The cradle of civilisation may well have begun with scenes like those at The Abyssinian in Melbourne’s Kensington: groups of people banqueting on Ethiopian slow-cooked meats, legumes and vegetable dishes – all scented with signature dusky spices and, best of all, eaten not with cutlery but scooped up with swatches of the spongy sourdough flatbread known as injera.
Switch it up
It’s quid pro quo for eternal dining rivals Sydney and Melbourne. Sydneysiders, say goodbye to glamorous Sepia before it closes for good on 31 December to join Chris Lucas’s stable down south next year. There’s no time for sulking, though, as Sydney has just received its own version of Lucas’s South-East Asian party palace, Chin Chin.
Image: Tom Ferguson
Pork-skin noodles. Three words that probably shouldn’t go together but we’re certainly glad they do at Liberté in Albany, Western Australia. The irreverent French-Vietnamese restaurant in the London Hotel throws cholesterol-caution to the wind by turning irresistibly more-ish pork skin into equally irresistible noodles – and value-adds with all sorts of spicy goodness.
The food beloved of dudes has been trending for some time but at Melbourne neo-dive bar The Beaufort, it reaches its apotheosis with the truffled mac ’n’ cheese topped with a nuclear-orange scattering of Cheezels crumbs. Southern comfort indeed.
Approach with caution
Bibs aren’t for babies at the Melbourne CBD home of Miss Katie’s Crab Shack, especially when tackling the signature crab boil: whole blue swimmer crab cooked with potatoes, corn and chorizo, served with a true Louisiana-style shaker of Old Bay spice mix. Put on your Miss Katie’s bib, dig in with your hands and leg-cracking mallet and don’t be alarmed if you spill anything on the newspaper tablecloth.
Top image: Sean Fennessy