Sure, we’ve seen some exciting restaurant openings this year, but hold onto your hats for 2019. Here are the most lip-smacking reasons to ring in the new year.
Barn by Biota, Southern Highlands
Due to Open: January
Barn by Biota is set to be one of the most singular openings of the year. The sibling to acclaimed Bowral restaurant Biota achieves chef James Viles’ dream of opening a casual, hyper-local restaurant in the NSW Southern Highlands. Accepting guests for only two dinner services per month, starting on 11 and 25 January, each menu will be completely different and interactive – diners will have the chance to go yabby fishing before the shareable feast.
East Kangaloon, Southern Highlands
Due to open: February
Rebel Sport co-founder Ian Dresner and restaurateur and businessman Dah Lee are behind the 300-seat Firegrill Restaurant & Bar in the CBD’s Barrack Place development. Dresner was initially involved in the late, lamented Wildfire restaurant, and Firegrill promises similarly spectacular proportions to the venue that will have two street frontages, onto Clarence and Kent streets. “It’s five different spaces, really,” says Lee. “There’s a courtyard, open kitchen, cocktail bar and mezzanine private dining.” Overseen by chef George Francesco, also a Wildfire alum, the menu will take a fire theme along with “a super-accessible price point – we think the city is due a bit of disruption in that department.”
137-151 Clarence Street, Sydney
Cantina Carolina/Tetto, Melbourne
Due to open: February
Joe Mammone is doubling down on the raging success of his South Yarra Italian eatery Bar Carolina by taking over the shopfront next door. Carolina Cantina, a 30-seat café taking its inspiration from classic Italian espresso bars, will be on the ground floor, while Tetto, on the floor above, will be a cocktail and wine bar featuring velvet banquettes and a terrazzo floor, as well as a 40-person terrace.
48 Toorak Road, South Yarra
Unnamed restaurant and wine bar, Brisbane
Due to open: February|
The redevelopment of the 3.4 hectares of Brisbane riverfront known as the Howard Smith Wharves has been big news for the city and by year’s end it will be buzzing with Hong Kong Chinese-inspired Stanley Restaurant and Bar, izakaya Toko Brisbane, Jonathan Barthelmess’s Greca taverna and seafood-centric overwater bar Mr Percival’s. The first cab off the rank in 2019 will be a 240-seat restaurant and wine bar offering a paddock-to-plate menu with interiors by Anna Spiro, renowned for her work on luxury NSW beachside hotel Halcyon House.
Under the Story Bridge, 5 Boundary Street, Brisbane
Due to open: March
The latest restaurant from Andrew Becher, co-owner of Pelicano in Double Bay, takes over the Potts Point site previously home to Fratelli Fresh. Word is that Franca (a reference to lingua franca, a common language adopted by speakers whose native languages are different) will offer a pan-Mediterranean, French-accented menu.
81 Macleay Street, Potts Point
Di Stasio Citta, Melbourne
Due to open: Early 2019
Spring Street is about to become what restaurateur Ronnie Di Stasio cheekily calls “the Milan end of Melbourne”. Di Stasio Citta (that’s “city” to non-Italian speakers) promises to reprise the classic Di Stasio brio that has kept the St Kilda mothership humming for the past 30 years.
35 Spring Street, Melbourne
Golden Century at the Exchange
Due to open: Mid-2019
The beloved Chinatown institution is going forth and multiplying. Billy Wong, son of Eric and Linda Wong who opened their Cantonese restaurant in 1989, is behind the new Golden Century at The Exchange at Darling Square. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the contemporary version of the original will be aimed at a new generation of diners, although Wong promises there will be tributes and nods to the original.
Darling Square, Sydney
Due to open: Mid-to-late 2019
This classic French bistro from Chin Chin owner Chris Lucas will be split over two levels in a Victorian terrace at the top end of Bourke Street and dish up oysters, steak frites and, of course, freshly baked batards (a shorter version of a baguette). Oh, and there’ll be a rooftop bar, too.
19-21 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Coogee Pavilion, Sydney
Due to open: Mid-2019
Yes, the Coogee Pavilion opened way back in 2014 and is doing very nicely but Merivale’s multi-storey redevelopment of the former Beach Palace Hotel remains a work in progress. Hovering between the casual downstairs bistro and the rollicking rooftop bar, the mysterious middle level promises a more refined dining concept from executive chef Jordan Toft.
169 Dolphin Street, Coogee
Unnamed Martin Benn project, Melbourne
Due to open: TBC
It’s the restaurant over which Melbourne has been holding its breath: the new project from Sepia’s Martin Benn, who with partner Vicki Wild closed his high-flying Sydney restaurant to move to Melbourne with the backing of restaurant Svengali Chris Lucas. Where to? Who knows? We only know that Lucas, who collects chefs as lepidopterologists collect butterflies, would be wise to let Benn continue with his own brand of Japanese-accented Australian food.