A week off for us means extra news and a second helping of reviews for you. Tuck in and enjoy.
Tom Haynes firing up the burners and serving caramel wattleseed koalas at the rebooted Bea.delicious.
Lankan Filling Station selling cashew curry to raise funds for Sri Lanka, after the devastating Easter Sunday attacks. Gourmet Traveller
How climate change is affecting the Australian wine industry. Good Food
Newly minted Drink Easy Awards to reward the brewers, distillers and fermenters at the apex of their craft. Broadsheet
Archie Rose partners with Pepe Saya to create buttered toast-flavoured gin. delicious.
Jonathan Gold posthumously honoured with James Beard award for restaurant criticism. LA Times
Greg and Lucy Malouf's book Suqar wins a James Beard awards in the Baking and Desserts category. Forbes
Move over knife and fork. Grub Street
Sky high dining takes a designer turn. Wallpaper
Jill Dupleix embraced all things vegan at Bodhi's yum cha for her cafe review column in SMH Good Food. "The kitchen follows Buddhist practices in using no animal products whatsoever, and dishes are free from onion, chives, garlic, leeks and spring onions (regarded by Taoists as being inflammatory). But it's still quite surreal, because the dumplings look just like meat-based ones, with stripy pink "prawns" sticking out of deep-fried yam dumplings, and chilli-red "sausages" peeping out from soft white buns... You can do worse than to order by colour alone: green tea dumplings with pretty green skins, crimson beetroot dumplings, and luminous Halloween-orange pumpkin-shaped dumplings, complete with a clove for a stalk and a not-too-mulchy filling of mushroom and chestnut."
Terry Durack reviews the treasure box that is Gaku Robata Grill for SMH Good Food. "The menu is surprisingly long for such a minnow of a place, while the deluxe day's specials – white asparagus one day, Spanish truffles the next – are seen at a glance resting on the front counter. If there are Pacific oysters, have them grilled in the shell until plump and warm, dressed with a rich yuzu miso cream; all smoky acid sweetness. If there is Australian wagyu rump cap with a marble score of seven, have it grilled to medium-rare, sliced into fingers and served with little bowls of black pepper sauce, wasabi, an amazingly delicious smoked soy, and sea salt... Special mention goes to the DIY hand rolls, which are immaculately conceived and executed; the sheet of nori crisp yet wrappable, the rice sprightly, the fillings inconceivably rich, from bejewelled tuna tartare to grilled sea eel." (15/20)
Terry's review of The Stables Bar & Grill in Glebe for Good Food the week before wasn't quite as glowing. "A mixed grill is a mixed blessing; a neatly grilled eye fillet cooked medium to well, flanked by an oily yet bland pig's head terrine, pressed lamb ribs with not much life left in them, two fried eggs and a good white-peppery Cumberland sausage. It comes with thick onion gravy, crisped bacon, chips, quoits of thick, battered onion rings, field mushrooms, and the sort of tomatoes that British chefs have historically added to a mixed grill for a pop of colour. There's not a hint of greenery in sight, not even a frizz of curly parsley." (12.5/20)
Gemima Cody blazes a trail to Tansy Good's eponymous eatery in Kyneton for The Age Good Food and isn't disappointed, finding the Melbourne icon of the 1980s and 1990s still has it, in spades. "A dish of immaculately frenched and blushing lamb chops, smartly mounted on baba ghanoush, crunchy beans, sweet tomatoes and basil, is in part so good because it has nothing to prove. Fluffy bread and butter pudding, or pears poached with the contents of the spice drawer and given a ginger ice-cream scoop and chocolate drizzle are as much for now as they've been forever. The patterned plates are vintage, but what's on them transcends time." (14.5/20)
John Lethlean reviews Dier Makr for The Weekend Australian which he says won't please everyone. "Dier Makr (a play on a Led Zeppelin song title) does things its own way. I admire the singularity but equally see how this is a restaurant that could thrill only a small audience. The only menu is fixed-price – $85 – pre-set and chalked on the wall – and it is uninformative. “Loin, Grains, Cucumber”? Venison, stupid. There is no list of bottled wines, just a selection of aperitifs/cocktails and three categories of wine by the glass: white, orange/pink; and red. If you want a bottle, it’s off to the wine room to peruse and select. This will please fewer than it annoys." (3/5)
A week earlier, also for The Weekend Oz, John was at Brisbane's Howard Smith Wharves, reviewing Greca by Jonathan Barthelmess and the team behind Sydney's Apollo. He wasn't a huge fan. "I’ve been to Apollo Sydney several times and enjoyed the experience a lot; when he cooks, Barthelmess cooks beautifully. It’s all about the wood and charcoal. But Greca – essentially Apollo with a bit of dumbing down for the precinct mentality – has lost a few dolmades on the journey north. The cooking is not as sharp, the flavours less balanced, the service team less savvy. I approached the experience with relish: when traditional Greek dishes are done well, it’s such a vibrant cuisine. Not here." (2.5/5)
Anthony Huckstep reviewed Chica Bonita, the Sydney CBD sister of the Manly eatery of the same name for delicious. "Mexican-born chef Alejandro Huerta is an alumnus of Enrique Olvera’s Pujol, one of Mexico City’s finest, and while it’s by no means classic, the food flying out of the kitchen is dazzlingly fresh, vibrant and brims with enticing spice, though never overplayed. A spicy salsa bruja adds gusto to wonderfully creamy, thick-cut mackerel ceviche, offset with a small salad of green apple and cured cucumber. The duck carnitas taco, with sour cherry-roasted salsa, orange and jalapeño, is not to be missed, while finger lime and sea banana add zing to chunky kingfish ceviche tostadas." (3/5).
#TheCruHack... Launch for success
Our PR account director Sophie Foster shares her tips on how to ensure your restaurant launches with a bang.
"It is important you have a strong and comprehensive strategy in place around the launch of a new venue. With so many openings in each city, competition is fierce, so the earlier you have messaging in place, key information and imagery, the better chance you have of getting coverage across multiple platforms. To build momentum and awareness, commence the PR campaign well in advance of opening. Spend time getting your messaging and story right - if you aren't clear on the venue, the media won't be."