Food is anything you want it to be nowadays. A bloke strolls into an apartment building where they are refurbishing the dining establishment. “What’s it going to be?” the man asks. “Spanish, Mexican, South American, with a little bit of Middle Eastern influence,” he’s told.
I’m not making this up.
“Sounds great, have you got a good chef?” “Yeah he did his apprenticeship under Jamie Oliver.” River Cafe fulfils Day of the Dead by means of tapas with hummus and falafel.
I’d like to believe the muddle of Australia’s freestyle, throw-it-all-into-the-pot cooking is settling; the absence of rules and cultural baggage has been an advantage for the country’s cooking advancement, and probably matches the nationwide character. But without appropriate training and roots, our commercial cooks sometimes lose instructions. See above. Places that are more focused, with less of a scattergun technique, will always be the genuine stayers.
To look forward, of course, it is useful to recall. And the dining establishments of 2016 that made a difference, that have legs, all have a clear sense of identity.
The standouts of 2016 have a clear objective at their core. I’m thinking Stanbuli in Enmore, Sydney, with its Turkish roots; Igni in Geelong, Victoria, with its original cooking dedicated to fire and smoke; Lulu La Delizia, in Perth where pasta is checked out in a mature and adventurous way; Oakridge, in the Yarra Valley, where the elegant restaurant and winery that utilizes on-site fruit and vegetables talk to each other beautifully; Disallow Brose, Hubert, Yellow and Dolphin– all, I’m afraid, part of the Sydney push, too. Not to mention Australia’s very first great seafood dining establishment, Cirrus, and Fred’s, pressing a new design of hearth-to-plate kitchen-as-diner.
We were delighted by the born-again Africola, in Adelaide, too: a fantastic example of what a single-minded chef– in charge– can accomplish. And in Perth, Wildflower began stream with truly inspired fresh food motivated by the West. And Long Chim … Sure it’s a chain, but it’s done effectively, and a major chef lags the idea.
The country has lots of regular restaurants that persist with taking our loan in exchange for little. It’s a secret. Lowlights of the dining year consisted of Adelaide’s Hill of Grace and Versace’s Vanitas, in Internet user’s Paradise, both pricey and anachronistic. Ditto The Cut in Melbourne, an organisation that now– most peculiarly– finds itself a stable mate (in another format, after the failure of the first one) of the constantly great Rock pool Bar & Grill trio. And Cape Lodge in the Margaret River area, a location that cannot get rid of its tremendous catering for functions, in spite of the prices.
They constitute a little group of dining establishments I discovered enormously wanting in 2016.
Then there was a bracket of locations pumped filled with air by others in the media that appeared to me to have developed major leaks. I’m thinking The Apo located in Brisbane, Mercado and Indu which is in Sydney, Fuyu as well as Bib & Tucker in Perth.
They are all, as far as I understand, still alive.
Less so are the enigmatic Mark Best’s Marque, Guillaume Brahimi’s Guillaume in Paddington, Silvereye in Chippendale and, technically, Rock pool 1989, which became Eleven Bridge and stayed out of the Urban Purveyor Group merger (see listed below).
All, in their own method, places of substantial benefit that ran their race for a variety of various reasons.
PUT IT IN YOUR DIARY
Hundreds of brand-new dining establishments will open in 2017. A lot of will be beige, rudderless ships, the dining equivalent of a Holden Cruze. There are, however, some openings on the drawing board that will make a great deal of noise.
In Sydney, it will be remarkable to see if Chin Chin’s Melbourne brand name equates when it releases in Surry Hills around August. The restaurant has actually been the phenomenon of the decade in its home town.
And from the same proprietor, Chris Lucas, an as-yet-unnamed three-level Japanese dining establishment with chef Shaun Presland at the helm has some extremely innovative concepts behind it, predestined to shift believing at the luxury of Melbourne consuming. And in the unlikely area of Crown, Australia’s 3rd Long Chim will open around February.
Mentioning which, one of the city’s finest operators, Paul Aron, will lastly get his Quo Vadis Baby off the ground, at the Harry Seidler-designed QV1 tower on St Georges Balcony. Aron has some intriguing dining establishments behind him.
In Sydney, the unrelenting march of 2 restaurant business powerhouses will be the ones to enjoy. The Hemmes household’s Merivale group will open yet another Paddington restaurant in Oxford Street in 2017, a previous retail website two doors below Fred’s that will be a showcase for current The Paddington officer chef Ben Greeno. And Barangaroo’s most significant dining establishment task, a three-level website leased by Matt Moran and the Solotel Group, will open later on in the year. As if Moran doesn’t have enough to think about.
Spawn of the Neil Perry/UPG union, Sydney will get a Rosetta (based on the high-end Italian created by Perry at Crown) and Brisbane will get a Rock pool Bar & Grill. We believe.
A SUITE WITH THE LOT
2015 found us reassessing the “dining establishments in hotels are awful” guideline with some high-end food-focused flophouse openings in WA and Victoria. Over in the West, Perth acquired Como The Treasury, thought about by many to be the very best hotel in Australia, and home to the impressive Wildflower dining establishment to name a few. Still in the West, where they like things huge, the opulent Crown Towers opened with Perth’s most significant buffet and the world’s most significant chocolate fountain, that makes us snort and think about the Vicar of Dibley (Google it). Meanwhile, QT Melbourne bounced into town including a perky Parisienne bar and grill called Pascale, terrific eclairs and a number of other joints reviving an old movie theatre in the town’s food lover golden mile.
The trend continues in 2017 with the opening of Perth’s Aloft (of the Starwood brand) in May. Over in Tassie the MACQ 01, the very first waterfront hotel in the capital for years, established by the people behind Saffire Freycinet and the Henry Jones, will open in the middle of the year. Melbourne will get another 4 Points by Sheraton down in Docklands, and Sydney will get another Sofitel.
BIG BUSINESS IS DIFFICULT TO PREVENT AT LUNCH
Huge dining establishment groups have constantly been around but more than ever before, they are part of the quality dining landscape. That promises only to increase this year. Try to find major growth from Rock pool Dining Group, the rather mismatched marriage of Neil Perry’s locations with the mixed bag of restaurants and taverns owned by Urban Purveyor Group.
In Sydney, Merivale will continue its quality/quantity stabilizing act with more locations prepared for Paddington and, certainly, more clubs (witness their most current born-again pub/restaurant Queen Chow and The Smelly Goat in Enmore).
Having actually sold a considerable piece of his organisation to Singa ¬ porean investors, Melbourne’s Shannon Bennett will push on with Sydney plans and the conversion of Burnham Beeches, in the Dandenong’s, to a luxury retreat/ dining establishment.
Made Facility, the automobile behind celeb chef George Calombaris, will expand its portfolio into Sydney with a Gazi and a Jimmy Grant’s dining establishments.
Solotel, the dining establishment and pub group of Sydney’s Solomon family and chef Matt Moran, bought the failed Keystone Hospitality Group property Chophouse late in 2015, taking its group to 26, and will make a substantial action this year with building of a massive new Moran-fronted restaurant at Barangaroo.
WHAT DO YOU SEEM LIKE EATING?
If there is anyone out there who predicted the increase of toast, cronuts, rainwater cakes, ramen hamburgers, poke and matcha … Please call, I wish to have a chat about the stock market.
What we can surely anticipate about food and dining establishment patterns, however, is that the people who make and offer charcoal/wood-burning cooking equipment will continue to grow. Many chefs stood out in 2015 with great produce and fire: at Embla, Pontoon, Atlas, Igni, Fred’s and, naturally, Firedoor. The bar keeps increasing and the general public’s hunger for it is enormous.
The primacy of provenance and produce branding is slipping away. No longer do we have to understand the name of the chicken we’re eating, where it matured, the number of siblings it had and what it was fed and by whom. I want to believe an agreement is emerging: restaurants expect, and chefs accept, that it is their job to source impressive fruit and vegetables without talking it approximately absurd levels.
THE ONE BIG THING
I doubt anybody who has not had first-hand experience of the World’s 50 Best Dining establishments Awards understands the significance of this event striking Melbourne in April. Tourism Australia has played a major part behind the scenes in getting the circus here, noticing a significant opportunity to expose the yarra valley wineries and food scene to the outside world. Chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and international media will be here in droves, and the impact they can and probably will assert, huge. Anticipate partnerships with regional chefs, festival classes, regional trips and a lot of chef-spotting opportunities as the greats of the scene wander around the nation as guests.
The paradox of this scene is that the more info that’s out there, the more difficult it is to track things. Do not anticipate this year to be any different.
More at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/food-wine/winners-losers-and-incoming-trends-for-the-restaurant-scene/news-story/572906879b11ec1578c4246c1a1f20a8?nk=af35eab7b64f991da730bd68ab1afa55-1485137221