Fuelled by local producers and the freshest ingredients, these ten Australian restaurants treat diners to scrumptious cuisine with a conscience
For the past decade, chefs and restaurateurs around the world have been placing greater value on sourcing local and seasonal produce, reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, supporting sustainable practice by farmers, producers and wine-makers and participating in the local community. This is even more the case in Australia.
More and more diners have simultaneously developed the same goals, wanting to support restaurants with high standards of ethics, integrity and sustainability – while still offering great food, wine and good times.
As celebrated Australian food writer, restaurant critic and cookbook author Jill Dupleix said on the release of her book Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, which outlines the world’s most exemplary, organic, sustainable, and ethical restaurants:
“We value good food and good friends. We value time over money, community over celebrity and empathy over ego. We value the seasons and the rhythm of nature, and people who work with them rather than against them. And we value being able to dine together and to work together to shape the world we live in.”
And the following restaurants tend to agree. From quaint bistro settings to refined fine dining, these eateries are not only ethical and sustainable, but undoubtedly delicious, too.
One year since its official opening, Solander Dining and Bar has enriched and refined its menu, with its balanced flora and fauna approach. The menu pays homage to its namesake – Daniel Solander, a London-based Swedish botanist who was integral to the early documentation and collection of Australian plants. Along with sustainable meat and seafood options, there are additional options for those with restricted diets. Signature menu items include slow-cooked wallaby shanks accompanied by wattle seed and a rich macadamia crumble-style crème, house-made banksia and acacia pot-bread flavoured using foraged native flowers. Solander is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cocktails served from midday until late.
Three Blue Ducks
Sydney, Rosebery, Byron Bay and Brisbane
This Bronte eatery is all about the produce and the people. It launched in 2011 and is equipped with a kitchen garden, rooftop solar-power system, focus on Fairtrade, organic and local produce – and a legendary avocado on toast. Since then, it has expanded to three additional locations. The Byron branch in particular houses animals, chooks and beehives on eighty-five acres of farm and market gardens; turns rainwater into sparkling water for guests; offers fifty-six taps to reduce bottle waste and has installed milk-dispensing Jugglers to reduce needless milk packaging. The food itself – with standouts like a kingfish poke bowl, coal-roasted lamb and a farm-grown salad – is simple, fast, fresh and undoubtedly flavourful. Three Blue Ducks is open for breakfast and lunch daily, as well as dinner from Wednesday to Saturday.
Peel Street is colourful and casual with the kitchen open for all to see and a long polished concrete bar in the front. Chefs Jordan Theodorous and Martin Corcoran dispense full-flavoured dishes that are strongly Mediterranean but with a healthy dash of Middle Eastern energy and the occasional Asian spice. The menu is displayed on a blackboard in order to make timely changes in sync with the season and their vegetable and community gardens. The always-fresh fusion cuisine includes a banana blossom salad, Spencer Gulf prawns, a hefty Coorong mullet and a yogurt, fruit and nut Persian delight. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday, with dinner service on Monday and Wednesday to Saturday.
Surry Hills, Sydney
While the outside screams Brooklyn warehouse, the interior and menu of NOMAD proudly showcases Sydney and its surrounds. Charcuterie and other hero ingredients are made right on site, while Chef Jacqui Challinor’s menu taps into local producers only, such as Melanda Park Pork and Willowbrae Chevre Cheese. The sustainable focus extends to the use of Blackheath Firewood, recycling of used cooking oil into biofuel and the careful separation of waste. Wine is a focus here, the list celebrating biodynamic farming, minimal intervention and small-scale Australian producers. The food however, which boasts house-made Jersey milk halloumi, a David Blackmore 9+ Wagyu tongue and a glazed Fremantle octopus, is the real selling point. NOMAD serves lunch Wednesday to Saturday and dinner from Monday to Saturday.
A Tiny Place
Battery Point, TAS
This accurately-named French bistro may be small, but has flavours that rival some of Australia’s largest and most well-known sustainable eateries. Founder and Chef Philippe Leban serves French-inspired, Tasmanian-sourced cooking that is designed to not only please but showcase overlooked vegetables. Locally grown organic leeks, for instance, are served roasted, with foraged pickled slippery jacks, cauliflower purée, turnip and soy jelly, to deliciously spotlight a deeply neglected vegetable. Leban pulls from local resources, such as fisher Mark Eather, to make his surrounding produce the star. In addition to the vegetarian creations, test out a Tasmania scallop pudding or a steamed Ray’s bream with a fruity twist. The unique, cottage-like restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Barossa Valley, SA
Barossa-born top Chefs Daniel Murphy and Emily Murphy showcase their region in the best way possible, producing world-class, regionally-inspired dining. This serenely-relaxed restaurant has vineyard views and resides in The Louise, one of Australia’s most luxurious regional resorts. The menu serves free-range pork and an award-winning wine list – two Australian dining must-haves – in addition to Japanese and Korean flavours, such as house-made miso and kimchi. Guests can indulge in a pork neck with fermented vegetables, roasted baby fennel with an Asian twist, a quince with marzipan and honey and so much more amidst breathtaking views. Appellation serves its sumptuous fare for dinner Tuesday through Friday.
Offering seaside dining at its finest, Captain Moonlite lies in a real, active Surf Life Saving club and treats guests to stunning wave views. Chef Matt Germanchis has created a delectable seafood menu, from a fremantle octopus served with a side of potato cake to a prawn-and-seaweed cracker to a best-in-show fish and chips, while the surrounding community works to ensure the Anglesea inhabitants’ well being. In addition to a ban on plastic straws, the restaurant supports local organic suppliers such as Kinsfolk Farm. Those who prefer their fish in the water can additionally indulge in non-seafood dishes, such as a toasty, beetroot-capped saganaki or a lamb souvlaki. Dining starts with breakfast and lunch from Friday to Monday and ends with dinner from Thursday through Sunday.
This aesthetically-pleasing bar invokes feelings of a grand bistro in Paris, yet promotes the produce of the Great Southern region in the most flavourful way possible. Founder Amy Hamilton’s love for her region shines with locally-produced seafood dishes and Western Australian inflections that pull from France and Vietnam. The bar is as equally impressive; Bar manager Keryn Gills creates cocktails in line with the changing seasons, inventing drinkable creations as she goes. If the cured Australian salmon or the sheep’s yoghurt mousse don’t convince you, an entertaining programme of themed nights and events dot the hangout, making it ideal for a relaxing night with friends. Lunch and dinner are served Monday to Saturday.
Although owners Shaun and Tanja Malone may not hail from Italy, the cuisine speaks otherwise. Much of the produce at Bucci comes from sustainable farms and the local market, while the pasta is made in-house and everything else is sourced as locally as possible. For instance, the truffled honey dressing on the explosively creamy burrata is made from honey harvested from hives in the street and the capesante con prezzemolo e aglio sources scallops from Hervey Bay. A smiling staff greets newbies and regulars alike, offering bowls of warm olives and bringing a Sicilian Sunday dinner down under. Order the linguine al granchio (spanner crab with chilli, parsley, and lemon) or the tagliatelle con cicale di mare (Moreton Bay bug) – you won’t be disappointed. Bucci serves its Italian fare for lunch and dinner daily.
Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions
Following a fire that destroyed Pialligo’s Farmhouse Restaurant in 2017, the estate’s dedication to sustainable dining led to a new restaurant in four covered garden pavilions. Ingredients are sourced from both local suppliers and the estate’s own farmland, which includes a grove of 400 Coriggiola olive trees, a two-hectare market garden that dates back 100 years and a 1000-tree orchard fragrant with peaches and nectarines. This means that even the simplest dish – zucchini flowers stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta, perhaps – comes with the most delightful views. The smokehouse however, is another highlight; from an award-winning bacon to a signature charcuterie board, it is possibly the restaurant’s main attraction. Stop by for lunch or dinner Wednesday through Saturday, lunch on Sunday or a weekend breakfast.