Australia’s Best Paddock-to-Plate Restaurants

Solander, West Hotel, Sydney
Solander, West Hotel, Sydney

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.

Solander

CBD, Sydney

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.

www.solanderdiningandbar.com.au

Gin-Cured Salmon at Solander, West Hotel, Sydney
Gin-Cured Salmon at Solander, West Hotel, Sydney

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.

threeblueducks.com

Three Blue Ducks
Three Blue Ducks

Peel Street

Adelaide, SA

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.

peelst.com.au

Peel Street, Adelaide
Peel Street, Adelaide

NOMAD

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.

nomadwine.com.au

NOMAD, Surry Hills, Sydney
NOMAD, Surry Hills, Sydney

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.

atinyplacecafe.net

A Tiny Place, Battery Point | Photo by essentialsmagazine.com.au
A Tiny Place, Battery Point | Photo by essentialsmagazine.com.au

Appellation

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.

thelouise.com.au/dine

The terrace at Appelation, The Louise, Barossa Valley
The terrace at Appelation, The Louise, Barossa Valley

Captain Moonlite

Angelsea, VIC

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.

captainmoonlite.com.au

Captain Moonlite, Anglesea, VIC
Captain Moonlite, Anglesea, VIC

Liberté

Albany, WA

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.

libertealbany.com.au

Liberté, Albany, WA
Liberté, Albany, WA

Bucci

Brisbane, QLD

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.

buccijamesstreet.com.au

Bucci, Brisbane, QLD
Bucci, Brisbane, QLD

Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions

Canberra, ACT

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.

thepialligoestate.com.au

Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions, Canberra, ACT
Pialligo Estate Garden Pavilions, Canberra, ACT

Hapag-Lloyd to Sail Western Australia for the First Time

By Staff Writer

EUROPA 2, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ newest luxury ship, will sail through glamorous harbours, spectacular nature and varied coastal landscapes in its 2020/2021 season. From the Mediterranean and northern Europe to Asia and beyond, passengers on the upcoming trips will also be able to choose from a selection of themed cruises to suit fashion, art, sport and music enthusiasts.

The itinerary includes a first-ever visit to Western Australia, where guests can sand board in the desert, do a treetop canopy walk and spot giant red tingle trees in the Valley of the Giants and experience encounters with dolphins, emus and koalas. Starting in Melbourne, the premier route will travel through Adelaide and Kangaroo Island in South Australia, and then onto Albany, Busselton, Fremantle (Perth), Geraldton and Exmouth in Western Australia before a relaxing end in Bali, Indonesia.

Of the themed cruises on offer, FASHION2NIGHT, which starts in Hamburg, Germany offers an on-board fashion show by a renowned designer, while ART2SEA is a South Africa trip with exclusive visits to exhibitions, galleries and museums. Health and wellness-themed cruise IN2BALANCE boasts a slew of special guests including Olympic champions Maria Höfl-Riesch and Fabian Hambüchen, as well as famous yoga tutor and author Shida Pourhosseini; and the music-centric MS EUROPA 2 UNPLUGGED showcases intimate, on-board performances of singer-songwriters Heather Nova, Simon Webbe and other artists.

 

For more information on each of these cruises, visit www.hl-cruises.com.

Zumba & Room Service: Indulgence on Seabourn Sojourn

By Louise Goldsbury

Invited to a private cocktail party with the Captain and other past passengers, I am surprised – and let’s be honest, somewhat miffed – to find hundreds of other people in attendance. It seems my status of two cruises aboard Seabourn Sojourn is nothing remarkable. According to our host, 351 out of the 370 guests have previously sailed with the line, and some are clocking up more than 2,000 days at sea. If loyalty is the best gauge of excellence, it doesn’t get any better than this.

The cheerful camaraderie among these regulars creates a community vibe on this luxury ship, and newcomers are soon welcomed like members of the club. As I sit down at the poolside bar for my first glass of champagne (drinks are complimentary on this all-inclusive cruise), a deeply tanned French couple chat to me excitedly about Adelaide’s climate. A fellow Australian hears my accent and comes over – amid the sea of Americans onboard an Australian accent stands out and always sparks a conversation. He tells me the way things work around here.

“There’s a rhythm, which you’ll soon fall into,” he explains. “When the sun starts to fade, we head inside to freshen up before pre-dinner drinks at the Observation Bar. Come up around 6:15pm,” he advises, and I happily oblige.

Within seconds of settling in, the bartender nods, smiles, places a napkin and nuts in front of me. Four Americans bring me into their conversation about things to do in Western Australia, where we’re sailing toward. Ten minutes later we have agreed to do the organised excursion to Margaret River on Friday.

I can soon see that this ship would also be perfect for romance. A hot tub is hidden away at the bow, and upper decks have sun lounges where few people venture. The most secluded area of the yacht is the Spa Villa, which can be booked for several hours at a time. Meals, drinks, beauty treatments and bathing rituals can be privately indulged on the al fresco terrace. The villa experience can also be added, if available, to any face or body treatment booked at The Spa, such as a 24-karat-gold facial, Elemis aroma stone therapy, or a lime and ginger salt exfoliation.

I have a suite to myself but a few friends have also come on the voyage. We meet for dinner at Restaurant 2, a dark and sexy degustation venue, serving 10 small portions in four courses with matching wines. Our Argentinean waiter is exceptionally charming.

He introduces the first trio: lobster roll with yoghurt caviar sauce; bacalaito fritter with avocado and tomato salad; king salmon with white bean salsa. Next is a shiraz-braised oxtail presse, manchego potstickers, white asparagus vanilla cappuccino and mushroom toast. Drunken John Dory is a highlight, as well as the veal with mascarpone mashed potato. Dessert is a rich chocolate ganache, condensed milk ice cream and espresso citrus panna cotta. After a performance like that, there’s no need (or energy) to go to the 10pm song-and-dance show, Groove Tonight.

Confession: I order room service far too often. With no extra charge, and selections available from the main restaurant menu (which changes every day), it feels more decadent than hotel room service. Seared spice-crusted tuna, spring chicken cassoulet with truffle oil, soft shell crab, venison, marinated goat cheese and pesto flan – it all arrives hot on a silver tray.

The next night, after dancing in The Club, I order a midnight pizza and the most deliciously crunchy chips; then another evening it’s a cheeky bowl of caramel ice-cream while watching Gravity in bed. Celebrating with a new friend Natasha, I ask for a bottle of riesling to be delivered and it appears in an ice bucket within minutes. At 22, Natasha is the youngest person staying on for the full 108-day world voyage, which is sold in shorter segments along the way. She’s accompanying an older friend who needed a few months recuperation and decided to splurge for two. One of the eldest is a woman pushing 90 who has been on more than 150 Seabourn cruises. Most people are semi-retired and living like they don’t need to work.

On the third morning I attempt my first-ever Zumba class, presumably safe in the assumption that I won’t know anyone, but already I recognise most faces. It turns out to be a lot of fun, and afterwards I join a group of retirees for lunch at The Colonnade. This is also the best place for a casual breakfast. Aside from the usual continental and hot food items, tasty options include the fig compote, cinnamon toast (all bread is freshly baked onboard) and coriander, chilli and feta omelette.

I can soon see that this ship would also be perfect for romance. A hot tub is hidden away at the bow, and upper decks have sun lounges where few people venture.

However, the poolside patio grill is a favourite as it feels more like summer holidays. The food theme switches every day from Caribbean to Indian, French to surf and turf. But it’s not all about the great dining on Seabourn (and there is barely an overweight cruise stereotype to be seen).

Daily activities include ballroom dance classes, trivia, bridge, arts and crafts, golf putting games with prizes, lots of live music and movies screened under the stars on the pool deck. Educational lectures by guest speakers are popular and our week features local historian Warren Fahey, who discusses Australia’s Aboriginal, colonial and convict past.

In between the action, I relax at the café in the Seabourn Square, a central hub with lots of couches (with an ocean view), a library and iPads loaded with international newspapers. Of course, I also retreat to my suite to read a book on my balcony or watch one of the on-demand new-release movies. There’s also a walk-in wardrobe, a free minibar (and welcome bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne), a bath as well as a shower, Molton Brown toiletries in the marble-clad bathroom, and a stewardess to attend to any requests.

No wonder almost everyone comes back. The company rewards its loyal cruisers through the tiered Seabourn Club, granting a choice of benefits. When your account reaches 140 days, you receive a complimentary seven-day cruise. At the top tier, Diamond Members are also entitled to free laundry, internet, phone calls (40 minutes) and a massage, among other benefits. But if you ask me, the cruise experience itself is beneficial enough.