The 10 best restaurants in Australia

Bennelong at the Sydney Opera House. Source: Supplied

The Gourmet Traveller 2017 Australian Restaurant guide is out now as part of the magazine’s September issue and features more than 400 restaurants from around Australia.

Every year, guide editor Pat Nourse also puts together a national Top 100, a talking point that provokes the usual debates over the Sydney versus Melbourne rivalry. On that criteria alone, the Emerald City could lay claim to being top dog, taking out six of the top 10 spots, including restaurant of the year.

But Nourse says Adelaide “is very much a city on the up-and-up”, cracking the top 10 thanks to Orana in Rundle Street, which explores native Australian flavours.

Compiling the guide took seven months and involved a team of 60 reviewers, Nourse said, calculating that he eats out for work at least 170 times a year.

Asked what the Top 100 says about dining in Australia, Nourse pointed to the diversity of eating.

“In just the top 20 we’ve got a chef from Barbados doing the food of his homeland in a fine-dining context at Momofuku Seiobo alongside a vision of indigenous food culture at Orana,” he told the magazine.

“They’re sitting next to Basque-influenced, 100-per-cent fire cooking at Firedoor, alongside a perfect slice of Ginza lifted out of Tokyo and tucked into a Richmond laneway at Minamishima.

“The thing these places have in common is quality and personality. What this says about Australia right now is that you can eat out really well every night of the year and have something completely different every time.”

Here are the top 10 restaurants in the 2017 Gourmet Traveller Australian Restaurant guide, which is out now and free with the September issue.

10. Orana, Adelaide

Restaurant Orana, Adelaide. Source: Facebook

'Zock Zonfrillo might be the savviest interpreter of indigenous ingredients working in fine dining' the Gourmet Traveller (GT) guide says. The kicker is he's a Scot with Italian heritage. Expect potato damper cooked in coals at the table, kangaroo tendon 'chips' and buttermilk infused with strawberry eucalypt in a $155 degustation meal.

9. Bentley, Sydney

Chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt. Supplied

Brent Savage's dishes are 'some of the most forward-looking and accomplished in town' says GT, from a pretzel puff with chicken skin puree to pumpkin spaghetti with pumpkin oil and violet ice-cream with honeycomb and musk sticks. Bentley is 'a microcosm of perfection', GT concludes. Entrees to $30, mains to $49.

8. Bennelong, Sydney

Bennelong. Source: Supplied

Yes, you're inside the architectural power of the Opera House, but think about dessert first, GT says, and don't miss the lamington with cherry jam ice-cream and bitter chocolate in curls of shaved coconut ice-cream. Then there's white corn polenta with spanner crab amid the fixed price $100 lunch and $130 dinner, or head to the raw bar for the $24 suckling pig sausage roll.

7. The Bridge Room, Sydney


Ross Lusted has one of the few Sydney fine diners still prepared to offer a la carte, which may explain why it's popular with the business crowd, GT speculates. But there are also new tasting menus ($90-$145) to enjoy steamed scallop pudding with abalone and biltong; and steamed Murray cod with surf clams and celtuce (stem lettuce). 'The food remains a knockout,' GT says.

6. Vue de Monde, Melbourne

Source: Supplied

'Special occasions are the default of this kind of setting,' GT says of Shannon Bennett's level 55 eyrie, 'but Vue's moments of whimsy and surprise push those moments into the memorable.' The $230-275 degustation menu might include a marron 'snag' barbecued over charcoal at the table, or duck breast with leeks and truffle filling, then Jerusalem artichoke donuts filled with a hazelnut emulsion.

5. Sepia, Sydney

Chef and owner Martin Benn. Source: Supplied

'The food is a lesson in texture, beauty and ingenuity all at once,' GT says. 'Every spoonful brings surprise,' they continue, citing ribbons of squid with yuzu and shiitake floss giving crunch to a rice ball. 'Your pockets will be lighter when you leave, yes, but your heart will be fuller for the ceremony of it all,' GT concludes.

4. Quay, Sydney

'A restaurant that floats beyond trends as serenely as its dining room floats above the harbour,' GT says. 'Chef Peter Gilmore creates his own culinary language on the bespoke plates with rare ingredients and even rarer emphasis on texture in tandem with flavour.

3. Brae, Birregurra, regional Victoria

This regional Victorian fine diner, 90 minutes from Melbourne 'is more compelling that ever,' GT says. That's thanks to Dan Hunter's 10-course $190 degustation, which 'celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring' such as creamy oyster soft-serve, and sea urchin and chicory bread pudding, 'yet rich in flavour and substance'. Source: Supplied

2. Attica, Melbourne

Chef and owner Ben Shewry. Source: Supplied

'One of Ben Shewry's great strengths is his ability to transform the potentially hokey into something genuine and heartfelt,' GT says, recounting how you end up in the restaurant's backyard for a cuppa and kangaroo-shaped biscuit after the savoury courses to chat with the chef about the garden. Dishes such as diced emu and red cabbage are 'witty, dazzling and original'.

1. Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney

Source: Supplied

'I know Momofuku Seiobo being named Restaurant of the Year has come as a surprise to some,' says guide editor Pat Nourse. 'It's a really exciting discovery - the restaurant has everything you may have liked from its previous incarnation under the talented Ben Greeno, but it's now trading in the Caribbean flavours (chef Paul Carmichael) grew up with: coconut and pork and plantains and mango and hot sauce and all that good stuff. You're unlikely to see the food of Barbados handled with this sort of finesse anywhere else in the world'.

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