Dan Hunter's acclaimed regional Victorian restaurant has again taken top spot in Australia's Top Restaurants' annual survey of the nation's finest dining establishments.
Brae had also been number one on the 2017 list. The restaurant’s menu revolves around its organic kitchen garden with an accent on local and ethically sourced produce.
The list, produced by The Australian Financial Review, sees chefs and restaurateurs vote on their peers.
Jill Dupleix, a restaurant critic and one of the directors of Australia’s Top Restaurants told the audience at the awards event at the Art Gallery of New South Wales that those at the industry’s coalface were inevitably the best source of dining picks.
“Chefs are like cockroaches,” she said.
“They are always in and out of each other’s kitchens and they know what is going on – who is cutting it and who is losing the plot.”
What an enormous honour to be voted Australia’s Top Restaurant and Top Service Team at tonight’s @australiastoprestaurants. An award made so much sweeter for being peer-voted by Australia’s 500 top chefs. Thank you to all who visited and voted! And a big thank you to Restaurant Manager, Simon Freeman for leading Brae’s service team since our opening in 2013, putting Dan’s vision to work, having our backs at all times and forging a strong, unique culture that has allowed us to grow and develop what is considered by many to be the top service team in the country. You are the best and will be missed by all! This one’s for you, Simon. X
New South Wales and Victoria dominated the upper reaches of the list, with nine of the top 10 restaurants coming from those two states.
Dan Hunter, the Chef and owner at Brae, honed his craft at the fabled Spanish restaurant Mugaritz and has won acclaim for his distinctive approach. Restuarant critic Simon Thomsen wrote of Hunter’s food: “Every dish has a small detail that manages, almost magically, to amplify and bring the flavours to life”.
Meals at the restaurant stretch over several hours and can include a walk around the pastoral setting in between courses. Set menus cost A$260 per person with an option of matched wines for A$160 per diner. The menu changes regularly to incorporate seasonal produce and has included the inventive likes of smoked eel doughnuts, urchin macaron, barbecued abalone and a parsnip and apple dessert.
A vibrant list of restaurants
Ester, located in Sydney’s Inner West, has won acclaim for its unpretentious vibe and fresh take on Modern Australian. It moves up one spot on the list from last year and into second position.
Another inner Sydney favourite, Saint Peter, rounds out the top three. Its menu changes every day depending on what is freshest at the fish markets. It also offers indulgent seafood-based brunches which may feature the likes of sea urchin crumpet and marron scrambled eggs.
Attica, the only Australian restaurant to feature in the recent The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, came in at fourth place. Attica Head Chef Ben Shewry is also a featured guest at the upcoming C2 Melbourne conference.
Firedoor placed eleventh overall and won the Rare Medium Award for the best red meat restaurant. The Sydney restaurant has proved a sensation with its back-to-basics approach. It has no electrical ovens and instead cooks with two wood-fired grills and a pair of wood-fired ovens. It also uses an array of aromatic woods to impart smoky flavours to the meat.
The top ten restaurants on the list
- Brae (Birregurra, VIC)
- Ester (Sydney, NSW)
- Saint Peter (Sydney, NSW)
- Attica (Melbourne, VIC)
- Africola (Adelaide, SA))
- Momofuku Seiobo (Sydney, NSW)
- Sixpenny (Sydney, NSW)
- Embla (Melbourne, VIC)
- Sepia (Sydney, NSW)
- Fleet (Brunswick Heads, NSW)