Aquitaine Brasserie, After Hours Wine Bar, Epocha, Mechanics Institute

Photography: Courtesy Aquitaine Brasserie

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country including Aquitaine Brasserie, After Hours Wine Bar, Epocha, and Mechanics Institute.

Aquitaine Brasserie
The name may conjure images of the best of Bordeaux and south-west France, but this new riverside arrival (pictured) doesn't define itself by brasserie tradition or by region. On offer are modern Australian riffs on the classics while the wine list roams wider still - not just through France but also across a clutch of Australian and New Zealand vineyards. Savour the best of the Sunshine Coast with an entrée of prettily plated Glasshouse snails or share charcuterie with house-made relishes from a separate bar menu. There's certainly a French sensibility, but the vibe is bright and breezy Brisbane. R2 River Quay, South Bank, Qld, (07) 3844 1888 FIONA DONNELLY
After Hours Wine Bar
Could this after-dark alter ego of the newest Bourke Street Bakery branch be Potts Point's best-kept secret? Not for long. Get in quick for the light-and-easy likes of the Blackmore wagyu salt-beef bagels or the vitello tonnato-stuffed gherkins, or go for something a bit more robust - a whole roast Coorong Angus shin to share, perhaps. It's just the ticket with a Collector shiraz from the snappy, state-centric wine list. Hit the chocolate sponge swaddled in passionfruit mousse and lightly torched meringue to take things out on a high. 46A Macleay St (enter via Crick Ave), Potts Point, NSW, (02) 9569 3225 PAT NOURSE

It's understandable why Epocha's already something of a go-to for off-duty chefs: the refreshing, relaxing absence of hype, the simply-but-effectively decked out terrace space opposite the Exhibition Gardens, the excellent service and the quality drinks. Chef Mick Bolam's food suits the space: stylish but not flashy pan-Euro dishes such as venison carpaccio topped with pickled mushrooms, Pedro Ximénez jelly, hazelnuts and radish slices. 49 Rathdowne St, Carlton, Vic (03) 9036 4949 MICHAEL HARDEN

Mechanics Institute
While Flipside's new Northbridge outlet packs 'em in, its cooking is best appreciated at its attached small bar, Mechanics Institute. Same hefty burgers and thick-cut chips as downstairs, only they're accompanied by some of Perth's best-made (and best-priced) cocktails. How does an absinthe-fuelled Pan American Clipper and a char-grilled beef burger sound as a meal deal? Sweeten the pot with a four-tier outdoor deck and you've got summer in the city nailed. Rear 222 William St, Northbridge, WA, (08) 9228 4189 MAX VEENHUYZEN

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