Bird's Nest Restaurant, Monopole, Jackson's, Berta

Photography: Courtesy of Bird's Nest Restaurant

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including  Bird's Nest Restaurant, Monopole, Jackson's, and Berta.

Bird's Nest Restaurant
This hip yakitori shop, designed by Katsuya Iwamoto, uses the humble chicken to the max. Co-owners and grill-wranglers Emi Kamada and Marie Yokoyama thread bits of everything from liver and heart to parson's nose onto skewers before applying a little binchotan charcoal love. The char-flecked results are smokily delectable. Chunks of thigh are seasoned simply with Himalayan salt, pepper and a lemon drizzle to winning effect. Tomato butabara skewers are punchy flavour bombs, their thin pork belly wrappings stretched to bursting across a quartet of sweet blistered cherry tomatoes. And did we mention the frosty Asahi on tap? Bird's Nest Restaurant, Shop 5, 220 Melbourne St, South Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3844 4306. FIONA DONNELLY

Fret not, Bentley fans. While you wait for the restaurant to reopen in its new CBD digs, much joy is to be had with the snappy new lunch deal Nick Hildebrandt and Brent Savage offer at their splendid Potts Point wine bar. A mere $38 buys a set two courses, which change from weekend to weekend. Among them you'll find roasted cauliflower and Jerusalem artichoke paired to lush effect with parmesan, and a handsome pork belly number accented with smoked corn, saffron and shavings of fennel. Goat's cheese marshmallow with blood orange and star anise ice-cream makes for a fittingly outré finale, while the wine list (recently named the year's best by Max Allen at the GT Restaurant Awards) just gets better and better. A steal. Monopole, 71a Macleay St, Potts Point, NSW, (02) 9360 4410. JOHN HANNAN

Is casual the new black? Neal Jackson, patron-chef of Jackson's and a pioneer of degustation dining in the west, seems convinced. After 15 years of faithful service, the restaurant's much-loved "dego" has been retired; in its place are a new no-bookings lounge area offering a menu written with broad Asian brushstrokes - salmon yakitori and a Momofuku-ish pork bun - and other comforting flavours of the things-chefs-like-to-eat-after-service variety. While the kitchen hasn't quite gone Hungry Jackson's, there's something primal and deliciously satisfying about lowbrow-highbrow mash-ups like brioche crab butties, and dainty Comté, jamón Ibérico and black truffle toasted-sandwich triangles. It's solid value, too. Barring the wheel of baked Camembert, the small plates are all a tenner or less, leaving you more dollars to divert towards the excellent wine list. Jackson's, 483 Beaufort St, Highgate, WA, (08) 9328 1177. MAX VEENHUYZEN

North Hobart's daytime eating options have just become a whole lot more interesting with the opening of Berta, Alex Jovanovic and Alisha Wilson's reincarnation of their former evening eatery, Piccolo. While the loss of Piccolo stung, sitting at an outside table at Berta in the sunshine with a fried chicken and pickled cucumber sandwich or pork and fennel sausages with radicchio more than eases the pain. Berta is also open for breakfast, with a menu that runs the full gamut of egg options, as well as porridge, gingerbread hotcakes, and more. Berta, 323a Elizabeth St, North Hobart, Tas, (03) 6234 4844. SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE

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