Danjee, Le Bon Ton, Brika, Temporada
Photography: Scott Hawkins
9:09AM, Feb 27, 2014
Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Danjee, Le Bon Ton, Brika, and Temporada.
Could it finally be happening? Could Korean food in Australia finally be having its moment? The signs are good. Redfern's Moon Park led the charge, opening back in late 2013, and has gone from strength to strength since. We've also seen the opening of Ko & Co, a Korean-Mexican hybrid bar near Longrain in Surry Hills, and, this week, the small but perfectly formed Kim on Llankelly Place in Potts Point. Danjee, which opened about a month ago in the city, is a particularly interesting proposition because it combines well-executed traditional Korean cooking (from the same folks behind Pitt Street Koreatown landmark Madang) with a list packed with the sorts of wines you'd normally expect to see at the likes of Berta, 121BC and Momofuku Seiobo (not coincidentally, restaurants that appear on the CV of manager Peter Jo). There's the more traditional makgeolli, soju and Korean beers for them that wants 'em, but when you're offered the chance to drink Pyramid Valley pinot blanc or Love and Pif aligoté with your daikon-wrapped pork belly and oysters, or pour Crozes-Hermitage with your barbecued beef intercostals, it'd be churlish not to make the most of it. (And then shoot the soju.) Danjee, 1-7 Albion Pl, Sydney, NSW, (02) 8084 9041. PAT NOURSE
Le Bon Ton
The pub formerly known as the Glasshouse (and, for a moment, Hell Towers) is now Le Bon Ton, a charming, flatteringly lit warren of exposed brick-walled rooms decked out in the style of New Orleans' French quarter. Brothers Will and Mick Balleau originally hail from New Mexico and have another pair of American brothers, Jeremy and Christopher Sutphin (ex-Fog), in the kitchen. The Sutphins were born in Alabama and raised in Texas so have something of a handle on the flavours of the southern United States. An offset smoker in the backyard churns out a variety of authentic Texas-style pit-smoked meat (brisket, pork shoulder, chicken). There's also fried crab cakes and blackened fish, jalapeño and cheddar biscuits, "kitchen sink" salads, the ubiquitous (but excellent) fried chicken, and even banana cream pie. Theme-appropriate cocktails, Sierra Nevada American Ale on tap and a flexible licence that has them staying open until 6am on weekends means this is one place where you can really laissez les bons temps rouler. Le Bon Ton, 51 Gipps St, Collingwood, Vic, (03) 9416 4341. MICHAEL HARDEN
A small Perth bar not hanging its trucker cap on Prohibition cocktails or (South) American (street) cooking? Brika deserves a look-in simply for daring to be different, yet has the goods to warrant repeat visits. Mezé is the game and affordable, big-hitting Greek dishes ensure everyone's a winner. A thick taramasalata puts the earthiness of mullet roe front and centre, while zucchini fritters (aka kolokithakia) are crunchy and gooey in all the right places. The kitchen's wood-fired grill gets a workout every evening, lending char to juicy loukaniko sausage and rendering lamb chops yielding and smoky. While owner Simon Psaros's Greek heritage informs the menu and cosy fit-out, he's recruited some local veterans to help out with the drinks. Regulars at Lalla Rookh Wine Store might be able to pick Jermey Prus's influence on the compact yet engaging wine list (xinomavro ahoy!), while Ian Loh and Candice Knight, formerly of Helvetica, drive the fun, Greco-inspired cocktail program. Kalí óreksi. Brika, 3/177 Stirling St, Perth, WA, (08) 9328 6665. MAX VEENHUYZEN
Ben Willis of Aubergine, Canberra's leading fine-diner, has joined the club of chefs with a casual-dining spinoff and signature slider to their names. The latter, in this case, is filled with ultra-tender beef short rib, fermented cucumber and horseradish mayo to add some punch. Yes, please. But it gets better, particularly in the blend of acidity, spice, and sweetness in the restaurant's spatchcock, roasted corn, kimchi and lime yoghurt number. Sweets include an eye-popping composition of salted caramel doughnuts, banana ice-cream and house-made toasted marshmallow. Pull up a seat at the bar to linger over shared plates or put a dent in a list of edgy cocktails and an interesting wine selection. Temporada, Moore St, Canberra, ACT, (02) 6249 6683. GARETH MEYER
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