Sugarcane, Circa, Ristorante Tartufo, Bbox

Photography: Courtesy Sugarcane

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Sugarcane, Circa, Ristorante Tartufo, and Bbox.

This latest incarnation of Sugarcane should see off any lingering notion that it's just a neighbourhood Longrain knockoff. Sure, owner-chef Milan Strbac worked closely with Martin Boetz for five years before stepping out on his own in 2008, but Sugarcane V1.0 didn't make any strong claims to having an exciting wine list or attractive décor - two wrongs that have been thoroughly righted in the 2014 update. Strbac has also broadened the menu's remit. It now takes in dishes from Malaysia (wagyu rendang, roti canai), China (steamed fish with ginger and spring onion; outstanding salt-and-pepper tofu) and beyond (crab, green apple, coconut and crisp tortilla; cornflakes, coconut mousse and aloe) as well as Thai (miangs, pad Thai, khao soi). The food is seldom profoundly fiery, fermented or sour (walk around the corner to House for that), but that makes it all the better suited to pairing with a bottle of Jamsheed Blanc Plonk gewürtz-riesling or a saucy gamay from a list devised by sommelier Ged Higgins. It's win-win. Sugarcane, 40a Reservoir St, Surry Hills, (02) 9281 1788. PAT NOURSE

As part of a month-long celebration called Month of the Prince, St Kilda's Prince of Wales is holding a string of special events and dinners, perhaps to help Melburnians through the pain of being shunned by Wills and Kate. Next Tuesday (15 April) a dinner called Circa through the Ages will see six current and former Circa chefs preparing a dish from each of their particular eras. Philippa Sibley (Prix Fixe), Matt Wilkinson (Pope Joan), David Moyle (The Stackings) and Jake Nicholson (Blackbird Bar & Grill) will all be present alongside Melbourne Pub Group chefs Ashly Hicks and Stephen Burke. The night will also feature wine matches courtesy of past and present sommeliers Liam O'Brian (Cutler & Co), Sarah Ward (Rockpool Bar & Grill), Matt Brooke (Brooks) and current MPG sommelier Sally Humble. A feast fit for a (future, absent) king. Circa through the Ages, $165 for five courses, including matched wines, Circa, 2 Acland St, St Kilda, (03) 9536 1122. MICHAEL HARDEN

Ristorante Tartufo
What do you do with that little space at the end of your restaurant bar? If you're Neapolitan, you might crane in a Stefano Ferrara wood-fired oven and sate a yearning for a taste of home. Tartufo chef Tony Percuoco is a man who understands the thick and the thin of true pizza Napoletana. The pizza base, made with Italian flour, should be thin and soft, so you can fold it and keep those scant toppings from slipping off. The cordone, or rim, should be thick, fluffy, and lightly blistered from searing in 450C-plus heat. Imported pizzaiolo Davide Percuoco is the eighth Percuoco to work the pans in Australia and he can be spotted behind the glass throwing the dough. Toppings range from a pared-back marinara - sans seafood, just as it should be - to a cracking classic Margherita, and a blow-out Tartufo, edges cradling morsels of pork sausage. Fast and quite fabulous. Ristorante Tartufo, Emporium, 1000 Ann St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3852 1500. FIONA DONNELLY

As with most of Perth's Korean food entities, barbecued meat features prominently at Bbox. But unlike its brethren, the proteins here aren't of the cook-it-yourself variety. This is a good thing, at least if platters of pork belly rendered juicy and smoky by wood-grilling are any measure of success. Bins laden with firewood are but one of the distinguishing features at the city's newest Korean restaurant. The unfailingly gracious floor staff and quality of the fit-out suggest aspirations higher than simply feeding late-night revellers. The menu certainly supports this theory. It mightn't be bargain-basement cheap, but, by and large, this is nuanced cooking that overdelivers at its mid-teens price point. Early highlights include a cold buckwheat noodle platter (jaengban guksu), a crisp and seafood-rich spring onion pancake (pajeon) and one of the better examples of galbitang (beef rib soup) doing the rounds in Perth. Brilliant house-made gochujang, doenjang, da dae gi and other sauces sweeten - and spice up - the deal considerably. Bbox, 607 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley, WA, (08) 9227 6720. MAX VEENHUYZEN

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