One Penny Rd, Monster Kitchen and Bar, Chiara, GOMA Restaurant

Photography: Courtesy Chiara

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including One Penny Rd, Monster Kitchen and Bar, Chiara, and GOMA Restaurant.

SYDNEY
One Penny Red
A retired post office it may be, but this is no dead letter office. Whether it's fans of RJ Lines who have followed his cooking from Glebe Point Diner to Neutral Bay Diner to here, or just because Summer Hill locals are stoked to have a great new eatery right on Moonbie Street, the place is pumping. Lines' fans will be pleased to see a few dishes from his previous kitchens have made the move with him (the duck liver pâté and skewers of pork belly and kingfish among them), and just about everyone will like the pitch of the menu overall, packed as it is with the likes of slow-roasted lamb shoulder and chickpea purée paired with a frisky salad of sorrel ribbons and pomegranate, and roast chicken with braised shallots sold by the half and whole bird. This is no ivory tower restaurant, either: the reasonable prices, kids' menu and no-bookings bar upstairs (Lines' mighty cheeseburger is on the snack menu) are all geared to serve the neighbourhood the way it wants to be served. Better still, co-owner David Murphy's excellent wine list features some very hip choices (Shobbrook riesling and Frederick Stevenson grenache-carignan alongside gamay from Beaujolais producer Merize) sold by both the glass and half-bottle carafe. And they do brunch. Take a letter, Maria. One Penny Red, 2 Moonbie St, Summer Hill, NSW, (02) 9797 8118. PAT NOURSE

CANBERRA
Monster Kitchen and Bar
A big part of what has made Canberra's Hotel Hotel the most talked-about new accommodation in Australia is the involvement of scores of artisans, each lending a bespoke touch. Chef Sean McConnell's contribution is entirely simpático with the larger project, sharp, locavore-leaning cooking grounded in fine seasonal produce from trusted producers. The food is smartly plated on fine Mud plates and bowls, but never wants for substance or deliciousness. Pulled lamb shoulder is rich with the scent of cumin, cardamom and cinnamon, balanced with pomegranate and smooth labne. It goes well with a modern take on a classic - Brussels sprouts roasted to a light caramel hue and dressed with lardons and crumbly brioche. And for a late-night snack, light and fluffy bao hosts a crisped-up piece of slow-cooked pork neck, offset with just the right amount of chilli sauce and punchy cucumber kimchi. It's open early, it's open late, it's got great booze. It's Monster, and it's going to be massive. Monster Kitchen and Bar, Hotel Hotel, New Action Nishi, 25 Edinburgh Ave, ACT, (02) 6287 6287. GARETH MEYER

MELBOURNE
Chiara
The latest addition to the food cluster at Dockland's Collins Square (Bar Nacional, Long Shot Café) is a smooth Italian diner called Chiara (pictured). With its smoked-mirror ceiling over the bar, timber floors, leather banquettes and black Venetian blinds, the darkly glam fit-out has a dramatic, vaguely Futurist look that tends to work better at night (though the view into a converted, heritage-listed goods shed is livelier in daylight hours). Englishman George Fowler (ex-Pollen Street Social, London) has assembled a frequently changing, user-friendly menu of Italian greatest hits that includes pizza made with stone-ground organic flour (the Margherita includes fresh cherry tomatoes on top of the traditional mix), crowd-pleasers like polpette, seafood fritti and impressive giardiniera, and a small list of pasta dishes. Simply cooked fish and meat feature, too. Desserts, by pastry maestro Shaun Quade (also maker of the sweet stuff at Bar Nacional), include a loopy but very successful take on tiramisù with beetroot and salted coffee in the mix. Chiara, 705a Collins St, Docklands, Vic, (03) 9252 7909. MICHAEL HARDEN

BRISBANE
GOMA Restaurant
Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art is gearing up for Harvest, a major exhibition showcasing a substantial collection of food-related works, taking over the ground floor from 28 June to 21 September. Featured works range from a replica of a Chinese supermarket and floating biosphere gardens through to old-school still-lifes and interactive workshops. A cinémathèque program offers free screenings of Babette's Feast, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Entre Les Bras and more. But the tastiest place to explore the nexus between food and art might just be GOMA Restaurant. Normally it only opens for lunch, but during the show it'll open for dinner on Friday nights. At its linen-draped tables you'll find intricate and cleverly plated dishes that are surprisingly affordable and feature the best of local produce - $75 for a seven-course lunch dégustation. It's art on a plate. GOMA Restaurant, Stanley Pl, Cultural Precinct, South Bank, Qld, (07) 3840 7303. FIONA DONNELLY

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