LuMi, Elyros, Zensai

Photography: Courtesy Zensai

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including LuMi, Elyros and Zensai.

At least one person has said that the spelt ravioli, filled with butter and pumpkin, draped with lolling tongues of sea urchin roe, and scattered with pumpkin seeds, was the best dish he'd eaten in his entire life. I don't know that I'd go that far. Hell, I thought the chitarra-cut nettle spaghetti with mussel sauce and fennel pollen was at least as impressive. But the take-home point is clear: the cooking at LuMi is really something. Modern Italian is a particularly slippery beast (most places in modern Italy get it wrong, too), but former Ormeggio chef Federico Zanellato and his pal Alessandro Ponzoni punch out a tasting menu that barely drops a stitch. The rest of the package? Very much a work in progress. The room is a fairly ordinary-looking glass box sitting on a Pyrmont wharf (I imagine the views would be better by day) and the service is okay (the chefs bring the food out themselves, Noma-style), but the wine list does the food few favours and the music (could that have really been Jack Johnson?) needs a serious rethink. Still, for $90 it's a great deal, and we anticipate the introduction of smaller, à la carte eats in the bar area with a great deal of eagerness. These guys are talented, motivated and they're cooking some mighty tasty food. LuMi, 56 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont, NSW, (02) 9571 1999. PAT NOURSE

Melbourne's Italian restaurants have been increasingly defining themselves by region but its Greek restaurants mostly stick with the catch-all national label. Elyros, the latest venture from the team behind Epocha, bucks the trend by waving the banner for Crete. Elyros, the name of a village on this largest of the Greek islands, sticks to the brief of seasonality, freshness and simplicity - chef Yiannis Kasidokostas's menu is full of the likes of wild greens and raw fish, braised goat and sheep yoghurt. It might eschew crowd-pleasers like dips and saganaki, but there's plenty here to compensate for the tarama no-show. Snail stifatho is robust, aromatic and wonderfully comforting, while raw kingfish, marinated in oil and fresh thyme, kicks goals for the side of simplicity. An octopus tentacle, cooked in its own juices, is finished with petimezi, a sweet fermented grape syrup, to brilliant effect, while a Cretan salad is crunchy with pieces of rusk and vegetables. The wine list widens the parameters, including Greek wines but cruising further afield most of the time, while the enthusiastic and knowledgeable service is a real highlight. Elyros, 871 Burke Rd, Camberwell, Vic, (03) 9882 8877. MICHAEL HARDEN

Joji Iwama has upped the ante at Cable Beach Club. While the Tokyo-raised chef's influence can be seen throughout the landmark Broome hotel - the lunchtime bento boxes are jam-packed with the likes of Japanese pot-au-feu and tremendous katsu sando fingers - his talent is best admired at Zensai, Cable Beach's sleek new Japanese restaurant. Full-flavoured izakaya standards dominate the menu, from melty soy-braised pork belly to grilled salmon collars and teriyaki-glazed kingfish. Then there's the precision-cut sashimi and featherweight tempura. The setting, meanwhile, is just as faithful to Nipponese ideals, from the intimate 40-seat room to the Zen-like backdrop of pandanus trees, a lily-covered pond and an ornate foot bridge. Coupled with relaxed yet informed service under David and Tania Newman, Zensai is a lock for Broome's hottest new place to dine. Zensai, Cable Beach Club, Cable Beach Rd, Broome, WA, (08) 9192 0400. MAX VEENHUYZEN

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