Inside GT's Top 100 restaurants for 2017
Author: Interview by Sophie McComas
Photography: Andrew Finlayson
The new edition of the Gourmet Traveller 2017 Australian Restaurant guide is on the stands right now, bundled with the September issue of the magazine. Inside, as well as detailed reviews of the 400-plus best restaurants in Australia, you'll find the Top 100, a no-holds-barred ranking of the best of the best. "The edit in the guide is tight," says GT chief critic, guide editor and deputy editor, Pat Nourse, "Every restaurant listed in the guide comes recommended for GT readers by GT based on independent reviews. The restaurants in the Top 100 represent another order of excellence again."
Producing the guide is no small (or inexpensive) undertaking. It's seven months in the making, with each restaurant reviewed fresh each year by our team of 60 reviewers working nationwide, visiting the restaurants unannounced and paying their way so we can bring you Australia's only national restaurant guide, free of bias, fear or favour.
Gourmet Traveller: What was the process
of crafting the Top 100 like this year, Pat?
Pat Nourse: I think I can safely speak for the whole team when I say we relish our assignments - our reviewers love their work - and this year we've been given a bumper crop of diverse and interesting places to share with our food-loving friends.
GT: Do you do much of the eating yourself?
PN: You have to lead from the front, right? This is my 12th guide with GT, and I eat out for work at least 170 times a year, so over those 12 years that works out at roughly 2000 meals. To put that into more human terms, in the course of my work for the GT restaurant guide, I think I've eaten 44 sheep, 28 whole cows, 60 pigs, 50 dozen oysters, 790 chickens and a quarter of a crocodile.
GT: What does the Top 100 say
about dining in Australia right now?
PN: In just the top 20 we've got a chef from Barbados doing the food of his homeland in a fine-dining context at Momofuku Seiobo alongside a vision of indigenous food culture at Orana. They're sitting next to Basque-influenced, 100-per-cent fire cooking at Firedoor, alongside a perfect slice of Ginza lifted out of Tokyo and tucked into a Richmond laneway at Minamishima. The thing these places have in common is quality and personality. What this says about Australia right now is that you can eat out really well every night of the year and have something completely different every time.
GT: Tell us about Momofuku Seiobo - why
is it Australia's number
PN: I know Momofuku Seiobo being named Restaurant of the Year has come as a surprise to some of our readers who hadn't realised what a bold new direction the kitchen had taken since the arrival of chef Paul Carmichael. It's a really exciting discovery - the restaurant has everything you may have liked from its previous incarnation under the talented Ben Greeno, but it's now trading in the Caribbean flavours Paul grew up with: coconut and pork and plantains and mango and hot sauce and all that good stuff. You're unlikely to see the food of Barbados handled with this sort of finesse anywhere else in the world. When we looked at all the three-stars and the top two-stars all together, this was by far the one that stood out. Quite apart from the brilliant back-story, it also happens to be tasty as hell, and it's backed by first-class wine and service.
GT: Which city is the most exciting to
dine in in 2016-17?
PN: I think the best-restaurant-city conversation is about as much fun as licking a Microplane, but I will say that Adelaide is very much a city on the up-and-up, and Canberra just gets better and better. The take-home is that Australia is a great place to eat right now, and we've got the inside word on how you can make the most of it.
See the full Top 100 list inside the Gourmet Traveller 2017 Australian Restaurant Guide, on stands now.
See all our winners from our Restaurant Awards here.