Top eats down under

Top eats down under

Foodies who have travelled to Sydney will be familiar with restaurants such as Marque, Tetsuya and Nomad - all excellent restaurants worth visiting.

But there are new and exciting places to discover too, as I found out on a recent trip to the Australian city. Three restaurants especially stand out with their take on contemporary Australian cooking.

The menus offer a selection of Western dishes that feature ingredients such as scallop, salmon, duck, beef and lamb sourced domestically, part of a global trend of restaurants focusing on local produce.

Except that in Sydney, the source may be as local as the backyard of the restaurant, which is the case of the restaurants I visited. A small patch of land, a cluster of flower pots or even a wheelbarrow filled with compost is fertile ground for growing healthy herbs and vegetables such as basil, oregano, parsley, dill, rucola or kale.

The proximity of these food sources translates to a freshness in the food that you have to go to Australia to appreciate. Which is why, for me, Australian food just tastes so much better when you are there.

ahyoke@sph.com.sg

THE POTTING SHED

The Potting Shed is a restaurant within a cluster of cafe, coffee roaster, bakery and shops called The Grounds of Alexandria that was converted from a warehouse/ industrial complex two years ago.

The largely alfresco dining area is filled with plants that make you feel like you are dining in a garden.

The image is reinforced by the motley garden furniture and menus held together by clips in the shape of tiny shovels.

The food looks like it is from a farmhouse kitchen, with rustic fare such as The Shed Platter (from A$22 or S$24 for two persons), comprising cured meats and cheeses with fruit and marinated vegetables.

The Buttermilk Popcorn Chicken (A$12) is good, especially if you pair it with a salad of Roasted Baby Beets (A$19), where watercress, radicchio, hazelnuts and pickled golden shallots are tossed with apple balsamic.

The Kurobuta Pork Belly Sliders (A$16) pack a punch with the shredded meat mixed with kimchi and red-eye mayo, and stuffed in a charcoal brioche.

Where: The Grounds of Alexandria, Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria NSW 2015, tel: +61-2-9699-2225

Open: 11.30am to midnight daily

Info: www.groundroasters.com

CHISWICK RESTAURANT

Chiswick Restaurant, located in Chiswick Gardens in the upscale Woollahra suburb, has a big open kitchen next to a bar. The dining room is in an adjacent area with floor-to-ceiling windows that let in plenty of light during the day.

The windows also look out onto a pristine lawn and a kitchen garden in the back where a lot of the herbs and vegetables used in the dishes are grown.

I was there for dinner on a rainy evening, however, so all these could not be appreciated.

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