The list is presented by The Australian Financial Review, with a team of critics and editors led by food writers Jill Dupleix and Terry Durack compiling a national longlist of 500 restaurants whose chefs and owners are then asked to vote for their peers.
This year’s list, announced last night, saw rural Victorian fine-dining restaurant Brae, in Birregurra in the Otway Ranges, take out the top spot, with Durack describing it as “Australia’s ultimate farm-to-table restaurant”.
It was followed by NSW’s Ester and Saint Peter (two and three) and Victoria’s Attica.
East End restaurant Africola was the top South Australian restaurant on the list, coming in at fifth position compared with 29 last year, while Jock Zonfrillo’s Orana –named Gourmet Traveller’s Australian restaurant of the year in 2017 – also improved its position at number 23, and Hentley Farm at Seppeltsfield was 42 (70 last year).
In comments accompanying the list, the editors write that Africola chefs Duncan Welgemoed and Nikki Friedli “keep the feel-good factor on high, with twisty North African and Middle Eastern flavours and a party vibe”.
“Go for the cauliflower steak with tahini, spiced ground lamb and hummus, sardines with fried capers and zhoug, and the good times, all rolled up into an irresistible wine-loving Adelaidian package.”
The list is still largely dominated by New South Wales and Victorian restaurants – due at least partly to the fact that many of the voting chefs are more familiar with places on the national radar – but it is significant that South Australia had more than double the number of restaurants in the top 100 this year than it did in 2017.
Seven of the SA restaurants are new to the top 100: The Summertown Aristologist (48), Osteria Oggi (68), Peel St (85), The Pot by Emma McCaskill (87), The Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale (88), Shōbōsho (92) and FermentAsian in Tanunda (100).
Japanese restaurant Shōbōsho in Leigh Street, The Pot by Emma McCaskill in Hyde Park and modern Italian eatery Osteria Oggi in Pirie Street are all part of Simon Kardachi’s restaurant portfolio.
Kardachi told InDaily he was pleased to see the restaurants acknowledged by industry peers.
“It’s a very proud achievement for all involved. We don’t often get the recognition on a local level so to be recognised like this on a national scale, in excellent company, is appreciated.
“The judging for this award is based on other chefs’ votes (most of which will be most familiar with Sydney and Melbourne-based restaurants), so to have SA represented so highly is almost surprising – but we certainly do punch above our weight with what we offer, particularly in a highly competitive market with a population size a fraction of the eastern states to support it.”
It’s possible that high-profile events such as Tasting Australia have helped boost recognition of SA chefs and eateries.
Another striking factor in the awards is the rise of regional restaurants, with a record 18 – including Fino at Seppeltsfield (77) – in the top 100.
Other SA restaurants in the top 100 are Magill Estate Restaurant, which fell 12 spots to 64, and the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, which went from 80 to 82.
New South Australian regional restaurants Bocca di Lupo, which opened in the Mitolo Wines cellar door in McLaren Vale last year, and the d’Arenberg Cube restaurant, another McLaren Vale newcomer, both made the top-500 longlist, alongside city restaurants Bistro Blackwood (also owned by Zonfrillo), Lantern by Nu and Sunny’s Pizza.
The full Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants list can be viewed here.
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