Following on from last Friday’s interview with Hilary Doling, editor-in-chief of Luxury Travel & Style Magazine, here’s the second of our insiders’ guides to what’s hot in Australia (and we’re not just talking about thermometer-bothering regions such as Kimberley and Top End). Just to recap, I was in Sydney (left) and Melbourne last week to launch the new Mr & Mrs Smith office down under, and was lucky enough to bump into some of the people responsible for making these east coast cities buzz like jarfuls of bees. This time, we’ve persuaded editor-at-large of Gourmet Traveller Leo Schofield to share his favourite places in Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania with you.
Leo’s column in the The Sydney Morning Herald has been essential reading for the city’s cognoscenti over the past decade, and his writings for House & Garden, Men’s Style and The Sunday Telegraph, Australia’s biggest-selling newspaper, have made him a household name down under. Unsurprisingly, he’s a very busy man, so I was delighted he was able to spare the time to have lunch with me at Ash St Cellar in Sydney’s Central Business District. Throughout our conversation, around 15 different people approached our table to come and say hello. Not only is this guy incredibly well-known, but he’s obviously very well-liked, too…
Over tapas-like plates of chorizo and deep-fried artichoke, and white anchovies with caperberries, he was more than happy to share his insider tips with me. His favourite Australian restaurants, listed below, tend to be small, off-the-beaten-track places with lots of atmosphere and, of course, great food. Sounds like a perfect match for Mr & Mrs Smith to me.
Sean’s Panorama This seriously funky, marshmallow-pink restaurant in Bondi, Sydney, specialises in simple, delicious dishes – steamed King George whiting with a prawn and celery mousse, and corn-fed duck salad with grapes – made from ingredients sourced from owner/chef Sean Moran’s farm. It’s situated in a former garage on Campbell Parade, which makes for an interesting and unique setting.
@VDL Located close to Leo’s second home in Tasmania, this restaurant with rooms in the fishing village of Stanley is another personal favourite of his. It’s a great spot for evening drinks in front of a cosy, blazing fire.
Café Di Stasio Leo has lived in Melbourne (left) for some time, and this upmarket Italian on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda is where he goes for prawn linguine, and braised lamb with white wine, anchovies, rosemary and garlic. The service is second to none.
Lau’s Family Kitchen, also in Melbourne’s St Kilda, is the place to go for high-end Cantonese cuisine – lamb spring rolls, bean curd and minced pork – in a stylish, pared-down space. Make sure you book well in advance.