From kangaroos to beachside views, here are some of the best tables, and tableaux, around Australia.
Arc Dining, Brisbane, QLD
Brisbane-born young gun Alanna Sapwell moved back to the Sunshine State from Sydney's Saint Peter in 2019 to take on this light, airy riverside pavilion and adjacent wine bar, and she's nailing it with relaxed, confident small dishes. By day, the double-height glasshouse is flooded with sunlight, and by night, the CBD skyline sparkles.
Bathers' Pavilion, Mosman, NSW
Bathers' Pavilion has reopened its doors after a thorough 10-week renovation and reinvention of the 1929 bathing pavilion. Gazing out the window on the sparkling waters of Middle Harbour, it's easy to see where the inspiration for a coastal cuisine and focus on seafood sprang from. Sunday lunch on the new Louis Roederer Terrace is a must.
Captain Moonlite, Anglesea, Victoria
Come on in, the eating's fine at this chilled beachside eyrie with stunning coastal views and beachy keen food. It's set inside a 1950s-era surf club, where the minimum dress code is shirt, shorts and footwear, and honour boards and paddleboards set a retro mood. With salt air in the nostrils, it's difficult to resist the menu's imaginative seafood focus.
Catalina, Rose Bay, NSW
Everyone dresses for dinner at Michael and Judy McMahon's waterside restaurant. The food offering gives prime position to seafood, like a little West Australian marron, served with its claws on like gloves at the opera. Time your booking to catch views to Shark Island, followed by moonlight on the harbour after sunset.
Island Market, Trigg, WA
It might occupy prime waterfront real estate, but there's plenty of substance to offset all that breezy coastal style, not least because master chef David Coomer (Print Hall, Star Anise) oversees the kitchen here. A wood-burning Zesti oven stars on the Levantine-inspired menu and does everything from baking pitas to coaxing maximum flavour from chicken, lamb and pork.
Nu Nu, Palm Cove, Qld
Magical vistas of coconut palms, sand and the Coral Sea evoke seafood hankerings and there's always a tasty haul – from breakfast mud crab omelette with white pepper broth, to milky coral trout with buttered clams and pungent apple pickles. There's no finer place than Nu Nu's beachside back deck to enjoy the lush sights and tastes of the tropical north.
Quay, The Rocks, NSW
With Sydney's greatest landmarks – the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Luna Park – arrayed just beyond the prow of this luxury liner-like dining room, you'd need a heart of stone not to be dazzled. And that's before Peter Gilmore's food even hits the spotted gum tables. Over six or 10 courses, Gilmore gathers up rare and unusual ingredients for his experiential edible sculptures.
Stokehouse, St Kilda, Victoria
Having recently popped the cork on its 30th birthday celebrations, Stokehouse remains the quintessential Melbourne dining den where the glitterati, literati and mere mortals gather to celebrate and commune amid pared-back beach house comfort overlooking the action of St Kilda Beach. The location-aware menu reserves a special place for seafood. Downstairs sibling Pontoon is the spiritual home of the Aperol spritz.
Vue de Monde, Melbourne, Victoria
Shannon Bennett's highline restaurant overlooking the bright lights of Melbourne city is an extremely well-oiled machine. With bird's eye views from the 55th floor of Melbourne's Rialto Building, this is special-occasion dining made exceptional with polished service and audience interaction – diners may be treated to a tour of the kitchen, now led by young talent Hugh Allen, and get hands on making crab rolls at the table.
Wickens at Royal Mail, Dunkeld, Victoria
At Dunkeld's number one (and only) pub, a stepped path through native gardens leads to a door that glides open to reveal a dramatically dark arrival lounge. Beyond is a dining room with leather Walter Knoll chairs, sandstone tables and Cinerama-style windows offering views of ancient red gums that flicker gold at sunset. The kitchen, lit up like a stage set, is where Robin Wickens leads a team crafting restrained dishes.
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