Suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne have shared top honours at the inaugural national Good Food Guide Awards held on Monday evening at The Star in Sydney.
Attica, the Ripponlea fine-diner 20-minutes drive from Melbourne's CBD, was named Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year, while Citi Chef of the Year went to Daniel Puskas, owner-chef at Sixpenny in Sydney's inner-west suburb of Stanmore.
Good Food Guide Awards name Australia's best restaurants
The Good Food Guide Awards have gone national, pitting Australia's best restaurants against each other.
"One of the things we've really noticed this year is that increasingly, chefs and restaurateurs don't need to set up in blue-chip neighbourhoods to achieve greatness," said Roslyn Grundy, co-editor of the Good Food Guide with Myffy Rigby.
Attica opened in 2005 and the restaurant's longtime chef, Ben Shewry, took full ownership of the business two years ago. A new signature dish is titled "The Imperfect History of Ripponlea" where Shewry tells the story of the suburb through a series of small tarts.
"Attica, by its very nature, challenges diners by offering dishes with a story and sense of place," Rigby said. "A recent refurb has pulled everything into sharp focus, like seeing through the reading glasses you never knew you needed until you tried them on."
Daniel Puskas, the 35-year-old who opened Sixpenny in a humble Stanmore corner site in 2012, was named Chef of the Year for "his singular devotion and ability to go deeper with his food, while stripping it back", Rigby said.
New Restaurant of the Year was awarded to Saint Peter in Paddington, Sydney. "Chef Josh Niland has created a restaurant unlike any other in the country with Saint Peter," Rigby said. "It's gill-to-tail fish cookery that's prepared and served with integrity and smarts."
Victorian restaurants Attica, Brae, and Minamishima retained the "three hat" rating awarded to restaurants with a score of at least 18 out of 20. Quay and Sepia both kept their three-hat status in Sydney while Urbane flew the three-hat flag for Brisbane.
Melbourne's Vue de Monde and Sydney's Bridge Room both dropped from three hats to two, as did Esquire in Brisbane.
It was a rough year for regional Queensland dining with The Long Apron in Montville and The Peak, Maryvale, both dropping from two hats to one. The Fish House in Burleigh Heads also took a hit and dropped a notch to one hat, however nearby restaurant Rick Shores was awarded a hat for the first time.
Back in Brisbane, Matt Moran's Aria took out Wine List of the Year and Fortitude Valley bistro Madame Rouge was the only new Queensland restaurant to make it into the guide.
The national Good Food Guide features 500 restaurant reviews and takes the hats to all corners of Australia. A total of 267 restaurants across the country were awarded one hat or more. A restaurant needs a minimum score of 15 out of 20 to obtain a hat.
Western Australia saw nine restaurants enter the guide with a hat, while Cullen Estate in Wilyabrup and Vasse Felix in Margaret River bagged two. Hanuman in Darwin represented with a hat for the Northern Territory.
South Australia had a strong showing with 10 restaurants in the guide including chef Duncan Welgemoed's North African-inspired eatery, Africola, and Adam Liston's all-new Shobosho each claiming a hat. Native ingredient-focused Restaurant Orana hit double-hats for the Festival State as did Hentley Farm and Magill Estate Restaurant.
Tiny, mighty Tasmania had a formidable first year with six one-hat entries. The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery, the idyllic restaurant offshoot to Rodney Dunn and Severine Demanet's New Norfolk cooking school, claimed two hats and also took home the gong for Santa Vittoria Regional Restaurant of the Year.
The Age Good Food Guide was launched in 1979 and The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide followed five years later. The first Brisbane Times Good Food Guide was published in 2012.
The decision to make the guide a national edition came about because "frankly, it was the right time", Rigby said.
"Our readers aren't just voracious eaters, they're voracious travellers. We've scoured the entire country to report on the best restaurants, whether they're hidden in old mental asylums in rural Tasmania or sexy laneways in the heart of Melbourne.
"My hope is this broadening of scope will create larger conversations around food. And that can only be a good thing, right?"
The Good Food Guide 2018 will be on sale from October 17 in newsagencies, bookstores and via thestore.com.au/goodfood, RRP $29.99.