Chefs' picks: Australia's top 100 restaurants for 2015 revealed

Jane Holroyd
Ben Shewry, head chef of Attica.
Ben Shewry, head chef of Attica. Photo: Eddie Jim

Professional restaurant critics have long made their favourites known, but which restaurants do Australian chefs think are the best in the land?

A seat at Sydney's Sepia restaurant was named Australia's flagship dining experience tonight at the inaugural The Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurants awards, in partnership with Qantas and Vittoria Coffee.

Sepia earned the greatest number of votes from 500 local chefs and restaurant owners.

While Sepia, headed by chef Martin Benn, earned the top spot, Melbourne's Attica was nominated as Australia's second-best restaurant. Tonight's awards won't help end any argy-bargy about which state can lay claim to being Australia's premier dining destination with Victoria and New South Wales each taking out five spots in the top 10.

Martin Benn was voted Australia's best chef but Melbourne chef Andrew McConnell had two restaurants (Cutler & Co, and Cumulus Inc) in the top 10.

Martin Benn head chef of Sepia
Martin Benn head chef of Sepia Photo: Nic Walker

Elsewhere across the country Aubergine was named the ACT's best place to dine, esquire (Queensland), Restaurant Amusé (Western Australia), Magill Estate Restaurant (South Australia), Franklin (Tasmania, after Garagistes closed in April) and Yots Greek Taverna (Northern Territory).

Australia's Top 100 Restaurants directors Jill Dupleix and Terry Durack said it was good to see some of the country's creative regional and suburban chefs being recognised by peers.

"It's brilliant that the chefs get out of town and experience places like Provenance in Beechworth (Victoria)", Dupleix said.

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"Australia has so many great food events in its calendar now, it means our chefs are flying across the country to Margaret River or to Noosa for food festivals, they're eating out more broadly and cross-fertilising ideas. Wasabi in Noosa is great to see, and Vasse Felix in the Margaret River.

"Distance isn't the issue it once was; people will always travel for a good food and wine experience; especially when the travelling itself, and the destination, become part of the experience."

Dupleix said there weren't many surprises at the top. "We suspected it would be a battle to the finish between Quay (Sydney), Sepia and Attica and Brae (Victoria), and it was."

Golden Egg at Sepia.
Golden Egg at Sepia. Photo: Steven Siewert

"We also love that the chefs and restaurateurs highlighted a small suburban restaurant run by two young chefs in their top ten – Sixpenny in Sydney's Stanmore."

Sepia might best be recognised outside Sydney for its spectacular golden egg dessert. The restaurant has long been a favourite among critics who have put it on the "ones-to-watch" lists. In a 2010 review Fairfax's Terry Durack said a fledgling Sepia "just gets better with every visit".

 

However, it wasn't just fine diners given the thumbs' up, with late-night, finger-lickin' joints like Melbourne's Belle's Diner among chefs' favourites.

Tonight's awards also gave non-industry insiders a chance to air their opinions with an online poll conducted earlier this month granting Catalina in Sydney's Rose Bay the People's Award.

As well as tonight's awards, The Australian Financial Review Top 100 Restaurants (in partnership with Qantas and Vittoria Coffee) includes a two-week program featuring one-off themed dinners and collaborations. Details: www.australiastoprestaurants.com