By Guy Griffin

Icebergs One of the city's hottest restaurants, the two-year-old Icebergs sits on a cliff overlooking the water in the Bondi Beach neighborhood. Robert Marchetti's menu celebrates Italian and Australian coastal cuisine with dishes like saffron risotto with prawns, mussels and Pernod, and Livornese-style fish stew. DETAILS 1 Notts Ave., Bondi Beach; 011-61-2-9300-9511.Flying Fish Today Jones Bay Wharf is known for its media firms and Web-design studios, but Flying Fish evokes the area's nautical history with slatted-timber walls and seating areas that look like ship's cabins. Chef Peter Kuruvita's seafood menu offers everything from yellowfin tuna with crackling pork and ruby-red grapefruit, to spicy Sri Lankan snapper curry, to huge mud crabs baked, fried or steamed to order. DETAILS Pier 21, 19-21 Pirrama Rd., Pyrmont; 011-61-2-9518-6677.

Omega At first, the only thing that seems Greek about Omega is its name: The decor is free of Aegean-taverna clichés. Chef Peter Conistis avoids clichéd versions of Greek staples, too, instead reworking the classics to come up with delicious variations like moussaka with seared scallops, and flaky baklava filled with anchovy. DETAILS 161 King St.; 011-61-2-9223-0242.

Wasavie There's a reason Wasavie's long communal table is always packed: Chef Ryoichi Siratzugu creates deft, innovative Japanese cuisine and first-rate sushi without the Tokyo prices. Entrées, like chargrilled whiting with walnuts, start at a reasonable $8. DETAILS 8 Heeley St., Paddington; 011-61-2-9380-8838.

Bécasse The streets around this bistro are a bit scruffy, but chef Justin North's food is polished. He puts an Australian spin on French cuisine, using local ingredients in dishes like his short rib of Victorian wagyu beef with parsnip remoulade. DETAILS 48 Albion St., Surry Hills; 011-61-2-9280-3202.

Moorish This Bondi Beach spot, co-owned by Luke Mangan (of Salt), is a relaxed setting for cocktails and Moroccan-Spanish dishes like clams with sherry and preserved lemon. DETAILS 118-120 Ramsgate Ave.; 011-61-2-9300-9511.

Moog Moog has retro '70s decor and its own recording studio. But the menu is more modern, with creations like citrus-glazed mullet by chefs Mark Best and Brent Savage. DETAILS 413 Bourke St., Surry Hills; 011-61-2-8353-8201.

Billy Kwong This four-year-old restaurant from Neil Perry protégé Kylie Kwong is still the city's best spot for Cantonese-inspired dishes like crispy duck with blood-orange sauce. DETAILS 3/355 Crown St., Surry Hills; 011-61-2-9332-3300.


By John Lethlean

Taxi It's hard to miss Taxi from the street: The bold glass-and-metal box that houses the restaurant and the Transport Hotel is perched on Federation Square. In addition to sensational city views, Taxi offers terrific sushi made from local seafood, like abalone. The excellent 140-bottle wine list focuses on organic wines from Australian labels like Temple Bruer and Jasper Hill. DETAILS Swanston and Flinders Sts.; 011-61-3-9654-8808.

Arintji At this riverside restaurant, a Thai-style kingfish seviche might share the menu with polenta-crusted sardines, or chicken tossed in the wok with curry leaves and rice noodles. The multicultural menu could be a mess in lesser hands, but chef Daniel Wilson pulls it off. DETAILS Swanston and Flinders Sts.; 011-61-3-9663-9900.

MoVida Of all the tapas bars that opened in Melbourne during last year's Spanish-food craze, MoVida comes closest to the real thing. Spanish-born chef and owner Frank Camorra presents dishes from all over the Iberian Peninsula, usually sticking to tradition, but occasionally veering off, as in his Tasmanian scallops with Serrano ham and potato foam. DETAILS 1 Hosier Lane; 011-61-3-9663-3038.

Botanical Thanks to maverick British chef Paul Wilson, this year-and-a-half-old bistro—affectionately known as the Bot—is serving some of the city's most adventurous food. Wilson blends Mediterranean and Japanese ideas with English classics in dishes like his salt cod and celery-root soup with clams. His signature kingfish carpaccio with an oyster panna cotta is one of Melbourne's great dishes. DETAILS 169 Domain Rd., South Yarra; 011-61-3- 9820-7888.

The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel After a few years in Tokyo, Philippe Mouchel (formerly of Langton's) came back to Melbourne this February to open this restaurant. He's turning out renditions of brasserie classics like cassoulet and daube, as well as Mediterranean-style dishes like grilled red mullet with tomato-and-chorizo fondue. DETAILS 8 Whiteman St., Southbank; 011-61-3-9292-7808.

Mr. Wolf Melbourne still doesn't have many places serving thin-crust pizza topped with high-quality ingredients. But the success of Mr. Wolf—co-owned by chef Karen Martini, formerly of Melbourne Wine Room and Sydney's Icebergs—is likely to start a trend. Martini piles the pies with toppings like porcinis and roasted garlic, and pays equal attention to the rest of the menu, which offers Italian braised dishes like rabbit with pancetta and prunes. DETAILS 9-15 Inkerman St., St. Kilda; 011-61-3-9534-0255.

Interlude British-born chef Robin Wickens could have played it safe with his first restaurant venture. Instead, he's creating his own version of haute cuisine in dishes like squab salad with truffled quail egg. Interlude's trappings are those of an expensive restaurant (amuse bouches, palate cleansers) but its prices are closer to a bistro's. DETAILS 211 Brunswick St., Fitzroy; 011-61-3-9415-7300.

Circa This stylish six-year-old restaurant in The Prince hotel has developed an even bigger following now that chef Andrew McConnell has taken over the kitchen. Inspired by the often unusual products he finds, McConnell creates imaginative dishes like smoked eel with beet and potato-horseradish foam. DETAILS 2 Acland St., St. Kilda; 011-61-3-9536-1122.

Ladro Chef Rita Macali serves some of the city's best artisanal pizzas—baked in a wood-burning oven with toppings like fresh Gorgonzola, spicy sausage and broccoli rabe—and hearty roasts of porchetta, lamb and kid. Ladro is open just five nights a week, and its communal tables are usually packed. DETAILS 224 Gertrude St.; 011-61-3-9415-7575.


By Anthony Love

Enoteca Cucina The formerly undistinguished dining room at Adelaide's Italian community club has been transformed into one of the city's best new restaurants, with a mod cream-and-brown design scheme and a new chef. Camillo Crugnale's menu is full of robust Italian dishes like veal shanks in Chianti and butter-bean sauce, and swordfish involtini with ricotta ravioli. The 200-bottle wine list is strong on Barolos and Chiantis. DETAILS 262 Carrington St.; 011-61-8-8227-0766.

Urban Bistro Chef Bethany Finn, who trained with the legendary Cheong Liew at Adelaide's Hilton, has turned this three-year-old spot into one of the city's most popular. Her cosmopolitan menu has everything from Persian feta tarts to East-West hybrids like ginger-marinated spatchcock (spring chicken) with truffled potatoes. DETAILS 160 Fullarton Rd., Rose Park; 011-61-8-8331-2400.

barr-Vinum In the Barossa Valley, an hour's drive from Adelaide, chef Sandor Palmai has joined with former St Hallett owner Bob McLean to create a place for local winemakers and wine country visitors to hang out. Palmai's contemporary European dishes—such as roast saddle of rabbit with warm celery root, hazelnut salad and porcini mushrooms—make use of the best local products, and McLean's wine list focuses almost exclusively on the best Barossa labels. DETAILS 6 Washington St., Angaston; 011-61-8-8564-3688.

To Relish The arrival of young, English-trained chef Ian Burrows this past summer revitalized the kitchen at this three-year-old restaurant, café and art gallery in the suburb of Hyde Park. Burrows draws on influences from Europe and Australia to come up with creations like choux pastry stuffed with poached oysters and served with parsley puree. DETAILS 128 King William Rd., Hyde Park; 011-61-8-8272-7944.

Chianti Classico Chef Tobias Gush's menu is not wildly innovative. Rather, he merges the cuisines of Tuscany and the Veneto to create dishes that are both familiar and unusually delicious, such as roasted quail on polenta or venison carpaccio with baby beets and horseradish. Like the food, the slate-lined room is elegant but unpretentious. DETAILS 160 Hutt St.; 011-61-8-8232-7955.

Good Life Run by three brothers—Jake, Martin and Michael Greenrod—these two organic-pizza restaurants have a cozy farmhouse atmosphere and a menu of exceptionally good artisanal pies topped with local ingredients like Mount Compass venison salami, free-range Kangaroo Island chicken and Barossa Valley bacon. DETAILS 179 Hutt St., 011-61-8-8223-2618; Jetty Rd. and Moseley St., Glenelg; 011-61-8-8376-5900.

Ky Chow This small restaurant in the central produce market—like its nearby competitors Ying Chow and T-Chow—turns out some of the best Chinese food in Australia, at amazingly low prices. The menu is full of dishes that don't usually appear at restaurants outside China, such as sea-lettuce soup, coral trout baked in butter and garlic, and pork in a sauce of honey and black pepper. DETAILS 82 Gouger St.; 011-61-8-8221-5411.