10 Aug 2022 | Michael Harry
In this issue of Food for Thought, publisher Michael Harry brings you his latest restaurant and recipe recommendations. With his ear to the ground, Michael knows just what the Australian food scene has to offer. Read on to find out what amazing things he has eaten, noted and cooked recently.
I had a brilliant Friday night feed at Serai, chef Ross Magnaye’s smoking hot, fire-focused Filipino restaurant down a skinny laneway in the CBD (very Melbourne). The space is bare bones, the staff are super fresh and keen, and the menu is full of generous dishes with full-throttle flavours. Must orders include the ‘kare kare’ – a hash brown with peanut sauce and salted duck egg – the garlic claypot rice, and the ‘Lechon’ pork belly with pineapple ‘palapa’. It’s great to see new talent on the dining landscape, and Serai is a leading the way, along with other up-and-comers such as Manze and Parcs.
I’m super keen to visit Freyja, in the handsome Olderfleet building on Collins Street. It’s a Scandinavian restaurant using native Australian ingredients with a Korean chef. The blonde-wood dining room looks extremely smart, and the menu intriguing, from trout roe waffles with smoked sour cream to a glossy duck with finger lime, coriander and mustard seeds.
I can’t stop thinking about spicy noodle soup at all times, so when I read a recent recommendation from writer Jess Ho singing the praises of an Isaan Thai noodle café called Tom Toon in Good Food, I knew I had to get there quick. It’s near the intersection of Victoria and Hoddle Streets in Richmond, so hard to find a park, but very easy to fall in love with the spot-on street food. The spicy, salty, sour and sweet ground pork broth with pork meatballs and thin egg noodles were an absolute slam dunk. Intensely hot, tangy and delicious: I’m counting the days until I can eat it again.
A new outpost of the impossibly chic international chain, the Ace Hotel has just opened on the Surry Hills edge of the city. I have longingly googled the place several times to plan an as-yet-unbooked future stay, and so naturally Instagram keeps pushing it to the top of my feed. Everything about the David Flack design looks, well, ace. I can’t wait to smash a very cold, very dirty gin martini in the lobby asap.
There are few things more dad-friendly than an aluminium tray loaded with saucy American barbecue classics, and Red Gum BBQ in the somewhat unlikely location of Red Hill has some of the best ‘cue in Australia. The ‘feed me’ plate is a beast, loaded with beef brisket, pulled pork, juicy chicken, and all the sides, from cornbread to coleslaw.
I’ve never been a very confident baker, or a huge sweet tooth, so I recently turned to Michael and Pippa James sensational All Day Baking for inspiration. The book is like a field guide for all things savoury, and I can attest the classic sausage rolls are some of the best in the business. No wonder Jamie Oliver recently named it in his coveted Cookbook Club. Find out more about this modern classic here.
Hardie Grant’s food and lifestyle publisher, Michael Harry, fell in love with great food while working as a waiter at London’s Hakkasan restaurant in the early ‘00s. He has been the editor of The Age Good Food Guide, lifestyle editor of Good Weekend magazine, and worked behind the scenes on Ready Steady Cook. He is always on the lookout for the perfect chicken sandwich, a dirty gin martini, or a really spicy ramen.