There are no rules. That’s the key message from the chefs and restaurateurs of Australia, whose votes have determined the new 2017 ranking of the Financial Review Australia's Top 100 Restaurants.
The number one restaurant in Australia, for instance, is 130 kilometres from the nearest capital city, serves food on plates made of clay taken from the banks of its own dam, and is famous for a dessert featuring a gnarly, crisp tunnel formed from the skin of a parsnip.
Redefining fine dining
Did they jump or were they pushed? Doors were shuttered at the ambitious new Silvereye in Sydney and long-term Perth favourite, Restaurant Amusé, as a general tightening-of-the-belt forced both restaurateurs and diners to re-evaluate the labour-intensive, multi-course degustation menu.
Sydney was hit hard, with Mark Best’s pioneering Marque restaurant closing after 17 years of challenging the culinary status quo, followed by the classical French Guillaume Sydney quietly closing its doors in Paddington. And vale, Eleven Bridge, nee Rockpool (est 1989), which closed in May, to be rebooted by the unstoppable Neil Perry of the newly formed Rockpool Dining Group as Cantonese banquet hall Jade Temple.
Fine dining isn’t dead, but it is definitely reinventing itself, as diners look for the upscale food they love packaged with a buzzy, convivial atmosphere, flexible hours and fewer rules. Note the more modest four-course tasting menus being rolled out at Canberra’s classy Aubergine, Sydney’s Automata, the Hunter Valley’s Muse, and more.