Been there, done that. The koalas are cute but what else is new? Surely Australia must still be worth a revisit. And so we hit up MasterChef alumni Dan Churchill and Hayden Quinn for a tip or two. Here, they gladly show us how to have a good time around the country. Mark ’em down.
(Watch them embark on a mad adventure around Australia in their trusty 50-year-old Beetle, catching mud crabs, scouring for bush medicine and cooking up a storm. Catch them on Surfing the Menu: Next Generation on TLC (Singtel TV Ch 254/Starhub TV Ch 427) every Monday at 9pm.)
Dan: Must Winebar and Bistro, Highgate, Perth CBD. French bar food, craft beer and over 500 wines, do you need to know any more? If that’s not enough, I was fortunate to dine here at the chef’s table and to have had Chef Russell Blaikie be in the kitchen himself! It was one of the best meals I have ever had. My favourites include the ‘seared Shark Bay scallops, blood sausage, potato, apple citrus & walnut salsa’.
Dan: Little Creatures Brewery, Fremantle. If you’re after that Sunday afternoon chill session, head down to this amazing spot in Fremantle. You can watch the sunset, grab a craft beer and eat some amazing pizzas and shared plate offerings.
Hayden: Matso’s Brewery, Broome. After a hot day in Broome, you just can’t go past having a refreshing beverage at Matso’s, whether it is the fruity Mango Beer or the most refreshing alcoholic Ginger Beer you will ever taste. Plus the Curry Hut in the beer garden serves up some of the best Indian food I have eaten in Australia.
Hayden: Bennelong, Sydney. Set inside Australia’s iconic Opera House and with a kitchen run by one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs, Peter Gilmore, Bennelong is a must visit for those who like the finer things in life, incredible fine dining and possibly the best chef’s table in Australia. You not only get to watch a kitchen come to life, but be rewarded with panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour.
Both: The Boat House. Shelly Beach, Manly
Hayden: Now I might be biased here but I love Manly – it is where I live, where I work and where I like to spend my time with family and friends. The Boat House is a great place for a Sunday brunch with sand between the toes, a stack of food in front of you and a big Bloody Mary in hand!
Dan: With locations at Palm Beach, Balmoral and Manly, the team here have helped define the art of a quality meal right by the water. It sums up a lot about Australia and was the catalyst for my love for coffee. Take a walk along Shelly Beach and finish up with breakfast and coffee. Definitely a must-do when coming to Sydney.
Hayden: Bulletin Place, in the CBD. This is my little secret. Bulletin Place is one of those spots you sort of need to be in the know to find. You don’t just stumble across it – it’s through a random door, up some old stairs and behind an inconspicuous door, only housing around 50 people. It is the place to get seasonal cocktails along with the best of your old classics. Love a stop in here before heading out to dinner in the city.
Dan: Sunset Sabi, Manly. Located a 2-minute walk from Manly beach, this modern take on Japanese eating mixes clean and bold Asian flavours with the ambience of the surf culture. I love eating here, particularly in the summer where they fold the window doors wide open. Grab a drink and small shared bites and learn some next-level umami ways. My go-to dish is the sweet aubergine – I have been playing around with miso for a while, and these guys nailed this combination.
Dan: The Apollo – Sydney – Potts Point in Sydney has a number of restaurants that have been mainstays by the water. The team offers Greek tastes authentic in flavour but completely new-school in design. The idea behind Pig Tail Greek Salad may deter a number of people, but it just gets me going. If it’s not the talamsata roe dip, then you must save room for the saganaki – a type of cheese cooked and served in a cast iron skillet with honey and olive oil. It is one of the most phenomenal things to have hit my mouth, and I wish it upon everyone that they try this dish at some stage of their life.
Dan & Hayden: Hellenic Republic, multiple venues across Melbourne and around
Hayden: How could we forget our old MasterChef judge George Calombaris and his suite of Hellenic venues, serving traditional Greek food but with that modern twist we all love? It’s relaxed, friendly and a lot of fun! Enjoy the food, but maybe try a little ouzo while you are there.
Dan: It has that strong value for family and communal gatherings, and the food is absolutely amazing. Don’t be shy on the starters with everything destined to be shared, but make sure to leave room for the lamb shoulder – you will get hangry anxiety if you leave without it.
Hayden: The Ale House Project, Lygon St, Brunswick East. With 12 constantly rotating taps of craft beer it’s hard to go past The Ale House Project to try some of Australia’s best craft beers!
Dan: Left Field, Carnegie. One of the best breakfasts I have ever had. I don’t go back to a lot of restaurants that often as I am always keen to try new things, but when it comes to Left Field I make sure there is time. To me, this typifies the new age of breakfast – with plenty of colour and vibrant flavours, there is a touch of Middle Eastern flare and Australiana-elevated café culture all rolled into one. My go-to dish is the sautéed Middle Eastern Cauliflower.
Dan: Pearl Café, Brisbane. If you’re looking for a real Brisbane-feel cafe, you can’t go wrong with Pearl. It has an outdoor terrace and is found right next to the Gabba. The Victoriana décor is amazing, but the food is modern bistro with elevation. A great option to go to before catching your first AFL or cricket match. Get the grilled scamorza toast with mushroom and lemon.
Dan: Anise Wine Room, Brisbane. Taking a more casual approach to dining, this location has an amazing appeal for elevated bar food. It may be anticipated as a short stop before dinner, but you will be sucked into staying for the amazing atmosphere and next-level eats.
Hayden: Rainbow Bay Surf Club, Rainbow Bay, Gold Coast. A local and visitor’s favourite for a great beer, cheap meal and an even better view across the Gold Coast. There is nothing better than coming in from a surf out at Snapper Rocks and having a beer on the deck at the surf club.