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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SMH Good Food Guide 2007

So the list of hatted restaurants for the SMH Good Food Guide 2007 is out.

Even though reviewers Simon Thomsen and Catherine Keenan say: "we've gone casual and become cost-conscious, without wanting to sacrifice standards", the list is inevitably weighted with top nosh (and top dollar) eateries. Reading through the list reminds me of that time in primary school when the school prefects were announced: a procession of bright shiny pretty things trotting onto the stage, chests puffed, cheeks flushed and pearly whites positively blinding me, standing in green-eyed envy, a pining pathetic figure amidst a mob of ordinary plebs below.

I've eaten at a dismal total of three hatted restaurants, although I suppose if you wanted to get technical you should only really count the restaurants you've eaten at during the past year, the period during which the restaurants were judged. In that case my tally would have a big fat zero. No matter. I'm cheering for the little guys.

EDIT 6/9/06: Am I bitter? No, just wistful that I could have the budget to eat at just a small proportion of the fine hatted restaurants listed. Congratulations to all the recipients listed. Good food? We love it.


Three hats
Bilson's (+1), Claude's, est., Guillaume at Bennelong, Marque, Pier (+1), Quay, Tetsuya's

Two hats
Aria, Becasse (+2), Bentley Restaurant & Bar (+2), Bistro Moncur, Buon Ricordo, Iceberg's Dining Room & Bar, Lucio's, Omega, Pello, Pier Tasting Room (+2), Pilu at Freshwater, Rockpool, Sean's Panaroma, Yoshii

One hat
Alchemy 731 (+1), Assiette (+1), Astral (+1), The Bathers' Pavilion Restaurant, Billy Kwong (+1), Bird Cow Fish (+1), Bistro CBD (+1), Bistro Moore, Bistrode (+1), The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay (+1), buzo (+1), Catalina Rose Bay, Coast (+1), Fish Face, Flying Fish, Forbes & Burton (+1), Forty One, Galileo, Grand National, Il Piave, Jonah's (+1), La Sala (+1), Longrain (-1), Lo Studio (+1), Lotus, Mezes at Omega (+1), Milsons, Otto, Restaurant Atelier, Restaurant Balzac (-1), Restaurant Sojourn (+1), Sailors Thai Restaurant (+1), Three Weeds, The Wharf, Ying's

Restaurant of the Year
Becasse, city

Chef of the Year
Katrina Kanetani, pastry chef, Pier, Rose Bay

Best new restaurant
Bentley Restaurant & Bar, Surry Hills

Best Regional Restaurant
Fins, Byron Bay

The Sydney Morning Herald Award for Professional Excellence
Tony Bilson of Bilson's, for his commitment to fine dining, the marriage of food and wine, his influence on the next generation of chefs and for 35 years of great food.

The Sydney Morning Herald Silver Service Award
Toni Urquhart of No. 2 Oak Street, Bellingen, for enthusiastic, charming, genuine, warm-hearted country hospitality and being a great sommelier to boot.

The Good Food Guide Sommelier Award
Nick Hildebrandt of Bentley Restaurant & Bar, for showing us a bigger world of wine that's accessible, fascinating and, best of all, fun.

The Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award
Philip Wood from Tetsuya's

Editors' picks
Favourite bistro
Bistrode, Surry Hills
Favourite Mediterranean VINI, Surry Hills
Favourite Asian Billy Kwong, Surry Hills
Favourite pizza La Disfida, Haberfield
Favourite yum cha Marigold Citymark, Haymarket
Favourite bar Bambini Wine Room, city
Favourite cafe Brasserie Bread, Banksmeadow

Restaurants that dropped off the list included: Golden Century, Manta, Perama, Post Seafood Brasserie, Ristorante Riva, Sea Treasure and sushi e.

Restaurants that have sinced closed were, of course, Bistro Lulu and Hugo's.

What I did find more intriguing were the inspired creations by Sydney kitchens to create an edible artwork that incorporated the SMH chef's hat logo.

These included braised beef cheek pie, a honeycomb hat, goat's cheese bavarois and goat's cheese ravioli. I thought the piped meringue for the vacherin created by Kim Camilleri from Restaurant Sojourn was especially cool.

And speaking of Good Living, has anyone else wondered exactly how many different publicity shots are in Bill Granger's file for his Ask Bill column?

Related GrabYourFork posts:
SMH Good Food Guide 2006
10 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Anonymous on 9/05/2006 10:39:00 pm


  • At 9/06/2006 6:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen, Not quite sure where you're going with this particular entry. On the one hand, you've basically reproduced today's Good Living in your blog; and on the other, your comment re not having eaten at the hatted restaurants in the past year sounds almost, dare I say; somewhat tinged with bitterness. Perhaps I am reading far too much into it .. yet you've often declared Good Living to be a trés important part of your life. I regard the GFG to be an integral part of Sydney dining, not because I will ONLY eat at hatted restaurants, but rather given the corn of cornucopia in which we live, i.e. Sydney; it does make choosing a restaurant that much easier when one is undecided. The reviews on regional outlets are also a fantastic guide when travelling, as I have found. But I digress. To me, the hatted system should be seen as a form of encouragement to our restaurateurs, to keep them keen and making sure that the ultimate winner is YOU, the diner. For that, I am forever grateful!

  • At 9/06/2006 9:54 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    OMG, One can only describe the grin as cheesey.

    I cringe every month when I read the latest Delicious magazine.

  • At 9/06/2006 10:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Morning Helen :)

    Well as you know we lost our hat (Perama) after having it for the last three years and have to say I know exactly where you are coming from with your post.

    We're not bitter by any means.
    However our plan of attack is to maintain the status quo and hopefully score a tv show where we get the chance to have an on air tanty about our woes and snag that little ol' hat back!

    I've eaten at pretty much all of the hatted restaurants (ooohh lucky me - aren't you impressed ;) ). The whole game is political - it's not unlike any other arena existing in society.

    I think your analogy of the school yard and its correlation to the guide is spot on.

    gobsmack'd - I covet the GFG also, but not so much that I'll be buried with it.

  • At 9/06/2006 10:31 am, Blogger Julia said…

    Hahaha I am always cringing at Bill's cheesy grin - and his white pants!

  • At 9/06/2006 4:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree Helen, I loved the food made into the hats in search for the perfect cover.

    But i dont agree with the comments of others that Bill is fake, i think its a lovely smile, probably something that his parents forked out thousands of dollars for and you never look after them well enough... oh sorry, gone on a tangent!

    Keep up the good work, I love it all... Am secretly hoping that one of my Uni finals goes along the lines of "Describe the food Helen of grabyourfork has eaten in the past semester" as i religious read this blog rather than the Foundations and fundamentals of Australian Media Law... Can one blame me... Oh, dont tell the folks that!

    He He

    Alex :)

  • At 9/06/2006 6:50 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    I think I'm the same as you Helen. I like The Age Good Food Guide but have not been to any of the hatted restaurants. I've visited many of the other ones in the book though. I really want to go to a hatted restaurant but the mere fact that they have a hat gives them even more reason to charge expensive prices. I just can't afford (or don't want to) pay the prices they are asking.

    I also wonder why small places never get a mention. Can't a small restaurant provide a level of quality that is good enough to get them into the book. Or is it as Florizal said, its a very political game. The bigger the restaurant, the more money they have to woo the reviewers.

  • At 9/07/2006 6:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen, Hope I didn't scare you off with my longwinded entry. I still support the hatted system as I believe it does serve a purpose. Furthermore, this year's Restaurant of the Year would surely bear testimony that it doesn't always take a 3 toqued restaurant to win. Finally, to quote Edwina Monsoon, "No, awards don't matter, do they Pats? But I just want one!!!"

  • At 9/07/2006 6:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    agree with you about bill and the smile...but I have a feeling that that's how he always looks...
    also loved the hat creations

  • At 9/08/2006 1:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think a reason why Asian restaurants aren't mentioned as much in the GFG is because of its lack of ambience factor. I can't remember exactly the way GFG scores the restaurants, but I'm pretty sure food isn't the only factor. In my experience, Asian restaurants are highly skilled at efficient and delicious food, but not really all that great at the service and decor departments. Just my two cents:-)

  • At 10/07/2006 3:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You can find a great map of these restaurants over at yourRestaurants.com.au.

    City Three Hats
    City Two Hats
    City One Hat


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