Originally from Perth, Colin Wood spent a decade in Melbourne working with stalwart Andrew McConnell (Cumulus Inc., Cutler & Co), and rockstar chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett (Oakridge Winery, Future Food Systems). More recently, he was culinary director for top chef Ignacio Mattos at his revered New York City restaurants Estela, Café Altro Paradiso and the recently closed Flora Bar. Having arrived back in Australia just before the pandemic, Wood says it’s been a while since he had the chance to make his own culinary tour of the country – but here, he shares four places he’s excited to dine… when he can.
The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery,New Norfolk, Tasmania
An old mental asylum might not be the first place you’d expect to find one of the most exciting culinary offerings a rural Tasmanian town has to offer – but such is the case at The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery in New Norfolk, just a thirty minute drive from the state’s capital. Local, seasonal produce is celebrated in rustic yet refined dishes to be enjoyed in a beautifully refurbished heritage dining room complete with polished-concrete-floor to pressed-metal-ceiling windows. Opened in 2017, the restaurant is a newer venture from Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demane, the husband and wife team behind the recently closed but nevertheless iconic Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School & Farm, which was a five-acre organic farm-based cooking school.
The Summertown Aristologist, Summertown, South Australia
Set part-way up a winding road through the Adelaide Hills, The Summertown Aristologist is a community cellar door and wine bar stocking natural and low intervention wines from local producers (the nearby Basket Range is one of Australia’s most productive natural wine regions) and beyond. The food offering consists of small, seasonal plates designed for sharing, centreing primarily on vegetables grown in the owners’ garden. A calmly-paced hub of nourishment in this South Australian hive of activity, this is a place for enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
All Are Welcome, Northcote & Thornbury, Melbourne, Victoria
A community-minded artisan bakery that first set up shop on Northcote’s high street, All Are Welcome takes its name from its building’s original use: it was a Christian science reading room, and had the phrase written in gold letters on its front door. It’s a sentiment befitting of this place to break bread with neighbours, family and friends. The winning combination of expert pastries and filter coffee from co-owners Boris Portnoy (the baker), Mark Free and Aaron Maxwell (of Everyday Coffee) sees queues around the corner; hence the recent addition of a second location just down the road in Thornbury.
Pipit, Pottsville, New South Wales
Casual coastal fine dining. It’s Australia’s culinary calling card, and top chef Ben Devlin’s (Esquire, Brisbane; Noma, Copenhagen; Paper Daisy, Cabarita Beach) Northern Rivers eatery Pipit, opened in 2019, fits the bill to a T. The emphasis here is on sustainable seafood and vegetables, in a celebration of woodfired cooking and community. There are few tables – instead, diners are welcomed around a broad timber bar, looking in on a large open kitchen built around the charcoal cooker. Read our review here.