The fourth annual list features a range of restaurants from across the country, from small laneway bars to well-established fine diners. Uniquely, the list is selected by Australia’s top chefs from a list of 500 compiled by critics and editors. Awards co-director Jill Dupleix claimed that this year’s awards heavily featured restaurants that emphasised local produce.
Brunswick Heads’ Fleet, which boasts 18 seats and only three staff, ranked 10th on the list, climbing from last year’s ranking of 17. With a focus on local produce from the coast and hinterlands, as well as small sustainably-produced wines, Fleet’s hole-in-the-wall, personal atmosphere has made it a well-loved staple of the north coast. Middle Eastern-inspired James Street hotspot Gerard’s Bistro took out the top Queensland spot this year. Appearing on the list every year since 2015, the Bistro puts a contemporary twist on the unique flavours of the Levant and North Africa. Also on the list is Wasabi in Noosa Heads, led by executive chef Zeb Gilbert. With its carefully-crafted Japanese dishes shining a spotlight on local seafood, Wasabi also sources specialist Japanese plants from owner Danielle Gjestland’s farm at Honeysuckle Hill.
Nestled in boutique Cabarita Beach hotel and spa Halcyon House, Paper Daisy ranked 57th on this year’s list. Headed by award-winning young chef Ben Devlin, the restaurant specialises in simple yet sophisticated dishes, heavily featuring local seafood. Finally, awarded Pan-Asian restaurant Rick Shores, in Burleigh Heads, was new to the list in 2018. Head chef of the “beachtastic” eatery, James Brady, has curated a menu of inventive dishes that stay true to their Asian roots.
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