The experts behind the Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG), have spoken out on the key themes they spotted at restaurants across the country over their year-long review for the 2020 guide, soon to be released on October 1.
In the absence of Michelin Australia, the AGFG is the ultimate guide for establishments downunder, providing ratings to the best restaurants ranging from one to three chef hats.
This year, the reviewers noted eight recurring food themes, from ball-shaped foods, to the Aussie 'roo finding its place as a staple for fancy tartare. Plus, 2019's favourite dessert is something borrowed from southern US, a popular Italian pasta sauce finds a world beyond spaghetti, and a funky paste from Japan gets a sweet, Aussie makeover.
Here are the top eight restaurant food trends of 2019 according to the Australian Good Food Guide.
1. Aussie Arancini
Senior reviewer Terry Durack said “I’ve never seen so much round food in my life,” and noted that ball-food was seen on menus everywhere. The arancini-like foods spotted by AGFG feature a wide range of ingredients that are as colourful as the multicultural cuisine itself in Oz. They noted for example, deep-fried ora balls with curry powder, green chilli and dill at the modern Sri Lankan restaurant Lankan Filling Station, Sydney, and salt cod beignets and taramasalata at Eliza, Sydney.
2. The Bombe Alaska
The southern US dessert appears to have taken on a new life downunder, with reviewers spotting “next-generation” bombe Alaska (or more commonly, baked Alaska) in singular portions at restaurants all over. Mentioned in the list is Mary’s Underground's chocolate, hazelnut and mandarin bombe Alaska with mescal, and Coda's pear and sorrel bombe Alaska with caramelised puffed rice.
3. Anything 'Cacio e Pepe'-fied
Aussies have taken a special liking to the classic Roman pasta sauce, which according to AGFG are being seen with or without pasta on ingredients ranging from eggplants to chickpeas. Spotted by Good Food at Alberto’s Lounge, Sydney (cacio e pepe chickpeas), Lagotto, Melbourne (cacio e pepe eggs and pancetta), Marta, Sydney (fried potato gnocchi with pecorino and black pepper), and Lello, Melbourne (gran arso maccheroni cacio e pepe).
4. New and Improved Sandwiches
Sambos are back, and are full of fancy fillings in Oz. Spotted by Good Food were French dip roast beef sandwiches at Continental Deli, Sydney, prawn sandwich with romesco sauce, lettuce, serrano ham and red onion at A1 Canteen, Sydney, warialda beef pastrami and smoked mozzarella Reuben at Pope Joan, Melbourne; The Big Dog ciabatta featuring prosciutto, salami, pecorino and pickled fennel at Big Dog's Deli, Melbourne.
5. Raw ’Roo
Senior reviewer Jill Dupleix noted that "If 2019 is any indication, kangaroo tartare is set to be our new national dish.” Whilst some Aussies may still be struggling with the idea of having a national icon on their dinner plate, it appears restaurateurs have embraced the native meat quite happily. Restaurants noted by AGFG include Little Red Robin and Arthur, both in Sydney, and Attica, Matilda 159 Domain, Melbourne.
6. Big Steaks
When it comes to steak, Aussie chefs appear to be on the same page as the Tuscans, that is, the bigger the better. (Tuscany's famous bistecca alla fiorentina is never less than 450g a portion). Noted specifically by AGFG are Sydney establishments Firedoor, Fred's, and from Melbourne, Rockpool Bar and Grill and Cutler and Co.
7. ’Nduja on Seafood
The spicy sausage from Calabria looks to have entered into common food knowledge in Australia. While 'nduja on pizza is nothing new, the latest 'nduja partnerships noted by Good Food involve favourite Aussie ingredients such as prawns, pipis and octopus.
8. Miso, Made Both Savoury and Sweet
According to Good Food, chefs in Oz have been seen adding this umami-bomb to not only vegetables, but even in caramel (miso as a flavour enhancer was also predicted by FDL as a 2019 trend). Their spotted list includes: wagyu with miso caramel and enoki at Cottage Point Inn, Sydney; emu egg with sea urchin, saltbush and bunya miso at Orana in Residence, Sydney; barbecued baby corn with macadamia miso and cured kangaroo at Vue de Monde, Melbourne; koshihikari rice and apple ice-cream with miso caramel at Kisume, Melbourne.
Discover how Michelin starred chefs use miso in our Michelin Chefs Cook series article!
Orana won Australia's Best Restaurant at the Good Food Guide Awards 2019. Check out the beautiful dishes at Jock Zonfrillo's innovative restaurant here: 11 Dishes from Orana