DOWN UNDER DINING
If coffee and avocado toast are the first things that spring to mind, you’re not necessarily wrong. At London’s Aussie staples such as Granger & Co, which found its fifth home in Marylebone a few weeks ago; Milk Beach (a third branch is now open in Queens Park); Lantana and the Daisy Green empire, the green fruit is served with love and a well-crafted brew more often than one can blink. However, according to Milk Beach founder, Elliot Milne, there is much more to the cuisine than brunch and a good old-fashioned ‘barbie’.
‘Australia is full of immigrants, especially from South East Asia and Europe, which each have had a significant impact on the cuisine. The beauty of Australian cooking is that there are very few rules, creativity thrives and the result is a fabulous mixture of dishes from around the world.’
Bill Granger, who founded his first restaurant nearly 30 years ago, agrees. ‘From WWII, with waves of immigration and the abolition of the white Australia policy, the country embraced and developed food much more suited to our climate and lifestyle.’
The result? Milne advocates for the Vietnamese-inspired BBQ pork rib dumplings with pho ga consommé and his Japanese take on chicken schnitzel, known as ‘The ‘Schnitty’, which he says ‘is at every pub in Australia’. Meanwhile at Granger & Co you’ll also find Bill’s own coconut curry with Chinese choi sum and holy basil, alongside röstis and Japanese-inspired soba noodles with avocado, edamame, daikon and green kimchi. Time for a walkabout...
Swains Wine Bar & Store is a forest-coloured gem opposite Hampstead Heath, brought to you by Victoria Sharples, former head of wine for St John, and Ruth Morrell, the third-generation of New York family wine business, Morrell & Company. In a nod to St John, wines include the restaurant’s Bordeaux plus a perky Cotswolds Bacchus. Check the cellar list for brilliant, rare finds.
Meanwhile, former Marylebone pub Clarette is filled with natural light and features a wraparound terrace — a fine place to sip rosé champagne. Spearheaded by Alexandra Petit Mentzelopoulos of the Château Margaux dynasty, it boasts London’s biggest selection of Château Margaux.
And lastly, after seeing yet another industry run by men, Carole Bryon launched Lady of The Grapes near Covent Garden to shine a light on vineyards run by women. Wines include skin-contact Amrit Pinot Gris (left) by Shashi Singh, Australia’s first Indian-born winemaker. Be sure to ask to see Bryon’s guest book, signed by winemakers who stopped by.