Five Australian restaurants serving up sustainability

Five Australian restaurants serving up sustainability

Good food that makes you feel good.

Words by Ute Junker

Photos supplied


The Agrarian Kitchen, New Norfolk, Tasmania

An old mental asylum sound like an unlikely setting for a restaurant but the elegant lines of this historic building a short drive out of Hobart make it the perfect HQ for the Agrarian Kitchen mini-empire, one of Tasmania’s biggest destination dining drawcards. Rodney Dunn and Séverine Demanet have long focused on sustainability, with the restaurant sourcing most of its ingredients from its own farm.  The Agrarian Kitchen cooking school is the place to learn more about  low-impact food strategies: the range of unusual two-day courses includes one devoted to growing mushrooms and another to butchering and using a whole hog carcass.


Millbrook Winery Restaurant

Want to know how much interest in sustainability has grown over the last few years? Ask Guy Jeffries. When he introduced no-waste Mondays at the Millbrook Winery Restaurant almost a decade ago, diners were flummoxed at the idea that not only would they not get to choose their food, but that each table would be served different meals, depending on what leftovers the kitchen had to work with. Now of course the concept is right on-trend – and no-waste Mondays, where the lucky-dip of dishes may include a pate made of brined and smoked leftover fish, are booked out weeks in advance.


Topiary, Adelaide Hills

Mind the roses on your way to the table. It’s not just the kitchen’s ethos that is green at Topiary – its setting in a garden centre means diners are surrounded by gerberas and grevilleas. The straw-roofed cottage that houses Topiary sets the vibe for chef Kane Pollard’s cooking which he proudly admits is old-school: buy local, work with whole carcasses, make everything from scratch and waste nothing. The result is fare that would not be out of place in a far more sophisticated setting: try the mussels baked with wild fennel, ink and bacon fat crumb.


Dining by James Viles, Sydney

Bowral’s ground-breaking Biota Dining was just one of the many wonderful restaurants driven into closure by COVID, but the Southern Highlands’ loss is Sydney’s gain. Biota owner James Viles has found a new berth at Sydney’s harbourfront Park Hyatt hotel. At The Dining Room by James Viles, Viles continues his planet-friendly philosophy. That means buying whole animals and making use of all the parts – the bones and carcass of a rainbow trout are the basis for a trout XO sauce, for instance – and wrapping salume offcuts around quail eggs to create a fresh take on the Scotch egg. Kitchen scraps are composted and sent to fertilise gardens around Sydney.


Parcs, Melbourne

You could call Parcs a rescue restaurant. (The clue is in the name: try reading it backwards.) Where most kitchens place weekly orders with growers and other suppliers, Parcs’ chef Dennis Yong rescues food that would otherwise be discarded – off-cuts from other restaurants, imperfect fruit and veg from the markets – and uses fermentation and other techniques to deliver creative, complex dishes. The salty-sweet oyster with mango kombucha aged in beeswax is a good way to start your meal; be sure to leave room for the scone miso ice cream, a real grand finish.

Previous PostNext Post