The finalists in the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Awards 2020

Awards season is upon us. Our annual stocktake of the people and places that are new, hot and pushing boundaries in Australian dining will be revealed at our 2020 Restaurant Awards.
Here we present the finalists across categories including New Restaurant of the Year, Bar of the Year, Wine List of the year, Best New talent, Regional Restaurant of the year, Maitre d’ of the Year, Sommelier of the Year, plus our new Sustainability & Innovation award, as nominated by our team of anonymous reviewers who visit restaurants across the country unannounced and pay their own way.
Tune in for all the winners – including Restaurant of the Year – from Wednesday 21 August, 6pm as we announce them on Gourmet Traveller‘s Instagram, live from the event at Sydney’s Bennelong. And pick up a copy of the September issue of Gourmet Traveller, on sale 22 August, for a complete run-down on the freshly crowned winners.
And the nominees are…
Words: Fiona Donnelly, Michael Harden, David Matthews, David Sly & Max Veenhuyzen


Totti’s Photo: Nikki To
In a year dominated by casual Italian-ish openings, Totti’s is the definitive model. Old olive tree in the courtyard, pretty wood oven in the wide open dining room, blistered bread doused in olive oil and served with an array of snacks, killer pasta, and Negronis by the litre. Merivale’s knack for giving people what they want before they know they want it continues. And with chefs as sharp as Mike Eggert and Khan Danis on execution, and a wine list this strong, the appeal is only getting stronger.
In short: Right on trend.
283 Bondi Rd, Bondi NSW 2026, Australia, (02) 9114 7371,
Tiny Joy is a bumblebee of a restaurant. Logically, it shouldn’t be able to fly. But this minimalist 10-seater – down a laneway and with just two employees (first-time owner-chefs Sarah and Tim Scott) – builds a powerful buzz regardless. The Scotts live above the shop they both helped design and build, and do everything, from creating the layered tasting menus, to wrangling drinks and washing up. Redefining fuss-free fine dining, one beautifully detailed dish at a time.
In short: Big ideas in a tiny package.
Bakery Lane, 690 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld, 0412 425
Lygon Street isn’t the first place you’d think to look for a clean-lined, beautifully serviced French-Japanese fine diner but an incongruous address is just part of Kazuki’s charm. Relocating their seven-year-old restaurant from Daylesford to the city, Kazuki and Saori Tsuya elevate it to another level entirely, succeeding admirably via a minimalist dining room, precise cooking, thrilling flavours and comprehensive attention to detail, from linen to wine list.
In short: Excelling in new territory.
121 Lygon St, Carlton, Vic, (03) 9349 2223,
Few understand the theatre of dining as instinctively as Rinaldo Di Stasio. His new city outpost is proof of that. It’s an expression of his passions in three dimensions – art, food, design, architecture, wine, family, beauty, Italy – in an idiosyncratically beautiful space that’s part temple, part stage, part party. The result? Dining that’s fun, that makes you want to dress for dinner, drink another Martini, order a second dessert. Dining that reminds you that life is good.
In short: A spectacular spectacle.
45 Spring St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9070
Technically, this neighbourhood hangout in boho South Freo is more bar than restaurant, but the food coming out of the tiny kitchen at eight-month-old Madalena’s puts many full-fledged outfits to shame. Andrew McConnell alum Adam Rees takes pristine Western Australian fish – bycatch and lesser-seen fish species such as nannygai and herring are specialties – and casts these ingredients as stars of his contemporary, accessible seafood menu. Factor in the beachside setting and focus on new-wave wines and you’ve got a deeply likeable newcomer.

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