Madalena’s 2024 Winner
Since it first opened in 2019, Madalena’s has been quietly building its reputation. First launched as a bar, it came to be seen with fresh eyes once diners realised that what was coming out of the kitchen was a cut above, eventually leading to it being renowned as one of Australia’s premier places to eat seafood. But now, such is its excellence, it’s entirely appropriate to just call it an essential Australian restaurant, right at the top of its game. A kitchen run by Adam Rees with a vein of young talent in reserve is one factor, as is a tone that’s so free of fuss that enjoyment comes effortlessly. The cooking, as you’d expect, is a paragon of the genre, simple and direct, but founded on sourcing superb produce then doing just enough to it to make it shine. Add the fact that it has one of the state’s best wine lists in reserve, runs a brilliant upstairs bar and is perfectly positioned for long afternoons, sea breezes and repeat visits, and it’s a lock. Bravo.