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There's a contradiction at the heart of Bros', the two-year-old restaurant that Isabella Poti, 22, owns with her boyfriend Floriano Pellegrino, 28. On the one hand, its mission is to preserve the culinary traditions of Lecce, the restaurant's home in the southern Italian province of Puglia. But on the other hand, there's scarcely a dish served in the 25-seater that any Lecce local would recognise. "We keep our traditions, but we make them new," Poti says.
Let's start with the salt dispensers, because they say as much about Bar Carolina as the silky pappardelle tangled with rabbit ragu, the gay divorcees gossiping over prosecco, even the designer dogs in the rear outdoor nook helping their owners decide between wood-roasted eye fillet and lamb rump with sweetbreads.
Brae has three Good Food Guide hats. It was named 44th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Its owner Dan Hunter could fill a barn with ‘chef of the year’ awards. So, you would expect this five-year-old country restaurant, two hours west of Melbourne, to be very, very good. What you might not anticipate is how great it makes you feel.
Two years is often a sweet spot in the life of a restaurant: the mania of opening is long past, wrinkles have been ironed out once, twice, probably thrice and, best of all, there's a settling of identity which means more attention can be focused on the diner experience. In short, it's less "look at me" and more "how are you?".