Essential food and wine experiences: Melbourne
This article represents the personal favourites of Foodtourist’s editors Sue Dyson and Roger McShane. These are the places they haunt on their regular visits to Melbourne.
The dining scene in Melbourne is more conservative than that in brash sister city Sydney, however there are some great places to dine here.
One of our current favourites is the estimable Attica where chef Ben Shewry is turning out beautifully crafted, modern, produce-driven dishes accompanied by some stunning wines. We are also impressed with the cooking and the general ambience at The Brix which is just off Brunswick St in Fitzroy.
There is very good food at Rockpool Bar and Grill and also at the Spice Temple where Neil Perry shows his mastery of Asian flavours.
In the city the Flower Drum is still serving the best Chinese food in town. For Greek-inspired food the Press Club is a good bet.
Every time we arrive in Melbourne our first port of call seems to be Cumulus Inc where the food is cooked with skill and always seems right for any occasion. It is a great gathering place whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or in-between. We are also charmed by sister restaurant Golden Fields which serves similar food in Fitzroy St, St Kilda.
For a more boisterous encounter you can’t go past the sprawling Cookie where the Thai food is some of the best in the city. You can also get good Thai food at a reasonable price at the trendy Chin Chin in Flinders Lane.
We have also taken a liking to the dumpling café in Little Bourke Street (just over Elizabeth Street) called Shanghai Street. Here they serve Shanghai-style xiao long bao soup dumplings and "mini-buns" made from pork and crab that are very addictive and very cheap.
We love to wander along Gertrude Street and roam through the amazing Books for Cooks shop with its extensive and well curated collection of cook books and then pop next door to Enoteca where Brigitte Hafner cooks lovely comfort food in relaxed surroundings.
For good Italian food we like Café di Stasio in St Kilda, Da Noi in South Yarra, Grossi Florentino in the CBD and and Giuseppe, Arnaldo and Sons at Crown Casino. For dependable French fare we always head to France Soir in South Yarra and we always like the cooking of Philippe Mouchel who is now cooking at PM24 in the city.
Bars to try are Bar Lourinha in Little Collins Street, Movida and Movida Next Door in Hosier Lane in the CBD, Geralds Bar in North Carlton and the Supper Club above the European in Spring Street. Another bar worth a visit is the quirky LongPlay with its small bar area and cinema out the back. We recently enjoyed a glass of Jo Landron's Muscadet here.
For a pleasant meal at a friendly 'neighbourhood' restaurant we love to head out to High Street in Northcote to Merricote where Bronwyn Kabboord makes sure everything is running smoothly in the restaurant while her husband Rob attends to the cooking.
For Japanese food we love the secret location of Yu.U in Flinders Lane with its authentic dishes and we also like the rowdy Izakaya Den in Russell St. In East Brunswick we enjoy the ambience, the food and the sake selection at Kumo Izakaya.
Outside Melbourne there is a plethora of great eating places if you feel like a drive. Our favourites include Loam near Geelong and the Royal Mail in Dunkeld. We are looking forward to also visiting Provenance in Beechworth, Sunnybrae at Birregurra and Merrijig Kitchen in Port Fairy.
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