Melbourne / Australia

Melbourne – Great places to eat and drink

Melbourne – Introduction

Melbourne has a rich history of food and wine. It has reaped the rewards of the waves of migration that have enriched the food landscape making it a world leader in areas such as coffee and wine.

Melbourne also serves as one of our first ports of call as it is the inevitable first destination when we board a plane in Hobart.

Attica

Attica has been widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s very best restaurants and Ben Shewry as one of Australia’s very best chefs. The food is interesting, produce-driven and perfectly seasoned, the front-of-house service is engaging and professional and the wine list is one of the best in the country. 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea, 3185.

Gimlet

Now that we have been able to return to Melbourne, it was with great pleasure that we enjoyed a meal at Andrew McConnell’s latest venture, Gimlet at Cavendish House. This beautifully crafted space is a joy to be in. The site has been restored to its former glory with due deference to the history of the building.

The food and drinks here are wonderful and created with passion. We had a range of excellent dishes including a beautiful dish a sea perch and mussels on greens and a lovely, restorative risotto. Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sample the caviar and blinis with appropriate condiments! We were also able to sample some rare wines here. 33 Russell St, Melbourne, 3000.

Embla

Embla is both a bar and a dining space where the food is based around expertly prepared small plates and the wine is a roadmap to the natural wines of the world with many of the emerging Australian superstars being featured alongside the more familiar European gems. The food is overseen by clever chef Dave Verheul and directing the front-of-house team is highly experienced Christian McCabe. 122 Russell St, Melbourne, 3000.

France Soir

France Soir in South Yarra, Mebourne is one of those excellent restaurants where we always feel comfortable. We have been enjoying the food and service here for literally decades. The service staff are helpful, humorous and highly efficient. The menu remains constant but the daily specials provide variety for the regulars.

There is a daily risotto, a fish dish, a rabbit dish and something done with chicken. We have so many favourite dishes here. The andouillettes that are served as an entrée are one of the best examples of the kind that you will find anywhere in the country. If you like tripe then try one of our favourite dishes – the entrée of tripe cooked in riesling. It is wonderful! The wine selection is one of Australia’s best. If you are into naturals then they have an excellent range for you to try. 11 Toorak Road, South Yarra, 3141.

Flower Drum

The Flower Drum is one of the best Cantonese restaurants in Australia with one of the best wine lists and also with some of the most professional service. We still have extremely fond memories of a dumpling that was stuffed with crab. It was smooth, silky and full of the flavour of this crustacean. The Peking duck is also very, very good. 17 Market Lane, Melbourne, 3000.

Tipo 00

Tipo 00 in Melbourne’s CBD is an important player in the Melbourne restaurant scene. The food is classic Italian, the vibe is exciting and the wine selection is clever, straddling the line between the classics and the needs of the hipster generation. The service is sharp, the food excellent and you can drop in any time for a snack. In the evenings reservations are not taken at the bar so it is relatively easy to secure a seat. 361 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, 3000.

Cumulus Inc

If you are in Melbourne on a weekend then Cumulus Inc is a perfect place for a very good breakfast or brunch. It is also open for dinner at night during the week and the food and wine selection is very good. It is also conveniently located at the top end of Flinders Lane. There is a great vibe here. 45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000.

Public Wine Shop

Public Wine Shop is a very special place. The wine is personally selected by long time natural wine aficionado Campbell Burton and the food prepared by clever chef Ali Currey-Voumard whose career we have been following over many years (she worked with Rodney Dunn and Sevarine Demanet in setting up and opening the Agrarian Kitchen, for example). Everything about this venue is special – the vibe, the space, the service, the food and most importantly the amazing wine selection, much of it imported by the owners Campbell and Charlotte. 179 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, 3068.

Bar Liberty

Bar Liberty has added even more depth to foodie magnet Fitzroy. This pleasant venue is drawing industry figures and wine loving foodies to Johnston Street to enjoy the eclectic range of wines and other beverages and the excellent food. Think dishes such as pickled cucumber with smoked eel dip or Murray Cod with carrot butter and pine nuts.
It is quite close to the CBD so it is easy to catch an Uber or a tram up nearby Smith St to reach this charming venue. 234 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, 3065.

Lune Croissanterie

Just sometimes superlatives when we are writing about a place don’t seem quite right. Sometimes it can sound glib. Sometimes a superlative doesn’t quite capture the essence of what a venue is doing.

We have this problem with Lune Croissanterie because it represents a passion and a search for excellence that is difficult to capture in a few words.

It is one of the few places where you will find us lining up on a cold winter morning for an espresso and a perfectly made croissant where every single part of the manufacturing process has been thought through to the tiniest of details to ensure that the end product is as sublime as possible.

This takes dedication, determination and a deep understanding of the chemistry of the ingredients and the equipment that must be managed to get everything exactly right. Kate Reid thoroughly deserves every accolade that has come her way!

You will find this venue around the corner from the actual physical address. The strict address is Shop 16/161 Collins Street, however you will find the entrance (look for the queue) around the corner in Russell Street.

Marion

Marion is a comforting restaurant space on the red hot Gertrude Street dining strip in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Andrew McConnell has put weekend breakfast/brunch on the menu and it has become a regular fixture for us. On an early evening visit a simple dish of stunningly fresh scallops was an absolute stand-out. 53 Gertrude St, Fitzroy 3065.

Movida

Movida is our favourite tapas bar in Australia. It is a very professionally run establishment taking the food and wine very seriously but managing to maintain a relaxed, fun atmosphere. It is hidden away in a lane opposite the imposing Federation Square complex, this small bar and restaurant is an ideal place to while away a few hours sipping on some great wines and indulging in interesting and well-cooked food. 1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne 3000.

Supernormal

Supernormal is another Andrew McConnell restaurant and this one concentrates on Asian flavours particularly Japanese, Korean and Chinese food with a Japanese aesthetic. You can drop into the large, ground-floor canteen-like space for a drink and a snack or for an epic meal with wine and sake. 180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000.

279 Cafe

279 Cafe is a wonderful venue serving very tasty Japanese food in pleasant surroundings. And there is an added bonus here. They are also passionate about coffee and do excellent pour-over coffee using beans from top farms in many countries including some that have been processed naturally. It is an excellent place for breakfast or lunch. 279 Victoria St, West Melbourne, 3003.

Napier Quarter

Napier Quarter is a jewel of a restaurant, hidden away in the quiet back streets of Fitzroy. It is the type of restaurant that everyone craves for in their local neighbourhood. The service is slick yet friendly, the food is delicious and servings are perfectly sized, the coffee is serious and the wine selection sees some emerging local stars featured alongside some international offerings. 359 Napier St, Fitzroy, 3065.

Very Good Falafel

Very Good Falafel is a bright, light space on Sydney Road in Brunswick where customers line up for very fresh falafel served in pita bread and hummus made from freshly-ground chick peas sourced from the family farm of Louisa Allan, one of the owners of the business. The food here is excellent. 629 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

Patricia

When we want a serious coffee in Melbourne and we have the time to walk to the “legal district” then we inevitably end up at the delightful and long-running Patricia.
Situated on a prominent corner in Little Bourke Street there is always a queue here, but the service and the processes are so good here that it rarely takes very long to be served.
And we find the coffee to be very good, especially now that they are in charge of their own roasting via the interesting Bureaux Collective (run by Tim Williams and Tim Varney).
They have good pastries and other light snacks here. Corner Little Bourke and Little William Streets Melbourne 3000.

Brother Baba Budan

Tucked in a small space in Little Bourke Street just a few steps from Elizabeth Street and very close to one of our favourite Melbourne restaurants (Tipo00) Brother Baba Budan is an offshoot from the very successful Seven Seeds venture, whose coffee we have been seeking out for many years.
We usually order their single origin of the day as it is always interesting and is sourced from their roastery in Carlton. Another thing we like about this venue is that it is open every day! 359 Little Bourke Street Melbourne 3000.

Meatsmith

Meatsmith is a specialty butcher and delicatessen as well as being a place where you can select from an interesting range of bottled wine to take away. The venue is a collaboration between restaurateur Andrew McConnell and butcher Troy Wheeler. 273 Smith St, Fitzroy, 3065.

Books for Cooks

Books for Cooks is a great bookshop with an impressive depth of cookbooks both new and vintage. We always enjoy our visits here and often find a treasure that is difficult to locate elsewhere. If you can’t find what you are searching for ask the staff here they are experts in their field. An added bonus is that the bookshop is located in the Queen Victoria Market complex, so you can also have a wander around the many stalls here. 115-121 Victoria St, Melbourne VIC 3000.

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