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Taste Of Melbourne
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The Kettle Black
The Kettle Black experience merges the opulent, classic design of the heritage-listed, 1880’s terrace house with state-of-the-art, modern architecture and design. The interaction between these two elements makes the venue a truly distinctive and transformative dining destination. With every detail carefully considered, from a expertly brewed specialty coffee to using only the finest local produce, The Kettle Black offers an unparalleled dining experience.
Higher Ground is an all-day dining destination welcoming guests from morning through to late afternoon and offers a unique and refined blend of a café and restaurant. Start the day with their fiery Chilli Scrambled Eggs or Avocado Pretzel, an elevated rendition of the classic avocado toast. End your meal on a sweet note with the signature Blueberry and Ricotta Hotcakes — light, fluffy and adored for a reason. The dining room ceilings are 15 metres high and the space floods with natural light during the day. The upstairs level – which comes with its own barista station – is an unhurried lounge to read, work or eat a meal in.
he breakfast and lunch menu – eggs scrambled or benedict, bircher muesli, burgers or fish and chips – may sound standard; its execution is anything but. Ward’s love of Asian food is evident, and ingredients such as edamame, sriracha, miso and nori are put to tasteful use.
The CCC Group (who manage Sir Charles, Addict Food & Coffee, Liar Liar and Prospect Espresso) have converted a motor garage into an absolute humdinger of a café. The former grease pit is now light-filled and spacious – huge, actually – with curvaceous booths, more greenery than the Daintree and a soothing palette of soft pinks, green and, of course, gold. Head chef Stephen Hogan (ex Sir Charles and St Ali) has nudged Au79’s contemporary breakfast and lunch menu in intriguing directions. Duck bao burgers and waffles with pandan ice cream evidence strong Asian influences, while the classics get fancied up in surprising ways: granola is served with acai sorbet and the big breakfast comes with a housemade jus. There’s also toast for those who crave simplicity.
It doesn’t surprise us that multicultural Melbourne houses one of the largest Sri Lankan diasporas in the world. What is surprising is that this hasn’t manifested in plenty of places to eat a decent hopper – a bowl-shaped crepe made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk, and the Sri Lankan breakfast of choice.
Auction Rooms Café
Going to North Melbourne is like getting out of town without having to get up early, argue with bogans, or risk bad coffee. Errol street looks like it could easily feature in an ABC period drama given a scattering of gravel and the addition of a pony or two, and yet at the Auction Rooms, you’ll find one of the most definitively modern menus in the city. Aesthetically intriguing with stalactite-like poly pipe chandeliers, vintage soup cans as sugar bowls, and a large, central, dramatic coffee bar decorating the old WB Ellis auction rooms, this is the place to take your mum, boss or ex-partner for a look-how-classy-I-am brunch, lunch or brew.
The Terrace Café
The much-loved Terrace Café that overlooks the Ornamental Lake in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens has been transformed into a new all-day café and event space. This scenic spot will be serving up breakfast and lunch classics, housemade scones and takeaway options. The curated menu for both the café and the event space will champion seasonal produce and high-quality ingredients, to be closely aligned with a stellar drinks list. So when you finish your lap around the Tan, pop in for a light brekky of avocado tartine, chilli scrambled eggs or Turkish-style eggs. And the best news of all? The Terrace will be serving up the Darling Group’s signature giant blueberry and ricotta hotcakes.
Fitzroy's best-known warehouse bakery has made quite the name for itself in recent years. Run by brother-sister team Kate and Cameron Reid, Lune Croissanterie creates almost mathematically perfect croissants in their climate-controlled lab, each crisp and golden with visible layers of delicate pastry.
The Stables of Como
This rustic cafe and events space, housed in the stables of a historic mansion, offers very photogenic baked goods and has a picnic option, so you can have your lunch to-go in the property's gorgeous gardens.
Oasis Bakery, a three-in-one bakery, café and supermarket deep in suburban Murrumbeena, has become a bit of cult foodie destination. It celebrated its 18th anniversary in 2016 and marked its coming of age with a renovation that transformed the suburban shop into a one-stop-shop modern Middle Eastern open air marketplace, known as a souq. Outside, Oasis looks almost as it did before – it doesn't really stand out from the semi-industrial surroundings. Inside, it's a different story altogether. With the renovation came a new dessert bar complete with a glass cabinet displaying massive mounds of Turkish delight, nougat bejewelled with pistachios, and halva. There’s also a crepe station and a deep fryer pumping out fresh Lebanese doughnuts. Next to the dessert bar, the deli offers piles of cured meats and cheeses you can take home for later.
The flagship of chef/cooking icon, Shane Delia, Maha opened up on Bond Street in the CBD over a decade ago. Rising with Melbourne's culinary boom, Maha established itself as a dining institution continuously evolving and developing its offering. Centred around Middle-Eastern flavours and drawing on Delia's own heritage, Maha is a spice-filled journey into his own interpretations on regional specialities and staples. Be it the tantalising array of mezze dishes, the now-famous Slow roasted lamb shoulder, or the simply ground-breaking Turkish delight doughnuts, Maha's continued excellence has firmly secured itself a spot among the best restaurants of Melbourne.
Taking on the culinary movement of Scandinavian cuisine, popularised by overseas institutions like Noma and Faviken, Freyja will be the newest addition to the Collins Street dining precinct. The name Freyja comes from the Norse goddess, who was responsible for beauty and love, residing inside the 130yo heritage-listed Olderfleet building, there’s a strong Scandinavian aesthetic with a collection of minimalist stylings including raw timbers and metallic flourishes with rich contrasting colours. Leading the charge in the kitchen are Jae Bang and Aaron Caccia who both hail from Michelin-starred diner, Re-Naa in Norway as well as Daniel Gordon, former head chef at Lee Ho Fook. Together the collective team are developing a menu incorporating plenty of the traditional cooking methods of the Nordic region including fermenting, smoking, and pickling.
Just down the road from Chin Chin is the bustling Asian hot spot Supernormal—the brainchild of culinary extraordinaire Andrew McConnell, who makes the list of the best restaurants in Melbourne more than once. The menu is constantly changing, but it’s always designed for sharing. You can go a la carte or order the banquet if you’re feeling fancy. Supernormal is perfect for a family feast or dinner with foodie friends. They’re also on Providoor for the ultimate lazy Friday night takeaway.
The St Kilda seaside dining institution, Stokehouse which opened back in the 80s has long stood as one of the best restaurants in Melbourne, and still does in 2023. Resting right on the foreshore, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide vistas of Port Phillip Bay, the inside is a light-filled space with pale-timber flooring and ceiling contrasting against white-clothed dining tables and chairs. Dining here plays on its coastal aesthetic with a Modern Australian menu laden with fish and seafood as well as top-grade cuts and local produce. With a focus on seasonality, Stokehouse’s selection is ever-changing, from their current spring offering including smaller plates like a snapper crab Vol-Au-Vent to the seared coral trout which is served with a spiced abalone butter and a Cimi di Rapa.
Capitano is the sort of space that you can slip pretty easily into from a Friday night dinner service to a lazy Sunday lunch. The food here is pared back but delicious—from heaping bowls of Cacio e Pepe, to double pepperoni pizzas, to their famed Vodka-pasta; you’ll find everything you need to satiate your carby Italian cravings. Wash it all down with a blood orange negroni at one of Melbourne's best Italian restaurants—it's been around for a few years now, but in 2023 it's still considered on of Melbourne's best restaurants.
Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca
Famed throughout lockdown for their meatball sub, Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca, and its ‘Italian Maccas’ aesthetic burst onto the scene, winning hearts and filling stomachs all over town. Led by executive chef, Josh Fry, who studied dutifully under the tutelage of Andrew McConnell has put his own stamp on Italian cuisine with a menu that is daring, inventive and breaks the norms of what we’ve come to expect from a Trattoria or Osteria-inspired restaurant. Whilst the meatball sub is still on offer, you’ll also sift through lesser-known regional specialities like bone marrow garlic bread, Vitello Tonnato (veal with Tuna mayonnaise) and salt cod Faranita (chickpea-based baked bread) with lemon and oregano. Opened in 2022 and a crowd favourite in 2023, RBD is a hot contender for the top spot on any best restaurant Melbourne lists.
The fine diner on Collins Street from Scott Pickett hasn’t been around for a long time, but it has made some serious noise and has already started to establish itself as one of the best restaurants Melbourne coming into 2023. Self-described as a ‘classic bistro with an edge’ Chancery Lane oozes decadence with rich euro-centric dining. The dimly lit and dark-featured restaurant has shadowy marble benchtops with a mixture of table and booth dining centred around the bar. Scott’s Euro-inspired menu ranges from smaller plates including four different caviars to Tasmania’s Robbin Island Wagyu tartare to main plates of dry-aged Milawa duck, to grass-fed Hereford rib-eye.
Sebastian Beach Grill
Dreaming of a summer vacay in Spain? To sip on cocktails over azure coastal vistas, you may not need to travel so far. Sebastian is a picturesque bar and grill on Williamstown Beach, serving up beautifully presented charcoal-smoked and seafood dishes – with an Insta-friendly side of immaculate Basque aesthetics. The blue and white dining room opens out onto a generously sized, sun-dappled beach deck with daybeds and umbrellas: the perfect sunny setting for shoreline snaps. Grab a cocktail at the outdoor bar or bask in the sun while the resident DJ takes care of the tunes. The chef only uses high-quality local produce and every Wednesday it’s paella night.
Naked For Satan
You probably didn’t hear it here first, but how about a reminder? There’s no better view of Melbourne’s city skyline than the one from Naked for Satan’s balcony. The vibing Fitzroy rooftop bar is a classic spot for selfie snaps, but the food and drinks are no less a drawcard. From Spanish-style tapas and oyster platters, to buttermilk fried chicken and grilled meat skewers, the versatile menu caters to small and large groups alike. Cheese and charcuterie boards are in high supply for those who prefer to graze, with plenty of cocktail options for washing it all down. Take your pick from the pintxos downstairs over an aperitif, before riding up the elevator to scout out a table. Sundown’s the best time for capturing that perfect orange sunset snap, but get in earlier if you can – the minute happy hour hits, half of Brunswick Street’s revelers will be making a beeline for the same spot.
This five-storey labyrinth in the CBD may be new but it's already staking its claim as one of the best bars in Melbourne. From the collective team behind Abory Bar and Arbory Float, HER features its very own, Parisian-style cocktail bar, a dedicated listening bar, a Thai BBQ diner and a Euro-inspired garden rooftop bar. All housed in a 120-yo heritage building there’s something at HER for everyone, with each level offering its very own unique atmosphere and drinks menu of cocktails, wines, and beers. You can visit countless times before fully experiencing everything the venue has to offer.
Johnny's Green Room
Johnny’s Green Room rooftop has arguably one of the most insanely picturesque views of the city. Combining the building’s longstanding history with its modern Italian fare (inspired by King & Godfree a few levels below), there’s so much to love. And we haven’t even mentioned their extensive drinks list yet which cements the Carlton local as one of the best bars in Melbourne.