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Melbourne Restaurants


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The Melbourne restaurant scene is dominated by a publication called the Age Good Food Guide (the Age being the local newspaper).

They rate restaurants on a numerical scale of 1 to 20 and award one chefs hat for restaurants gaining 15 points ranging up to 5 chefs hats for those achieving 19 or 20.

This year's results have just been announced. No restaurant achieved 5 hats and only the Flower Drum received 4.

Jacques Reymond was dropped from 4 to 3 and Marchetti's Latin from 3 to 2.

Some of my favourite places gained hats such as Da Noi and Hanabishi but others, such as Sud didn't.

Also radii gained three hats but I have had very indifferent food there. The same comment would apply to ezard at the adelphi (the lower case names are rampant in Melbourne folks!!).

Any comments. Anyone have any other restaurants that they thought should have been awarded a 'hat'? Should Akita have a hat or is it living on past glories?

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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It seems the age has re-adjusted their rating scale this year, claiming to "lift the bar"; something about "guarding against complacency; about pushing for ever-higher standards".  ummm, ok :)  So I guess even though some seem to have lost a hat, they haven't actually dropped in standard.

see http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/2001/08...FX4Q9BRLQC.html

I don't see Gilbert Lau (from the Flower Drum) making quite the fuss that Neil Perry did when Rockpool lost a hat :) - which makes me wonder whether the Sydney Morning Herald will take a similar approach to ratings...

Surprises for me - Koko with 2 hats and best Japanese restuarant.  Admittedly it been a while since I have eaten there, and the location and decor is incredible, but the food didn't really strike me as that good.  Reading the reviews on places like Hanabishi and Kenzan makes me think the reviewers have a different taste in Japanese food to me.

I was happy to see that Red Emperor now has two hats - we eat there quite regularly and they have improved over the last few years.

It also seems they have categorized the interstate restaurants now - I was surprised (and sad) to see that my favorite Japanese restuarant Orizuru is no longer listed in the Tasmania listings, possibly as a result of this.  Cumquat on Criterion was listed, but has recently changed hands, and I don't think its anywhere near as good as it was prior to this.  I was also sad to see that the Yarra Valley Pasta shop wasn't even included.

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Grahame has made some good points here! We think that Hanabishi serves the best Japanese food in the best surroundings in Melbourne. All our meals here have been stunning.

Yu.U is an absolutely wonderful place as well, but it is just so hard to get a booking because of its popularity.

We will comment further on the top end of Melbourne's

restaurants in the near future.

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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I feel the need to vent...

I'm aghast that The Age Good Food Guide awarded a hat to Walter's Wine Bar. I had the misfortune of eating there a couple of weeks ago, and the meal was a shocker.

It's not a place I would have chosen to eat. I had to attend a celebration organised by a friend of a friend.

Half of our party was running a little late, and on two occasions we were asked whether we'd like to order before everyone else arrived. The waiters' single-minded mission to turnover tables quickly was such a turn-off.

When the rest of the party arrived, menus were presented, and suddenly staff were no longer in such a hurry. We were ignored for an hour - despite repeated attempts to attract attention.

The menu itself was pretty #### scary. So heavy, stodgy, strange that I ordered an off-menu main of unadulterated steamed veggies. For which I was later charged ฤ!!

Prior to the veggies, I'd picked at the one vaguely appealing entree that was part of a round of entrees ordered to share. Seared tuna on pickled Asian veg salad. That is, three smallish, wafer-thin tuna pieces with some kind of unappetizing spice crust on them, piled on a few pieces of salad weed that had been mixed with straight-from-the-packet pickled ginger. For which there was a charge of ภ.

I'm still incensed about the steamed-veg charge. I wish I'd taken the issue up with management, at the time, but being in the company of some strangers, I thought it wiser not to.

There, I've vented. I wish I could say I feel better now. But, CRIKEY! ฤ for steamed veggies, most of which were carrot batons?!? OK, those last two sentences were therapeutic. I do feel better.

Heather

http://www.hgworld.com

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  • 4 weeks later...

Last May, we visited Australia for the first time, and came prepared to "hit" the restaurant scene: we had done research on the internet, and decided on Flower Drum before we even left the US.  Little did we know!  When we called on a Thursday night for a Sunday table for two, the gracious person at the other end, said: "I am so sorry, we have no table available for nearly two weeks, I can call you if there is a cancellation next week!"  But we were going back to home that Monday.  There was a conversation at the restaurant end, and the hostess came back on and said: "Would you like to come at 9:00 (PM), we should have a free table by then; Sunday is Mother's day, and we'll be especially busy." We jumped at the chance, and were rewarded with one of our most extraordinary meals ever, bar none!  We had the tasting menu, a great deal of thoughtful attention, and a very reasonable check.  Only one other meal in Hong-Kong could compare, at the Lai Ching Heen (The Regent hotel), Alain Ducasse had recommended it.

In Melbourne, we also enjoyed Stella (Spring St), with a somewhat traditional menu, but each dish had its own touches of creativity, and we relished every blessed bite.

We enjoyed other restaurants in Sidney and Melbourne, without once eating kanguru or crocodile -- couldn't bring ourselves to do it!  Rockpool is beautiful with its contemporary decor, and the chef, a treasure to behold.

Our disappointment was Cairns where there was not a decent restaurant to be had, as hard as we tried, everything was of the greasy spoon type.  Even the Greek restaurant we resorted to had ridiculous belly dancers who could not move their bellies/hips to save their lives.

What a beautiful country and what a delightful people!  My husband was actually addressed as "mate" by someone he chatted with on the street.  Melbourne is my favorite city so far, it gave us the same pleasure Paris, Barcelona, Buenos Aires provided, with the arts and museums at every street corner practically, and restaurants to remember for ever.

(Edited by Danielle at 7:51 am on Oct. 5, 2001)

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We are so pleased that you enjoyed your experience in Melbourne, Danielle. The Flower Drum certainly is a very special restaurant and should be on everyone's visiting list for that city.

I wouldn't worry about not having eaten kangaroo or crocodile - most Australians don't eat them either!

A sad fact about Australian restaurants is that, in general, the further north you go the lower the quality!

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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  • 2 years later...

Hey all you wonderful eGullet folks!

This is a question for all you Melbournites out there. I will be making a lightning visit to Melbourne from the 11th to the 15th, with mostly free nights. It's for a (ducks head ) SF convention called Continuum. (Anyone going? I might see you there.)

I would like to know where I should eat, with a budget of about $30-50 a head without wine, and of any ethnicity at all. I have had suggestions of Vue de Monde and Li Li's, but they seem a little pricey. Any ideas?

I will be staying a short walk from the Queen Victoria markets and will not have access to a car.

Any suggestions will be gratefully appreciated. Especially ones along the line of,"That place looks good but don't go there because of ..."

Thanks heaps in advance!

Edited to mention that I have actually read the thread on Melbourne eats but am specifically unable to splurge (sigh) at the destination places like Flower Drum. Sorry. (pout) :sad::sad:

Edited by Ondine (log)

" ..Is simplicity the best

Or simply the easiest

The narrowest path

Is always the holiest.. "

--Depeche Mode - Judas

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Try Pacific House on Victoria Street, Richmond (it'll be just one or two tramrides from where you are). Very good quality Chinese food at more than reasonable prices. The address is 8/240 Victoria Street in Richmond.

Edited by Shinboners (log)
Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Hi Ondine. I had dinner on Friday at Balzari (130 Lygon St, so not far too far to walk). Good Aus-Med menu, with some clearly Greek dishes thrown in. Mains are $25-30 (six or seven to choose from).

Warung Agus (Balinese) is well-liked by many (I haven't been) and is close to where you will be staying. 305 Victoria St.

Just two of many possibilities.:)

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

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  • 1 month later...

Mrs.Jones

This may seem presumptuous or even overtly cautious, but really, all I'm trying to do is find out what people think of this little place in Carlton, Melbourne. I've walked past, and my wife baulked due to the menu for the week, but I'm keen to give it a go, seeing as 211 was actually quite good.

Opinions and criticisms welcome.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I have only been there for lunch but I really enjoyed the food. Shannon Bennett from Vue du Monde was also having lunch there on the same day. Some friends of mine went there recently for dinner and were concerned that it wouldn't live up to the hype but they were very pleasantly surprised. I wish we had a few little places like Mrs Jones in Sydney.

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  • 2 months later...

I've got a special occassion coming up, and I've got Vue de Monde on the top of my list, although I should point out that it's a list of one.

Who has any other ideas? I'm looking for the usual things - wonderful food, wonderful service, great atmosphere - but also somwhere where the staff might be able to help me to organise something extra special.

Oh, and I'm also open to suggestions for Sydney restaurants as well as Melbourne ones.

Edited by Shinboners (log)
Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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If in Sydney, check out Bayswater Brasserie,

Kings Cross (I think they like to call it Potts Point now).

Very nice in the back corner of the front room with the windows open.Fantastic oyster selction and many other great dishes.

Their olive bread is always a must.

I used to work with the owner in London, true professional.

CHEF JOBS UPDATE - September 07 !!

Latest global Chef jobs listing and news now available!

Take a look online here:

http://www.hostec.com.au/newsletters/chef/sep07/

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Il Bacaro in Lt Collins St are always accomodating if you call up in advance. ITalian flare it must be, speak to Marco or Joe if you decide to go there. IT's kinda suity, but it always impresses. Giovanni Patane, former co-owner of Sud is now back at Bacaro where he did wonderful things.

Another old favorite for that something special is always Florentino's. The restaurant upstairs has a good degustation menu for $140 I think, but don't quote me. And they'll always do something special if you let them know in advance. Peter in the cellar bar is someone to talk to, especially if you do it in person and explain the circumstances.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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  • 1 month later...

A new champagne bar, Juliet, has opened at the GPO development in Melbourne. It's on the 1st floor and when this punter was informed, a call to the owner at 11am caught them in the middle of breakfast service.

The owner, or one of them anyway, is Umberto Lallo, formerly of Cafe e Cucina, Wine Room, and former co-owner of Sud (man I miss that place after Umberto and Giovanni sold it). Umberto had been helming front of house at ScusaMi while waiting for the green light on new ventures.

Anyhow, this punter hasn't been, but its likely I'll be there tonight to suss things out. It should be good. Umberto looked after wines for his past ventures, and I trust him. Implicitly and explicitly, whatever that's worth.

There will be a bistro/cafe/wine bar opening soon at GPO under the Lallo hand, and that will be on the ground floor. Not sure if the name is on general release therefore will wait till given the green light.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Oh, and we followed up the Grossi Florentino with a small get together with friends for a Christmas-Engagement dinner at the Rathdowne Tavern on Saturday night. We just stuck with mains. I had a rib eye steak. It came with some sea salt crystals and a lemon wedge, and it was very good at $25. The only thing was that I asked for medium-rare, and it came medium. We also had string fries and they were excellent. I got a little taste of another guest's lamb, and that was also very good. My vegetarian friends were also impressed with their dishes.

On Sunday night, we went to the I Carusi in St.Kilda. Started with some warmed olives marinated in herbs and chilli. Off memory, it was $6, but it was a very generous serving - we didn't finish it. It also came with a small herb pizza. My main was a pizza topped with potato and caramalized onions - it was sublime. My fiancee had a pizza topped with salami, artichokes, tomato, cheese, and herbs - it was very impressive. We had fun checking out what everyone else was ordering. Along with some ginger beer, we spent $45.

Whilst Christmas shopping, we popped into Max Brenner for some chocolate. Unfortunately, they ran out of toffee for the Danish (?) chocolate drink, so we settled for the Italian chocolate. I'm not that much of a fan of milk chocolate these days (I very much prefer dark chocolate), but nonetheless, the drink was very enjoyable.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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  • 4 months later...

hello to all fellow foodies & advanced thank yous to all that reply to my wee plea for insight

i am thrilled to say that my husband & i will be spending 7 blissfull days in melboune, first week of june.

im hoping that egullet readers could give us some inside knowledge as to must do's, must sees and must eats. one night we are there will be my birthday so an incredible meal in a cool restaurant would be a grand treat... any must go to's around little bourke street?? our favourite food style would be anything french bistro, any seafood and ofcourse a good steak is always a winner.

we have a serviced apartment so i hope to pick up marvelous produce, breads etc from delis, markets etc for some inhouse fare... any must trys especially from local producers?? any great patissieries / bakeries / butchers in the inner city??

we will be staying in little bourke street so im thinking restaurants, delis, cafes within walking distance would be handy especially in the evening & places for breakfasts. BYO suggestions would also be welcomed as we dont want to get stung with expensive wine lists every night.

below are some that have caught my eye so any comments on these or additions would be welcomed. (listed in no particular order)

http://www.punchlane.com.au/about.htm

european - 161 spring st

http://www.pepperchilli.com.au

http://www.vuedemonde.com.au//menu_lunch.aspx

http://www.grossiflorentino.com.au/

Caterina's Cucina e Bar

food hall in david jones

www.pancakeparlour.com

(for what looks like a hearty breakfast)

also any local / affordable pinot noir & reisling suggestions along with places in the

inner city to buy??

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

:biggrin:

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Oh, Gosh, there are just so many places! First to comment on some of the places you list... Grossi Florentino is a wonderful Melbourne institution. Punch Lane is excellent though I think it's had some changes recently so not sure if it's still the same. Wonderful cheese and wine as well as terrific food. I've heard great things about The European, though I haven't been.

David Jones food hall is great fun for browsing. If you feel like browsing around an Asian food shop, I recommend the big one (can't recall the name, though someone will probably post it here) which is on Little Bourke and Russell Streets.

I actually haven't eaten at Caterina's but I took an Italian cooking course there. The place has a great mood to it and Caterina seemed like she made sure that there was excellent service.

Of course the best best best place to buy those kitchen supplies is the Queen Victoria Market. You'll find all sorts of wonderful things to eat in the deli, meat, veg sections and perhaps even a cheap souvenier or table cloth or watch...

Oh, and I believe there is now a farmer's market every Friday (?) at Fed Square.

Hmmm, breakfast places. I'm sure there are many in the city, I just never ate there much. I did enjoy eating at the Blue Train at South Gate for breakfast, though.

Make sure you post back here after your trip so I can live vicariously! :-)

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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thanks so much arbuclo, i thought no one was going to post - ive come across some other places that look interesting so if there is anyone out there... comments / suggestion welcome.

MoVida Bar de Tapas

http://www.movida.com.au

for tapas

The Supper Inn in Celestial Lane

Choix Creperie Cafe

Shop G22 Liberty Lane 620 Collins Street

http://www.lalaland.com.au/

for fondue by the fireplace...

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  • 5 months later...

I will be in Melbourne in a week's time and and as it is my 1st visit, am looking forward to sampling its culinary offerings. I will be going to Flower Drum and ezard, but would like to seek a few more recommendations. What are some of the latest gastronomic hotspots? Is Taxi worth a visit? Apart from these "destination restaurants", I would also like recommendations on some of your favourite regular eating places/cafes/bakeries/gourmet shops/delis etc. What about Stephanie Alexander's restaurant?

I will also be spending 2 days in the Yarra Valley and 3 days along the Great Ocean Rd, using Apollo Bay as a base. I would like some recommendations on good wineries and food places (restaurants/cafes/shops etc) to check out.

Thanks very much in advance!

Amateur cook, professional foodie!
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Though I haven't been there for awhile, I have enjoyed going to Buff's Bistro in Apollo Bay several times. Nice atmosphere and pretty decent food.

I've love http://www.rhcl.com.au/ (Stephanie's place). I most especially love their cheese room, their brunch and their special dinners.

Yering Station is a nice spot for a meal in the Yarra Valley.

Have fun!

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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Is Taxi worth a visit? Apart from these "destination restaurants", I would also like recommendations on some of your favourite regular eating places/cafes/bakeries/gourmet shops/delis etc.

Yep. Taxi is worth a visit. You should be able to find the review I wrote on Taxi somwhere on this forum.

If you do a search through the Aus/NZ forum, there are a couple of threads about the "hidden gems" in Melbourne that are worth visiting.

Edited by Shinboners (log)
Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Arbuclo - thanks for the strong endorsement for Stephanie Alexander's cafe. Her book The Cook's Companion is one which I often use for reference and I am looking forward to visiting and tasting her food.

Thanks also for the other recommendations.

Shinboners - yes, I read your review and that was what prompted me to include it on my list of fab restaurants to visit. Thanks.

Amateur cook, professional foodie!
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  • 2 weeks later...

hi

i'll be visiting australia for 2-3 weeks over the xmas & new year period this year and would love some recommendations for restaurants i simply must visit.

recommendations for melbourne itself are not so important as i can find plenty of info on the web, but it would be good to know some practicalities - like for example, if most high-end places are closed over this period etc. a

ny info - general or specific - would be much appreciated!

what would also be really useful is if anyone had any tips for amazing places we could stay/eat at on xmas eve/xmas day/boxing day itself. i was really looking for country, vineyard, or seaside places.

cost is not that much of a factor (it is xmas after all!), sbut great food is, o please do send any and all tips that you have - they will all be most gratefully received!

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Hi.

Xmas is the 'silly season' and vineyards, country areas, seaside resort towns, will be 'jam packed' as we say over here. Especially those close to Melbourne. Unless you're ready to make a commitment and ring them up like, in the next couple weeks and make reservations etc.

Most 'high-end' places will be available for Xmas eve, maybe even New Year's eve, but those nights will be 'event' dining nights. Best to find out individually when they will be open or not. Most have email contact details, not sure about some places like Flower Drum though, although coming from HK you wouldn't be looking for high end Cantonese I'm assuming.

Some amazing places worth finding out about include:

- Simone's: They're in Bright, about 2 1/2 hours from Melbourne. Country Italian. Very very very good.

- Lakehouse: They're in Daylesford, about an hour from Melbourne. Kitschy, formal dining, beautiful setting, fancy food.

- Main Ridge Vineyard: They're in Mornington, about an hour from Melbourne. Informal Italian lunch on weekends. Probably the BEST pinot noir coming out of this country. Big Call, and I STAND BY IT.

- Claypots: In St Kilda, seaside suburb of Melbourne. Informal seafood joint, big platters of fish to share, with a Middle Eastern/Turkish/Asian bent. Sounds confusing, but farking great. The cleanskin wine store next door provides lubrication. Claypots is BYO (bring your own).

I'm sure others will chime in, as I'm not thinking straight at the moment, it's 1015 in the morning and I'm supposed to be working. :cool:

Edited by PCL (log)

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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