Arbory Location: Flinders Walk, CBD, Melbourne Contact: 03 8648 7644 Taking up residence in Finders Street Station’s disused Sandridge Line, Arbory bar and eatery boasts stunning views of Melbourne’s Yarra River, good booze and scrumptious bar food. The slick, 150m deck means getting a seat is (generally) not an issue, although Friday nights are known to draw large crowds. The delicious menu by Raúl Moreno Yagüe (ex-Vue de Monde) is wine-centric (think crispy pork belly and fried calamari), and there are some gorgeous rosés, pinot gris, Mornington Peninsula pale ales, Golden Axe ciders and Brooklyn lagers to keep all alcohol enthusiasts happy.
Rice Paper Scissors Location: 19 Liverpool Street, CBD, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9663 9890 Rice Paper Scissors is one of those venues that manages to hit all the right notes. Each of its CBD and Fitzroy locations are intimate, personable venues; the cocktails are as cheekily-named as they are imaginative; and, most importantly, each item on the menu is lip-smackingly spot on. At roughly $12-$15 per share plate, dining at this gem is an absolute bargain. Most diners opt for the $59 feast option, which gives 5 stellar dishes to be shared between two people, however we’ve often found that 3-4 dishes (depending on hunger levels) suffices. Must-orders here for us include the twice-cooked sticky pork belly with sticky tamarind caramel sauce and the tapioca-dusted crispy barramundi with green apple slaw.
Spare Me Kitchen Location: Level 1, 393 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Contact: 03 9419 6380 Walking into Glamorama’s Spare Me Kitchen, on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, I didn’t know what to expect. Operated by the same crew behind the popular Less than Zero in South Yarra, Glamorama offers itself as a restaurant; a bar; and later in the night as a nightclub. I had high expectations about the atmosphere, but didn’t know what to expect from its kitchen. I found that all my expectations were surpassed by Spare Me Kitchen, which offered a fun and inviting atmosphere matched by a creative and delicious menu.
Tim Ho Wan Location: 206 Bourke Street, CBD, Melbourne Those who have traveled through Hong Kong, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur will be familiar with dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan. Founded by acclaimed dim sum chef Mak Kwai Pui (Le Meridian, Lung King Heen), the original 19-seat restaurant was awarded a Michelin star after just one year of opening in 2009 and, since then, the restaurant chain has taken the place as the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. We headed in to celebrate the launch of their latest monthly specials, which includes a serve of prawn and chive dumplings with a kick of chilli, crispy pork noodles and golden tofu.
Academy Kitchen and Bar Location: 318 Bridge Road, Richmond, Melbourne Contact: 03 9427 8231 Academy Kitchen and Bar’s Chef and owner, Will Manning, has tapped into a number of classic European dishes and adapted them for the modern, Melbourne palate. With experience in hatted restaurants, as well as a previous stint of part ownership of the beloved Prospect Espresso Cafe, Manning has put together a well-balanced menu that combines indulgent share plates of wholesome pastas, risottos and meats with techniques developed in Australia. Stepping in, it’s hard not to fall in love with the elegantly minimalist dining space. There’s a huge communal bar that lines the right side of the restaurant, with the other flanked by a long bench, wooden tables and an earthy brick wall. It has that genuine neighbourhood restaurant charm about it – warm, welcoming and accessible, accompanied by the promise of stellar food and drinks.
Pablo Honey Location: 68A Acland Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria Contact: 03 8658 3127 Pablo Honey mixes twisted tequila-based drinks at it’s swanky bar, which is adorned in art created by its staff. Original paintings and decorated skulls are a prominent theme, filling the dark cool walls. The setting is relaxed yet lively with a great buzz, with long tables for sharing tapas with a large group of friends or an intimate date.
Son In Law Location: 56-58 Johnston Street, Collingwood Victoria Contact: 03 9410 399 Resplendent in blazing purple is Son In Law, a stone’s throw from the Tote on busy Johnston street. This is fresh, up to date Thai Street food. We had to start with this new restaurant’s name sake: Son In Law Eggs – Sweet Tamarind, Chilli, fried shallots – $8
Anchor Milk www.anchordairy.com.au Anchor Milk is redefining the way we look at milk. The company, which launched in Australia in February this year, is the first in Australia to employ the use of microfiltration technology – a unique process which allows the removal of 99 per cent of the bacteria in milk. While unwelcome bacteria in pasteurised milk is not harmful, it can impact the taste and shelf-life of milk. The unique filtration process that Anchor Milk uses results in a beautifully fresh tasting product with a substantially longer shelf-life than normal pasteurised milk (21 days versus the typical 15 day shelf-life of regular milk).
Bar Nacional Location: Collins Square, 727 Collins Street, Melbourne Victoria Contact: 03 9252 7999
Shimbu Tibetan Restaurant and Bar Location: 58 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, Victoria Contact: 0405 319 161
Mission Mexican Festival 2015 Location: Federation Square When: Sunday 13 September, 11:30am-8:00pm For more information, head to: http://www.mexfest.com.au/ We recently attended a media preview of the 2015 Mexican Festival, which will be held this Sunday 13th September at Melbourne’s beloved Federation Square. Melbourne’s top Mexican chefs, artists and musicians will take food and culture lovers across Mexico’s different regions, from the rainforest state of Tabasco to the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, allowing foodies to get a true understanding of the intricate flavours, sights and sounds that make Mexican cuisine and culture so special.
Mr Huang Jin Location: 4-5 Katherine Place, 517 Flinders Lane, VIC 3000 Contact: 9629 5452 Anyone who’s ever lined up for xiao long bao would agree that additions to the Melbourne dumpling scene are usually not a bad thing. Set in Melbourne’s schmick Katherine Place (alongside favourites such as T by Luxbite, Hunters’ Roots and Delhi Streets), sits Mr Huang Jin, a small eatery that serves up both traditional and modern dumpling flavours.
Carmine’s Bistro Location: 234 Lygon Street, Carlton Contact: 03 8658 3442 http://www.carminesbistro.com.au Carmine’s Bistro is hidden in plain sight, sat amongst the sea of restaurants along Lygon street. Perhaps it is the familiarity and ubiquity afforded by this stretch of little Italy that makes it hard to stand out. It can be hard to be a flamingo amongst a ‘pat’ (yes I had to look that one up).
The Brass Coq Location: 470 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9640 0035 Beyond the highly informal pho joints which proliferate the city, finding a refined, yet unpretentious, Vietnamese eatery in Melbourne’s CBD can be a bit of a challenge. Enter The Brass Coq, a wonderful bar and restaurant that is making in-roads into the buzzing Healys Lane precinct; an area which is quickly becoming a go-to for the Flagstaff / courts end of the business district. The Brass Coq’s contemporary Asian cuisine draws predominantly on Vietnamese staples, re-interpreted with a finesse and technique that is reflective of the team’s breadth of experience across the hospitality scene. An emphasis on taking an inventive approach to dishes while still playing to the five fundamental tastes of Vietnamese cuisine (spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet), ensures consistency in the quality of the dishes.
Suda Location: Shop c2, Healeys Lane, 550 Lonsdale Street Contact: 03 9942 6422 Like all hidden gems in Melbourne, finding Suda is a bit of an adventure in itself – the quaint restaurant is located in a little laneway towards the quieter end of Lonsdale Street. Yet the walk up to this end of the city is worth it; one step in and the eatery oozes warmth, with wooden panelling, polaroid pictures and hand written signs littered throughout the romantic space. The menu is playful and inventive, with the dishes focussing on Korean favourites with a fusion twist (think kimchi-filled quesadillas, plum mint soju cocktails and rice cakes with haloumi, to name a few).
Mama’s Buoi Location: G25 GPO Melbourne, VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9671 3426 Situated in the heart of the laneway straddling Melbourne’s iconic GPO building, Mama’s Buoi is a modern vietnamese eatery which serves up punchy dishes full in flavour and spice. Bao Hoang, the Director of Mama’s Buoi, has drawn from his own family experiences in designing the menu; a constant theme on the menu is that it is centered around family, home-cooked meals enjoyed with both his Mom and close Aunt. The space is a large, airy space, with the majority of the tables lined up outside to bask in the Melbourne atmosphere and a huge bar towards the front. A little while ago we attended a blogger dinner with Wasamedia and the team at Mama’s Buoi to try out some of the tantalising new dishes on their menu.
Easy Tiger Location: 96 Smith Street, Collingwood VIC 3066 Contact: 03 9417 2373 Dinner at Easy Tiger was an absolute delight; in general, flavours were well balanced with a good mix of sweet and sour, spicy and that wonderful fragrant hit that comes with Thai food. The betel leaf and son in law eggs were predictably delicious (though expect that sticky, sweet sauce from the betel to trickle down your hand), as was the ‘street food’ soft shell crab, which came nestled on a bed of lightly spicy sriracha. As for the mains, the soy roasted duck salad was to die for, with the sweetness of the watermelon slices cutting through the richness of the duck. The only low point was the tom yum style fish curry, with the base far too watered down and lacking in depth and heat.
Betel leaf, tea smoked scallop, fresh coconut, peanuts & fried shallots ($6 ea)
Market Lane Bar Location: InterContinental Melbourne, The Rialto, 495 Collins Street Melbourne 3000 Contact: 03 8627 1400 We recently had the pleasure of celebrating International Coffee Day with Intercontinental Melbourne at The Rialto. The event took place at Intercontinental’s suave Market Lane Bar, with two expert mixologists providing a wonderful step-by-step demonstration of how to master the art of Stefano Manfredi’s signature coffee Espresso di Manfredi. I have to say, E and I had a wonderful time at Intercontinental Melbourne. The mixologists at Market Lane Bar made the cocktail-making process incredibly simple to follow, and we were fortunate enough to learn how to make two gorgeous cocktails (one using the traditional method, and the second with the addition of Intercontinental Melbourne’s spectacular honey, which comes onsite from hives located on the top of the building!).
La Condesa Taqueria Location: 234 Johnston Street Fitzroy, VIC 3065 Contact: 03 9419 5675 La Condesa pays homage to the buzzing bohemian quarter and vibrant nightlife of Condesa in Mexico City, where the latest in food, art and culture is showcased and young artists and entrepreneurs – known as condechis, come out to play. This modern Mexican Cantina boasts traditional flavours with a Fitzroy twist. We recently visited La Condesa to celebrate the launch of their latest venture, the Taqueria, which sits on 234 Johnston Street.
Meatballs and Sons Location: 266 Brunswick St Fitzroy, VIC 3065 Contact: 03 9416 3006 Nestled in the crux of Fitzroy’s hip Brunswick Street dining scene, Meatballs and Sons has already garnered a solid following and reputation for serving up delicious meatballs, desserts and drinks to boot. Kano, who also designed the MissChu space, is the brains behind the warm, laid back interior of the double-storey restaurant, with stock-full shelves and paper wrapping adornments clearly drawing inspiration from the homeliness of old general stores. The place oozes warmth and cosiness, with a huge bar spanning the front area, an open kitchen to the back and a quaint fresh herb garden to the side.
Maya Tequila Bar & Grill Location: 74 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, VIC Contact: 03 9866 8836 Maya Tequila Bar and Grill may have been around in other guises previously, but let it be said now that things are changing. Under the helm of new owner Michael, Maya launches a two pronged attack as both a bar, and a restaurant. While most would consider this commonplace, the duo often comprises merely a few beers and a dash of wine, with unusual drinks orders receiving quizzical expressions from staff. Try ordering a Sazerac or and Old Fashioned beyond the bastions of established high cocktail establishments and you’ll be settling for scotch and dry. Not so here. With A, T and I propped in front of the extensively filled bar, littered with more Patron than a Ludacris video clip, we were spoiled for choice.