Box Hill Central Location: 1 Main Street, Box Hill VIC 3128 Restaurants visited: Kitchen Republik, Movenpick Disclaimer: Sponsored article I have fond memories of growing up in Box Hill. Every time Chinese New Year turned its head, Mum and Dad would take us to the centre court of the Box Hill shopping precinct to watch the inaugural setting off of the Chinese fire crackers. The fire crackers make a deafening noise – the premise behind them is that the sound is so loud that it will ward off evil spirits from the new year – and I remember clutching tightly to Mum’s hand as each of the bright red crackers burst into oblivion.
New Shanghai Various locations: Emporium Melbourne, Level Three, 287 Lonsdale Street, CBD, Melbourne + Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone, Melbourne Contact: 03 9994 9386 (CBD) / 03 9973 9483 (Chadstone) Disclaimer: Sponsored article Those who know me well will know that I am OBSESSED with dumplings. Whether it’s fried, steamed, savoury or sweet, you name it – I’ll (probably) like it. And when it is done well, boy does it make a whole world of a difference. Enter New Shanghai. Just like the heritage of one of our favourite dumpling joints, Din Tai Fung, at the heart of New Shanghai are ancient family recipes learned in Shanghai and passed down from generation to generation. These ancient recipes are the base of a sumptuous spread of Shanghai-style soup dumplings (called ‘xiao long bao’ after the bamboo steaming baskets they are traditionally prepared in), noodles, bubbling hot pots, and pan-fried buns. Each of these can all be enjoyed while viewing New Shanghai’s live dumpling-making theatre (thanks to an open kitchen).
Kitchen 425 @ Ms Collins Location: 425 Collins Street, CBD, Melbourne Contact: 03 8614 2222 GOOD NEWS: Ms Collin’s Kitchen 425 has partnered up with Veuve Clicquot this Summer to bring you the ‘Veuve Clicquot Summer Garden’, trading Wednesday – Friday from 4pm to 9pm. The menu celebrates a unique culinary experience, with dishes drawing notes from pan Asian and contemporary Australian influences, under the consultancy of Chef Daniel Wilson (Huxtaburger). The addition of the Summer Garden means that every Wed to Friday there will be a Summer cocktail special, and a delectable food special on offer – the perfect segue-way to a fun night out on the town. On the Friday night that we attended, there were some MAD good plates of ribs and burgers (yeesss please), garden spritz cocktails and deeelicious sweet potato fries doing the rounds.
Maison Du Bon www.maisondubon.com I first visited Paris when I was 10 years old. It was the middle of winter, and the air cut through the skin like ice. The sort of coldness that one would ordinarily need to bat away, with a warm, fluffy blanket or a steaming cup of cocoa. Yet, surprisingly, it was the one place where the coldness did not bother me – all one had to do was look up, and any hint of it would immediately vanish. The beauty of the place, in all its history and intimate splendour, was enough to take one’s breath away. In an instant, I had fallen in love with the city. And oh, let me tell you about the food.
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.
POPS – Premium Ice Popsicles wwww.wearepops.com Launched in June 2014, two old school friends, James and Harry, saw a gap in the market for a contemporary, unique and fun concept. With a vision to incorporate the nostalgia of a popsicle with the luxury attributes associated with Champagne, the world’s first Champagne ice popsicle, CLASSIC, was born. And so it was on one fine Tuesday night that we descended on Arbory for the launch of POPS in Melbourne. In April 2015, POPS introduced three new products, including BELLINI, made using Prosecco and peach and two alcohol-free popsicles with real fruit.
Mr Mister Cafe 161 Chapel Street, Windsor, Melbourne Contact: 03 9529 3902 Mr Mister is open on the busy Chapel street strip. Their courtyard is a delight, a secluded place to bask in the morning sun and recharge.
Punchbowl Canteen 1 Fennell Street, Port Melbourne, Melbourne Contact: 03 8534 9957 In the midst of the slightly industrial and commercial side of Port Melbourne is Punchbowl Canteen. The heavy brickwork and large continuous windows give away it’s factory origins, which gives the inside a light airiness. The menu is genuinely interesting, with plenty for breakfast and brunch, as you’d expect plus a fuller lunch menu than most. We sampled a great selection of them, perched as a veritable bevy of exotica stopped by the corner: A Lamborghini Aventador, A Ferrari 246 Dino, A Lotus Europa and a Porsche 911 Carrera S convertible (991).
GetFoodi Connecting food creators with food lovers www.getfoodi.com.au Can we all just take a moment to admire this wonderful creation? I mean really, that is one SERIOUS cake!
China Red Location: Shop 6, 206 Bourke Street, CBD, Melbourne Contact: 03 9662 3688 I’m notorious for hitting up the chef-recommended dishes list of any eating establishment, so when said list contains an item as good as Shanghai xiao long bao at uber-popular Chinese eatery China Red, I’ve just gotta tell you about it.
Middletown Location: 229 High Street, Prahran, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9530 2288 Middletown, the name of Prahran’s latest cosy hideout, is based of the persona of the Dutchess of Cambridge; royal, but close to the people. It’s all part of the vision of co-owners Randy Dhamanhuri and Valerie Fong, the same duo behind Operator 25, which has quickly become one of Melbourne CBD’s most frequented cafes. The duo have created another luxurious nest in this feel-good space with sophisticated, delicious and healthy meals.
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.
Meat Market South Wharf Location: 53 South Wharf Promenade, South Wharf VIC 3000 Contact: 9008 8953 Set in the stunning South Wharf precinct, Meat Market offers pasture fed beef from some of Australia’s best ethical producers, as well as chicken, seafood, lamb and kangaroo sourced in Victoria. Hearty proteins are available in all forms and sizes (think Cape Grim porterhouses and Kilcoy eye fillets) and come dressed with a range of classic sauces, from Bordelaise jus to a trio of mustards. Those looking to impress can turn it up a notch with a whole roast duck or 1kg of crispy pork belly, although make sure to leave up to a 45 minute wait for these gems busy periods.
The Truffle Shuffle Location: South Melbourne Market http://southmelbournemarket.com.au/the-truffle-shuffle/ I still remember the first time I tried truffles. A good friend had just gotten engaged and, armed with a good excuse to throw a decadent cheese and wine party, I headed down the orange staircase at Spring Street Grocer’s cheese room in the hopes of picking up a creamy brie or camembert for a crowd. Safe to say, Spring Street Grocer does not disappoint, and I walked out with a slab of truffle brie, absolutely convinced by the French cheesemonger that it was the best thing in the world. And boy, it was – from the strong scent of the truffle that had been grated and strewn throughout the middle of the cheese, to that sharp, earthen and delicately oily taste. It was out of this world.
The Crux and Co Location: 35 Albert Road, South Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9820 1081 South Melbourne’s newest addition to the brunch rotation is a massive, 110-seater space with a killer menu and round the clock fresh pastries. It’s one of those places that, despite only opening a month ago, is already a hub of activity and still somewhere that is intimate enough to encourage visitors to sit for a while and enjoy the surroundings. Owner Kevin Li (who also brought us Lights in the Attic) and manager James Julian have designed the space to be somewhere that visitors can lounge and relax, without the pressure of being pushed out. That means light-filled spaces with wooden features and pot plants throughout, and service that focuses on making patrons feel like they’re at home.
Grub Food Van Location: 87-89 Moor Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria Contact: 03 9877 5102 Grub Food Van is refreshing change amongst a sea of clean, minimalist designer cafe’s that litter every suburb. Decorated by the owners themselves, it feels much like stepping into their house, which is apt as it was their rather expansive abode. The garden is served by the gleaming bodied Airstream, perfect for summer days or nights, whilst the warm greenhouse is filled with light and plant life, heated heartily from the fireplace. As if to top it all off, it’s also dog friendly inside so people and their pooches aren’t shivering outside. Grub Food Van’s pastry chef even makes biscuits for well behaved canine guests.
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.
Little Woodpecker Location: 55 Katrina Street, Blackburn, Melbourne, Victoria Contact: 03 9877 5102 Fresh and new, Little Woodpecker is nestled down a side street in a little row of local shops. With a clean uncluttered interior and a corner spot, there’s plenty of places to soak up what’s left of the winter sun.
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.
Deliveroo www.deliveroo.com.au Now that the weather’s started to cool down, I’ve become somewhat of a homebody. Friday nights out on the town have been quickly traded in for the intense sport of couch potato-ing, with a piping hot mug of hot chocolate, a rug, House of Cards and and my favourite home delivery on rotation. Don’t get me wrong, I love dining out (and us Melbournians are well and truly spoilt with choice when it comes to dining and drinking destinations with impeccable service), however there are times where I’d rather just stay in and either cook a healthy meal or grab some takeaway and, in Pretty Woman style, ‘veg out’.
Street Talk Espresso Location: 710 High Street, Armadale, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9509 9687 Dean Fourtzis has created a warm and inviting cafe with a simple ethos of quality coffee, excellent food and personable service. Hiding away from the main High Street drag in Armadale, the intimate venue focuses on delicious meals and snacks, often with Greek and Middle Eastern influences. Coffee is a focus here, with Dean roasting his own coffee for service in house. The 5th avenue house blend is available exclusively at Street Talk, while other batches are available for wholesale.