Best Restaurants in Melbourne
One of the advantages of Melbourne’s cosmopolitan nature is the fact that with it comes an incredibly rich food culture. Indeed, almost half of all of Melbourne’s residents were born abroad! Some of the cultures influencing Melbourne’s gastronomic scene most profoundly include Chinese, Italian and Greek. Fanfare and statistics aside, we know you’re looking for a place to eat in this city. That’s why we compiled our own list of the 10 best restaurants in Melbourne. Here they are!
10 Best Restaurants in Melbourne
On Lygon Street’s kingdom of carbs and cheese comes the Japanese-ish, French-ish Kazuki’s from Daylesford. There are several ways to tackle Kazuki’s, starting at the a la carte option of two courses for $75 and heading northwards to the chef’s menu of seven courses for $150. Our advice: go one of the tasting menus, if only to commandeer the four snacks as the first course, which could include Goolwa pipis on the shell, a profiterole filled with parfait and Davidson plum jam, grilled duck hearts, or whipped cod roe on a nori crisp.
Winery dining is a bit of a ‘thing’ right now. It’s locavore inside the kitchen thanks to the combined, non-hierarchical cheffing talents of Matt Stone and Jo Barrett. Take the sourdough, made with biodynamic wheat Barrett mills each day. Her unwavering commitment to superior carbs is repaid in a caramel-crusted loaf served with the gentle tang of buttermilk curds from a small herd of Jersey cows who live nearby.
3. Greasy Zoe’s
We’re at the end of the line. Literally – the end of the Hurstbridge Line, a 50-minute train-ride out of the CBD, where you’ll find a cool rustic bolthole big enough for an open kitchen, vinyl spinning turntable and just 15 seats. It feels less like a conventional restaurant, more like you’ve accidentally wandered into the bijou farmhouse of someone with really good taste.
Navi is a fine dining den of distinction, where cork tiles line the ceiling, moody hues rule the walls, and a mere 25 seats dot the narrow shopfront floor and the bar overlooking the cooking action. Navi is a chef’s-own temple, down to the a la mode pottery Hills threw himself, the soundtrack of “I’m playing what I goddamn like” and the snackage sent in to soften diners up as they acclimatise to the evening ahead (line honours go to raw wallaby and pickled flowers in its cured egg wrapping).
5. Matilda 159 Domain
Scott Pickett has built his reputation on a jazz-riff approach to Michelin classicism, but here he’s favouring the visceral attractions of smoke, flame and char. The elemental approach to cooking goes hand in hand with the strictly a la carte menu and a pragmatic wine list that will please both the haves and the have-yachts.
Capitiano, brought to you by the Bar Liberty crew, is bigger, brighter and louder than its Johnston Street sibling, offering far more approachable food and booze but keeping the quality, fun and delightful service. The stated inspiration here is Italian-American, and you can see the influence in the ‘gabagool’ starter (it’s the New Jersey-Italian pronunciation of the cured pork salumi usually called cappiccola), and the vodka sauce on one of two pasta dishes. But apart from these scant nods, Capitiano is all Melbourne.
If you ever want to feel like you haven’t achieved enough in life, eat at O.My and dine under the outrageously capable team headed by brothers Blayne Bertoncello and Chayse Bertoncello, who are both under 30 (as are most of their team), owners of this (excuse us for using the cliché) no-bullshit farm-to-table restaurant, and are head chef and sommelier, respectively, who serve 25 ‘snacks’ as part of a tasting menu.
8. Rising Embers
Rising Embers if the home of Sichuan barbecue from the ever-expanding Dainty Sichuan empire. It’s all thanks to a ninja-like team of waiters who’ll step in quickly to save the day, or simply act as a personal chef if you feel like relinquishing the tongs to the professionals. You’d be brave or reckless to risk cooking a $128.80 platter of Kobe beef yourself, with more marbling than the Vatican, but the tradesman’s entrance to beefy good times is no slouch at a more wallet-friendly price of $16.80.
‘Eating house’ doesn’t quite cut it. ‘All-day diner’ falls worryingly short. In fact, when trying to sum up the place Cumulus Inc plays in Melbourne’s hungry heart, ‘favourite clubhouse’ comes as close as any description.
Melbourne’s a town that does pasta very, very well. Tipo 00, which is one of the best restaurants in Melbourne, a stand-out member of the pasta-making clan, dishing out happiness in a bowl. Carb-dodgers be damned.
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