Melbourne’s lauded food scene is one of the city’s biggest drawcards. With new restaurants, bars, cafes and late-night cocktail haunts opening each week, there is always a long list of new places to sample fresh flavours and find the next must-taste drink or dish. Here are some of the latest entrants on Melbourne’s food and wine scene:
Open for lunch and dinner since January, Crown’s latest addition to its already-impressive restaurant stable brings a dash of Bangkok heat to the heart of Melbourne. Headed up by highly-regarded chef David Thompson, Long Chim takes Thai street food flavours and adds a dash of culinary flair from neighbouring regions. Aromatic vegetable curries and spicy noodle soups dominate the menu, with durian ice cream providing diners with a sweet slice of South East Asia for dessert. Crown Melbourne Riverwalk, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank, +61 3 8582 3082.
Eggs are the name of the game at this café dedicated to the popular breakfast staple. Using open-range eggs from Daylesford, diners can choose from interesting breakfast dishes like miso soft boiled eggs with red rice and fresh greens, and panko crumbed eggs with harissa yoghurt. Coffee, smoothies, iced tea and freshly squeezed orange juice feature on the drinks list. With Melbourne’s world-famous brunch scene expanding by the minute, Good Egg is a worthy addition. 303 Coventry Street, South Melbourne, +61 3 9939 4239.
A restaurant-meets-retail concept store located at Emporium Melbourne, Calia’s menu comes from the mind of Michelin star chef Francisco Javier Araya. The Japanese-influenced menu features items like grilled line-caught Tasmanian salmon with a dashi tea broth, Alaskan king crab claw baked in miso mayonnaise and truffle-flavoured fries tossed in egg yolk. Imported sake from the Yamagata and Ishikawa regions of Japan rounds out the experience. Wildflower honey, Yarra Valley truffles and more are available for purchase in the adjoining store that stocks a range of sustainable foods. Emporium Melbourne, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, +61 3 9662 1688.
Fresh from opening its doors in March, this small café is focused on producing vegan fast food. Offering plant-based burgers, salads, juices and warm dishes, The Alley makes use of ingredients like cashew ricotta, kelp noodles and adzuki beans. Diners can choose to eat-in or grab-and-go. Either way, vegans and clean eating fans are winning. 417 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, +61 3 9820 8314.
Chin Chin’s Chris Lucas is overseeing a new addition to the vibrant Flinders Lane dining scene. Expected to open in late April, Kisume will offer diners three levels to indulge in Japanese fare. Slated to contain a sushi restaurant, cocktail bar, private rooms and dedicated degustation dining rooms, the hype around this opening is considerable. With Lucas’ Midas touch known for creating restaurant gold, Kisume promises to be the Melbourne dining scene’s next big thing. 175 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
A sophisticated little slice of Europe found in a cosy corner of Carlton North, Little Andorra keeps things simple with elegant wines and bar bites infused with the flavours of the Mediterranean. From marinated olives to smoked mussels, small plates of cured meats and duck terrine, Little Andorra has all the right flavours to go with a glass of rosé or sherry. The leafy courtyard provides a sunny spot for an afternoon tipple with friends, while the classic, no-fuss interiors are inviting all year round. 555 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, +61 3 9042 2255.
Israel meets the inner north at this casual eatery that has fast become a favourite with vegetarians. Serving up eat-in and takeaway options, the menu is bursting with nourishing-yet-delicious choices for lunch or dinner. From house-made falafel with hummus, to colourful, healthy salads and Persian lemon and rosewater donuts, Just Falafs brings a taste of modern Middle East to Fitzroy North. Takeaway picnic packs even allow diners to take the party across to road to Edinburgh Gardens for some al fresco fun. 207 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, +61 3 9041 9000.
The Elysian Whisky Bar
Bringing rare and unique bottles of whisky to Fitzroy, this recently-opened whisky bar merges Japanese small bar culture with modern Australian flair. Focusing on independent bottlings, this is the place to try drops not available anywhere else in Australia. The Elysian’s knowledgeable bartenders love to whip up inventive whisky cocktails and introduce guests to new and old pours from Scotland, Ireland, Japan and beyond. 113 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, +61 3 9417 7441.
Opened in late 2016, Hotel Jesus is a cheeky, irreverent spot for tacos, corn, ceviche, beer, tequila and mezcal. Kitted out with bright, cartoonish tiles and retro signage, this loud and proud place is made for raucous good times – not stuffy, fine dining. The brainchild of the team behind long-standing Mexican eatery Mamasita, Hotel Jesus is a fun addition to their restaurant stable. 174 Smith Street, Collingwood, +61 3 9419 3111.
Black Star Pastry
Much to Melbourne’s delight, Sydney’s favourite cult patisserie recently opened an outlet in Carlton. Now Melburnians and visitors to Melbourne can indulge in Black Star’s award-winning sweet treats and savoury pastries made from out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. Forget pedestrian cake flavours, at Black Start Pastry diners can choose from treats like vegan chocolate popcorn cake, black sesame chiffon cake, and lemon myrtle cake infused with the flavours of the Australian bush. 56-66 University St, Carlton.
Guests are asked to politely ring the doorbell to gain entry to this salon that has more than a little Parisian je ne sais quoi. While this refined-yet-fun bar dedicated to the hypnotic delights of the Green Fairy is located next to a gritty car park, inside the green-themed interiors transport guests to the streets of Paris in a flash. Thematic murals, hundreds of hanging lights disguised in upside-down tulip bulbs strung up on the ceiling and an impressive display of absinthe bottles makes this one of Melbourne’s most unique spots to imbibe. 82 Rose Street, Fitzroy, +61 406 207 903.
Carlton’s Rathdowne Village recently welcomed a new player with restaurant and bar Henry Sugar opening its doors in the final days of 2016. Shared plates of grilled octopus, braised lamb with prunes and carrot, and roast pumpkin with sesame and black rice cover all savoury options while the desserts and cocktails provide a sweet finish. Indoor and outdoor seating means guests can retreat inside for warmth or enjoy the village atmosphere out on the street. 298 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, +61 3 9448 8196.
Algerian-inspired Camus opened in January but is already a firm favourite with local diners. Algerian-born chef Pierre Khodja has created a shared menu that showcases the best local produce while highlighting flavours and ingredients typically used in North African cuisine. Preserved lemon, sultanas, rosewater, farro and pomegranate feature, as do steamed lamb, slow cooked goat and baked whole snapper. Hearty cooking served in a warm, relaxed atmosphere is what Camus does best. 61 High Street, Northcote, +61 3 9486 3063.
It’s not just the city and its nearby neighbourhoods that are welcoming newcomers to the dining scene. Further afield, new openings are transforming old buildings and sleepy shopping strips into foodie meccas…
In seaside Elsternwick, Bang Bang at the Rifle Club opened in January and serves playful French-Indochine fare in a building that was once a rifle club. On the other side of town, in West Footscray, a rundown old milk bar has been given a new lease on life at all-day breakfast spot Dumbo. Also in the Footscray area, Bar Josephine combines craft beer and classic books in a super casual atmosphere, while in nearby Yarraville Azabu Juban brings classic Japanese dishes, whisky and sake to the western suburbs.