Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published October 9th 2011
Melbourne's got some great restaurants and cafes to impress out-of-town visitors with (plus some more reasonably-priced ones to visit regularly). However, you're not going to impress any of your local friends by introducing them to the coffee at Seven Seeds or the food at MoVida. These days people are being taken to Proud Mary for babycinos before they learn to walk. If you're looking for recently-opened restaurants that your friends haven't become regulars at yet, you've got a lot of legwork to do. Alternatively, you could read this article and discover the five best Melbourne restaurants that have opened in the last year, like:
At 270 Swan St, Richmond, Union Dining is an appealing place for couples to eat. The two founders of Union Dining - Nicky Riemer, from Melbourne Wine Room, and Adam Cash, from Cutler and Co – have converted an old Greek restaurant into a blend of heritage and contemporary styles. A huge retro fireplace sits right beside modern furnishings. Union Dining is a place that tries to attract regulars, putting a few standard dishes on the menu next to a rotating seasonal selection.
Try the Oysters Rockefeller, baked oysters surrounded by watercress, chives, spinach and pancetta. Best of all, it's affordable: a cheese and baguette plate will set you back twelve dollars. If you want to go a little more expensive, the abbachio of goat is over thirty dollars – but you don't need to.
Merricote sits at 81 High St, Northcote. Unlike Union Dining, Merricote opts for delicacy over hearty food, but it does it very well. Those of you who think 'fancy food' is Masterchef-inspired towers of butter and salt, think again – Merricote food is fresh, crispy and surprisingly healthy. The vegetables are all bright green and the meat is, well, actually meat instead of fat.
This is a consciously high-class restaurant; you can tell by the huge gaps between the tables and the small portion sizes. Don't go here expecting something like Thresherman's, or you'll be disappointed. As an antidote to that, though, try the flavour-packed rump steak.
Huxtable is on ultra-trendy Smith St, Fitzroy, so it's got a lot of competition. Luckily, it compensates for this disadvantage by doing everything right. There's an open kitchen that looks almost suspiciously clean and a specials board decked out in letter tiles – what more could you want? Maybe a jalapeno and cheddar croquette, or some Dunalley Bay oysters?
The food at Huxtable is profoundly egalitarian, with every flavour treated equally and none allowed to overpower the others. The ultimate test of this is the kingfish sashimi with horseradish, apple and dill, which in the hands of a lesser restaurant would come out tasting like something unidentifiable (that tastes a lot like horseradish). Huxtable pulls this dish off elegantly, which is really all you need to know.
Also on Smith St, Easy Tiger is small but incredible. There's two large tables, seating eight people each, and three smaller ones, with three people each – adding up to only twenty-five people seated in Easy Tiger at full capacity.
There's high demand, as well, with head chef Jarrod Hudson's chocolate and pandanus leaf dumplings ranking as some of the best in Melbourne. Don't know what a pandanus is? You'll find out. For a more substantial meal, try the sour orange fish curry, which is much tastier than it sounds.
Let's move to the CBD for our final restaurant, Chin Chin, on 125 Flinders Lane. The decor is open and friendly, with retro music and large windows that fill the restaurant with light. Thai flavours dominate the menu, from the spicy eggnet rolls to the caramelized sticky pork. Everything is salty, spicy, sweet and sour at the same time.
This could best be described as a modern-Thai version of Mamasita, which is to say quick, popular and simple. To be entirely honest, it probably doesn't belong on this list – as one of Melbourne's most popular restaurants, many people will know about it already. Still, it's good enough to be worth your consideration anyway.
These places are just as suitable for a date as a group of friends, but avoid the most expensive dishes or you might be forced to try other options. Know an up-and-coming restaurant that can dazzle locals and out-of-towners alike? Share it in the comments – we'd love to hear from you.
Peckish@1Mason! What a great restaurant this is! A great selection on the menu (both wine and food), great service and the friendly staff. The meals always come out well presented and taste great. Located in The Seagulls Nest, it's easy to find and close to train station and taxi rank! Peckish@1Mason, 1 Mason St, Newport VIC 3015, Australia (03) 9399 1513
By jan.d - reader Wednesday, 12th of October @ 03:32 am
Where is a good place for dinner NYE with two out of towners and two very well behaved kids ? I want to wow them with how amazinfg this city is.
By court21 - reader Wednesday, 12th of October @ 12:17 am
Niche on Bridge - 571 Bridge Rd Richmond. AMAZING menu - could eat there all day!
By Anonymous Wednesday, 12th of October @ 12:21 am
heirloom - bourke st
By evans - reader Friday, 14th of October @ 05:07 am
Vue de Monde
By Anonymous Sunday, 16th of October @ 08:18 am
By rozie - reader Thursday, 27th of October @ 10:49 am