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 February 8th 2012
Here's a secret about human nature: sometimes people just want to show off. Give them an incredible meal for free and they'll complain, but make them pay through the nose for it and they'll still be bragging to their friends months later. For those of us who can't afford fancy cars (or risk driving them in Melbourne traffic) there's always classy restaurants – the last bastion of exclusivity, where the women wear dresses and the men wear ties.
So take out a loan, borrow your friend's suit, and prepare to embark on a culinary adventure...
Considering how expensive it is, Longrain is a mighty casual-looking place. It's located at the top end of Little Bourke St, in a converted warehouse, and takes as its main theme 'communal dining': everybody sitting around large tables. This restaurant isn't about secluded tables for two or quiet, private meals. Instead, go there with a group – the larger, the better – and become part of Longrain's exciting atmosphere. It's open for dinner every day of the week and for lunch on Friday (and the cocktail bar is open late on weeknights). The food is all sour, salty, spicy and sweet, so try some wine or a cocktail with your meal to balance it out. And don't be afraid of not getting enough variety – a signature feature of Executive Chef Martin Boetz's menu is that many of the meals come with delicious side dishes.
If any criticism could be ventured, it's that the dishes are packed with too many flavours. Don't expect fresh ingredients cooked simply, expect fresh ingredients cooked in complex, often confusing, but always delicious ways.
Vue De Monde
Strategically placed on Level 55 of the Rialto Towers, Vue De Monde is a foodie's delight. If you're willing to fork out incredible sums of money – so incredible that the waiters warn you about the cost at the door – you can get what is in all probability the best dinner in Melbourne. The poached egg is poached for sixty-four hours and accompanied by freshly-shaved truffle, and the sommelier is constantly on hand with wine selections that match each course.
Pine mushrooms, walnuts, bird's cress and cona infusion.
After the meal the head chef will give you a tour of the kitchen if you like, and if you order the Gastronome's menu – at $250 each, not counting wine – the head chef will pick your courses too. No word yet on whether he'll eat them as well if you pay a little extra.
One word of warning: don't show up without a reservation or you'll be turned away. You'll need to book at least a week in advance, if not a month. The food is also very expensive: it's worth it, but ordering more than you can eat could prove a costly mistake. Still, if you've got money to burn, you can't visit Melbourne without checking out MoVida Bar De Tapas on 1 Hosier Lane, the restaurant that started this city's love of Spanish food.
Both sweet and savoury.
MoVida is the reason that every bar in Melbourne offers some kind of tapas. For those going with a group, share your dishes so that everyone can sample as many different tastes as possible. If you can't decide, why not let the kitchen order for you? Every dish is stellar, so you've got nothing to lose.
Know a restaurant that's classier than these? Think one of these restaurants has fallen to the lower classes? Share your thoughts in the comments – we'd love to hear from you.