MELBOURNE: Of all the things to do in Melbourne, probably the most rewarding is to savour its epic food scene. Melbourne is frequently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, and its restaurants, cafés and cocktail bars undoubtedly play a large part in that. From cheap and cheerful cafés to high-end world-class dining, the city has it all.
Some of the best Melbourne restaurants are hidden in laneways, behind inconspicuous doors, down in basements or up rickety old stairs. Teage Ezard was one of the first chefs to see the potential of Flinders Lane as a dining precinct and 20 years later, his restaurant, Ezard, is still going strong.
Now in Flinders Lane you’ll find other popular restaurants such as the effortlessly cool Coda, Andrew McConnell’s long-running and always innovative Cumulus Inc, and McConnell’s pan-Asian canteen, Supernormal. Its younger sibling, Supernormal Canteen, in St Kilda, has a smoking yakitori grill and takes inspiration from Japan, China and Korea. It offers a chargeback arrangement for guests staying at the Adina Apartment Hotel St Kilda.
Choosing between Melbourne’s modern Asian restaurants is daunting, from the cool industrial-looking Sunda to the ever-popular Chin Chin, Longrain and Red Spice Road. Lucy Liu Kitchen & Bar packs a flavour punch with its shared plates, while Uncle is a hit with those who love modern Vietnamese.
Melbourne’s Chinatown has a history dating back to the 1850s gold rush and is packed with eateries offering dumplings, Peking duck, yum cha and regional Chinese cuisines. For quality Cantonese, it’s hard to go past the much-lauded Flower Drum, which has been operating since 1975 and which makes some of the best xiao long bao (soup dumplings).
Another restaurant taking Chinese food to the next level is Lee Ho Fook, in a charming, historic CBD building. For quality Japanese, Ishizuka offers traditional kaiseki dining in a Bourke Street basement.
For Mediterranean food, Spanish-inspired Movida has spawned a string of bars and restaurants but the original one in Hosier Lane is hard to beat – if you can secure a table. The elegant, long-standing Cafe Di Stasio in St Kilda has a new sibling in the city, Di Stasio Citta, which has become a talking point not just for its carefully crafted Italian food but also for its striking artworks and eye-catching design, including terrazzo floors and Murano chandeliers.
The grand dining room in Grossi Florentino is the scene of many a business deal and continues to woo diners with an Italian menu and ambience steeped in tradition. Its walk-in cellar houses Arlechin, the place to go for a late-night (or very early morning) snack.
For quiet yet chic surrounds, the newly opened Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne Southbank offers the full Melbourne experience without the bustle of the city. It's also a hop, skip and a jump to some of the nicest restaurants on the south side of the river like Nobu or BIstro Guillaume.
Not so much spoiled for choice, but inspired by it, Adina West Melbourne's guests will enjoy access to the precinct’s 2,000sqm of Zen gardens; supermarket; 24/7 gym; coffee roastery; 10 drool-worthy eateries, including a Mediterranean-style restaurant/café/bar that shares Adina West Melbourne’s lobby space. Not forgetting, access to a private outdoor retreat, opening out from Level 3, complete with three pools: a 25m lap pool, plunge pool and spa pool. #Nama-stay!And in the cities fringes on Melbourne's West Side. Namastay!
If you’re out to impress or simply want to spoil yourself, Attica consistently wins awards as Melbourne’s top restaurant, noted for its inspired degustation menu emphasising indigenous Australian ingredients. Also reaching great heights, figuratively and literally, is Vue de Monde where the pricey food and wine comes with a sensational view of the city skyline from 55 storeys high.
For a more down to earth experience, Queen Street Rescue, in the Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne, is the place to enjoy a pub-style meal with table service. Its char-grilled Black Angus steaks, burgers, market fish, salads, pasta and pizza come in generous “rescue” portions.
In the Docklands entertainment precinct, Platform 28 offers contemporary fare in the relaxed setting of a former railway goods shed restored with rustic charm. History is also evident in the heritage-listed Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne High Tea offering, one of many Melbourne venues that uphold this delightful tradition.
Now that's what we call working up an appetite. If you're got an appetite for a Melbourne adventure, check out our best addresses in this food lover's paradise.
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*Activities listed may be subject to Covid restrictions.