Category: Food


Some good Melbourne dinner options.

Look, it was before Broadsheet and social media and Cardi B, but back when I would visit Melbourne as a Sydneysider, I’d always feel so lost, and pathetic, and excluded, and clueless as to where to eat, and shop, stay, etc. I’d end up doing cliché shit (‘Chapel St’) and eating average, touristy food (‘Southgate’), and feeling like I was wasting my visits. And my god, I really was.

I will not allow you to have the same experience.

Melbourne is a magnificent city, a sophisticated, tasty, friendly labyrinth of outstanding culinary delights, and I’ll be damned if you’re going to miss them. Also I’m sick of texting lists to mates asking where they should eat when they come down, and will hereby send them to this link moving forward, like the efficient, heartless robot I am.

(Is Sydney or Melbourne better? Redundant question. They are both terrific. That we can zing between two of the world’s best cities in a couple of hours feels wildly lucky to me. The real question should be: when the fuck is that fast train coming?)



It’s so eye-rolly when someone calls something ‘the best’ of something in a city, but guess what: I reckon this might be the best pasta in Melbourne. It’s a low-key joint. Unfancy. Book ahead though cos it’s small and much-loved. The chef, Carmine, is friendly and passionate; his pasta is exceptional. The Famous One is the egg tagliatelle ragu, and so it should be. But I gotta mention the deconstructed carbonara (and I loathe carbonara), which we had a few weeks ago, since it was the most delicate, delicious, ingenuous pasta dish I have ever eaten. (A fried spaghetti nest with an egg inside, as per below: gahhhh!)


For ages I’d look at Bar Liberty’s menu and deem it too fancy and tricky. Too many ingredients I didn’t know, and too pretentious. But at the persistence of a food-adoring couple whose opinion I respect, we booked. And reader, I felt like a damn fool. This teeny bar hits all my restaurant high notes: exquisite cocktails, a comfort-zone-breaking wine list, and perfect versions of simple food. I recommend LOTS of the bread, the salt and pepper veges, the potatoes, and DEFINITELY the cacio e pepe. And loose pants. And dessert. And no guilt. And booking.


When I moved to Melbourne in 2014, my stomach and I were deeply dismayed at the lack of Japanese eateries, a cuisine in which Sydney excels, from the fancy and expensive, to the corner joint doing gluggy teriyaki salmon. But Melbourne is WOKE! Nobu no longer needs to hold the fort; Kisume (sushi bar and restaurant) is flawless. We have eaten there thrice, and I can’t fault it. Not the service, not the pace, not the subtle, modern, playful Japanese dishes. But you’d expect that from Lord Chris Lucas, the chap behind Chin-Chin, Kong and Baby, all three of which are all in my heart and favourites list. I recommend: wagyu truffles, the crispy flathead, charred baby cos lettuce, and the black sesame sponge. And the cocktails. Man I love delicate, citrusy Japanese cocktails.


From the silky paws of Andrew McConnell (he of Cutler and Co, which is next door, Cumulus, Ricky and Pinky… actually I should mention Ricky and Pinky, too: it’s on the same street and does fun, delicious Chinese food. Plus the décor is basically a ready-made Pinterest board) comes this ‘local’ wine bar. Even though it’s not my local anymore, I still visit a bloody lot. A shared meal of (the best) salted flat bread and dip (in the country), simple pasta, roast chicken, fries and salad (and a Negroni, obviously) is unbeatable in this pig’s book. Finish off with a Martinez (this should be your new cocktail) at Bar Everleigh down the road, then Uber home, full, fed and cutely sauced.

Photo: Harvard Wang


Lazerpig is very casual and pub-like, only with open fires and disco balls and often, a DJ. We take our three-year old here for 5:30 dinners, and we all dance and eat pizza and drink wine. (He prefers pinot noir.) This is the home of my favourite pizza, (D.O.C in Carlton is a close second) and, controversially, my favourite cheeseburger. (See below.)  I don’t know what else you want me to say; that’s a really, really big call. Just sit with it for a second.


I love Horn Please, in North Fitzroy, but am pretty green when it comes to Indian cuisine.  Tonka is doing a great PR job for it as a genre, I gotta say. It’s subtle, and delicate, and feels nourishing and satisfying, rather than heavy and stodgy. Sit at the bar, it’s always more fun and you can usually snake in without a booking that way, order that blueberry cocktail, and some pani puri and pakora. I also love the palak paneer because quite frankly paneer is the most underrated cheese in this whole goddamn world, and also butter chicken because duh.


Ah yes, the classics. I’m sure you’ve heard of all them all, and probably even been.

Mamasita started the ‘new Mexican’ trend eight years ago, and still do it the very, very best. There will be a wait; go early, or late. Or! Visit their cheeky casual option, Hotel Jesus, in Collingwood, instead. It’s good fun, and utilises just the right amount of swimming pool blue.

Chin Chin still might be the best Asian restaurant in Melbourne, but the wait really breaks my balls. Be quicker to fly to the new Sydney Chin Chin most nights. The cheat? Eat downstairs at GoGo Bar instead. Small but perfect menu with flawless cocktail mastery.

Baby is Italian, in South Yarra/Richmond and while I reckon A25 down the road actually does better pizza, I love the atmosphere, polenta chips, meat and fish dishes at Baby. (Also their breakfast.)

Kong is a Korean BBQ, just up the road from Baby, and it’s crunchy and gorgeous. Fresh Yuzu-y cocktails + fried chicken = YES.

 – If you’re in the city and need a quick, tasty meal: Gazi (Greek) or Fatto (Italian.)


But there are no bayside or northside picks!
My picks are essentially locked to three postcodes, cos that’s where I live and hang.

Or greater Melbourne?

Okay then, how about Doot Doot Doot at Jackalope. My god. That deep-fried avocado. Look, it IS a Special Occasion place, and it IS a tasting menu so if you hate those (I studiously avoid, as a rule) maybe it’s not for you. But I loved it. I went for the vegetarian option and I not only didn’t feel sick at the end (a terrible and unfair appraisal of some outstanding food, but come on, most tasting menus are Too Much), I was satisfied and delighted. No gross filled mushrooms or lazy pasta dishes, in other words. Clever, delicious food.

The Martinez, father of the Martini, son of the Manhattan.


But you didn’t mention any seafood restaurants!
Correct. There aren’t many down here. It’s not Sydney, after all. (That said, Stokehouse is pretty fantastic for a luxe beachside feast. Or, a casual one, downstairs.)

Or Thai!
Shhh. Go to Longrain. (They offer a fructose-free menu, which my fructose malabsorption issues deeply appreciate.)

Your taste in restaurants is so trendy and overpriced!
True. These days I only eat out properly about once a month, so I make it count. (There’s plenty of misschu, Grill’d and Jimmy Grants in-between, trust me.)

Alright, food monsters, that’s all I can think of right now. (You’ve got Broadsheet now; you’ll be fine.)

What about breakfast? You’re always bangin’ on about breakfast!
Oh I’m gonna do a breakfast list, alright. Breakfast is the champion of meals, and melbourne treats it like fine dining. I reckon we do the best breakfast in the world. There. I said it.

There will be no lunch list. Lunch is the pesty middle child. I usually just eat breakfast again to teach it a lesson.

Responses to this drivel: 19 Comments

My New York City list.

In my role as Grand Priestess of Travel Writing for Expedia (they are still to formally agree to this title) I was asked to write my ‘must do’ list for New York City.

Of course, tell anyone you’re going to New York City and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I must give you my list.’ This is BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS A LIST and they are all supposedly “really good and different”.

So here’s my list. It’s really good and different!

I make no apology that 80% of the recommendations are food based. New York IS food.

Get joyful in Harlem

Red Rooster in Harlem is on a lot of people’s lists (their fried chicken is justly famous), but if you can, book Sunday brunch at Ginny’s Supper Club downstairs, and be treated to BRAINBENDINGLY uplifting live gospel music (I may have cried with joy, a hangover from my Sister Act 2 obsession) and a buffet that includes fried chicken on waffles with syrup. Add mimosas and there might not be a better Sunday.


Pig out at Shackshack.

The ‘shack is said to have the finest cheeseburger and fries on the planet, a claim strenuously backed by me. Ignore the calories. Have a peanut butter shake. Grab a red wine and make a meal of it. Regret nothing!


Buy tickets for something.

Go to a basketball game or concert at Madison Square Garden. See a Broadway show. See an off-Broadway show and wish you didn’t. Watch some stand up at The Comedy Store. (Get there EARLY.) See an exhibition uptown at the Met. Even if it’s just one thing and you shop the other five days, do it.


Read the rest of the article here.

But not here.

Responses to this drivel: 13 Comments

Regarding very delicious burgers in Melbourne.

I’ve written/sooked before in my Sunday Style column about how people who say, “This is the world’s best burger” are dinguses, because they have not tried every burger in the world, and therefore their opinion is not actually qualified.

So let’s all agree to just say things like, “This burger sure is tasty!” and “Wow! This burger is the best I personally have ever tried!” and “Gosh this burger tastes wonderful, a fact which I’m sure you would agree should you ever sample one of the same!” so that we don’t fall into the very modern dilemma of unsubstantiated hyperbole.

Now, onto great burgers in Melbourne. A subject I never tire of, and nor do my greedy little tastebuds.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but last week those cheeky In-N-Out bastards (In-N-Out, for those unaware, is only available in the USA. Their wares are delicious. Make sure you try said wares when next you’re there. LA is your best chance) did a pop-up for three stupid hours in Melbourne with no warning so pigs like me couldn’t plan and line up like a grease-desperate d-bag. They pulled the same shit in Sydney in 2012. We can only hope these frustrating litmus tests are occurring to ascertain whether they should open a store here permanently. Here’s the answer to that, In-N-Out: Yes. Yes you should.

Shake Shack, who make my absolute favourite burger, have never done pop-ups in Australia, and probably never will. But that’s fine by because it’s a special treat when in NYC, and in a world where everything is rapidly homogenising (we now have Zara, Topshop, Uniqlo and H&M here, something I thought I always wanted, but actually don’t because now shopping overseas is that little bit less special…. that said COS is opening and I fucking LOVE COS, and this makes me take everything I just wrote back.)

ShakeShackShake Shack, you glorious bastards.

Also last week, Broadsheet, that gorgeous bible of tasty eats, published their best burgers in Melbourne list. (Here’s their Sydney one for the NSW cats. My favourite up there is the cheeseburger at The Fish Shop on Potts Point, which used to be on the Lotus menu and which they smartly retained despite changing cuisines and restaurants altogether.)

I don’t agree with some of Broadsheet’s choices, but I REALLY agree with Le Bon Ton’s wagyu burger being on there, which my piggy of a husband and I discovered and subsequently moosed down last week because we felt we deserved a treat since we hadn’t slept for about a month due to our son insisting on having “teeth.”


The_Burger_Adventure-LeBonTonLe Bon Ton’s masterpiece.
(Pic from The Burger Adventure a site I, as a burger rat, like to visit.)

Le Bon Ton’s is my new most loved Melbourne burger, an honour previously held by Belles Diner in Fitzroy, which no longer exists, because it’s now Belles Hot Chicken.

Try it if you can.

Also try unicycling if you can, but don’t be afraid to give up if it’s too hard.




Responses to this drivel: 10 Comments