For those of you that know me and let’s face it, you don’t even need to know me that well, you just need to follow my Instagram to know this, I love food! Even more so I love to eat it and eat it out in style.
This year I have indulged in many culinary delights from an array of restaurants across Australia. Some are old favourites, one of which I sadly said goodbye to just a few weeks ago when they shut their doors, and others have been totally new adventures.
Wrapping up the 2014 culinary year I thought I would highlight some of my most memorable food outings for you. Below is a range of restaurants from $ – Cheap Eat, $$ – Still on a budget, $$$ – Getting up there, $$$$ – Special Occasion and $$$$$ – Only once a year (all based on two people) and anywhere from breakfast to dinner and all things in between.
It’s clear whilst writing this that I’ve eaten out a lot this year! Enjoy and let me know what your favourites and failures have been this year on the culinary quest.
The Spirit House ($$$$) Dinner http://www.spirithouse.com.au
Nestled in the middle of nowhere and just outside of the picturesque holidays destination of Noosa, this Thai restaurant and cooking school is something that has to be experienced for yourself. As you enter the tranquil gardens lit by the moon and lamps you wander through a bamboo garden to find the dinning area is outside and surrounding a pond full of wildlife, including Water Dragons.
The food itself is outstanding and some of the best Thai I’ve had to date. All served with a smile from the enthusiastic wait staff this is a memorable meal. Be sure to check this out if you are ever in Noosa, it’s well worth the drive away from the famed Hastings St.
Wasabi ($$$$$) Dinner http://www.wasabisb.com
Another gem discovered on a recent trip to Queensland and the seaside town of Noosa Heads. This hatted restaurant was a delight in every sense of the word. It did leave my wallet considerably lighter, but that was helped by a a couple bottles of wine and a very long grazing dinner. The Sushi here reminded me of the Southern California style I grew to love on my recent excursions to restaurants such as Koi.
Chef can do you a degustation to die for if you are so inclined and again the wait staff were fabulous. Book early and ask for a river front table and you will be set for a romantic evening full of culinary delights.
Rockpool ($$$$) Dinner http://www.rockpool.com/rockpoolbarandgrillmelbourne/
This is hands down my favourite restaurant in Melbourne, if not ever. There is something divine about a steak house seeped in luxury with a wine list to occupy any avid wine enthusiast all served with food cooked to perfection.
If you want to go all out this place will cost you the earth, but it will be worth it. Equally you can manage to eat here and not break the bank, just share a 600g steak and order big on the delicious sides, mac and cheese (the best I really have ever had!), onion rings, salad and some greens. This is a meal fit for a King or Queen and needs to be done at least once a year!
Rookie Eatery ($$) Dinner http://www.rookieeatery.com
New to the scene, this Wollongong eatery is a new favourite of mine when travelling for work. Full disclosure, I do personally know the owner and chef – but it doesn’t change the fact this guy can cook.
If you’re a Wollongong local or visiting the South Coast check this place out for a memorable meal.
Sails ($$$$) Dinner http://www.sailsnoosa.com.au
Another discovery from our recent trip to Noosa, this restaurant is the perfect romantic eatery. Situated on the beach it reminds me of a restaurant you would find in any Bond film set in Bermuda. Wear your summer linens and get ready for a meal surrounded by beauty with a strong wine list and stellar food.
Nobu ($$$$$) Dinner http://www.noburestaurants.com/melbourne/experience/
Okay so this one is obvious, but it really is fabulous. Doesn’t matter what you eat here – it does require a serious price outlay, so save it for a special occasion. but when you do go make sure you really go all out and forget about any budget. Sushi is perfect, maki is delicious and the seafood taco starters are divine.
Chin Chin ($$) Lunch and Dinner http://www.chinchinrestaurant.com.au/#
An old favourite and regular eating spot, it is also one of Melbourne’s busiest. It’s shortcoming is the no-reservations policy that has swept through Melbourne like a plague, but don’t let that stop you. The trick… get their early, put your name down and then go and have a drink (maybe try Eau De Vie).
Once you do get in, everything is scrumptious – but you must try the beetle leafs and pork rolls. Your best bet if you have’t been before is to ask the wait staff for the recommendations or simply let them feed you!
Cumulus Inc. ($$$) Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner http://cumulusinc.com.au/
A member of the Andrew McConnell empire this is now a stalwart of the the Melbourne eating house scene. It’s all good here, mid-week power breakfasts are big as are the power lunches. Relaxed on the weekends it’s still always bustling. Try the foie gras on waffles – you won’t regret it.
Gazi ($$-$$$) Lunch and Dinner http://gazirestaurant.com.au/
This is one of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne. It’s got it all, casual Greek style dining at it’s best, with Souva to die for. Whether you are tucking into a Soft Shell Crab Souva or a traditional Greek Lamb Souva you won’t be disappointed. Accompanied by a great cocktail list and fun wait staff Gazi is a fun night out or the perfect eatery on your way to one of Melbourne’s many sporting events. If you’re lucky you might see George (Calombaris) wandering around especially because The Press Club is right next door (another great restaurant, however sadly I never made it there this year, so it’s not on the list).
Rosetta ($$$$) Lunch and Dinner http://www.rockpool.com/rosettamelbourne/
All part of the Neil Perry empire at Crown Casino, Rosetta is an uptown Italian restaurant with delicious food and one fancy fit-out. Save this place for a special occasion as the romance factor is in full swing here, with white coated waiters and deep luxurious booths.
The food itself is a mix of Perry’s favourite Italian regions with freshly made pasta dishes, salumi and mains including pork ribs and meat cooked to perfection.
The Pantry ($$-$$$) Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner http://www.pantry.com.au/
The stalwart of Brighton and the Bayside area this is the place to see and be seen. The food is always solid here – whether you are dining for breakfast, brunch or dinner you won’t be disappointed. Suited more to the upmarket bistro diner it’s dishes are simple but plentiful.
It’s one of my favourite brunch spots and always a go to place when Mum is with me – she loves it there! Equally it’s great for a lazy bottle or two of Chardonnay or Pinot Gris on a warm day with a pizza or some tapas.
For something different try one of their cooking Masterclass, Dinner shows – featuring some of Melbourne’s top Chef’s these are fun filled nights with lots of wine and wonderful food. You’ll even learn how the chef’s do it. I went to one earlier this year and got to see Ian Curley from The European do his thing – read all about it here.
Royale Brothers ($ for two, no drinks) Lunch and Dinner http://www.royalebrothers.com.au/
This is the burger place from the boys who brought us The Pantry (above). I’ve called it, these are the best burgers in Melbourne and you cannot go wrong with the The Royale with Cheese. A mere hole in the wall behind The Pantry it’s the perfect quick and cheap eat.
Kong ($$$) Lunch and Dinner http://www.kongbbq.com.au/
From the people who brought us Chin Chin, this is the Korean BBQ house with a modern twist. Probably not a great destination for the vegetarian but for all the carnivores out there – this is the place for you. With the same “no reservations” policy that graces Chin Chin you’ll have to get in quick to get a table or bear the burden of a long wait. Wait if you will, it’s worth it. The roll-ups are awesome as are the meat platters. It’s a BBQ heaven of epic proportions.
Dandelion ($$$$) Dinner http://dandelion.ws/
I loved the food here, however the experience was marred by some terrible service. It wasn’t that the service was non-existent or came with a side of attitude as it so often does in this town, this was that service where the waiter simply did the opposite and never left your side! Notwithstanding that, the food really was outstanding and deserves to be recognised in this post. We ate the ribs (house speciality) and they were cooked to perfection. Needless to say we rolled our way home.
Sebastians Food and Wine ($) – http://sebastiansfoodandwine.com.au/
Huxtable Restaurant ($$$) – http://huxtablerestaurant.com.au/
Bistro Guillaume ($$$-$$$$) – http://bistroguillaumemelbourne.com.au/
The Little Ox ($-$$) – http://www.thelittleox.com.au/
La Svolta ($$) – http://www.lasvolta.com.au/
The Merrywell (Perth and Melbourne Crown Casino’s) ($ – burgers, Melbourne and $$ – Bistro, Perth) – http://www.themerrywell.com.au/
No. 35 ($$$$ – or cheaper if you have the Accor Advantage Plus card) – http://www.no35.com.au/
Flinders hotel ($$) – http://www.flindershotel.com.au/
The Gramercy ($$) – http://www.gramercybistro.com.au/
Spice Temple ($$$$) – http://www.rockpool.com/spicetemplemelbourne/
The Stokehouse (City) ($$ – $$$$) – http://stokehouse.com.au/city/
Sadly we said goodbye to some of the best (and favourites):
Os Kitchen and Wine Bar – sadly this local favourite closed its doors just before Christmas. This place will be dearly missed.
Mama Baba – I’m still gobsmacked that this place closed down! It made way for the now failed venture of Manu Feildel (which I did eat at and didn’t love – sorry Manu!)
PM24 – Another great from the people who have brought us Gazi, Hellenic Republic and Mama Bubba. PM 24 closed its doors to make way for Lucy Liu (I’m yet to try this place, I think I’m still in mourning and silent protest for PM24).
A Year of Food In Pictures