Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Knowing the right place to go to eat out is everything. You go for the taste, the sounds, the smells, and freshness and in most cases ambience as well. Here’s my list of the TOP 10 Tables in Melbourne in random order which will certainly not disappoint….Bon Appetit!!

CULINARY ESSENCE- Celebrates Australia’s regional produce and the menu changes seasonally. The menu offers a multi-faceted paddock to plate experience.
AMBIENCE- Though overall very contemporary the Art collection and a commissioned art installation of a crafted wooden hood exudes a bucolic feel. All in all, the ambience salutes seasonal fare offering a delightful harmony between traditional and modern appeal.
USP- At its core, the restaurant is dedicated to mindful consumption, a self-coined approach to cooking that honours ingredients and preparing food with integrity, rather than focusing exclusively on a specific style of cuisine. John Olsen champions the emerging dining scene globally by supporting local farms and markets, ensuring clients are receiving the best quality.
LIP SMACKING- Pancakes, Eggs Benedict, John Olsen’s famous ‘Paella’, Mini Burger with a filling of Wagyu beef mince, aged cheddar cornichons, onion relish & mustard mayo, Freshly picked ‘Zucchini flowers’ with a filling of goat cheese, honey and mint lemon guacamole, Seafood of the day, Hot lemon fritters with honeycomb ice-cream and finest and freshest selection of cheese. 
The Olsen Hotel, 637-641 Chapel Street, South Yarra 3141, Melbourne
Landline Number: +61 (3) 9040 1333
Timings: Open from 6:30 Am until 12:30 Am

CULINARY ESSENCE- A gorgeous blend with nature at its best, Chef Gary offers a sumptuous and sensual cuisine enhanced by excellent quality products and stylish presentation.
AMBIENCE- It happens to be quite the draw for those wishing to find natural landscape backdrop to proceedings as it sits charmingly overlooking the magnificent Yarra River. With floor-to-ceiling windows framing the local area, river and the wildlife, this dining venue is of a smart casual environment without being presumptuous or over decorative.
USP- Brainchild of renowned Chef and owner Gary Mehigan (read Master Chef Australia).
LIP SMACKING- Marinated ‘mount zero’ olives with dukkah (spice), Autumn mushroom ‘pancake’ with fiore di burrata, green harissa & sesame yoghurt,  Roasted chicken flavoured with lemon sage & garlic served with confit baby carrots & toasted wheat, Braised ricotta gnocchi, gorgonzola, peas & parmesan crumbs,  Mango & caramelized macadamia ‘Bombe Alaska’.
680 Victoria Street, Richmond, Melbourne VIC 3121.
Landline Number: +61 (3) 9427 8500
Timings: Open for Breakfast, lunch and Dinner

CULINARY ESSENCE- pays homage to classical fine dining in a sophisticated modern context. With such great lengths taken to present the best of modern innovative cuisine, guests can expect nothing but the best cuisine out here. One can either opt from an a la carte menu or go the whole hog with a ten course degustation menu.
AMBIENCE- It is obvious that nothing is compromised here, from carefully engineered dishes, to impeccable service, the ambience is extremely Modern, and it definitely is a cut above the rest. Needless to add that being here is reason enough; soaking in the matchless city views while enjoying a selection of viands below reproach. And yes…the wine cellar is excellent!
USP- Flamboyance is not just limited to the display kitchen; Shannon Bennett has created magic with ingredients. The contrasts between luxurious and rustic, raw and cooked products, hot and cold, sophisticated and simple create an ecstasy for the senses.

LIP SMACKING- Melbourne onion soup, ‘Barramundi’ with nettle, young garlic prawn and lettuce, ‘Flinders Island lamb’ with olive, Australian anchovies and mustard,  ‘Blackmore Wagyu’ with beetroot, salt bush, BBq sauce and truffle and the decadent ‘chocolate soufflé’ with chocolate mousse and crème Anglaise which the chef says he simply whipped up with the help of his ‘KitchenAid’ machine.
Level 55 Rialto, 55 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Landline Number: +61 (3) 9691 3888
Timings: Open for lunch and Dinner.

CULINARY ESSENCE- In keeping with the spirit of Italian cooking, everything is fresh and the flavours are kept simple so they balance each other.
AMBIENCE- The decor, the ambience and the service all reflect the warmth and care that one would expect when dining in a warm and friendly Italian home. It is the epicentre of Melbourne’s café society.
USP- Sometimes, simplicity can be the hardest thing. Celebrity Chef Guy Grossi takes on an emotional approach to cooking. He almost takes it as a responsibility and enjoys watching people eat and enjoy their wine and coffee. 
LIP SMACKING- To whet appetites, a platter of ‘Antipasto misto’ which includes a variety of Italian aged hams, salami and other cured meats with Italian vegetables and nuts, cheese and honey sets the right mood. The selection of risotto and soup is a must try. Pasta is made fresh every day to guarantee the best quality. All in all I would say Italian Fare that would surely impress even Mama Guy Grossi!

80 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Landline Number: +61 (3) 9662-1811
Timings: Open from 7-30 Am until late, Monday to Saturday. Closed on 10th June owing to the Queen’s Birthday!

CULINARY ESSENCE- George Columbaris of Master Chef Fame has transformed the main part of Press club into a low key Greek street food eatery and he does it damn well.
AMBIENCE- Situated in a beautiful heritage building, this Greek grill room with hanging clay pots is the talk of the town since it opened its doors very recently; a highlight is also the open kitchen.

USP- For epicureans, this is a restaurant not to be missed and for those new to Greek street food, there is no better introduction.
LIP SMACKING- Try the superlative ten dish feed me menu, it’s gorgeous. The Mezze, mini souvlakis, lamb ribs with trimmings are to die for! Steel yourself for that powerhouse Ouzo and save a little room for the baklavas- filo pastry with walnut filling dripping with Greek Honey.
2 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Landline Number: +61 (3) 9207 74444
Timings: Open for lunch and dinner

CULINARY ESSENCE- Modern Thai Diner, main focus being Thai with some Vietnamese tendencies creeping into some dishes on the menu.
AMBIENCE- Quite chic and trendy eatery, the long bar takes up one entire side of the restaurant and has smart hanging lights, and its top fabricated with Corian, serving the finest beverages. Usually very full so one can have a drink at the ground level before gorging in on the food served upstairs.
USP- Expect a menu that brings a refinement and delicacy to South East Asian dining.
LIP SMACKING- You can either opt for the ‘Feed me ‘ option where you’d be served a selection of Chin Chin’s favourite dishes or can go the a la carte route. Recommendations go all out for the homemade crab & pork cakes, wok fried salt & pepper squid, Tom yum, Morning glory wok tossed with Siamese water cress with yellow bean & chilli, the Thai take on the butter chicken and palm sugar ice-cream sundae.

125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Landline Number: +61 (3) 8663 2000
Timings: Open for lunch and dinner

CULINARY ESSENCE- The restaurant scores tops on its Chinese cuisine and is a joy to discover for jaded taste buds
AMBIENCE- upscale, incorporating a warm sophisticated atmosphere highlighted by a transition from minimalistic to plush as one walk downs the long waiting alley. By day it is fresh and washed with subtle sunlight and a spectacular view of the bustling quay. At night it is romantic, quaint and dotted with lights and infused with the subtle aroma from lemon grass. 
USP- This Neil Perry menu is seasoned with an unmistakable Chinese flavour and the unique and truly special dishes are driven by his long fostered passion for Asian Cuisine. 
LIP SMACKING- Spinach and sesame salad, Handmade yellow noodles with wagyu braised brisket, chilli & Sichuan pepper, Hot and numbing crispy duck,  Hot pot of wild Chinese mushrooms and chilli made Yunnan style, Kung Pao Chicken, Twice cooked pork belly with leeks and Sichuan black bean, Three milk cake with pomegranate and pistachio and Black sesame Panacotta.
Crown Complex, Southbank Melbourne VIC 3006
Landline Number: +61 (3) 8679 1888
Timings: Open for lunch and dinner

CULINARY ESSENCE- Focus is on creatively presented cuisine, inspired by the freshest local produce and seasonal ingredients and the Park Hyatt flair
AMBIENCE- Set over five levels, the décor is cosy and opulent; the buzz from the bar and kitchen naturally spreads to the restaurant creating the perfect setting to relax, indulging in anything from a hearty breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, a favourite cocktail or a romantic dinner.
USP- Executive Chef Dane Clouston proposes regional products or rare dishes exuding pure flavours reminding us that talent can go hand in hand with simplicity.
LIP SMACKING- Roma tomato tartare with house smoked goats curd and organic quinoa salad, Twice cooked ocean trout with potato soufflé, courgette, vanilla salsa and crème fraiche, Kangaroo tenderloin with quince puree, beetroot cream, Brussels sprouts and sauterne jus, Market fish of the day cooked to your style and Pistachio crème Brulee with compressed apples and quince salad, pistachio kernels.
The Park Hyatt, 1 Parliament square, Melbourne VIC 3006
Landline Number: +61 (3) 39224 1234
Timings: Open for lunch and dinner. Mondays closed.

NO 35
CULINARY ESSENCE- The impression this cuisine brings is one of regularity, creativity and meticulousness which combines tradition, quality and innovation. Fresh and Organic is the chef’s mantra.
AMBIENCE- This elegant restaurant sits on the 35th Floor of the Sofitel and comes alive for a matchless view of the bustling city through door to ceiling glass.
USP- the chef’s original and scientific approaches to cooking breaks down each dish to best experience the flavours and textures of the individual ingredients in their freshest form and redefine the context of the dining experience following his unique vision.
LIP SMACKING- Salad of beetroot, root vegetables, local goats curd & roasted hazelnuts, Slow cooked pork belly with caramelised skate wing, onion puree & puffed rice, Cured Salmon Risotto with horseradish, nettles and crème fraiche, Lamb shoulder with eggplant and aged balsamic, Wild Barramundi with parsnip, Brussels sprouts & pig trotter, Risotto with white onions & thyme, honey sherry vinegar & king brown mushrooms, Chocolate hazelnut pear.
Level 35, Sofitel on Collins, 25 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Landline Number: +61 (3) 9653 7744
Timings: Open for lunch and dinner.

CULINARY ESSENCE- Traditional, authentic Hunan and Sichuan dishes are presented with remarkable refinement and undoubtedly the best dumplings in Melbourne.
AMBIENCE- Has a unique combination of glamour and elegance, modern yet ethnic decor, a typical ambience which relates to the characteristic boisterous and nosy chatter as at many Chinese restaurants. It is advisable to make reservations for any meal!
USP- Dim sums here are a good representation of the quality that the open kitchen keeps. The strength of this restaurant lies in the consistency of the Chef’s genius.
LIP SMACKING- The shredded turnip pastry is a true delight to any pastry lover. It has the lightest and airiest of puff pastry sweetened with toasted sesame seeds, Wantons with hot chilli sauce, Pan fried dumplings, Hot and Sour soup, Dry chicken in Hot chilli, Spring onion pancake, Duck meat dumplings, Salted braised pork in New style, Stir fried Barramundi, Noodles with shredded pork and shanghai pickles in soup, Steamed Egg custard, and chestnut pudding.
14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Landline Number: +61 (3) 9650 8128
Timings: Open for lunch and dinner.

Published in Tlf