Don’t just blindly wander around in Melbourne. Take your cue from these Singapore-based Melburnian chefs, who share their favourite F&B spots in Australia’s food capital.
Chef Francisco Araya spent a season in 2008 at the now- defunct elBulli, under the guidance of the legendary chef Ferran Adria.
If you want to get your hands on premium restaurant produce: Calia (http://www.calia.com.au)
“If you love buying restaurant-grade quality produce like truﬄes and Wagyu beef, you’ll love the restaurant-and-retail concept of Calia. Because it’s a food wholesaler and exporter, Calia is able to oﬀer premium produce directly to consumers at a more reasonable price point.
Imagine being able to buy produce such as Blackmore’s Wagyu beef and line-caught, iki jime fish provided by sustainable seafood supplier Mark Eather, who has supplied both Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck and Rene Redzepi of Noma.
Calia has also worked with chef Francisco Araya (below) of Michelin-starred 81 Restaurant in Tokyo to devise an Asian-inspired menu, with highlights such as Robbins Island Wagyu with Japanese rice, onsen egg, shiso and caviar (left). [This particular] Wagyu breed is selectively bred to carry the ‘soft fat’ gene, which oﬀers a more buttery mouthfeel.” – Christopher Millar, executive chef at Stellar@1-Altitude (http://www.1-altitude.com/stellar
Tipo 00 co-owner and chef Andreas Papadakis was a long-timer at Vue de Monde, one of Melbourne’s best restaurants.
For some of the best pasta in Melbourne: Tipo 00 (http://www.tipo00.com.au)
“Tipo 00 is incredible! We’d say it’s a must-visit as a quintessential Melbourne restaurant. This casual pasta bar is run by co-owners Andreas Papadakis and Luke Skidmore (both have worked at fine diner Vue de Monde), and chef Alberto Fava (previously from popular Italian establishment Merchant).
The pasta here is made fresh every day, and always done perfectly. A favourite is the squid ink tagliatelle with bottarga (cured fish roe). It sounds like an expensive place, but [it’s] generous with the fancy ingredients, and mains [range from] A$25 (S$27) to A$35. We have a sneaking suspicion [Tipo 00 may] eventually set up shop in Singapore because apparently, the owners were in town recently having a look around.” – Chef John-Paul Fiechtner and Sally Humble, co-owners of Thirteen Duxton Hill (http://www.thirteenduxtonhill.com
If you like fuss-free good food and great vibes: Cumulus Inc. (http://www.cumulusinc.com.au)
“This is another place that I love – when I was still living in Melbourne two years ago, I used to go there about twice a month with my wife Manuela on my days oﬀ. Cumulus Inc. is established by chef Andrew McConnell, one of the most successful chefs and restaurateurs in Melbourne with a number of award- winning F&B establishments.
It serves produce-driven sharing dishes in a communal-dining-style setup, and has a great, welcoming and casual vibe, and some very tasty food. The whole slow-roasted lamb shoulder is one of the must-orders every time I visit. The restaurant is open all day, but I go for dinner because I enjoy the ambience then the most.” – Chef Rishi
Movida’s chef and owner Frank Camorra (pictured) was born in Barcelona and lived in Cordoba before migrating to Australia at the age of five.
“I’d never tasted raw meat prior to trying Movida’s steak tartare, but it was so fresh, textural and well seasoned, I fell in love with it immediately. The thing about Movida is that even though it’s a Spanish tapas joint, it’s not traditional. You’ll find unique signature dishes that you won’t find at regular tapas bars – such as its bresaola (air-dried salted beef; pictured), which the chef elevated with the addition of potato foam and a soft egg. It was such a delight for the senses – intense beef flavour complemented by the light potato foam and creamy egg. All the flavours just melded perfectly together.” – Rishi Naleendra, head chef at Cheek by Jowl (http://www.cheekbyjowl.com.sg
Good food in an unpretentious setup is what The Town Mouse is about.
“The Town Mouse is a wine-focused bistro serving sharing plates, with an emphasis on the use of modern techniques such as sous vide and dehydration, and very fresh produce. It’s part of [a] whole wave of casual restaurants serving fine-dining-quality food (such as whipped cod roe and duck liver parfait) in an understated setup.
I don’t have a favourite dish here, but only because the menu is always changing, which keeps the food interesting. If you love wines, this is a must-visit – The Town Mouse has good relationships with certain vineyards in Australia, which gives them access to wines that you can’t find anywhere else. You can go for just a snack and a glass of wine, or spend the whole night over a full meal.” – Chef John-Paul
Because of the kind of crowd it attracts, Smalls is a place to see and be seen at.
If you love wines, but could do without the pretense: Smalls (http://www.smallsbar.com.au)
“The bar is run by entrepreneur Jess Ho (who was on the expert panel of Australian cooking reality show Restaurant Revolution) and noted New Zealand sommelier Wiremu Andrews. Because of their combined wine expertise, the wine list is well curated, boasting labels from both old-world producers and newbie winemakers.
Featured wines and the food menu are rotated frequently to keep things fresh, so there’s always something new to look forward to. The tiny space seats only 24 at a time, and service is always personable, even if it gets very busy. You could just hang out there in the middle of the day with a glass of wine, and shout out your order from your seat.
How you know it’s legit: it’s the sort of place where industry people – food journalists, front-of-house staﬀ, chefs and winemakers from out of town – hang out.” – Sally Humble, sommelier at Thirteen Duxton Hill