Go hard at a nine-course yum cha feast (with unlimited vino). Be engrossed by a truly unmissable new fashion exhibition. And order up big on kitsch Christmas desserts. Plus, plenty of summer inspo – where to swim, get fish’n’chips and more. Here’s what Broadsheet Melbourne editor Tomas Telegramma is checking out in Melbourne in December.

Openings: the best of the best
Opening a restaurant, cafe or bar is testing at the best of times – and 2021 was not the best of times. But the sheer number of outstanding openings this year is testament to the tenacity of Melbourne’s hospitality industry, now grappling with widespread staff shortages. At the end of every year, we round up the newcomers that impressed us most, and this crop is doubly impressive given the curveballs it was thrown. So, here are the new restaurants, cafes and bars you need to put on your hit list. Plus, the new (or newish) dishes the Broadsheet Melbourne team couldn’t get enough of in this roller-coaster of a year. Get booking.

All about Chanel
A long, runway-like corridor – illuminated by light frames – leads you into the NGV’s highly anticipated summer blockbuster, which opened on December 4. Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto is a show-stopping retrospective of the work and legacy of the visionary French designer – with more than 230 garments, accessories and jewellery pieces, some never before seen. It’s a truly unmissable experience, not least because this is its international debut; it came direct from Palais Galliera, Paris’s pre-eminent fashion museum, where it premiered in October 2020. “Nobody has presented an exhibition on Chanel’s work before [in Australia],” NGV curator Danielle Whitfield told Broadsheet. Before your visit, read all about it here.

’Tis (almost) the season
Somehow, Christmas is less than two weeks away. How prepared are you? If you – like me – are lacking in gift-giving creativity, find Broadsheet’s Christmas gift guide here (plus, we’ve curated an under-$40 guide for all your Kris Kringle needs, or for those people you just don’t know very well). Prefer to shop in-person? A handful of perfectly timed (and beautifully curated) pop-ups are here to help; they’re in Fitzroy, Thornbury and Brunswick. On the food front, consult our round-ups of this year’s best hams and Christmassy treats that will sweeten the deal (including Negroni mince pies, custardy panettone cruffins, kitsch creations and more).

Stories of a storied bar
Melbourne institution Gerald’s is filled with knick-knacks, each of which has a history far deeper than meets the eye. But it’s not all about the material. There are so many stories that speak to how the Rathdowne Street bar became what it is today, and now you can hold a lifetime of them in your hands with Beggars Belief. The rich, reflective new book by owner Gerald Diffey – a true storyteller – is a collection of his nostalgic handwritten tales, which have been bound together. The book traverses food, family and 40 years of service (with an eagle eye for the tiny details). According to Broadsheet writer Jo Rittey, “Reading Beggars Belief feels like you’ve been perched at the bar with a Whisky Sour and Diffey, listening to him spin a few yarns over the course of an evening.” If it’s been a while between Gerald’s visits – or even if you’ve never been – drop in, buy a wine and the book, and enjoy them simultaneously.

Summer is (kinda) here
La Niña might be out to ruin our Hot Vax Summer, but you can still make the most of the sporadic sunshine. Need some swim-spo? We asked big-name Melburnians about their favourite swimming spots – find their answers here. Our guide to Melbourne’s best outdoor pools is here, or you can go for a calf-deep splash in the NGV’s striking, pastel-pink pond. Is your summer wardrobe lacking? We’ve got plenty of outfits and caps for you to shop. Want to make the most of fish’n’chip season? Top chefs share their top picks here – and there’s a fancy new fish’n’chipper, Scalable, by the 300 Grams team (with tuna cheeseburgers and bug rolls). Still don’t have NYE plans? Check out our guide to the best parties – go fancy with magnums and caviar bumps or at a Truman Capote-inspired masquerade party; eat well at a nine-course yum cha feast with all-you-can-drink vino; or ride Hope St’s mechanical bull.