2015 was an excellent year for dining – both boundary-pushing and purely fun, for art, for festivals, for new fashion. There’s plenty to talk about.

Let’s quickly recap a few of the big events first.

We’re looking squarely at Heston Blumenthal, who whipped Melbourne into a media frenzy as the hugely ambitious transplant of The Fat Duck unfolded – from the revelation of the price, to the black-market scandal, to when it packed up and flew off again, leaving behind the permanent Dinner by Heston.

Last week, one of the world’s most famous living artists, Ai Weiwei, was in town to open the NGV’s major exhibition (which pairs him with pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol) and take #weiweiselfies with the excited masses.

And our favourite media moment of the year? This utterly perfect moment:

EAT

This year there were some particularly exciting new restaurant openings, including Lumé (which entered with quite a statement of intent), Andrew McConnell’s Marion, the Vietnamese-inspired Anchovy, Victor Liong’s newly relocated Lee Ho Fook, Scott Pickett’s ESP and serious sashimi restaurant, Minamishima.

Coming back for seconds

2015 was a bit of a déjà vu year.

City ramen shop Hakata Gensuke went to Hawthorn. Jason M Jones closed experimental “ticketed” restaurant Prix Fixe, and opened a second Entrecote in Alfred Place. Gelato Messina opened in Richmond and in Windsor. Fitzroy’s Brother Burger opened on Chapel Street. Popular New York-style deli Bowery to Williamsburg set up a second set of digs in the CBD. Pizza Religion doubled its offering. St Kilda’s Radio Mexico opened in Northcote. And Footscray’s 8bit just went a level up on Swanston Street.

Still to come: Hannoi Hannah is on route to Elwood; Belle’s Hot Chicken is going to Richmond; and the team behind the Town Mouse is opening a new restaurant, Embla, in the CBD tomorrow.

The year we became obsessed with novelty concepts

Let’s recap.

  1. The cereal cafe. Coco Pops, Cheerios, Just Right. It cost $4 a bowl, and people got very, very excited. It was one of our most-shared stories of the year.
  2. The happiness cafe. Serotonin Eatery purports to boost your serotonin levels through a scientific combination of food, design and exercise.
  3. Two toast bars. One, two.
  4. This Mexican restaurant with a skate bowl in it.
  5. Sashimi in a car wash. We don’t believe it was an intentional “concept” at all – just a lovely husband-and-wife team that is passionate about both clean cars and sashimi, and decided to combine them into a single business. More of this, please – deliciousness and convenience.
  6. Twenty-four-hour ramen in the CBD. Enough said.

    Food for thought: Jason Jones (different Jason to the one mentioned above) knows Melburnians are obsessed with the “new”, and actually based his new restaurant, Enquire Within, around this trait. Each year, his restaurant will relaunch as a new restaurant. What does this say about our attention spans as diners?

    DRINK

    This was undeniably the year of the return of the good-time bar. Loud rock’n’roll, neon, a comfy and welcoming vibe, and no sacrifice in the quality of the drinks –we’re looking at you Heartbreaker, Leonard’s House of Love, Lulie Street Tavern, Hats & Tatts.

Also – a burst of excellent new wine bars, including Andrew McConnell’s Marion, Smalls, Smithward, Semi-Permanent (get in quick, closes December 24), Saint.Urban and Bar Clarine.

ART & CULTURE

Andy Warhol / Ai Weiwei is on everyone’s minds right now – a world-first pairing of two of the past century’s most important contemporary artists.

The NGV had a spectacular year, with a couple of its highlight exhibitions still on, including Richard Mosse’s surreal, bubblegum-pink photographic exhibition, The Enclave, and Jess Johnson’s trippy, virtual reality Wurm Haus.

Still on at Heide is the long-awaited and illuminating exhibition, Modern Love, which looks closely at the fascinating lives of the gallery’s founders John and Sunday Reed.

And we won’t quickly forget David Bowie Is…, the incredibly comprehensive and seriously fun exhibition at ACMI.

FASHION

2014 was the year the international giants landed – particularly with the opening of Emporium. This year saw the continuation of that, particularly with the $665 million refurbishment of Eastland: a second H&M and another UNIQLO. Major beauty retailer Sephora also opened in Melbourne Central.

Small Melbourne label Pageant won the National Designer Award, we covered Kym Ellery’s triumph at Paris Fashion Week, and designer Josh Goot told us how he got back on track after going into voluntary administration earlier this year.



As for us at Broadsheet? We launched our own pop-up restaurant, released two Broadsheet Cookbooks and early next year, we'll be arriving in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. We look forward to bringing you the best of your city in 2016.