It’s been cold, wet and miserable in Melbourne – and we’re craving all things cosy.
So, it seems, are some of our state’s best chefs. We asked five culinary superstars where they go to eat (and drink) when it’s absolutely freezing outside.
Overall, they’re hitting up their locals – seeking good food, sure, but favouring the classics and looking for some familiarity as well as a sense of community.
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Karen Martini, Hero
The best trip I had was a couple of weeks ago to Tedesca. It was a freezing, rainy day, but inside was an open fire, and with a Martini in hand and the smell of food cooking, it was magical. The combination of lots of raw wood and native florals make it an evocative space to be in. It made me feel right at home, cosy, rugged up and relaxed. I ate duck [and] green-nettle pasta filled with fresh cheese and simple burnt-butter-and-sage sauce; simplicity done very well with the finest produce. I had the Martini on arrival, of course, and then matched wines from the Peninsula and further afield.
Brigitte Hafner, Tedesca
I am always happy to talk about food, but the truth is that I haven’t been out there that much. But there are a couple of places I like on the Peninsula. Many Little is a wine bar in Red Hill from the Polperro winery team. Many Little leans towards Sri Lankan flavours at the hands of Sri Lankan-born chef Gayan Pieris (Cumulus Inc). They have amazing curries, there is a great ambiance, and they do good cocktails. It is a bit of a local hangout. It’s very cosy, quite small and the service is warm and friendly. During the lockdown they saved a lot of us because he did his gorgeous takeaway curries.
Another local favourite is classic country pub The Pig and Whistle. They have really good craft ales and owner James McPherson has done it up as a tongue-in-cheek old-school English pub with stuffed animals everywhere. It is always really cosy in there, with fires, great live music and classic pub food. They do one of the best burgers I have had.
Annie Smithers, Du Fermier
I really enjoy Spaghetti Bar in Kyneton. It’s owned by Daniel Whelan, who worked with me at the bistro for three years. It is always lovely to see people who have worked with you go off and do their own thing. My favourite thing there recently was a stuffed quail dish because I am very fond of poultry, and it was just a beautifully constructed dish with sage, a reduction sauce – all the things. I drank a lovely mid-priced nebbiolo, which was delicious. It’s small and cheerful. I am always drawn to the smaller places rather than the bigger places.
We are lucky to have a new wine bar in Daylesford called Bar Merenda, run by a lovely couple called Andy Ainsworth and Clare O’Flynn. Clare is very special to me because she drew the map of Babbington Park for my book, Recipe for a Kinder Life. Andy is long-term hospo. He was going to open a wine bar in Potts Point but decided to open it in Daylesford instead. The menu concentrates on all of our local, very small boutique producers, whether it’s Tammi Jonas from Jonai Farms or Brooklands Free Range. And he also has this immaculate collection of wines from the Jura. There is nothing better than going there and having a slab of aged Comté and glass of one of his beautiful Jura whites.
Helly Raichura, Enter Via Laundry
I actually went into France-Soir with another chef friend of mine and I wondered how I did not know this place earlier. It is going to be a place I want to go to regularly. On Monday night it was packed, so we didn’t feel cold anymore. We had lots of different things: quenelles, their snails are very popular and to die for, and then there was the duck ordered for the table. We had their beautiful crêpes Suzette and crème brûlée and cheese. The wine was to die for: Jura Arbois vin jaune – it was almost like having freshly baked bread in a liquid form. They have an entire floor, a basement, for the wine, and the wine list was like a dictionary. I love that. Nothing felt staged, it all felt original and classic, and as I get older I gravitate towards things that are classic and brilliant in the way they are done. They know what they are doing, and it is a French classic. They were the pioneers, the godfathers of this style.
Charlie Carrington, Atlas Dining
Lamaro’s Hotel is my classic go-to winter place. It’s a hidden gem. A lot of people know about it, of course, but it has a strong local following. They have a fireplace, which brings a bit of warmth in there, and it is very low-key, so it’s the sort of place you can just go as you are. We never book, we always just walk in and that’s it. I pretty much always order the steak. It’s simple, but it is done really well. I love trying new and interesting places, but it is pretty hard to go past the classics.