Broadsheet’s team of editors, writers and photographers eat a lot, and they drink a lot (and according to this list, it seems they virtually moved in to Embla and Bar Liberty for the duration of 2016). As the year wraps up, we reminisced about our most memorable meals, and where they occurred. The rules were simple: the venue had to have opened in 2016, or late December 2015, at a stretch.

RESTAURANTS

Tulum, Balaclava
Katya Wachtel, editor
On the night I ate here my desired main course – a whole barramundi – was sold out. I was upset until our banquet of entrees arrived. This included the cilbir, a chicken, egg, yoghurt and brown-butter situation that will no doubt be extolled by another contributor, so I’ll mention the sogan dolma. It’s slow-cooked onion filled with spiced minced lamb and rice – just the right amount of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove – served with a sweet, slightly tart Turkish apple-tea sauce and a smoked yoghurt I would buy by the kilogram if they would only bottle it and sell it to me.

French Saloon, CBD
Caroline Clements, publications director
Buffalo mozzarella, peach, leek and hazelnut. Lots of restaurants are doing buffalo mozarella salads, but French Saloon really nails this one. To me, these are the sweet flavours of summer.

Zero Gradi, Brunswick
Victor Liong, chef-owner of Lee Ho Fook
I really like Zero Gradi on Lygon Street. I'm obsessed with affogato, so much so I've just put a white truffle and cognac one on at Lee Ho Fook. The coffee in the affogato at Zero Gradi has that old-school, adult, bitter lingering that will satisfy any nostalgic Italophile. And it’s such a refreshing change from the acidic single-origin stuff that's de rigueur right now.

Nora, Carlton
Anna Webster, writer
It feels wrong to call most spiralised-vegetable dishes “pasta”, but not the Too Many Italians, Only One Asian dish at progressive Thai fine-diner, Nora. Green papaya is shredded into thin, pasta-like strands, dressed with an Asian-style pesto made from cashews, sator beans and fermented garlic, and finished with a few tiny school prawns. It’s rich, creamy and warming – like pasta should be – but with a distinct funkiness.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Southbank
Anna Webster, writer
The Meat Fruit at Dinner by Heston might be an obvious one, but while it could be perceived as a little gimmicky, I’m yet to taste a better parfait. Silky chicken liver and foie gras filling, with a light, gentle mandarin jelly and charry, buttery sourdough. It truly is the Pome Dorres (Apple of Gold) it’s inspired by.

Shujinko, CBD
Hayley Benoit, photographer
When I discovered a 24-hour Japanese restaurant that I could never remember the name of was closed this year, I actually cried a little. Ramen had never tasted so good and I genuinely thought I would never taste good ramen again. The restaurant – Menya Sandaime – reopened this year as Shujinko, and it was even better.

French Saloon, CBD
Hilary McNevin, writer
The smoked tongue here – generous, plush and plump – is intense but finely sliced, so a little goes a long way. Dollop on some sour cream and onions and you’ll be seeking one of their quirky craft brews to cut through the richness.

Mesob, Northcote
Kate Shanasy, writer
The method of eating at Ethiopian bar and restaurant Mesob is what I wish I could get away with at other restaurants. A platter of spicy, slow-cooked meats, stews and legumes is put on the table and you rip straight into it with your hands. It's so easy to have a good time here because the environment is comfortable, casual and fun, as if you were visiting a friend's place.

Bluebonnet Barbecue, North Fitzroy
Nick Connellan, directory editor
Chris Terlikar, sorry if you’re reading this, but I’m glad your original Bluebonnet burnt down. I’m glad you started over and did something much, much better. I’m glad you have 10 beers on tap now. I’m glad you hired Oscar Eastman (ex-1806) to entertain your customers and invent amazing cocktails. I’m glad you let your friendly dog, Bert, run around the front bar for pats. But most of all, I’m glad to see you removing perfect brisket, pork belly and chicken from your two smokers again. Now let’s all hope the apartments due to replace you don’t make it through VCAT.

BARS

Bar Liberty, Fitzroy
Tacey Rychter, editor
There's something deeply sexual about cutting slowly into a good burrata that I don't feel entirely comfortable discussing here. This one swims in a shallow pool of black garlic, so dark you can see your face twisting into an expression that's making your friends feel uncomfortable. The thin, sour pickle slices round this dish out as a prime case study in the field of “goddamn, that’s delicious.”

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Southbank
Tim Fisher, editorial director
Melbourne’s chock full of bars that deserve their well-kep-secret status. Here’s another for you: Dinner by Heston. The thought of an actual meal in the dining room may be too rich for your blood, but since July there’s been a seat for you at the bar. Dinner is open to anyone who finds themselves in Crown past 10pm and in need of a good drink, and can we tell you; these are Good Drinks. I’d love to think there’s a bartender who could top Dinner's Olive Leaf Martini, but I doubt it exists. No question, it’s one of the best cocktails I’ve drunk, and the speed with which it appears before you is almost startling.

Embla, CBD
Nick Connellan, directory editor
Earlier this year I visited Embla for the fourth time, to celebrate my birthday. When I arrived, I saw Dave Kerr (the owner of The Beaufort) leaving with his wife and daughter. Then Banjo Harris Plane, Attica’s former sommelier and a current co-owner of Bar Liberty, arrived looking for a table. That says something about how special the experience is here. Also, the house red (made with Patrick Sullivan) is better than half of what I buy at the bottle shop.

Hop Nation, Footscray
Nick Connellan, directory editor
Of all the drinkable beers I tried this year, The Sturm at Hop Nation was the most interesting. Its sweet, malty backbone is offset by a mild sourness. That sourness comes from a five per cent concentration of wild-fermented riesling juice from Jamsheed, which coincidentally makes my favourite wine for 2016, too.

Bar Liberty, Fitzroy
Emily Paulin, assistant editor
Bar Liberty stole the show this year (no doubt its burrata will feature multiple times on this list). But it was the unassuming vegetables – hiding on the menu under the less-than-exciting name “Salt & Pepper Vegetables” – that stole my salt-loving heart. Made up of sweet corn, carrot, zucchini and beans deep-fried in a light tempura batter, it’s simple. But the balance of salt and white pepper in the crispy coating is perfect, and gives these everyday ingredients a magical twang that keeps you coming back for more (seriously, I always order a second serving). Mum always told me to eat my veggies – now I do, with pleasure.

Embla, CBD
Anna Webster, writer
Any chef who can make creamed corn not just sexy but a serious contender for dish of the year deserves every possible accolade. All the vegetable dishes at Embla are outstanding – it’s just about the only restaurant that makes me consider vegetarianism as a viable option – but this corn dish, hot and buttery and scattered with fresh oregano, burnt onions, dried citrus and a dollop of crème fraiche, is just about the best thing I’ve put in my mouth.

Embla, CBD
Hilary McNevin, writer
Never underestimate the versatility of the humble mussel. At Embla chef Dave Verheul gave the molluscs a sharp bite of vinegar – balanced with the sweet mussel meat – and matched it with the creamy comfort of rouille, the traditional accompaniment to the French seafood stew, bouillabaise. It worked a treat.

Samu, CBD
Tacey Rychter, editor
This was the weirdest, but one of the most memorable, experiences of the year. Matt Bax (founder of cocktail bars Bar Americano and the now-closed Der Raum) opened a Japanese tea bar called Samu for a few weeks in July. It was a tiny, illuminated cube in a disused car park behind Supernormal. There's no speaking allowed during the 15-minute matcha tea ceremony. It was awkward to sit face-to-face with a stranger without talking, but also very calming.

CAFES

Plug Nickel, Collingwood
Nick Connellan, directory editor
I was sceptical when Plug Nickel opened and declared it wanted to “set a new standard” for specialty coffee bars. Melbourne is the world’s coffee capital, and Plug Nickel’s six owners are relatively inexperienced. And yet, with help from Ona Coffee in Canberra, I think they’ve pulled it off. The best long black I’ve ever had? Here. The freshest, most vibrant batch brew? Here. Two more ticks for the massaman roti wraps and the cascara (sparkling coffee-cherry tea), which I’ll be drinking throughout summer.

Billy van Creamy, Fitzroy North
Nick Connellan, directory editor
Billy van Creamy is just as good as the much higher profile Pidapipo. Try the classic flavours here, or the biscuit-y beer-malt ice-cream at Stomping Ground in Collingwood. You’ll see.

Captain Moonlite, Anglesea
Caroline Clements, publications director
Set in a surf life saving club overlooking Anglesea beach, it’s the setting here that really adds to the experience of eating dishes like crispy calamari and sesame salads. This is fish and chips done really well by ex-Movida crew.

Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie, Queen Victoria Market
Lucille Wong, writer
Sure, I always ask what the rotisserie du jour is at Scott Pickett’s new deli, but I always opt for the chicken, tarragon and gravy roll. It’s seasoned beautifully and the sourdough roll is really fancy. The deli is opened tous les jours, even on non-market days, so there are plenty of opportunities to try something else (eventually).

Chotto Café, Fitzroy
Hilary McNevin, writer
It’s an elegant and sleek fish, the King George, and it maintained its demeanour when served as finely sliced sashimi at Chotto Cafe, a smart, minimal, focussed cafe in Fitzroy. Served with a ponzu dipping sauce, it is silky and subtle. More of that, thanks.