Melbourne takes its culinary experiences very seriously. Although easily found on the various streets and laneways of Melbourne, what sets these restaurants apart from the rest is their world class chefs heading their kitchens and award winning innovative cusines. We've narrowed it down to the five venues to visit if it is an experience you require, rather then just a meal.
Universally acclaimed as one of the city’s best restaurants.
Frank Camorra’s MoVida is the restaurant responsible for setting off Melbourne’s ongoing fixation with modern Spanish tapas. What started as a casual tapas bar has, over the years, developed into an in-demand comedor (dining room), and bookings, often months in advance, are now essential. The gap left for a more relaxed tapas bar has now been filled by sister restaurants MoVida Next Door and Movida Terrazza.
Dinner at MoVida can quickly turn into a pricey occasion as it can be hard not to get carried away here. The menu of tapas and racion is designed to be shared – but avoid overdoing it early so you can leave room for desert. If you’re feeling adventurous, let the kitchen order for you and sample a cross-section of signature dishes and seasonal specials.
The MoVida empire continues to expand with a third Melbourne restaurant, a second cookbook, rumours of a Sydney location and a growing off-site catering service. Regardless, it will only take one visit to MoVida to reveal why it is universally acclaimed as one of the city’s best.
Andrew McConnell’s Flinders Lane all-day eating house with a unique combination of excellent food and interior design.
If you don’t know the dream team – chef Andrew McConnell and architect Pascale Gomes-McNabb – then now’s a good time to acquaint yourself. Why? Because their unique combination of excellent food and interior design has been taking this city by storm. Cumulus Inc. is a case in point; described as an 'eating house and bar' rather than a restaurant, this is a welcoming and relaxing place to enjoy McConnell’s widely acclaimed food.
Cumulus is set up for your every whim – breakfast, lunch or dinner? No problem. Just want to read the paper with a coffee? Fine. A few drinks at the bar? Go for it. All the while, points are scored for both style and substance.
The space is clean and bright, with the kitchen on display behind a white marble bar and high industrial windows collecting light from Finders Lane. And from visual entertainment to the variety of charcuterie on offer, it’s places like this of which Melbourne has to be proud.
Vue de Monde reiterates the ideals of food and dining as an experience to be savoured and enjoyed. You’ll be hard pressed to find French cuisine prepared with such detail and attention elsewhere in Melbourne, and even harder pressed for a better view from the restaurant 55 floors up the Rialto.
Humble and unassuming, yet infused with all the right touches and one of the country’s best restaurants.
There’s something very humble about this unassuming Ripponlea restaurant with, arguably, some of the world’s finest food. It’s an attitude that emanates from head chef Ben Shewry, infusing everything.
The simple warm earthy tones, the unpretentious, intimate space and the Tuesday night Chef’s Table (where the team try out new creations) are all clear indications that at Attica the food comes first.
Dinner is a degustation of five or eight courses and there is a separate menu for vegetarians. Each dish has been carefully crafted by Shewry to be a complete and unique experience; from ‘potato cooked in earth’ to ‘apple, olive and warm shredded wheat’ the simple names belie elegant and complex dishes that you could easily find yourself compelled to describe in detail for months afterwards. Layers of crunch and crackle, mingle with salty explosions and silky, smoky froths.
Shewry’s formative years in New Zealand play a big part, with dishes representing landscapes and experiences that have influenced him throughout his life.
Staff are well equipped to give you pointers on getting the best out of each dish. Creative fine dining in humble, relaxed surrounds.
Fine dining writ cool and accessible.
As if Cumulus Inc. wasn’t enough, we’ve got another winner from the dynamic chef Andrew McConnell. Cutler & Co is his first fine dining restaurant – well, at least his version of fine dining.
The space gives new life to the bones of a former metalworker’s factory with clever design and McConnell’s never less than extraordinary food. It’s a hive of creative expression, from the variety and originality in the lighting (puffy clouds of electrified floating mesh, or elongated bulbs reminiscent of a science lab) to the expressive flavours of the food.
People don’t just come here for the artful food; the clever design elements are a drawcard in themselves, but it’s the combination that really sets this dinning experience apart. Cement columns and exposed brickwork draw on the building’s industrial past, while dishes arrive presented like art and showcasing inspired combinations (don’t be fooled by the simple name of the ice-cream sandwich).
From casual drinks at the bar to the degustation, you’ll find a mix of diners ranging from young couples to family-get-togethers.
We can only say that we love it… for a combination of reasons.
And a sixth, cos we couldn't leave it off:
Grossi Florentino is a stalwart in Melbourne’s dining culture, and the city’s quintessential Italian restaurant. For over a century, the Grossi clan has been perfecting its trade and setting the standards for a pleasurable dining experience.