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Poodle Bar & Bistro
This double-decker spot is full of cosy nooks. Sink into a leather banquette or one of the gold velvet couches and order zhooshed-up hotel classics (thinly sliced beetroot-dill cured trout, pan-roasted chicken topped with truffle) from a former Cumulus Inc and Marion chef.
This sultry sibling to Sunda is every bit as stellar. At Aru, chef Khanh Nguyen is effortlessly blending Southeast Asian flavours, native Australian ingredients and ancient techniques. And while there are unexpectedly playful riffs on classics – like banh mi, Peking duck and mi goreng – they never feel gimmicky, just modernised and expertly refined.
At this sprawling restaurant by Chris Lucas, there’s an experience for just about every taste. Grab a seat at the angular marble bar for cocktails by one of the world’s best bartenders (or nab a banquette in the walk-in only lounge); take a seat in the expansive, chandelier-lit dining room to try the dazzling Japanese and European-inspired menu; or get some friends together to book one of the striking private dining rooms.
Nico's Sandwich Deli
This sandwich spot from a trio of experienced hospo players was supposed to open in March 2020. One pandemic and a long Fitzroy pop-up later, Nico's has made its way back to its original home in the CBD. Come for jazzed-up Italo-Japanese-leaning sangas, strong coffees and sweet shakes.
At the W Melbourne's in-house restaurant, Coda chef Adam D'Sylva is drawing on his Italian-Indian heritage. The star chef has created a globe-trotting menu that includes luxed-up lasagna, pasta-less cacio e pepe (a surprising triumph), and fragrant, spicy duck curry. Plus there's an excellent and fun roster of theatrical cocktails.
This 130-seat space is full of warm hues and natural materials. Whether you're sitting on a sleek leather banquette or you've got a table in the large outside courtyard, there are no dud spots here. On the menu, you'll find a range of inventive Middle Eastern-inflected dishes, many of which showcase vegetables.
Saltwater Phillip Island
This laidback group-friendly bar and restaurant serves crowd-pleasing pizzas and a wide variety of tapas. Plus, there are eight taps of craft beers (including the house brew) to enjoy. Enjoy it all while you watch over the Newhaven Jetty and Mainland Bridge, from the toasty dining room or the sunny upstairs deck.