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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.
There were many Mexican restaurants before this one, but owners Nick Peters and Matt Lane were the first restaurateurs to bring a faithful representation of Mexican food to Melbourne. This "hot babe" has been around since 2010, and there are still queues on the stairs for its elotes (grilled corn) and flavoursome tacos.
Scott Pickett's take on a mod-French brasserie brings old-world European elegance to a heritage-listed CBD building. There's ritzy deep-green marble, dramatic arched windows and candelabras throughout. Start with black truffle and foie gras toasties, then move onto French-style gnocchi, and finish with a gin-and-raspberry baba.
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.
A laidback Italian eatery in the space which once housed Sarti. The voguish menu taps into current pasta obsessions such as cacio e pepe and cavatelli with pan-fried pork sausage; bolstered by larger, protein-heavy mains. The wine-list has an emphasis on Australian and Italian varietals, while the easy-drinking spritzes – best enjoyed on the rooftop – are the name of the day over on the cocktail side of things.
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.
After retiring, John Mitchell started growing and making wine as a hobby. Things quickly grew out of hand. Now, Montalto encompasses seven vineyards and more than 30 acres of vines. As a retirement project, it’s unquestionably a failure: Mitchell and his wife Wendy are busier than ever. By every other metric though, Montalto is a resounding success – it’s one of Red Hill’s must-visits.
Naked In The Sky
This is the place where you bring anyone visiting Melbourne from out of town. So why do people brave the crowds, the uncertainty about actually getting a seat and the uncomfortably small elevator? Because this Fitzroy classic has some truly gobsmacking panaromic views of our city.