Bar Lourinha

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Sponsored content made with Visit Victoria and News.com.au

Sponsored content made with Visit Victoria and News.com.au

Recently, I was asked by News.com.au, to write a piece on my picks on where to eat and drink, in a suburb by suburb guide to Melbourne (below). Join Joe and me as we go on a date night hit list of some of our favourite haunts; just a few of the reasons why I love this town!

How to eat your way through Melbourne’s neighbourhoods

Regardless of whether you’re southside chic or hip in the north, part of the cool young family crew in Footscray or beachy in St Kilda, one thing’s for sure: Melbourne knows how to eat.

news.com.au has teamed up with Visit Victoria to give readers the best local knowledge on where to find Melbourne’s hottest dining destinations. 

From weekend brunch to late night bites, each pocket of Melbourne contains something delicious, no matter what time it is… because, it’s always time to eat.

Melburnians are a loyal bunch. They’re not afraid to stick with the places that have served them well, and as such, many venues stand the test of time and dining dynasties are born. Over by the beach, Ronni Di Stasio’s eponymous namesake restaurant and bar may have recently opened a city iteration (Citta), but there’s real charm in visiting the original Café Di Stasiofor a Negroni and a plate of fritto misto. Meanwhile, down the street, Lau’s Family Kitchen sets the bar for what a local Chinese restaurant can be. It’s famous sister restaurant Flowerdrum may garner the accolades in this family, but there’s something to be said for soul food in the ’burbs.

A rush of new blood is always a great thing though, and historic live music venue The Espy has recently been reborn into its latest life; featuring plush new interiors, 12 bars over five floors, including cocktail bar The Ghost of Alfred Felton; helmed by Oska Jarvis-White, formerly of Fitzroy gold standard drinking establishment, The Everleigh. Meanwhile, over at The Stokehouse, it’s time to get bougie on the bay and enjoy a long, luxe lunch in architecturally inspired Pascale Gomes-McNabb designed space on the water.

Creeping towards the city, the South Yarra/ Windsor area celebrates the dichotomy of old and new; with classics like French bistros France Soir and Entrecôte continuing to occupy a crucial part in the cultural heart of the south. Enduring pub venue The Botanical is also undergoing a fresh lease on life, with new ownership in the driver’s seat. Meanwhile, new venues like Galah and Atlas Dining provide a fresh, new perspective on all things stylish and south of the Yarra.

We know South Melbourne has a great fresh food market scene, but that doesn’t mean options are short on the ground when it comes to great eats. The area around South Melbourne Market is littered with edible gems, including pastry palace Chez Dre; revered pastry chef Andres Reiss’ namesake café, while Bibelot is her glossy, modern ode to all things chocolate, coffee and supremely covetable. For something more savoury, Park Street Pasta & Wine has also been giving Melbourne a solid run for its money when it comes to Melbourne’s best pasta.

From hot pot to hotspot, the city is changing daily, especially when it comes to late night eating. Dragon Hot Pot’s 24-hour spicy Chinese odyssey has much of Melbourne’s hospitality crowd happy after service, as well as Butcher’s Diner, for one of the best burgers in the city, no matter how late (or early) it is. On the cult classic front, Ling Nan also will never not be a chef favourite. Here, 2am means bronzed, crispy five-spiced quail, pippies in XO over noodles, ice cold Tsingtao and half a dozen of your best mates.

A night out on the town is best-spent venue hopping, exploring the city’s charming alleyways, bars and dining spots. After 11 years, chef Matt McConnell and restaurateur Jo Gamvros’ Bar Lourinhã on Little Collins Street continues to be one of the city’s most compelling date night spots, with some of the best food in the city, sans the hype. A few streets over, their friend and sometimes-cohort, bartender Joe Jones matches them in the romance department (I should know, I’m married to the guy) at his aptly named and intimate table service cocktail bar, Romeo Lane. Speaking of lanes, Punch Lane’s media darling Sunda relishes showcasing the merits of truly imaginative fusion; with chef Khanh Nguyen’s imaginative interpretation of South East Asian food, presented through an Australian lens. A stumble next door, and neighbour Bar Saracen (owned by Middle Eastern restaurant royalty Rumi Dining) offers up delicious bar snacks “of Middle Eastern Appearance”.

Edging out of the city into the north, Carlton’s proud Italian heritage appears to be in good hands, with a new generation of operators, lifting up one of Australia’s most vital migrant cultures. Multi-venue behemoth, King & Godfree has finally reopened, offering an Italian deli, rooftop bar, gelateria and (set to open soon) wine bar, while new kids on the block Capitano and Leonardo’s Pizza Palace bring a new-school, Americano Italian vibe, to the Carlton massive. 

In nearby Fitzroy, chef Shannon Martinez, of Smith & Daughters, has reimagined her vegan restaurant menu into a hit parade of Italian trattoria favourites, which are punchy and vibrant regardless of the absence of meat. 

Tucked in the leafy streets behind Brunswick Street, Napier Quarter lives up its quest to provide a neighbourhood sanctuary in the form of a smart café by day and a chic wine bar with al fresco seating, come sundown.

If pubs are more your thing, Fitzroy and Collingwood’s quiet neighbourhood bars provide each to their own, with everything from bar cats (his name is Barry) and free pool on Mondays at Labour in Vain, to live rockabilly music and excellent Texan style BBQ ’n’ bourbon shots at The Gem Bar

The city fringe suburbs are not exempt from the action either, with Yarraville welcoming superlative fine diner Navi, to the neighbourhood, while Footscray has evolved to expand its offering of delicious authentic Ethiopian and Vietnamese cuisines like Addis Abeba and To’s Bakery, to include dynamic newcomers like gastropub Harley & Rose and boozy bakery Bad Love Club. And speaking of bakeries, it would be remiss not to mention nearby North Melbourne’s Beatrix Bakes; purveyors of some of the best CWA-style cakes, hand pies and slices in town, from their tiny hole-in-the-wall shop on Queensbury Street.

Whether you identify with a tribe in a specific area, or you’re simply an indiscriminate eater, Melbourne’s litany of food offerings from shoestring to Champagne and suburb to city, is a delicious, moving feast. From pop-ups to 24-hour joints, institutions and newcomers, chances are there’s something for everyone, and the next time you’re looking for somewhere to eat, the landscape will have changed yet again. Not bad, for fresh food.

Dining out in this foodie town can be serious – seriously fun. Melbourne offers culinary experiences from all-day breakfasts to all-night delights. Visit Melbourne and discover it for yourself. Find out more at visitmelbourne.com

How To Entertain Like A Restaurant Architect

Published November 2017

Published November 2017

From my family to yours, as featured in delicious. Magazine’s annual Entertaining Issue.


Pascale Gomes-McNabb is the creative force behind some of Australia’s most stylish restaurants, but how does this architect design the ultimate long lunch? A few heavy-hitting culinary cohorts don’t hurt. Food and travel writer Melissa Leong happens to be one of them and she saved us a seat at the party.

The average Australian diner may not know Melbourne-based architect Pascale Gomes-McNabb by name, but they’ve certainly heard of the restaurants she’s had a hand in bringing to life. In designing high-profile establishments such as the original Cutler & Co. and Cumulus Inc. in Melbourne, Sydney’s Bentley Restaurant & Bar, Cirrus and Monopole, and SA’s Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant (to name but a few), she’s had a hand in the way Australians dine at the top end of town.

We’re gathered at Pascale’s latest masterpiece – the North Melbourne terrace she calls home – to break in her new digs (not that these guys need much of an excuse to pop a bottle of Champagne). It’s full of her signature dark metals, contrasting textural finishes and pops of colour by way of bowerbird curios.

The guests include chef Matt McConnell of Bar Lourinhã; his wife and business partner, Jo Gamvros; close friend Linda Jones of Alimentari; Felix Allsop of cocktail bar The Everleigh; his mate Joe Jones from cocktail bar Romeo Lane and restaurant The Mayfair… and yours truly.

Matt’s eclectic Latin-spiked cuisine displays an ease and generosity of flavour, with an uncomplicated style that belies the extensive experience he’s picked up from his travels and years spent overseas. “Fun is kind of crucial,” he adds.

Cocktails are mixed by former chef Joe Jones, who has built his drinks career on elegantly simple beverages with classic roots and minimal fuss.

There’s a sign at Bar Lourinhã that reads ‘Good Times’, and those are certainly had every time these friends get together.

Style

“We don’t do minimalism here,” says Jo. “Our collective style is loud, unapologetically bold and colourful.” Pascale favours striking jewellery such as her evil bunny ring by Emma Abrahams from Heart of Bone, while metallic threads and big prints are offset by the odd neutral for balance. Jewel-toned flowers against a dark backdrop add drama to the table.

Menu

It’s all about easy, shareable, seasonal food that’s big on flavour, colour and texture. Vibrant bottarga shaved over potato, a summer-worthy skirt steak bathed in mojo verde, and subtle seafood offset by smoky chilli and rich slivers of lardo.

RECIPES

Corn crisps, steak tartare and smoked herring roe

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RECIPES

Scallop, lardo and smoky chilli

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RECIPES

Whiting crudo with radish

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RECIPES

Seared skirt steak, mojo verde and shaved horseradish

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RECIPES

Stracciatella, pickled carrot and fennel

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RECIPES

Potato 'salad', vinegar, bottarga

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RECIPES

Orange caramel molotovs

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Playlist

From Marvin Gaye and Grace Jones’ My Jamaican Guy to Michael Jackson’s Beat It and satanic pop rock by Ghost, with a little Nancy Sinatra thrown in for good measure, the tunes are as eclectic as the group’s style.

Drinks

“Always start and end with bubbles!” yells Linda.

Punchbowl cocktails scream party fun and are a great way to make cocktails an easy affair when entertaining.

RECIPES

Beehive punch

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A twist on everyone’s favourite, the Negroni, is also perfect, even outside aperitivo hour.

RECIPES

Tequila negroni

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