Melbourne is clearly the leader in exceptional gastronomy and dining experiences in Australia. With over 4,000 restaurants and cafes for a population of under 5 million, Melbourne has an abundance of delectable food experiences for you to enjoy.
I will start with not only my favourite, but one of the world’s top restaurants Attica, ranked number twenty one in the world in the S. Pellegrino ‘The Worlds Fifty Top Restaurants’. Head chef Ben Shewry has an incredible philosophy of food which shines through in his dishes. Not only does Attica have their own gardens where the chefs grow as much produce as they can, Ben also forages for uniquely native ingredients near his coastal home every morning before taking the 70km drive to work. You have the option of indulging in a five or eight course degustation. The eight course menu includes one of my favourite desserts, ‘Plight of the Bees’; layers of freeze dried apple, white thyme honey, meringue, dehydrated pumpkin, mandarin and fennel. All delivered in a handmade wooden box with a lid.
Cacao Fine Chocolates & Patisserie is one of Melbourne’s high end patisseries with a boutique fit out, making it look more like a high end jewellery store. With three stores and a delightful melange of chocolates, petit gateaux, éclairs and macarons. Owners Tim Clark and Laurent Meric make a great team, making modern mouth watering morsels. I can’t go past Cacao without sampling their heart shaped chocolate filled with passionfruit caramel and milk chocolate ganache or a salted caramel macaron. If it’s too early for something sweet, make sure you stay for a delectable French style lunch.
Chez Dre is one of Melbourne’s hidden gems tucked away in a small alleyway with a rustic French charm. Owner Andrea Reiss has worked in Michelen star restaurants through France. Serving breakfast, lunch and the opportunity to indulge in their delicious range of patisserie products in between. A must when you visit is the caramel eclair and peanut butter caramel brownie. Chez Dre has a large seating area including an outdoor courtyard.
Burch & Purchese located on bustling Chapel Street, South Yarra is sweet shop like few others. Studio Chef/owner Darren Purchese, combines delicious components, such as jellies, sponges, mousses, cream, crumbles & spreads, layer upon layer, to create his finished work of sweet art.
Also in South Yarra, is LuxBite, a luxury patisserie inspired by ones seen in both Europe and Japan. Owners Bernard Chu and Yen Yee create a dazzling visual experience. Walking into the store is like walking into a kaleidoscope of colour. The range of products will change with the seasons, offering flavours, colours and experiences that constantly evolve. Whether you’re sitting down for all day breakfast or brunch, a visit to Lux Bite is not complete without sampling some of the delicious homemade desserts. The Lollybag cake, recently seen on the hit TV show Masterchef Australia, is now the flavour of the month at Luxbite. Featuring 7 layers including banana lolly, jaconde, freckles crunch, mandarin jaffa ganache, musk mallow, more banana lolly, jaconde, spearmint leaf buttercream and topped with redskin glaze, this is one cake not to miss!
Found through the hidden and iconic Melbourne laneways, Tonka explores the wonderful world of the Orient, where the magic of India is captured through its interior design and menu. With art adorned ceilings and sweeping views of the Yarra River, MCG and Arts Precinct you can do all your sightseeing sitting and dining in comfort. Sounds perfect if you ask me. Whether it’s the rib eye, lamb curry, or Rajasthani duck, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Delicious!
Xocolatl may be hard to pronounce (sho-ko-la-tl), but it is definitely not hard to eat. Father and daughter team, Christos & Tina Partsioglou are passionate artisans, creating exceptional award winning handmade chocolates, best savoured over a superlative coffee or an indulgent hot chocolate. With two stores in Kew East and Canterbury, you won’t have to travel far from the city to get your chocolate fix.
Le Petit Gateau is in the centre of Melbourne and a regular destination for any cake lover. Attached to a private club, but fortunately open to the public in the business end of Melbourne. Pastry chef Pierrick Boyer makes a beautiful range of gateaux and petit gateaux with his signature cake the brownie passion chocolate. Don’t leave it to late in the day to try and secure the brownie treat as they sell out quickly.
* This article first appeared in UK’s Chef Magazine in August whereby Kirsten had to pick 8 establishments for tourists visiting Melbourne.