Wednesday, March 20, 2013

19 Top New Melbourne Restaurants and Cafés

The Best of New Restaurants in Melbourne

The life of a food blogger probably seems easy. All you have to do is eat and have an Instagram account, right? WRONG. You have to watch your weight, subtly try and take photographs without embarrassing your company, jot down notes and chat to the waitstaff and owners. Then when you get home, you have to upload your photos, edit your photos, resize your photos and try to write a blog post that doesn’t sound exactly the same as every other blog post about a café that you’ve read. But perhaps the trickiest thing about being a food blogger is keeping track of all the eateries that open in Melbourne every week. Three months into the year, we’ve already seen a flurry of places manifest from thin air, and thanks to our city’s standards, most of them are worth a visit.

Here are 19 new Melbourne restaurants and cafés that you need to know about. All have opened in the last month or so.

Fifty Acres | 65 Bridge Rd, Richmond | 9421 0296 |
Bridge Road in Richmond hasn’t had a good dose of café for ages. A couple of weeks ago, a chic industrial coffee joint called Fifty Acres decided it was time for a change. The mixed crowd seems content with their caffeine, while the menu has plenty of safe options such as pulled pork sliders and quinoa salad speckled with pomegranate and other goodies. Sit at the marble bar in front of the espresso machine and make a new friend.

Fifty Acres on Urbanspoon

Masak Masak | 230 Smith St, Collingwood | 9417 4510 |
Near the corner of Smith and Stanley Streets opposite Panama Dining Room is the brand spankin’ new Masak Masak. Complete with colourful stools and a graffiti orangutan behind the bar, this Malaysian street food joint is a winner. The wafting smoke from the stainless steel satay station conjures up holiday memories of Asian night markets while the pork hock on green papaya salad is guaranteed to induce a foodgasm.

Masak Masak on Urbanspoon

Industry Beans | Unit 3, crn Rose and Fitzroy Streets, Fitzroy | 9417 1034 | 
Maybe you’ve already heard me rant about how much I adore Industry Beans. I love the sunny open space at the front. I love the fact that they offer espresso, cold drip, pour over, Aeropress and siphon coffee but can discuss it with me so I don’t faint from confusion. I love the refreshing menu with dishes like the brioche French toast with cold drip coffee maple pearls. I love that they roast onsite in their warehouse space. I love that it’s owned by the brothers behind Penny Farthing Espresso. ‘Why don’t you just marry Industry Beans then?’ I hear you say. Maybe I will dear reader, maybe I will.

Industry Beans on Urbanspoon

BangPop | 35 Dukes Walk, South Wharf | 9245 9800 |
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘South Wharf is a bitch to get to’. It’s really not that bad. You should try it sometime, especially now that BangPop—a Thai street food concept by restaurateur Paul Mathis—has opened there. Expect colour, spice and everything nice. Of course it’s communal dining, with staples such as grilled pork neck and chicken spare ribs cooked up by Head chef Kam McManamey (ex Dandelion) and given the tick of approval by Mr. Yaigum, a Thai gentleman with over 40 years experience as a hawker food stallholder.

BangPop on Urbanspoon

Happy Palace | 87 Bourke Street,
Melbourne | 9972 3699 | 
Happy Palace is the perfect CBD location for a decently priced modern Chinese meal with a killer cocktail list. Entrepreneur Jerome Borazio and Josh Lefers opened their latest venture in a decrepit Chinese restaurant in Bourke Street. There’s an interesting juxtaposition of old (gold beckoning cats, tacky chandeliers, carpet floors) against new (live scorpions and stunning tiled ‘mahjong tables’), while the menu is full of deliberate ‘Chinglish’ that laughs in the face of everything PC. “Duck You! Duck Face!” cocktail, anyone? Must orders: honey prawn rice stick noodle and goldfish shaped mango pudding.

Happy Palace on Urbanspoon

Fonda | 144 Chapel Street, Windsor | 9521 2669 | 
No more will you have to rub up uncomfortably next to a stranger while you order your burrito from Fonda in Richmond; their second shop in Windsor is more than double the size. With plenty of seats and a spacious interior, you have more than enough room to run around flapping your arms when you accidentally inhale too much spice. The menu is more or less the same at Windsor as it is in Richmond with a couple of additions, but it’s the inclusion of kangaroo in tacos and burritos that has me hopping for joy.

Fonda Mexican on Urbanspoon

Shebeen | 36 Manchester Lane, Melbourne | 9650 6931 | 
Shebeen is a place where you can get hammered for a cause. Seriously. The concept is simple: $1.50 to $2 from every beer sold is sent back to the developing country from where the bottle came. The money goes towards projects in those countries, such as agriculture and community funding in Africa. For anyone wondering where the name came from, ‘shebeens’ were South African drinking spots masquerading as tin-sheds during apartheid. Swing by for a Bahn Mi with crispy pork belly or Moroccan meatballs washed down with what can essentially be considered a donation.

The St Kilda Dispensary | 13 Brighton Road, St. Kilda | 0402 842 401 |
What was once the St. Kilda Dispensary is now a café, continuing theme with doctors’ plaques and medical beakers. There’s nothing over $12.50 on the menu, which makes it easy to eat yourself sick… not that that shouldn’t be a problem here. The New Yorker sandwich with pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut is a winner, so long as you save room for the mini brioche scone sliders.

The St Kilda Dispensary on Urbanspoon

Hammer and Tong 412 | Rear 412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy | 9041 6033 |
The fit out at Hammer and Tong is the same as it was in its former life as a failed restaurant, thanks to some stylish previous owners. But since it reopened under Dennis Ferreria (ex Di Stasio, Caffe e Cucina, France Soir, Jacque Reymond, Vue de Monde) and Chef Simon Ward (who met Ferreria at Vue de Monde), it’s been given a new lease of life. Think truffled duck eggs with cheesy Parmesan toast and black rice pudding with coconut and mango. There’s even Turkish delight soda.

Hammer and Tong 412 on Urbanspoon

Rosa’s Kitchen | 22 Punch Lane, Melbourne | 9662 2883 | 
The much anticipated Rosa’s Kitchen has finally opened, with Rosa Mitchell (ex Journal Canteen, Hobson’s Bay Hotel and cookbook author of My Cousin Rosa) at the helm, along with David Mackintosh and Peter Bartholomew from the Movida Group. Housed in the former Luccatini’s, the carpets have been ripped up and the brick exposed to reveal a simple but homely dining space. The blackboard menu has a heavy pasta focus and will change depending on what’s seasonal. Some of the ingredients come from Rosa’s Yandoit farm, such as the mulberries in her custard tart. Pop in for some antipasto and vino then stay for some real Italian fare.

Rosa's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Merchant’s Guild | 680 Centre Road,
 Bentleigh East
 | 9579 0734 |
If you drink chai, you would have tasted Prana Chai Tea. It’s delicious, which is why I’m excited that the producers have just opened Merchant’s Guild. Plus it’s not every day you hear about a café opening in East Benleigh. The team’s chai blending facilities are out the back of the café and you can buy it fresh by the kilogram. Coffee at the moment is courtesy of Omar & the Marvellous Coffee Bird, but varieties will rotate regularly. As for the food, people are already talking about the sweet pea and feta on dark rye with Spanish sardines, while the pumpkin, feta and harissa polenta biscuit with free-range eggs and za'atar also sounds tempting.

Merchants Guild on Urbanspoon

Little Chloe Café | 1810 Malvern Road, Malvern East | 9699 4054 | 
Little Chloe Café is a newcomer to Malvern and the first micro roastery to hit the area. Sure, you can order your latte, but there’s also aero press, pour over, French press, siphon, and cold brew available. While their specialty is coffee, they do a mean breakfast too. Try the green tea and apple infused bircher muesli with sheep's yoghurt, almonds and dried mango, or the pork belly in homemade steamed buns with carrot daikon pickle, cucumbers, coriander and Peking sauce.

Little Chloe on Urbanspoon

Pressed Juices | 1230 High Street, Armadale | 1300 773 775 |
They’re all the rage in New York and LA, and now cold pressed juices have hit Armadale, conveniently located just a few doors down from the gym. With a health expert behind the concept, you know it’s good for you. Unlike the normal blending process, the cold press process preserves the natural enzymes, sugars, vitamins and minerals of fruit and vegetables. Pressed Juices offers 29 varieties available individually or as a detox package. Some favorites include the refreshing coconut, cucumber, lemon and pineapple; the sharp apple, cayenne, ginger and lemon; and their best selling blueberry, coconut and pear juice. One juice will set you back between $8.50 and $9, but it’s worth it.

Pressed Juices on Urbanspoon

Little Hunter | 195 Little Collins St Melbourne | 9654 0090 | 
Deep in the basement of Georges in Little Collins Street is recently opened Little Hunter. American Chef Gavin Baker is in the kitchen drawing inspiration from the land using the best quality local produce available. Think artisans, organic, natural and humane treatment of animals and you’ll understand the philosophy behind Little Hunter. Small plates are an opportunity for the kitchen to get creative, while larger plates showcase the meat. Try the pork cracklings with paprika, white cheddar and applesauce to start, and then move onto the Robbin's Island rib eye with bone marrow and beef fat butter.

Little Hunter on Urbanspoon

Teriyaki Anarchy Sake | 364 Smith Street, Collingwood |
Japanese tapas in a grungy bar? Only in Collingwood. The kitchen at this new cheap and cheerful Japanese joint near the corner of Smith and Johnston Streets is minuscule, but so are the prices. The mostly Teriyaki-style menu flaunts skewers for $4.50 each: pork with umeboshi, tiger prawns, eggplant with red miso, tofu etc. Alternatively, snack on karaage chicken nuggets and a soba noodle salad, washed down with Orion beer. Make sure you order the Furikake Fries and check out the whiz-bang Japanese toilet out back. It won’t win awards, but it will win you over.

Teriyaki Anarchy Sake on Urbanspoon

Flock Dining | 39 Challis Street, Newport
| 9399 2393 | 
Flock is the latest eatery to open on the Westside serving brekkie, lunch and dinner. The interior is pleasant enough, with an open kitchen and wooden birds, but the menu is impressive, as you would expect from a head chef who has worked under Marco Pierre White and Peter Gilmore. The menu includes breakfast creations such as poached hen eggs with blood orange hollandaise and lunch dishes such as the beef cheek burger on brioche with beetroot chutney; while the fine dining menu in the evening offers caramelised pork belly with scallops, parsnip and cauliflower purée, and pear and lavender chutney. The chocolate marquise with salted caramel mousse and peanut brittle ice cream probably isn’t half bad, either.

Flock Dining on Urbanspoon

Cantina della Casa | 13 Gertrude St, Fitzroy | 848 88150 | 
Casa Ciuccio’s next door deli, Cantina della Casa, is finally open. If the words ‘charcuterie’, ‘cheese’ and ‘wine’ make you giddy, you’ll want to pop in sooner rather than later, or maybe sooner as well as later! The house-made Limoncello is a must, as is the house wine from Yarra Valley winemaker Luke Lambert at $45 per litre. Sit down to eat, make a picnic out of it, or just take some delicious good home to spoil yourself. Keep an eye out for Cantina della Casa’s take-home meals, coming soon.

Casa Ciuccio on Urbanspoon

B’Stilla | 30b Bray Street, South Yarra | 9826 2370 | 
Mr. Mamasita, Jason Jones, has just opened a new Moroccan eatery in South Yarra. Called B'stilla after the Moroccan pie, there’s a focus on share plates with plenty of vegetarian options. Start with a Moroccon cocktail, perhaps the pomegranate martini with Zubrowka, Pama, orange blossom, lemon and apple juice will catch your eye? From there, it’s hard to go past the signature dish, B’stilla of pigeon, duck, almond, cinnamon, saffron and egg encased in a sweet, brittle pastry. Ordering a tagine is compulsorily in my view, and the fig, goat’s cheese, chickpea and root vegetables option won’t disappoint. Sweet highlights include the rosewater flan with dates and walnut nougatine and the chocolate, star anise, crème fraiche and sesame dessert.

B'Stilla on Urbanspoon

Tonka | 20 Duckboard Pl Melbourne | 9650 3155 
While I can’t vouch for this new Indian restaurant by the Coda team just yet, it’s sure to receive a lot of hype over the coming weeks. Open as of last week and led by Chef Adam d’Sylva and Mykal and Kate Bartholomew, the fit out of thie 100-seater restaurant is already attracting praise. You’ll find it where Honky Tonks nightclub used to be, but with more naan bread and tandoori.

Tonka on Urbanspoon


  1. My goodness, how did you fit all of this in (both in terms of stomach and time)!! I haven't heard of a few, so thanks for the heads-up. Any of them in particular that you would recommend we check out to review the desserts?

    1. Hey M&C!

      B'Stilla had great desserts, have a look at a more comprehensive post here:

      Had some amazing desserts at the launch of Little Hunter, so would recommend trying the desserts there. Also seen a few mouthwatering dessert pictures floating around Twitter and Instagram, so worth giving it a go for dessert.

  2. I slightly wished I didn't read this post! Because now I have 19 new places to add to my ever growing 'to eat' list hahahaa :) But it's worth it and i'm super excited to see so many new places open up in the ever EXPANDING food scene in Melbourne!!!

    Great round up!!!

    1. Haha! Thanks.

      My To Eat list is out of control!

      Since writing this another 5 or so places have opened in no time at all! My stomach is completely overwhelmed... but excited too ;)

  3. Wow! These places seemed great. I wish I could visit these places too. Thanks a lot for sharing this list. It is nice to know these places.

  4. Hi Sofia! What a fantastic list of the new eateries that have opened across town. I soooo agree with you - how is our town, let alone my stomach - able to accommodate all these great, new places to eat??? I think I'm going to be on my bike a bit more. In the meantime, while I had about 1/3 of these places on my to do list... it's now got a bit longer!! Thanks :)

    1. Hola!

      Why thank you :) hope it helps you in your two-wheeled travels.

      I seriously need to invest in a bike! Haha.

  5. cool post. very informative. Thanks and keep posting

  6. Thanks for this brilliant post! my heart and tummy are excited but my waistline and wallet are crying away! haaaa, my ever-growing wishlist has sprung yet again!

    1. It's ridiculous isn't it?! Hard to keep up. So hungry, so poor ;)

  7. Hi Sofia!
    My tummy starts craving with these foods that you had posted. Thank you for the heads-up..

    1. Any time!

      The more you eat, the more you want to eat. It's the circle of life, really.

    2. Indeed..!! Its Actually a Mouth Watering Blog..!! With Awesome content and Yummy.. Pucture's

  8. Thanks so much for all of your efforts and honesty here! We are visiting Melb in 2 weeks for a fam reunion so I have made a list from your list. Keep it up cos you obviously are passionate and excellent at food/atmosphere reviewing!

    1. Hi Jenni,

      Thanks so much for your lovely words!

      I would also recommend:

      Huxtable for a slightly nicer, still affordable dinner that will NOT let you down (book ahead):

      Aka Siro for the most authentic and charming Japanese in Melbourne (can't book and only open for dinner a few days of the week and lunch most days):

      Bayte for breakfast/lunch with a great Lebanese twist, you won't need to book unless you go in the morning on the weekend:

      Have a fantastic time in Melbourne Town!

  9. I like this all restaurant one day i will visit this all Melbourne restaurant...

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  15. Those look like some nice places to check out.

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  19. I have tried many Indian restaurant Melbourne, But I liked 3 these Indian Restaurants in Melbourne i.e

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