Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Top New Melbourne Restaurants in Melbourne for Valentine’s Day

The best new restaurants in Melbourne to take your Valentine 

Everyone wants a piece of the hottest new restaurant openings in Melbourne. We religiously read Epicure and leave our email open so we can be first to organise dinner when Broadsheet hits our inboxes. Not all new restaurants are appropriate for Valentine’s Day, but in the last few months a few have cropped up that fit into the Romantic Restaurants in Melbourne category. I’ve put together this list of new Melbourne restaurants that are appropriate for Valentine’s Day to help you kill two birds with one stone: crossing the newbie off your to-eat list and impressing your date. Some are fancy, some are cheap, others are bars. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom. Here are 13 new Melbourne restaurants you can visit on Valentine’s Day. 

keep it casual 

Japanese cocktails, Japanese whisky, Japanese beer and Japanese food in an uber-cool Chapel Street setting. That sums up Mr. Miyagi in Windsor, unless you want to take it a step further and dub it a contemporary izakya on crack. Fresh sashimi and sushi make an appearance on the menu alongside MFC (Miyagi fried chicken) and wagyu Bolognese on ramen gnocchi. Skewers range from yakitori and BBQ to mushroom and seafood. Desserts continue the contemporary theme with honeycomb, white chocolate and pumpkin ganache, yoghurt sorbet and pumpkin ice cream topping off the kabocha pumpkin toast. Just make sure your sweetheart doesn’t sit beneath the neon love heart ‘loser’ sign. 

Bookings: Only for 6+ 
Prices: starters $5-15; sushi platters $20-90; mains $27; sweets $16 
Address: 99 Chapel Street, Windsor 
Phone: (03) 9429 3042 
Mr. Miyagi on Urbanspoon 

Continuing the modernized Southside Asian dining theme is the brand-spanking new Charlie Dumpling. The interior is Saigon Sally meets Bali’s Potato Head Beach Club, with crayfish catchers suspended from the ceiling and rustic window shutters fastened to the walls. The wine list features five reds and four whites, some sparkling, Asian and Italian beers and five signature Asian cocktails. Chef Dylan Roberts (formerly Cutler & Co., Ezard, Claremont Tonic) knows how to make Asian food fun, and that’s exactly what he’s done here. Small bites include salmon tartare nori crackers and fried chicken ribs, and there are also salads for those who are all dumplinged out. Dumplings range from water spinach, cuttlefish, shrimp and curry leaf to angus beef with lemongrass, peanuts and coconut. Save room for the sweet doughnut dumpling too. 

Bookings: No chance 
Prices: starters $5-18; salads $15; dumplings $12 
Address: 184 High Street, Prahran 
Phone: (03) 9510 4213 
Charlie Dumpling on Urbanspoon 

Joining the gang of Gertrude Street restaurants in Fitzroy is The Rickshaw; a family-run eatery serving up Asian street eats. This one draws inspiration from gallivanting around Asia in a tuk-tuk, with the head chef having already done his time at BangPop and Chocolate Buddha. The menu is designed to share, with dishes such as five-spice duck leg and slow cooked lamb rack in the spotlight. Start with sliders and move onto the kitchen’s four course menu for $35 (add $25 for matched vino or $20 for boutique brews). 

Bookings: Only for 7+ 
Prices: starters $14; mains $18-30; sweets $11 
Address: 199 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy 
Phone: (03) 9419 5930 
The Rickshaw on Urbanspoon 

schmick but affordable 

What was previously Trocadero at Hamer Hall is now a more approachable Italian cantina, Fatto. The drab interior and morbid colour scheme has been replaced with shiny white tiles, neon signage and sleek black seating thanks to Projects of Imagination. Nick Bennett, who continues his reign as head chef post revamp, has transformed the menu. Share tuna tartare and beetroot with baked ricotta, before moving onto fried zucchini flowers stuffed with prawns and braised beef short rib. Trocadero's caramel panna cotta is the only menu item that has been recycled, deservedly so. Now you can also order Limoncello meringue crostata with passionfruit semifreddo, or baked chocolate with Amaretti custard. Watch the Yarra River from the terrace with a glass of vino in hand, but refrain from skinny dipping or swimming of any kind. 

Bookings: YES 
Prices: primi $18; secondi $28; dolci $14 
Address: River Terrace, Hamer Hall Arts Centre, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne 
Phone: (03) 8698 8800 
Fatto Bar & Cantina on Urbanspoon 

It’s with heavy hearts that Valentine’s Day lovers said goodbye to Gigibaba, one of Smith Street’s staple eateries and romantic dining hotspots. Thankfully Adam Liston and Glen Bagnara have taken over the space with Northern Light, keeping the exposed brick walls and signature ceiling with its mass of tangled cords and bulbs. Another Asian menu designed to share, except this one has been raking in shining reviews. Smaller dishes include white bait with shellfish mayo; air-dried wagyu with yolk, wasabi and potato; and scampi grilled over bincho tan with floss and kewpie. The wagyu with nori, king mushroom and panko is a great choice for a larger dish, while Asian inspired desserts feature ingredients such as yuzu curd, matcha and rice pudding. 

Bookings: Friday + Saturday from 6pm-7.45pm or 8pm onwards 
Prices: small plates $7-14; bigger $23-25; sweets $14 
Address: 102 Smith Street, Collingwood 
Phone: (03) 9416 0698 
Northern Light on Urbanspoon 

Located beside Cutler & Co. on Gertrude Street in what was Andrew McConnell’s storage space for last seven years sits a stunning example of his Asian-influence cooking. Unfortunately it’s only a pop up – despite effort that has gone into the funky interior with its paper lantern covered ceiling and neon signage – but Supernormal the restaurant will open in the city just as the canteen closes. You have until the end of February to test out the test kitchen, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse. Menu highlights include raw chunks of line-caught kingfish in a reef of dried seaweed, pig’s head bao, stunning caramalised Szechuan lamb with spring onion pancakes, and the go-to dessert: creamy pink lady and white miso swirled soft serve in an old school-style sundae glass, drizzled with salted miso caramel and a handful of crushed peanuts. 

Bookings: Nope 
Prices: starters $6-18; sharing mains $29-34; sweets $12 
Address: 53 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy 
Phone: (03) 9419 4888 
Supernormal Canteen on Urbanspoon 

fancy shmancy  

Formerly Jacques Reymond, Woodland House is the newest fine dining restaurant in Melbourne, making it perfect to spoil someone special on Valentine’s Day. Led by two young-gun chefs who met under Reymond, Woodland House’s menu is committed to seasonal produce presented in an innovative way. Choose from a five or eight course tasting menu ($115 and $140 respectively without wine), with vegetarian versions available for both. Experiences include salt-crusted roast beetroot with blackberry juice, glazed duck breast with sweet and sour cherries, and peaches and plums with malted sorbet and crisp milk. The plates in front of you far surpass their vague descriptions. 

Bookings: Of course 
Prices: starters $6-18; sharing mains $29-34; sweets $12 
Address: 78 Williams Road, Prahran 
Phone: (03) 9525 2178 
Woodland House on Urbanspoon 

dinner and a drink

Come early, stay late. Nieuw Amsterdam opened mid-December and is a taste of New York, New York. We have Michael Roszbach, previously the manager at Cookie, to thank for the venue. Nick Stanton – a fantastic chef who until recently worked at Woods of Windsor – serves chicken waffles with pate, terrine, crispy chicken skin and orange caramel. It’s a great way to kick-start your appetite before moving onto jerk chicken and rabbit meatballs for mains. There are also veg-friendly dishes and desserts – cue pumpkin doughnuts with Kentucky bourbon cream. Surely they’re an aphrodisiac?

Image: Peter Tarasiuk Photography
Bookings: YES! *happy dance* 
Prices: starters $14; mains $19; sweets $11 
Address: 106-112 Hardware Street, Melbourne 
Phone: (03) 9602 2111 
Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon 

Any place with red velvet seats, a bookshelf and a faux mounted giraffe’s head has to have some character. State of Grace, in its 1889 landmark building, certainly does. After dining on a summery risotto or 500g hanger steak, head to the secret entrance out the back and descend the winding, marble staircase to Fall From Grace, the cellar bar below. You’ll find it behind the bookshelf (seriously). Work your way through the classic cocktails and wine list, but be sure to try the apple and sage martini. State of Grace makes it easy to see why there were fewer inhibitions during prohibition. 

Bookings: YES 
Prices: starters $8-16; mains $27-35; sweets $15 
Address: 447 Collins Street, CBD 
Phone: (03) 8644 7110 
State of Grace on Urbanspoon 

A great little bar above St. Crispin where you can start your Valentine’s Day off like a pro. Think black tiles, marble and sultry jazz tunes. Snack on tidbits from the St. Crispin menu downstairs – eel croquets, charcuterie, oysters – and sip on elegant cocktails made by James Tait (ex Black Pearl and Der Raum with involvement at Tonka and 1806). Try the La Citadelle with rum, mint, dark cacao and cream. It’s pretty sexy. 

Bookings: No 
Prices: snacks $8-36 
Address: 300 Smith Street Collingwood, Smith Street 
Phone: (03) 9419 2202 
Thomas Olive on Urbanspoon 


“This Valentine’s Day, I want Armenian!” On the off chance your date utters such a sentence, Sezar has you covered. Owner and chef Garen Maskal (The Black Toro, ex Ezard) and business partners are in charge here, with another Ezard Alumni in the kitchen. You’ll want to start with cocktails before digging into a colourful feast of contemporary Armenian nosh. There’s something exotic about figs with air-dried beef and charred eggplant, while spanner crab falafel is a new take on an old favourite. Larger plates pay tribute to the custom charcoal pit and offer everything from beef cheek and lamb to prawns and BBQ chicken. To finish, the reinvented baklava will blow your mind. 

Bookings: YES 
Prices: starters $15; mains $26-30; sweets $14 
Address: 6 Melbourne Place, CBD 
Phone: (03) 9663 9882 
Sezar on Urbanspoon 

ROMULUS & REMUS This joint had me at “traditional feasting for today”. The huge, airy restaurant decked out in olive trees, recycled timber and copper serves up Italian share plates such as salumi and boned leg of lamb for four. Starters like arancini with porcini and Tallegio sit beside “juniper and fennel cured king fish with cucumber string and crab salad finished with a shot of gin and tonic granite”. Of course there’s pasta and pizza, too. For Valentine’s Day, your best bet is to book a booth. Come here if you’re a couple with an appetite.

Bookings: YES 
Prices: starters $16; mains $20-36; big share plates $38-90; sweets $12 
Address: 648 Bridge Road, Richmond 
Phone: (03) 9429 3042 
Romulus & Remus on Urbanspoon 

The Hellenic Republic we all know and love has opened a second store in Kew where St. Katherine’s once was. All the old favourites from the original menu are there, along with a few newbies like ouzo-pickled cucumber, beef jaffles and the date, walnut and cacao nib-loaded baklava. Opt for the Greek or Golden Greek sharing menu ($58pp or $70pp respectively) and you’re guaranteed to leave satisfied. You'll O.D on taramosalata and sagnaki, before indulging in grilled seafood, chicken off the spit, lamb shoulder, sides and dessert. As for the space, a blue and white tiled feature wall holds up the roof besides painted murals dedicated to classic Greek films. Terracotta pots add a dose of homeliness to the white-tiled room, while timber furniture and a royal blue banquette keep things above casual dining. 

Bookings: Yep 
Prices: starters $6-18; sharing mains $29-34; sweets $12 
Address: 26 Cotham Road, Kew 
Phone: (03) 9207 7477 
Hellenic Republic Kew on Urbanspoon

Please note: some images above have been taken from the restaurants' Facebook pages. Please don't hesitate to email me so I can credit appropriately, or if you prefer your image not to be used. 


  1. I'm going to Junction Hotel in Newport for Valentines Day. Found that gem when visiting the Substation to see a show. Great food!!

    1. Sounds great! Love it when you stumble across something unexpectedly like that. Enjoy :)

  2. LOVE that you've put the bookings policy; saves so much time!

    1. Definitely; helps! I was keen to revisit Supernormal tonight, but we decided not to risk it and go with Nieuw Amsterdam instead. Always puts me in a bad mood when I'm trying to get in somewhere and they're full, and I'm hungry!

  3. Thanks for the mention Sofia, we're in great company. Hopefully we'll see some of your readers tonight for Valentine's Day!
    Gemma - Woodland House

  4. Holy cow have you eaten at all these places lately?? That's an impressive list :)