A food critic's guide to Melbourne
2016 marks a time when the apprentice supersedes the master. The country is experiencing a revolution of the dining and imbibing kind and it's being driven by the enthusiasm of youthful - and talented as hell - professionals. Here's a snapshot of what's hot in Melbourne- go on, jump in the fire.
1. Lawyers, Guns and Money, 505 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
One of the driving forces behind the big push of contemporary Chinese down under, Victor Liong of Lee Ho Fook is at it again with a breakfast/lunch café like no other. Sick of the smashed avocado revolution, Liong has leapt into the flavours of Asia to deliver a modern and downright delicious offering. Think congee, egg noodles with braised wagyu brisket or fried chicken, Shangdong style. Someone pass the chopsticks.
Must have: Chicken congee, ginger and spring onions with century egg and ginger relish.
2. Embla, 122 Russell St, Melbourne
They woke Melbourne from its momentary slumber with The Town Mouse, but Embla is a new level of sophistication - in an Australian way, of course. Blurring the lines between restaurant and wine bar as only Melbourne can, chef Dave Verheul lets the flames of a wood-fired oven reveal the true flavours of each ingredient. Think lamb neck with romesco and rainbow trout with horseradish. Simple yet stunning. A quirky yet quaffable wine list by Christian McCabe helps wash it all down. This is the future of dining down under.
Must have: Raw beef, lemon shio koji, ginger, coastal rocket.
3. Smalls, 20 Yarra Pl, South Melbourne
Jess Ho is a force to be reckoned with. The young entrepreneur knows more about wine and food than most, and she's not even 30. Melbourne may be ahead of the pack when it comes to wine bars, but Jess Ho's Smalls leaves them for dead. It's got the quirkiest, most accessible and fun wine list on the planet by Wiremu Andrews and a food menu that proves veggies and offal can be the hero of the plate. It's small, intimate and a riot of a night.
Must have: Domaine Rolet '13 Arbois Poulsard - Jura France.
Buro 24/7 Selection
Buro 24/7 Selection