AFRICA –The Abyssinian
Opened in 2006 by Eritrean immigrants Rahel Ogbaghiorghi and Vittorio Silvestro, The Aybssinian brings traditional flavours from the Horn of Africa to Kensington. Best enjoyed with friends, everything on the menu is served in mounds on traditional injera flat bread prompting you to flex your fingers for a hands-on sharing experience as you’ll find no utensils here. Children will love the saucy, drip-down-your-neck meals including chicken casseroles and chickpea curries and there are plenty of vegetarian options too. We recommend the Chef’s Poultry, Lamb, Fish & Veggie Combination which will satisfy everyone on your table. Service is quick; the food is authentic and the miss-matched furniture, straw ceilings, and African art will have you feeling like you’ve stumbled into an Ethiopian village.
ASIA – Ruyi
Moving against the grain of traditional gold and red, fire-breathing-dragon Chinese restaurants is Ruyi which means ‘as you wish’ and stems from a Chinese talisman of good fortune. Owners Sheng Fang and Qian Qian Lou-Fang were inspired by their own spiritual, family heirloom to create a place where you can enjoy ‘beautiful food with friends and family.’ The décor is understated with a muted palette of grey, olive and blonde-wood furniture and fixtures, and has been arranged to ensure maximum Feng Shui. The seasonal menu provides a modern take on provincial dishes and there are gluten-free and vegetarian meals available. Try the Peking Duck Cone or Two Flavoured Whole Snapper.
Ruyi, 16 Liverpool Street, Melbourne, VIC, Australia +61 03 9090 7778
EUROPE – Epocha
Set inside a Victorian terrace home opposite the Carlton Gardens, Epocha is a grand example of the term comfort food. The interior has aged like a fine wine with weathered timbers and elegant wallpaper. The service is sharp and sincere with owners Guy Holder and Angie Giannakodakis visibly devoted and the experience is warm and memorable. Epocha’s menu consists of sharing platters with humble English and Greek roots, including a traditional Sunday Roast Lunch featuring the most succulent chicken you’ve ever tasted. When we visited the lunch also include a floral soup served in dainty crockery and mushroom vol au vents.
NORTH AMERICAN – TRUNK
Styled after a New York diner, Trunk is Melbourne’s largest beer garden serving up a jumbo size Americana menu with a splash of Tex Mex. Try The Ron Swanson or Breaking Bad hot dog with a side of wagyu chilli cheese fries, or opt for a quesadilla. American cuisine typically shuns those of the plant-eating variety but at Trunk, vegetarians can masticate the Meatless in Seattle or order from their salad menu. Don’t gorge yourself on savoury dishes, though, because Trunk is famous for their sundaes including the Salted Caramel and Banana Split. There’s also a kids menu and the diner is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Trunk, 275 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VIC, Australia +61 03 9663 7994
SOUTH AMERICAN – LULO
Matt Waldron’s South American restaurant Lulo has been a fixture on Glenferrie Road for what seems like forever. This festive Latin tapas and wine bar is open for lunch and dinner and has a relaxed atmosphere perfect for people watching. The homemade chorizo is a fan favourite and the Meat Club menu is packed with chargrilled options including the Wagyu Rump with chimmichurri and salsas. The wine and cocktail list includes Spanish beers, sangria and the must-try Spanish Quaalude.
Lulo, 798 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, VIC, Australia +61 03 9818 8321