Melbourne seems to have an infinite number of restaurants and cafés, but with so many options something as simple as lunch or dinner can become overwhelming. Culture Trip has gorged through Melbourne’s menus and found the dishes that best represent this multi-cultural city. Tip: wear your stretchy pants.
Ricotta Hotcakes at Top Paddock
Cafe, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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As picturesque as a Monet masterpiece the blueberry and ricotta hotcake at Richmond’s Top Paddock looks too good to eat. The popular brunch spot serves the fluffy hotcakes with seasonal fruits and berries, crunchy seeds, organic maple syrup and a dollop of cream. Stare in awe, take an Instagram-worthy shot and then dig in.
Claiming the top spot at the World Pizza Championships in 2014, Johnny Di Francesco’s Margherita Pizza is smeared with homemade tomato sauce, dotted with creamy fior di latte cheese and sprinkled with basil leaves. The pizza has an impossibly thin base and is cooked for 400 degrees for 90 seconds. The entire menu at 400 Gradi is so authentically Italian you can practically hear Dean Martin singing it to you.
Now with three locations in Melbourne, it’s easier than ever to satisfy your craving for succulent chicken. The Baller Bucker includes 16 fried chicken wings, four sides and four sauces. Still hungry? Order mac and cheese, roast yam salad or old bay fries. Belle’s Hot Chicken also has a selection of beer, because you can’t have a chicken without a pint.
Din Tai Fung might be renowned for their dumplings, but their refreshing list of desserts keeps people coming back for more. Black sesame, taro, green tea, or mango sorbet are just some of the simple but delectable flavours on offer. Don’t leave Din Tai Fung without indulging in dessert.
Inspired by historic British gastronomy, Dinner by Heston dishes up unexpected and delightful meals in typical Heston Blumenthal fashion. The enchanting Meat Fruit is a fantastical starter featuring spiced red wine and chicken liver parfait with a side of grilled bread. The refined and surprising meals date back to the 1500s.
Start your day with the coconut yogurt at Kettle Black. Made in-house daily by head chef Jesse McTavish the dairy-free yogurt uses vegan culture, coconut cream and agave syrup. The yogurt is topped with grains, nuts and seeds, as well as seasonal fruits, finished with a sprinkling of citrus powder.
While you may have to stand in line, the wait will be worth it after you’ve tried one of the burgers at 8bit. Their signature 8 Bit with cheese is layered with all the usual suspects on the patty as well as red onion, pickles, 8bit sauce and melted American cheese. Wash it down with a peanut butter milkshake.
Traditionally sold on boats along the canals in Thailand, boat noodles make for a satisfying comfort meal. Jinda Thai’s hawker boat noodles are a tangled mess of goodness bathed in a dark, thick broth with tender beef strips and pork crackling. Fresh herbs and spices play on the palette and enhance the experience.
Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar, Melbourne | Courtesy of Lucy Liu
The most dramatic dish at Michael Lambie’s new pan-Asian diner Lucy Liu is the Korean pork hock which arrives at the table stabbed by a carving knife. With a prep time upwards of 36 hours the pock hock is packed full of flavour, and the crisp exterior sits beautifully in contrast to the gelatinous flesh. The meal is served with steamed pancake and apple kimichi salad which adds a sweet bite.
Celebrating two Australian icons – the jaffle and the lamington – Bad Frankie has assembled one of the most true-blue Aussie desserts you’ll ever taste in Melbourne. Soaked in chocolate the sponge cake is filled with jam and rolled in toasted coconut before being pressed in the jaffle iron. The mouth-watering jaffle is served with thickened cream.
Traditional Greek cuisine with a modern twist is what George Columbarias does best at Hellenic Republic. Golden on the outside and stringy in the centre, the saganaki is presented as a bronze wedge of kefalograviera topped with a spoonful of subtlety peppered figs drenched in finger-licking syrup.
Catering to Melbourne’s most carnivorous, Dexter is a meat-eatery on High Street Preston. While their entire menu borders on wacky with pigs head croquette and bone marrow mash, their Hot Meat Donuts are always in demand. Stuffed with burnt brisket ends, the donuts are rolled in paprika and sugar before being deep fried. Dip them into the spicy capsicum relish for a bigger flavour hit.
The array of ice cream flavours at Gelato Messina is anything but vanilla… You can order vanilla, but Culture Trip recommends trying one of their specials. Each week five new flavours are written on the chalk board in eye-catching calligraphy and past favourites include hot cross bun, key lime pie, Mr. Potato head, and wagon wheel.
Massaman Curry of Coconut Braised Beef at Chin Chin
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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Waiting in line is just part of the experience at Chin Chin – one of Melbourne’s most successful restaurants, but the wait is totally worth it. Make the most of your time inside and order the Massman curry of coconut braised beef with kipfler potatoes, nuts and fried shallots. It will leave you drooling.