Influenced by a broad range of cultures, Australian cuisine can be hard to define but is best described as shaped by the unique produce that derives from the Australian land and surrounding sea. These restaurants interpret the concept in a variety of delicious ways, providing hungry Melbournians with a taste of contemporary Australian cuisine.
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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Taxi Kitchen, Melbourne | Courtesy Taxi Kitchen
With an eco-friendly approach, Taxi Kitchen sources sustainable, locally sourced produce to create a menu which champions contemporary Australian cuisine with a dash of Asian influence. Executive Chef Tony Twitchett makes fine dining “accessible and affordable yet rustic and plentiful”, with seasonal menus crafted to delight the senses accompanied by a Victorian-only wine list. Located within Federation Square, Taxi Kitchen offers dazzling 180 degree views of Melbourne’s skyline.
In 2014, chef-owners Thomas Woods and Hayden McFarland took over the iconic restaurant Jacques Reymond, renaming the intimate and luxurious property Woodland House. Innovative and whimsical, expect Sancho kangaroo with pickled beetroot and currant reduction, smoked eel custard, and Saltbush lamb with turnip and blue mackerel. Degustation menus based on seasonal produce paired with an exceptional cellar, make for a contemporary Australian fine dining experience that is elegant and surprising.
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With a horde of accolades including the honour of three hats, Ben Shewry’s Attica is often regarded as one of the best restaurants in Australia. Inspired by New Zealand’s Taranaki region and native Australian cuisine, Attica’s evocative and sustainable menu is earthy and unpredictable. Think Grilled Marron with Dessert Lime, Wattleseed Damper, Whipped Emu Egg with Quandong and Gazza’s Vegemite Pie. A vegetarian menu is available.
For three years, IDES was pop-up lunch venue but in March 2016, Peter Gunn of Attica turned the project into a permanent establishment. With only 36 seats, IDES is intimate without feeling crowded. While you can expect the menu to be six-courses, what’s uncertain is the food itself, as Gunn likes to keep a sense of spontaneity within the kitchen. A sample of what you may find is beetroot roasted in black pepper with smoked herring and horseradish, and Spanner Crab and pine mushrooms in Roast Turnip Broth.
Punch Lane Wine Bar & Restaurant, Melbourne | Courtesy of Punch Lane
Exuding sophistication, Punch Lane is a cozy restaurant and wine bar on the Paris end of Little Bourke Street. Head chef Giselle Saffigna’s seasonal menu fuses European flavours with modern Australian food, ideal for long-lunches and post-theatre nibbles. From barramundi with squid ink aioli, to the Flinders Island Wallaby with Jerusalem artichokes, macadamia, salt bush and quandong, the meals shows complexity. Accompanying the menu is a 200-strong wine line scribbled across blackboard covered walls.
Amaru is the solo venture of former Vue de Monde sous chef Clinton McIver, where the emphasis is on the contemporary Australian tasting menu. The minimalist restaurant has 34 seats, allowing for a hospitable dining experience. Ambitious and clever, there are typically between 9 and 14 servings progressing from bite-sized to substantial, including Mud Crab with Rock Oyster and Dessert Lime, Flinders Island wallaby tail brushed in saltbush butter and Smoked Prawn with Caramelised Yoghurt.