The best of Melbourne’s cuisine is represented in Southbank with chefs including Neil Perry, Heston Blumenthal, Johnny Di Francesco and Sean Tan all setting up shop on the promenade. Whether you’re hungry for Italian, Japanese, Chinese or historical British grub, Southbank offers a trip through global gastronomy at every price point. From post-game ‘dude food’ to the world’s best pizza, Southbank has a long list of dining options available, and these eight are among the best that this city has to offer.
Restaurant, Pub Grub, Australian
Home to 13 different parmas, Cotta dishes out ‘dude food,’ ideal for pre- or post-game gatherings. Each of their chicken parmas comes with a side of fries and salad, and among the flavours are traditional Margherita, spicy Mexican, and the breakfast parma. Other items on the menu include Tasmanian salmon, Scotch fillet, and linguini pesto. Located on the casino floor, Cotta is only accessible for patrons 18 years or over and is open Wednesday through to Sunday.
The Nobu empire spans continents and has become the most recognised name in Japanese cuisine, and since 2007, head chef Sean Tan and his team have prepared ‘new style’ cuisine for the restaurant’s loyal fans. Open for lunch and dinner, Nobu offers signature dishes including yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, tiradito Nobu-style, and black cod with miso. Choose a bento box for lunch or select a dish or series of dishes from the extensive dinner menu. Bookings at Nobu are essential.
Johnny Di Francesco’s menu is so Italian that you can practically hear Dean Martin singing it to you, and the food lives up to its promise of ‘world’s best.’ The waiters are friendly and don’t rely on fussy notepads, and the ambiance is warm, embracing and elegant without being pretentious and features both indoor and alfresco seating options. On the menu, you’ll find salumi and formaggi to start your meal, before you tuck into the true taste of Naples with their iconic Margherita pizza. Gradi delivers on homemade, Italian comfort food, and once you’ve eaten here, no other pizza will compare.
‘The cornerstone of good cooking is to source the finest produce’ – Neil Perry. And at Rockpool Bar & Grill, the emphasis is on premium beef with a variety of cuts available including grass-fed, grain-fed and David Blackmore’s Pure Blood Wagyu. The open kitchen allows for an immersive experience where patrons can feel the heat from the contemporary menu. In addition to beef, the menu includes seafood, pasta and chicken, but as this is a steakhouse, the focus is very much on meat. Reservations are essential.
Spread across two levels, The Merrywell is the ultimate gastro-pub. The downstairs burger bar has a menu packed full of mouth-watering, juicy beef patties including The Merrywell 2.0, ‘Bite me’ and the Buffalo Burger. There are also burgers for the little ones and milkshakes that can be requested with a shot of vodka. Upstairs, you’ll find a variety of sharing platters, and as the sun goes down, the DJs come out to spin the latest tunes from Thursday to Sunday.
When Heston Blumenthal’s name is attached to a restaurant, the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. Celebrating historic British gastronomy with fresh Australian produce, Dinner By Heston offers an à la carte menu where dishes are written next to their year of origin, dating back centuries. There is also a five-course lunch menu with Hay Smoked Ocean Trout, Meat Fruit, Rice & Flesh, Chicken cooked with Lettuces and Tipsy Cake, which makes a perfect ending.
With yet another entry on the list, Neil Perry may just be the unofficial king of Southbank cuisine. With Spice Temple, Perry presents a modern Chinese culinary experience that will awaken your senses with ‘contrasting textures and tastes.’ The Yum Cha Banquet includes Jade Sword Green Tea accompanied by 11 bite-sized dishes, while the dinner menu is ideal for sharing and features a wide selection of meals across all price points.