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Melbourne must-eats

I'm from Toronto, Canada and will be visiting Diamond Creek (near Eltham/Greensborough) as well as other parts of Melbourne this month. I'd love to try "local" specialities, street food, the best take-away, etc.
My cousin has recommended Tuto Bene, Donovans, The Rockpool, Vue de Monde, and the Supper Inn (chinese).
I'd love to eat anything that I can't get in Toronto (e.g. fresh local seafood, Australian/Kiwi/South Pacific food, or anything that is Australian-style and/or fantastic - e.g. we don't have excellent Greek food up here). I don't care about good service, nice atmosphere or hype. Just give me memorable food but preferably not Vue de Monde pricing because I will be picking up the tab for my family members. $50 per person or less would be a nice budget.
I am still craving the oyster shooters I had 5 years ago at Ezard at Adelphi. Now that's memorable!
I am also looking for terrific bakeries, food shops, etc. I can take the train from Diamond Creek to anywhere in the greater Melbourne area or get on a tram once I'm in the city.

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  1. as an "out of towner" some of my favourites for Melbourne are:

    Yu-u (japanese) 137 Flinders La, Melbourne (03) 9639-7073
    read the age review: http://www.theage.com.au/news/restaur...
    and take note of the picture as the door is around the corner and (unless its changed) there is next to NO sign.

    Il Bacaro (italian) 168-170 Lt Collins St, Melbourne (03) 9654-6778
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/restaur...

    Il solito posto is cheap and great for breakfast Shop 4, 113 Collins Street (enter from George Parade), Melbourne (03) 9654 4466

    7 Replies
    1. re: kmh

      Yu-u sounds right up my alley! Thanks. The review is from 2005 - I wonder if it has become easier to find now.

      1. re: Food Tourist

        I douibt it. Melbourne prides itself on laneway restaurants.

        I also thought of MoVida which is a spanish tapas. that's fun too.

        1. re: kmh

          Definately try Movida, now billed as the best Spanish in Australia, it is fantastic, and has a great Melbourne feel to it too.

      2. re: kmh

        Located Yu-u today on walkabout; unfortunately, closed Sundays but will return. There is a tiny sign to the right of the door, but since the door is not on Flinders Lane, I would never have found it if not for you!

        1. re: Food Tourist

          I ate there last week very good - I was looking for sushi all they had was sashimi - still delicious thoug.

          1. re: weinstein5

            Yu-u? but it's not a sushi bar.
            it's typical of a beer bar as far as i understand. i.e. COOKED japanese food.
            it's the best japanese food i've had aside from my mother's cooking (and she learned to cook japanese when we lived in japan; my dad's work colleagues used to think her cooking was better than their (japanese) wives.)

          2. re: Food Tourist

            Unfortunately couldn't get a table at Yu-u at the last minute on a Friday lunch hour.

        2. For Greek, you have to go to Stalactites, a Melbourne institution...
          Stalactites Restaurant
          177-183 Lonsdale St
          Melbourne, VIC 3000
          Tel: (03) 9663-3316

          http://www.stalactites.com.au/

          It's crowded.. it's noisy.. it's open 24 hours and it is seriously Greek.

          Eltham has a market once a month, so check it out if you can, lots of little stalls selling things like Sri Lankan sweets and curries and stuff.

          Best Yum Cha IMHO is Foo Long in Box Hill.. Can't remember the addy or phone.. will post it later... again very loud, very cheap and very Asian.

          You must get to the Queen Victoria MArkets and check out the range of foods there... their fish and seafood markets are to die for...

          www.qvm.com.au

          Other foodie "must do's" are a tram ride down Victoria Street, for pho, a tram ride down Lygon Street for Italian, a tram ride down Brunswick street for pretty much anything (stop off at Charmaine's ice cream parlor for the best icecream in town....

          Charmaine's
          370 Brunswick St
          Tel: 03 9417 5379

          And a tram ride down Chapel Street to see the Chi Chi Poo Poo people (and stop off for a souvi at Lamb's, although the quality there waxes and wanes

          )

          I could wax lyrical for hours about the Melbourne food scene... and while Vue de Monde is all the shizz, I'd rather eating at a hole in the wall Thai resto in an alley in Springvale!!!

          20 Replies
          1. re: purple goddess

            Thanks purple goddess -- I knew I could count on you to chime in! Where exactly is that Thai place in Springvale? What makes Charmaine's the "best"? Do you know any place for Balinese or other south/southeast Asian or south pacific food?
            And is there "street food" in Melbourne? In Toronto we are only allowed to buy hotdogs and sausages on the street.

            1. re: Food Tourist

              South east asian food is pretty much everywhere.... There is a great Malayan resto in Mount Waverley/Syndal.... but that's where I live, so I am pretty sure you;d find equally as food around the area you're staying.

              If you can, jump on a train and get to Springvale.. A.K.A Little Vietnam.. although the lLittle Vietnams of Richmond and Box hill are prolly easier for you to get to... just wander around.. there is Viet/Malay/Japanese/general asian food/shops/restos on every corner.

              Charmaines is the best icecream IMHO, because of the flavour combo's I love their chocolate Chilli icecream paired with their Quince... **insert sounds of heavenly choir**

              But again, there are gelaterias and icecream places everywhere..

              In Glen Waverley, there is prolly the best lemon gelato I have ever tasted outside Italy... and another icecream parlor tha does Asian fusion icecreams like wasabi and/or red bean..so "best" is subjectively mine!!!

              No street food that I know of... like vendors or chili trucks...but markets often sell interesting "stuff".. we haver occasionally dodgy vans that sell hot dogs and jam donuts, but they are usually out in the country.. or major routes out of town.. in truck parking stops... and you can do a lot better elsewhere...

              I'll have a poke around for Balinese, I'm sure you can find it.. probabaly in Brunswick street, next door to an ethiopian resto!!!! Melbourne;s like that.

              My colleague has just pointed out you MUSt do Acland Street in St. Kilda for the russian/jewish cake shops, too.. A chocolate cherry mountain from Scheherazade is another heavenly choir moment!!!!

              1. re: purple goddess

                the hot jam donuts at the QV markets stand out in my memory. Especially if its a cold day! just don't burn your chin when the jam oozes out! yum!

                1. re: purple goddess

                  pg, please supply name/address of Glen Waverley lemon gelateria and Malayan resto where you live.

                  1. re: Food Tourist

                    , Real Gelato, 108 The Kingsway, Glen Waverley

                    1. re: purple goddess

                      and trying to link it for you...

                      -----
                      Real Gelato
                      Melbourne, VIC, Australia

                      1. re: purple goddess

                        Nonya Hut in Glen Waverley/Syndal.. walking distance from Syndal train station

                        -----
                        Nonya Hut
                        Melbourne, VIC, Australia

                        1. re: purple goddess

                          Fu long

                          -----
                          Fu Long
                          942 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill, Victoria 3128, AU

                  2. re: purple goddess

                    My aunt loves Aviv in St. Kilda and my uncle loves Trampoline, which he swears used to be Charmaine's.
                    I'm almost positive the Eltham market was on today -- as I whizzed by on the train to the city, I noticed a bunch of outdoor stalls and vendors below the tracks. Hope I am not completely out of luck for the next month!

                    1. re: purple goddess

                      Enjoyed Charmaine's at Fed Square on Tuesday...the owner said he hasn't had quince in a couple of years, but I really enjoyed honeycomb (sweet) and chile chocolate (hotter than expected!) Also sampled licorice and macadamia. Cool flavours!

                      1. re: Food Tourist

                        glad you liked it, FT... Come to think of it HAS been a while since I had the quince.. and I had it in their Brunswick Rd outlet.

                        Are you going to get a trip in to the Mornington Peninsula??

                        1. re: purple goddess

                          Back from a beautiful day in Mornington Pen. Went to Red Hill Estates (best of the lot!) with excellent Chardonnay and muscat. Also visited 10 by Tractor and T'Gallant (not impressed with either's wines but I'm not a fan of chardonnay and pinot in general, which doesn't help since this region is all about those two varieties!).
                          T'Gallant for lunch - enjoyed the broccoli, leek, ricotta pizza (only choice available) and found the gnocchi with duck a bit too vinegary though the crispy sage and mustard jam topping was unique and interesting! Stopped at M.P. Chocolates on the way home - they even offered two tastings of lemon and plain ganache. They use Callebaut to make most offerings.

                    2. re: Food Tourist

                      Hello there,
                      I'm a kiwi-Indonesian whose parents are originally from Indo. I recently moved to Melbourne to study, so one of the first things I did was hunt out at least one Indonesian restaurant I could escape to when College food turned sour or if I missed mum's yummy Indonesian food.

                      If you're looking for something central and quite cheap, Nelayan ( http://www.nelayan.com.au/) is quite a good start. It's sort of a relaxed, food alley kind of place on Swanston Street, where students will often come and have lunch or dinner with friends. They have sop buntut (oxtail soup), satay, ayam goreng kuning (yellow fried chicken), ayam bakar, nasi goreng and bakmi goreng (fried rice and noodles) etc etc. If you go there though, make sure you try some of the Indonesian cakes they have especially martabak kacang! oh boy... thank goodness I'm home for the holidays! No need to go out for Indo food.

                      If you're looking somewhere a bit more um.. classy, to take your family to, I would recommend Warung Agus. Very good, authentic Indonesian food.A taste of Bali in West Melbourne! http://yourrestaurants.com.au/guide/w...

                      If you like satay, perhaps try Sataybar (http://www.satay.com.au/)? I have yet to go there, but it will be on my list of places when I get back to Melbourne. European style "kebabs" are alright, but Indonesian sate ayam with sambal kacang (peanut sauce) is the best!

                      For another hawker style Indo cafe try Garage Cafe at 221 Berkeley Street, Carlton. They do a very good Soto ayam!!!

                      Dad's just reminded me now to tell you about Es Teler77 (319 Swanston St, Melbourne http://www.esteler77.com ). This is a branch of the original Es Teler cafes in Indo where they serve mainly Indonesian dessert drinks (their specialty is es teler [duh!] which is basically coconut, jackfruit, avocado, sweet milk and ice) but if you get the chance also try their mie bakso, they have the most gigantic beefballs! There's a review of the Glenferrie Rd branch here - http://www.theage.com.au/news/reviews...

                      Food galore, hope that helps!

                      1. re: nerdontheloose

                        Thanks! Had lunch at Nelayan today - coconut drink, oxtail soup, fried rice, and beef rendang with roti canai. Oxtail and beef were supersalty and coconut drink was supersweet, but everything was tasty. It was certainly crowded and chaotic!

                    3. re: purple goddess

                      oh yes! if you can forget about thw waist line for a moment, at the Vic markets make sure you ahve a hot spanish jam dougnut from the vans - as a child who went to Melbourne once a year I craved them for the 12 months each year I had to wait!!!!

                      1. re: purple goddess

                        Took Nana to Stalactites on cold Tuesday afternoon for lunch...we sat by the fireplace but still couldn't thaw out! That restaurant is freezing cold. Enjoyed eggplant dip, pita, pork trotters and tripe soup (very tripey taste); small lamb gyro platter (a bit overcooked/crispy but tasty); and horiatiki salad. They tried to overcharge us for a large lamb platter but I stood my ground and they relented and fixed the bill.

                        How much is a reasonable tip in Australia? I'm used to tipping 15% in Canada.

                        1. re: Food Tourist

                          tipping is not expected in this country (yet) but is appreciated. if the service is good, then tip, if it's not, don't. around 10% is pretty common (I think) but it really depends on where you are and on the service. a 15% tip would only be warranted if the service was very good.

                          1. re: kmh

                            Oops, didn't read this in time...tipped 0% today at T'Gallant because my companions said a tip was never necessary or expected as servers are paid fairly in this country! Will reconsider next time.

                            1. re: Food Tourist

                              there is a minimum wage and it's probably fairer than in USA (and I assume Canada from your sentiments), however I wouldn't want to be trying to live off neither the wages nor the conditions that they are employed...
                              rule of thumb is only if the service is good, approx 10% or I also agree with PG on this one and say the chage plus a few gold coins.

                              to REALLY insult bad service, leave 5c coin behind!

                          2. re: Food Tourist

                            Damn the temp in Melbourne at the moment!! you DO realise that Tuesday was the coldest day in Melb for 10 years!!!!!

                            I personally like the crispy gyros outer bits.. yummmmmmm

                            And good on you for standing your ground... I've never had a problem there, but hell..$h!te happens, hey??

                            Like KMH says, 10% is pretty standard, but not expected...I usually leave the change, plus a bit more...

                        2. Lest I only emphasize malayan/balinese, I'm also very interested in food from Tahiti, Fiji, Polynesia, etc.
                          Also, the best "Aussie" food - e.g. meat pies, dimsims, lamingtons, etc. They seem to be everywhere but not necessarily tasty.
                          Thanks!

                          1. A wine critic friend suggested T'Gallant in Mornington peninsula for simple but excellent pizzas and pastas; Giant Steps winery, Coldstream Hills, DeBortoli, Yering Station; and Flower Drum. Any thoughts for road trip eats?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Food Tourist

                              Coldstream hills wines (an much of the yarra valley) is def. a good day trip. James Hallliday (C/S Hills) is one of the most respected wine critics in this country and thus the limited varieties coming from his vineyard are good, and good value for the $$
                              and did you know that LVMH (Chandon) have a vineyard in this region too?

                              A bit off center - but if you have time venture north - north west of melbourne as there is some really interesting and innovative food production occuring ex farm gate e.g. Glenloth Game (wycheproof/Quambatook),, simply green tomatoes (Boort - also in Boort is the largest olive processing facitility in s'hemisphere) and Horizon Salt (Pyramid Hill). Castlemaine is also a great arts & culinary area if you don't have the time to get to the aforementioned places.

                              1. re: Food Tourist

                                Ah... now you're speaking my language!!!!

                                The Mornington Peninsula has a host of marvelous food.. T'Gallant's is wonderful, as is Darling Park Winery... The vanilla slices at the Conti at Sorrento are worth the petrol price alone.

                                Completely and utterly avoid Stella's Bistro at the Dromana Hotel. I cannot tell you how utterly, UTTERLY vile the food is there....

                                Red Hill Market is held on the 1st Sat of every month, and it is a wonderful show case of local goodies...

                                http://www.mornington-peninsula.com/r...

                                -----
                                Darling Park Winery
                                232 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill, Victoria 3937, AU

                                1. re: purple goddess

                                  For the best pies and bakery treats in the CBD, you should try Dinkum Pies, 29 Block Pl, Melbourne (between Collins and Little Collins Streets). Its a small cafeteria type of place that doesn't look like it's changed much over the last couple of decades. Always packed at lunchtime, a Big M chocolate milk to wash down your pie is pretty much obligatory.

                                  1. re: lilipad

                                    Adding in Stalactites Restaurant

                                    -----
                                    Stalactites Restaurant
                                    177 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, AU

                              2. My food-loving uncle recommends:
                                Taxi Cafe on Spencer St. for the best burger
                                Nam Loong on Russell for dim sum, calamari in black bean, and greens in oyster sauce.
                                Pellegrini's on Bourke for coffee, nougat and spaghetti
                                Boscastle pies - thai chicken or any
                                Rolf's pies - curried seafood pie, but not worth a long drive unlike Boscastle!
                                Lambs for souvlaki (on Lygon)
                                Rasa Chinta in Heidelberg - for any Malaysian esp. chicken pendang (not on menu)
                                House of Salad in Eltham for the house special pizza
                                Tiramisu in Eltham for schitzel calzone (huge), T-bone steak (portugese style) and wood-fired pizzas with fresh meat toppings
                                Stalactites

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Food Tourist

                                  taxi has had a change of hands recently, don't know if they're as good as they were.
                                  places like Nam Loong and Fu Long (in Box Hill) are very Aussie-Chinese, which is kinda like American Chinese, so don't expect too much!
                                  pellegrini's is good for coffee, but mainly it's more about the experience - that place has been around forever, so soak in the atmos :)
                                  actually grossi's cellar bar (not grossi florentino, where you'll lose an arm and a leg) is a better place to go for food, IMO. it's just as cheap (and just as narrow). their sticky date pudding (around AUD $7) is absolutely fab, esp for the price!
                                  pies - there's a place called dinkum pies i think in the city, around little collins st.?
                                  lambs - YES!
                                  Ladro has been receiving a whole lot of hype since its opening about a yr or so ago - excellent wood fired, thin crust pizzas.
                                  but above all, Melb is a cafe city. coffee debates are de rigeur, so the general quality of coffee is pretty good. my fave caffs are:
                                  babka: bakery/cafe on brunswick street, fitzroy (there are loads of cafes round here, and cheaper ethnic eateries on smith st (parallel) and the hip place to be these days is gertrude st, perpendicular to brunswick and smith)
                                  baker d chirico: st kilda. killer nougats and loaves that disappear in a matter of seconds
                                  replete providore: barkers road, hawthorn. excellent brunch place
                                  i could go on, Melb is such a great foodie city. i left about five months ago and am feeling homesick as i type!!

                                  1. re: e_ting

                                    I beg to differ on Fu Long, e ting.... Every time we go, we are often the only westerners there.. and green tripe congee, arrowroot and hair vegetable stew or chicken's feet hardly constitute Aussie Chinese!!