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Jan 25, 2009 01:16 AM

Sydney & Melbourne - what is new and well regarded?

We are heading home from (Europe) for a few weeks in Mach to recharge our solar batteries - it has been a miserable cold and grey winter here.

We are fairly familiar with the restaurants in both cities but things obviously change. So what has happened in the last 18 months? Where are the new stars? As you would expect we eat every cuisine.

On the last trip we went to Pony, Icebergs, Forbes & Burton, Becasse, The Tea Room Gunners' Barracks, Bistro Moncur, Bistrode and Vue du Monde. But no asian places last time as we had stopovers in HK and Thailand - however this trip we need a good selection of quality Asian food - we are desperate for some real flavours...!

All suggestions gratefully received as I can't get the latest GFG in the UK.

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  1. In Melbourne, gastrotemples are out and smart casual is back in. Interlude and 312 are closed (though the latter has changed hands), and casual but not cheap places like Gills Diner, Cumulus and Movida are hot. A rejuvenated Arintji along with Taxi dominate Fed Square. St Kilda still trades on its views - Donovans, Circa etc same as usual. Press Club is a hot ticket, and its Lygon St taverna spinoff is running well.

    Crown is looking good - Rockpool has settled (the bar is a great spot), Guiseppe Arnaldo and Sons is great but no bookings, Bistro Guillaume is a textbook bistro, and Phillippe Mouchel's lunch deal is still a cracker for wasting a couple of hours. Nobu poor on all fronts.

    Thai still poor in Melbourne. Wait until Sydney.

    Top tip: food prices have gone up but restaurants are terrified of passing on the extra food costs. So wine markups is where the money is at. Eat well, sup less....

    1 Reply
    1. re: mr_gimlet

      The new Spice I Am in Darlinghurst is meant to be great, though i haven't had time to try it! I have not heard good things about Neil Perry's new "Spice Temple" in Sydney though, maybe just teething problems....
      Gimlet's right about wine prices!! We're spoilt for food prices right now. So if you can find good BYO at the moment, take it!
      In Melbourne there are some great buys on the wine list at Movida even though overall it is pricey. i love that place

    2. Have a wonderful time recharging! Here are my Sydney suggestions.

      Personal favourites :
      Jimmy Liks (contemporary Thai)
      Mamak (very casual Malaysian)
      Guillaume at Bennelong

      Some of Sydney's current darlings:
      Oscillate Wildly

      Always fabulous:
      Sailor's Thai
      Sean's Panorama

      1. Some good suggestions posted above. To add to your list of great new places in both cities...

        A Tavola - Darlinghurst
        Etch - City
        Glebe Point Diner - Glebe
        Mille Vini - Surry Hills
        Uccello - City
        Pendolino - City
        Light Brigade - Woollahra
        Restaurant Arras - Walsh Bay
        Spice Temple - City

        (I dined at the new Spice I Am restaurant in Darlo recently and it wasn't a particularly smooth experience. The service was incredibly uneven and the food, while good, is overpriced given you can get the same flavours for half the price in their original Surry Hills joint. Admittedly I was there in their first week, so things on the service front may have picked up since then.)

        Cumulus Inc - City
        Seamstress - City
        Gill's Diner - City
        Bistro Guillaume - Southbank
        Anada - Fitzroy
        Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons - Southbank
        Church St Enoteca - Richmond
        Maha - City

        Have a great trip!

        1. PhilD back inda hood!

          Ok, I think a few have hit the main points...

          a tavola & bodega are definitely new and worthwhile additions within the past 18months in Sydney and are definitely worth the respect they've been given.
          Mamak is sydney's latest and greatest on the "return to true Asian flavours" journey that restaurants have, whilst Simon Thomsen recently panned Spice I am's new upmarket venture.
          I'm personally looking forward for a return to longrain after a hiatus and fyi hamish ingham left billy kwong (has anyone EVER seen kylie kwong there?) last year to go to the teppenyaki joint at ivy but has already moved on again.

          In terms of guides, I don't think the SMh guide reflects my experiences for many restaurants since Matt Evans moved on. I don't particularly agree with Simon Thomsen's style I suppose. For some research you could always head to Australian Gourmet Traveller's website ( where there guide is available online as well as the reviews of the magazine. I am much more in agreement with Pat Nourse...

          1. I recommend Maha in Melbourne.