Searching for good meals in Melbourne
Hi all--first post here. My husband and I will be in Australia for three weeks starting 26 March. I am looking for suggestions on where to eat (that isn't in the tradional American guidebooks). We will be in Melbourne for Formula One weekend 26-29 March and really have no idea where to start. The place doesn't have to be fancy, but flavourful, well-prepared food is a must, and a nice view/ambiance a plus. Husband loves seafood and sushi (I need my fish cooked and with a shell).
A couple of years ago we did 5 weeks in Australia, started in Sydney and ate at Rockpool and Quay (Rockpool was a huge disappointment in terms of service and we thought the food over-priced)
Also looking for late night cocktail places that would welcome us oldies (early 50s) where we can relax, drink, maybe hear some music.
Guiseppe Arnoldo and Sons at Crown Casino is great and very reasonable. Downside is they don't take reservations. The Napier in Fitzroy is one of the best pubs in town and their special board (which changes everyday) is probably the best quality food for the price you'll get in Melbourne. Plus it's off the beaten path. Panama Dining Room on Smith Street is always good and a good place for cocktails afterwards. Best cocktails in Melbourne will be at Black Pearl on Brunswick Street. Incredible selection of booze and consistently award winning service. Take a walk down Gertrude Street in Fitzroy and you'll have a plethora of places to try in all price ranges. Enoteca is a stand out for good food (very small menu) and excellent wine selection. Gertrude Street also has Ladro, Cutler & Co, Anada, Charcoal Lane, Southpaw, Builder's Arms, the list goes one. For seafood, Claypots in St, Kilda has a good atmosphere (incidentally there is also one on Gertrude Street). It used to be BYO, but I think that might have changed. Grossi Florentini Cellar Bar is consistently good and very low key. Bistro Vue (part of the Vue De Monde empire) is excellent and more reasonably priced than it's more famous sibling.
My recommendations are:
Cumlus Inc on Flinders Lane. Casual dining with a great vibe and fantastic food. If they have the stout ice-cream on the menu; order it. About 8 different varieties of oysters on the menu too.
Cookie on Swanston Street . It's a Belgian Beer Hall/Thai Restaurant/Cocktail Bar. Food isn't fancy, but solid with well executed flavours. The wine and beer lists are massive and the bar tenders know how to make a proper drink. If you go to Cookie, I'd pop up the stairs a couple of flights to The Toff of the Town to get some cocktails. Jut be aware that these venues are often pumping on the weekend.
For a mid-week lunch I'd try the Journal Canteen (Flinders Lane) for some home style italian cooking with a glass of wine. Get a window seat and look into the lane-ways.