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Melbourne 80th birthday

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Sorry to be ignorant. Am bringing my mum from England (I live in Brooklyn NY) to Australia for her 80th birthday (we're doing a week in Melbourne for the tennis open, both big fans, followed by a week visiting my brother for the first time in 25 years in Sydney). We both seriously love food and I would like to do a big cool splurge in Melbourne for her on her actual birthday, Sat. Jan 18. Almost any cuisine. While we're in Melbourne we'll try to do a lot of great small places, Thai, etc. etc., but would like to make the birthday special. All suggestions gratefully considered. Sorry not to to be more savvy!

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  1. Well, there are plenty of options so give us a bit more information about what kind of thing would suit. Could you maybe describe your dream restaurant for this kind of event?

    Whereabouts will you be staying?

    8 Replies
    1. re: mr_gimlet

      Yes, to expand a bit, we're staying in a flat on Powlett St. near George St. which I believe is in East Melbourne, near Wellington Parade and the cricket ground--we're both tennis fans and will be going to the Open that week. So we're located pretty centrally and quite willing to get around a bit in the quest for great food.

      I cook mostly French and Italian food myself but eat practically anything, but it occurs to me that what would be most memorable would be to find food that has an original Australian take on whatever kind of cuisine it is--and of course is as fresh and local as possible and all that. Also not super uptight and starched. Does any of this help?

      1. re: tamara

        Melbourne doesn't really have super uptight so you're fine on that score. Melbourne does classical with Asian touches really well, and seafood is top notch as well

        Here's five quite different suggestions:
        - Woodland House (website up from 7 Jan, opens 15 Jan!) is the new incarnation of a very famous three hat restaurant, Jacques Reymond. Reymond has retired and handed the restaurant over to his two head chefs. It should be classical modern Australian with some Asian touches with nice comfy FOH and you'll have bragging rights. Also Ezard for a similar thing in the city
        - Brooks of Melbourne, highly technical food, really good wine, summarises Melbourne well but in the CBD so no views. St Crispin is getting good reviews for something similar but a bit edgier
        - Stokehouse Upstairs - Ocean view, seafood speciality, a stayer on the Mel scene
        - Cafe di Stasio, it looks like any other Italian restaurant, but it's so joyful it's hard not to leave thinking you've had a great time
        - one of our best chefs, Andrew O'Connell, has a bit of an empire, with his flagship Cutler and Co at the top followed by the set menu only Moon Under Water. I love the food at C&C but hate the restaurant, its too brassy and noisy

        Can recommend the best place for xxx if you need it, but they would be my recommendations if I was planning a night out for people I didn't know. In the three hats, there is also Vue de Monde - but it's just a classic Michelin experience and v expensive so I tend not to recommend to visitors who travel from overseas.

        1. re: mr_gimlet

          This is SO helpful and the idea of scoring Woodland House right at the beginning is pretty fantastic! Since we're in town for a week am tempted to get to at least two of your suggestions. Cafe di Stasio not to be missed I think. Will report back on our results....

          1. re: tamara

            Try lunch as di Stasio, they have a great lunch deal

        2. re: tamara

          Melbourne does euro/med really well. I'd second all of mr gimlet's suggestions. For casual fun you should also consider chin chin, Maha, Rosa's kitchen, Movida aqui, st crispin's, Smith st & Gertrude st are close & have lots of options including andrew mcconnell as does the east Melbourne end of the city.

          Donovans in st kilda has a lovely view over the bay and classy food similar to chez panisse

          For Asian - flower drum is back to the top of its game - formal ish cantonese

          1. re: booksforcooksAU

            I've removed Maha from my list. Very disappointing recent visit, with similar issues also experienced by friends.

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              Thanks to both of you! I arrived this evening and just got back from Rockwell & Sons on Smith St. which I liked a lot. Had smoked lamb ribs, perfect combination of melty and crispy. Will report on further developments!

              1. re: tamara

                If you go back to Smith Street, don't forget Gelato Messina