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Mar 14, 2014 12:04 AM

Melbourne - 7 Days


Am heading to Melbourne in 2 weeks for 7 days. Was last there about 3 years ago and much enjoyed the recommendations you guys gave, especially Kersizm and Mr. Gimlet.

The last time round I did the usual suspects of VdM, Attica, Cutler & Co, Movida, PM24 (which I hear is no more) for main meals, lunches at Cumulus, Di Stasio, Rockpool Bar & Grill (burger) and brunch places like Pope Joan, Birdman Eating. Looking through other posts (especially DegustationAsian's), it seems like the dining scene is burgeoning and there are many new places. I've made a shortlist of a few and I guess this time the emphasis is on more casual dining and trying new places with an eye on a budget (Australia seems to be getting more expensive) as follows:

Main Meals

1. Saint Crispin
2. Town Mouse
3. Builder's Arms or Moon Under Water (I prefer traditional food with a twist, so would other McConnell places like Golden Fields be better?)
4. Woodland House

Brunch Places

Am at a loss here. Is Pope Joan and Birdman Eating still good for brunch type food? The only other one I've read about is Hardware Societe. What are the "American" type places like Nieu Amsterdam or Rockwell & Sons like?

Value Lunches

I liked Cumulus and may try that or the new Cumulus Up although the online menu for Cumulus seems much the same as the last time.

Is the Cafe Di Stasio value lunch still available and good? Are there other places to suggest - I've read about pre theatre or lunch deals at some casino restaurants. Other deals like PM24 used to do for dining before a certain time?

Is Gazi worth checking out or gimmicky?


am probably going for the Rockpool burger again unless there are other recommendations. Have read about Huxtaburger, Tree Of Us, Rockwell & Sons - any comparisons?

Coffee Places

Am going to try Dukes Roasters - any difference between the Chapel St or CBD locations? The ones I tried last time were De Clieu and Brother Baba Budan.

Bars, Drinks

Liked Der Raum a lot unfortunately it is no more. Is Bar Americano or Economico worth checking out? Other suggestions appreciated.


Is there a place where Phillipa Sibley does her desserts? Are there any standout desserts at restaurants, dessert bars or pastry places?

Once again, any comments and suggestions appreciated.


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  1. Definitely St Crispin. You also need to do Prix Fixe, Sibley's new restaurant. For outstanding Italian, Rosas Kitchen. Di Stasio has been going for 25 years, and clearly doing something right - always worth a lunch there. Oh, and Brooks - really underrated CBD place, quite avant garde - think sort of David Toutain inspired.

    Lost track of whats open/ closed at the casino, but they both Bistro Guillaume and Rosetta have lunch deals - I've done both, think Guillaume is better value but the room at Rosetta is nicer.

    Bar Americano is probably the pick of your list, but I prefer the Everleigh

    Coffee - you should probably pick up one of the Padre stable and maybe Proud Mary if you are on Smith Street anyway.

    Huxtaburger is fun if you are there, but I wouldn't make a special trip. Obviously cheaper than Rockpool.

    Overall, the trend in Melbourne is to more casual, no bookings places - a lot of 'new' places are closer to bars with food, because that's how you make money. You can't move for "izakayas" (alleged) on Smith Street.The dude food trend is also still around but becoming less annoying. So there isn't a lot new at the top, interesting end since your last visit.

    17 Replies
    1. re: mr_gimlet

      While not so new I had a great meal at Hell of the North in Fitzroy. Good French cooking, nice environment and smart staff. Won't break the bank either.

      Huxtaburger is massively over-rated.

      1. re: mr_gimlet

        Hi Mr. Gimlet & Kersizm

        Thanks for the suggestions.

        Sounds like I'll do St. Crispin and Town Mouse for sure. Any feedback on Woodland House or Moon Under Water/ Builder's Arms?

        Prix Fixe looks interesting but I'll be solo this time and their website shows a minimum of 2 for a table.

        Is Rosa's Kitchen by the former chef at Journal Canteen? I was going to but forgot to ask if Journal Canteen was still worth going to?

        I am a David Toutain fan and enjoyed eating at Agape Substance so will try and give Brooks a go. Is the chef ex of Embarasse?

        I'll probably give Huxtaburger a miss. Any thoughts on Gazi?

        What's the $65 menu of Hell Of The North like?

        Is Gelato Messina the go to place for ice cream these days? Is Jocks still around?

        Any suggestions for breakfast/ brunch places?

        Will I need bookings for the places I've listed?


        1. re: mikey8811


          Also, what's a good steak place these days?

          For a brunch place, a friend recommended Hammer & Tong on Brunswick St. in Fitzroy - have you guys been?


          1. re: mikey8811

            Steak - Charcoal Grill on the Hill, La Luna, Middle Park Hotel, Station Hotel in Footscray. Depends how much you want to pay. And of course all the South AMerican places if you wanted more than just steak or a cheaper cut.

            Brunch - there are so many places, and they are all pretty similar. Just base it on where you're going. My personal favourite on Brunswick St is Madame Sousou because they can make hollansaise properly.

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              Thanks Mr. Gimlet

              I tried Middle Park Hotel the last time so may give La Luna or Station Hotel a go.

              This time, going to Google Maps, I can no longer find tram directions to get to places which is frustrating. I will be at the Art Series Blackman again and was able to get very precise tram directions to restaurants before. What's happened? Do you know of an alternative iPhone app?

              Also, between St. Crispin and Estelle, which do you prefer?


              1. re: mikey8811

                Yes, there is something about the tram data and Google - there was an article on it recently.

                Public Transport Victoria has a journey planner, but have only used from a computer. I use Train Trapper and Tram Hunter on Android, I think they have slightly different names on iPhone - but they are more about what time is the next tram etc rather than journey planning

                La Luna is BYO (with substantial corkage) - their wine list is good, but Rathdowne Cellars is a few doors up if you wanted to take a really good bottle.

                Definitely St Crispin over Estelle.

                1. re: mr_gimlet

                  Thanks again.

                  How does La Luna or Station Hotel compare to say Rockpool Bar & Grill or Builder's Arm Hotel for steaks? I guess the latter two are easier to get to for me and perhaps have more diverse starters and interesting desserts than a steakhouse. The BYO is not a deal breaker as I am not a big drinker.

                  Also, what is the deal with Spanish places now? I tried the Movida places the last time so probably Anada or Bomba or Bar Lourinha this time. Any preferences?

                  Is there also a fish place like Fish Face in Sydney with really excellent fish and chips?

                  Also, any suggestions for a place for dinner just before leaving for the airport on a Sunday night, preferably close to Southern Cross station?

                  1. re: mikey8811

                    Spanish: Anada, Lourinha, Casa Ciuccio

                    La Luna is a restaurant with good steaks, it has its own ageing room. Menu is online. Station is a pub that happens to be good at steaks, not a restaurant. I am in a minority, but think Rockpool is an overpriced steak venue with mediocre provenance. LL easy to get to - 96 tram and a 5 minute walk.

                    Fish: no equivalent, fish and chips are universally mediocre unless you get down the coast.

                    Sunday night is a hard ask. First, there is nothing near Southern Cross anyway. Second, Sunday in the CBD is dead. I know that Chin Chin and San Telmo are open. You can either get a tram down to SX, or just get a taxi to the airport rather than the skybus and suck up the extra $20.

                    1. re: mr_gimlet

                      Thanks again Mr Gimlet.

                      I checked out both menus for La Luna and Station. They both look fine and I am leaning towards the former although they don't list the source for their steaks. I mentioned Rockpool because I am a sucker for David Blackmore full blood wagyu especially the cube roll and that is the only place I have seen it.

                      Chin Chin is South East Asian and I can get better as it's where I'm from. San Telmo looks interesting ans my other alternative is Nieuw Amsterdam although I am leery of having US style food in Oz although the same would go for Argentinean but less seeing as it's very much beef oriented too.

                      1. re: mikey8811

                        I've only dined at Nieuw once and didn't really feel it was "American". It definitely references a few American classics but it's a modern smart restaurant/bar. Have you had a look at the menu?

                        1. re: kersizm

                          Yes, I had a look at the menu and thought it looked OK. Will most likely be heading there.

                          Did you like Nieuw?

                          Also, what are your views on Woodland House's lunch menu or Pope Joan for dinner?

                          1. re: mikey8811

                            Yeah I did like it. They had only been open a week and the floor staff needed a little work but I really enjoyed the food.

                            Been to Pope Joan for dinner when it was the Bishop of Osteia. I'm not sure I'd bother too much if you miss it.

                            Sorry that's not so helpful is it?!?

                            I think Nieuw is one of the better new restaurants in Melbourne.

                            1. re: kersizm

                              OK cool, that settles it for Nieuw then. What were the go to dishes there for you? Deciding between the Smokey Beef Brisket or Pork Belly Chops for mains or going with the tasting menu which they don't specify.

                              I'll give Pope Joan a miss for dinner then and prob head there for brunch although they have taken the black pudding with crispy egg dish I liked the last time off the menu.

                  2. re: mr_gimlet

                    I use the Melbourne Transport Search ap on iPhone; it's by rome2rio

                  3. re: mikey8811

                    Try "Tram Tracker" for the iPhone - I used it last time I was in town and it got me to the restaurants I needed.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      Thanks PhilD

                      I read your posts on the HK and Europe boards. Good to see you here too.

          2. Just an update for a final spot choice. Prix Fixe has reverted to say they have room for me. So I am stuck filling in my final spot between Prix Fixe's new Whole Hog menu, Town Mouse, Hell Of North or La Luna.

            I can probably make the Prix Fixe lunch and keep one of the others but is 2 courses worth going for?

            Thanks again for any insights.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mikey8811

              Prix Fixe for dinner. Any of the other three for lunch.