Category: Drinking & Dining
Able to get away with serving pretty much whatever they like, major performing arts venues have long remained the last bastions of generic wine and triangle sandwiches.
At the Melbourne Recital Centre, My Mexican Cousin pursues a different model, one where signature building and captive audience combine with a bar and restaurant with a Creole leanings that is proving to be a drawcard in itself.
The venue is a collaboration between Jerome Borazio, Grant Smillie, Andrew McKinnon (who first worked together to open Ponyfish Island) and Salvatore Malatesta of St Ali. Top off with Maurice Esposito as executive chef, and the teaming of an unexpected assortment of local hospitality and entertainment entrepreneurs is complete.
My Mexican Cousin
Corner of Sturt Street & Southbank Boulevard
Tel: 9686 3389
On the 55th floor of the Rialto towers, Shannon Bennett’s Vue de monde is Melbourne dining’s biggest ticket. On one side, its dedicated and distinctive bar, the Lui Bar, may also serve as the only way many locals will be able to sample what it’s like to enjoy a holy matrimony of a fine beverage, fine service and fine view.
Naturally, diners at Vue need a reservation, but drinkers at Lui do not – the bar is open and welcome to all. A scotch or two here offering a Windows on the World experience with a bill that doesn’t cost the earth.
Indeed, a 10 course degustation up here would certainly be an occasion, but in the mean time, the Lui will turn each and every beverage into exactly that.
The Lui Bar at Vue de monde
L 55 Rialto, 525 Collins Street.
Tel: 9691 3888
(pic: Diana Snape)
While only open a mere year or so, Long Play already feels like a seasoned veteran.
Venetian blinds, polished wood, a short and sharp wine list and a large yet equally sharp vinyl collection, complemented by some surprisingly decent Mediterranean style fare and a couple of very friendly and reassuringly regular barkeeps.
Occasionally showing film screenings out the back in a small cinema space, the bar itself remains the better place to settle in, as with Joe’s or Gerald’s. St Georges Road strikes again…
Open from 6pm daily – 11pm weeknights & 1am weekends.
318 St Georges Road Road, North Fitzroy.
0423 115 774
From the man who turned a warehouse in a derlict South Melbourne laneway into an award-winning, continually packed café and on-site roasting premises (StAli), and then sold it and did it all over again in an even shitter part of Carlton (Seven Seeds), De Clieu sees Mark Dundon head for the busy pastures of Gertrude Street.
Of course, being a source of coffee to many of Melbourne’s it cafés, the coffee here is familiarly great, while the café-with-a-twist menu provides a few hits and a few misses.
What has people talking most are the large window ledges facing Napier Street – settle in to one with a friend or a book and you’ll soon be back to do it again…
One of those spots you don’t really need to lock your bike up, just prop your wheels against the wall or street sign within …
Two years on, the bar with all the hype never lost its hype…
Beneath the roof of the shortest building on Collins Street, Mamasita is set out to represent one of the most under-represented cuisines in Australian dining: Mexican.
Think cactus salad and ceviche, chipolote corn and the michelada – a beer with tomato juice, lime juice, salt and Tabasco. Yes, a beer Bloody Mary, if you will…and you should. Flavours are light and sharp and, sometimes, even new. When was the last time you could say that about food?
To be able to enjoy such fare in an environment that doesn’t rely heavily Tex Mex pastiche isn’t really rocket science; it’s just that nobody had actually done it yet. Now that it’s done, it makes so much sense and buzzes so loudly you almost wish it was you who thought it up.
In an already saturated stretch of Smith Street, this well executed little bar and kitchen somehow manages to slot in somewhere between many other venues in the neighbourhood, and has quickly finding its own place.
Directly across from the Grace Darling, Smith Street’s forever bustling pub, Huxtable is a relaxed and cosy, in comparison, especially on weekend nights. A lo-fi Cumulus meets a hi-fi Rosamond, the menu revolves around small or large share dishes, and one can sit facing the kitchen and the chefs at work.
As some of the small share dishes can be a tiny (even moreso than their $4-$5 price tag belies) advice might be to get half-full somewhere else before coming, as a few drinks and accompanying snacks here is definitely worth doing. So to, weekend brunch.
xx Smith Street, Fitzroy. 9xxxxx
After a long successful stint as head chef of Circa, Matt Wilkinson left the St Kilda institution for a reverse sea-change, setting up his own café, Pope Joan in the comparatively unglamorous , yet somehow just as desirable locale of East Brunswick. Taking his emphasis on seasonality to this suburban neighbourhood café has meant staple ingredients aren’t always on the menu, but rest assured, what is on the menu is generally fantastic.
RANT – Skybus TV
While it’s painful enough having to pay $16 for a 20 minute bus ride and often still be left standing with out a seat, Skybus TV adds to this pain. What a sad first impression this 15 minutes of footage must leave on our new arrivals!
So, to the poor visitors wondering, “Oh shit, I heard Melbourne was interesting”, may we share the following insider knowledge:
1) Galactic Circus at Crown Casino is not “Melbourne’s most exciting entertainment experience”. It is a large indoor video game arcade.
2) Spencer Street Fashion Station is not “The place to shop in Melbourne”. It is a discount strip-mall in the site of a failed discount strip-mall called DFO, which moved to the Docklands, and failed again.
3) “Harbour Town Dock- lands – there’s no town like it.” A generic row of shops …
Neil Perry is famous, and after visiting Spice Temple it becomes clear why.
Next door to his temple of high beef, Rockpool, Spice Temple is expansive, yet not cavernous, it’s dimly lit dining room lends the right mood for a parade of dishes bursting with flavours, fine textures and curious titles. From Numbing Pork to Curious Chicken, it’s the antithesis of $6 beef & black bean sauce.
You have never eaten Chinese food like this before.
Crown complex, Southbank,xxxxx