Carlton Wine Room boss and co-owner John Paul Twomey is a master of all things: the textures of tripe, octopus gratin and fried chicken are juicy, tasty standard-bearers of the genre. Cafe Coconut Cove is a German family restaurant with stunning views of the Indian River.
The style of comfort with a modern twist is reflected in the dining room, with well-planned service and an annotation wine list compiled by sommelier Travis Howe that seeks minimal intervention rather than dogmatic. Dinner is fun and formal, not least because the wine list and food are put together by the best sommelier in town, Loic Avril. The menu also features one of Melbourne’s great desserts, a drizzled rumbaba topped with piped cream diplomat and stracciatella and potato focaccia combo, making the Carlton Wine Room a place worth exploring.
Cutler and Co-Chef Allan Doert-Eccles complement the decadent bar menu with dishes like confit duck liver parfait with fig cucumber and elderflower or $150 Southern Rock lobster with wood-roasted saffron rice floating in a biscuit-like sauce. But the real reason Andrew McConnell’s fine dining guests feel so fresh is that the menu offers rare flexibility at both ends of the menu. Embla has recently opened a rooftop bar and cinema on the top of the popular Natural Wine Bar while a neighbouring building offers a summery Mediterranean atmosphere in a space that will later become a boutique hotel.
Melbourne loves a good old multi-storey ode to food, and Dom Pizzeria is a social club ready to meet the lethal demand. Rooftop Bar’s Cinema is a pop-up, but it’s also one of the best new places in town with 5.5 million screens of classic movies and Euro-style snacks like the Stracciatella Golden Beet Walnut sundae, a compressed version of Embla’s popular Sunday lunch. Melbourne is downtown, full of shops, nightlife and excellent restaurants.
If you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old and the finances of a Kardashian, you have never stood a chance against Melbourne’s wild dining machine. Wine bars are proliferating, restaurant owners are moving away from white tablecloths and fancy restaurants, and guests in Melbourne can enjoy the best food without spending a fortune. Melbourne is a small city of four million people at the end of the world with all the food from places like New York City and London, but with the kind of diversity you won’t find anywhere else.
If you need a quick filling that won’t weigh down your budget, swing by for the Long Dogger, the biggest hot dog you’ll ever taste. Three of the four main fish are highlights, with the New Zealand salmon and horseradish finger lime stand out as perennial favourites. The openings do not stop, so there is always time to stay on top.
Dove III has some of the absolute best homemade Italian cuisine in town in an intimate, dark atmosphere. Historic Melbourne city centre has some fun bars, shops and restaurants, all just a 10-minute drive from the river. Dine on freshly caught seafood, juicy steaks and decadent desserts overlooking the water.