If there are 10 important places to check out The Age Good Food Guide 2023 Make these this summer. From unexpected Parisian chic tucked away in the suburbs to casual offshoots of fine dining, this list represents the most exciting and hip spots in Victoria, as selected by Good Food’s senior judging panel.
Clinton McIver and his team transformed the cuisine, wine and service at fine-dining restaurant Amaru for their social and stylish bar across the street.
Sophistication is unmistakable here, but offset by a flatware-free menu of accomplished snacks and a wine list that’s rich and broad, but also bold and upbeat.
Whether you’re hiding inside or enjoying the courtyard, there are no bad choices here.
1160 High Street, Armadale, auterrawinebar.com.au
The charm of this light and airy place is enhanced because the location is so unexpected. Nestled between a storage room and a nondescript office block in Cheltenham, Bar Savarin looks more like it belongs on a European seafront than in the middle of that boxy cityscape.
The space displays all the charisma of a casual, contemporary Parisian eatery, and suits chef Hugh Sanderson’s modern French cuisine, which shines on a menu of mostly snacks and dishes to share, but also hits the heartier dishes.
132 Keys Road, Cheltenham, 03 7038 0018
Figlia’s Wrench Crab Pizza. Photo: Jason South
The idea that the crew at popular CBD pasta bar Tipo 00 could repeat the trick, just with pizza, is a delicious prospect. At Figlia they have gone even further and made a style of pizza that is as good as any of the Napoli style pizzas but with the maximalism and fun of a great Australian pie.
With a large horseshoe bar, industrial lines, and art deco hanging lights, this corner restaurant is also an eye catcher.
331 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, figlia.com.au
Steamed tapioca pearls are Jeow’s favorite dish. Photo: Bonnie Savage
The Richmond storefront that housed Anchovy has become fabulously Lao. But Jeow is less a Lao restaurant and more a Lao-inspired Australian restaurant, giving it the freedom to be exactly what it wants to be.
And what it aspires to be is a neighborhood spot where you might drop by every week for Chef Thi Le’s inventiveness and cooking skills, aided by a warmth created by regulars and newcomers alike.
338 Bridge Road, Richmond, jeow.net.au
Ide’s spin-off bar March is one of the sexiest spaces around. Photo: Bonnie Savage
Say hello to the cocktail and wine bar, the laid-back sister of Ides, Peter Gunn’s subdued, sophisticated Collingwood restaurant. Despite the casual label, it still conveys a sense of specialness.
The wide marble bar, slate gray walls, and dim lighting make the small shopfront on Smith Street one of the hottest spaces around, the perfect place to start an evening with a well-made martini.
Don’t skip the food, though: mostly chic and full-bodied snacks, plus a few dishes that could constitute a meal.
90 Smith Street, Collingwood, marchmelbourne.com.au
Windsor hotel owner Adi Halim, who had already gifted the city of Sunda and Aru, hits out of the park again with Parcs.
Proving a knack for talent scouting, Halim has installed Dennis Yong, a young chef with a flair for fermentation and a mission to reduce food waste.
In less witty or less skilled hands, the focus on reusing ingredients that would otherwise go to the bin might get a little serious.
But Yong’s passion for taste runs as deep as his commitment to the environment. Being an eco warrior never tasted so good.
198 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, parks.com.au
Wine-friendly snacks at the Public Wine Shop. Photo: Eddie Jim
Public wine shop
When Campbell Burton, one of the city’s most passionate wine professionals, announced he was opening a wine bar bottle shop, the excitement was palpable.
Essentially a brick-and-mortar version of the wholesale wine business he runs with his partner Charlotte Ryan, Public is all about minimal intervention wines and other fun, fermented beverages.
Hundreds of these line the walls while chef Ali Currey-Voumard (once of Tasmania’s Agrarian Kitchen) creates a menu of European classics that’s delivered to the 20-seat communal table.
179 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, publicwineshop.com.au
Rocco’s has a retro look. Photo: Bonnie Savage
Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca
The people who dreamed up this fun-loving Fitzroy restaurant clearly wanted to create a place that they enjoy being in. Luckily we want to go there too. Wood paneling, vinyl booths, and white curtains are reminiscent of the Italian bars many of us grew up in.
During lunch and late at night, hearty sandwiches are the order of the day. The evening menu, on the other hand, is maximalist and full of flavor. Bring your friends, order a bottle of local natural wine and join the party.
15 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, roccosbologna.com
Kingfish served with crackling pork in Serai. Photo: Chris Hopkins
Serai’s lively dining room has an airy, industrial feel and makes good use of the city’s old bones. Big-hearted and big-flavored dishes come from an energetic open kitchen anchored by a wood-burning grill.
Chef Ross Magnaye’s ambition to marry modern Aussie with the food of his Filipino origins is exciting – deeply personal, refreshingly modern and in some ways breaking new ground for Australian cuisine.
7 Racing Club Lane, Melbourne, www.serakitchen.com.au
Victor Churchill is all about the steak. Photo: Chloe Dann
You can definitely drop by for a quick drink and charcuterie at the gleaming black marble horseshoe-shaped bar at the back of this famously lavish Armadale butcher shop.
But the real temptation on Chef Carl Walden’s bar menu is the steaks – what else? Cooked over a charcoal-fired Josper grill, they join other luxury benchmarks done right.
Classic cocktails use local spirits and a fantastic wine list offers blown-out bottles alongside real bargains.
953 High Street, Armadale, victorchurchill.com
tea Good Food Guide 2023 The magazine is available for $9.95 from newsagents, supermarkets and thestore.com.au.
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