Food, Top 10

Best Restaurants in Crown Melbourne

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Crown Melbourne is a top notch culinary destination in Melbourne with many hits in the same complex. We understand prices may be higher because of the premium destination and cost of fit out etc required. We contend that just because a restaurant has a slighly lower than expected score say on Urbanspoon, doesn't mean that its not outstanding. Of course not every restaurant in Crown has been a hit, and we've seen a few come and go. We enjoy all the restaurants we've visited below.

Here are our top restaurants in Crown Melbourne (in no particular order) -

Rosetta Ristorante

Bistro Guillaume

Nobu

The Atlantic

Dinner by Heston

San Antone

Rockpool Bar & Grill

Spice Temple

No. 8 

Man Tong Kitchen

The Merrywell

 

Rosetta Ristorante

Rosetta is a stylish restaurant serving classic Italian food at its best. Your Nonna would love it here - usually the acid test of fine Italian dining. And there's technique here that Nonna might find hard to match. For a start the best ingredients are sourced. We enjoyed a selection of Rosetta dishes on a cheerful Melbourne weekday for lunch. We first imbibed Antipasti that captured the best of Italy. The Prosciutto Fratelli Galloni with nectarine and hazelnuts was delightful  - the prosciutto being a top grade prosciutto with superior air drying processes. And the advent of seasonality with nectarine, especially on a scorching Melbourne day, was welcome. The hazelnuts brought a pleasing crunch to the equation.

Yellowfin tuna with roast tomatoes, garlic and lemon was a highlight of the Antipasti. The Yellowfin tuna was prepared crudo or ceviche style, with a dressing of oil and lemon in the Italian way. The small elements of tomatoes and garlic complemented perfectly, and I abandoned myself to garlic flavours knowing I would be returning to my office in Docklands in due course, but not planning to meet clients.

And then when firmly entrenched in the Italian comfort food zone, I received large beautifully cooked meatballs from the waiter. It felt like an embrace from my Nonna, such was the comfort factor. Meatballs baked in tomato sauce was a voluptuous and great completion of our Antipasta.

 

Rosetta delivered with the Primi Di Pasta, namely the Spaghetti with zucchini, chilli and prosciutto. I was excited to see prosciutto make a return to the table, and this dish was again rustic and indulgent with more hugs by Nonna. Perfectly cooked spaghetti combined wonderfully with the prosciutto and the seasonal fresh zucchini. I could devour loads of this...

 Come to Rosetta to experience a slice of Italy in a high class ambience displaying loads of culinary technique, while also celebrating "simple pleasures".


 Bistro Guillaume 

Bistro Guillaume is a charming restaurant that thrills with French cuisine with a modern twist. The location is superb next to the Yarra in Crown Melbourne. The feeling is of space and light due to the high ceiling and large windows. A turn of the century feel with Parisian decor is compelling, although its not "over the top" in terms of its finery. We enjoyed the relaxed feel of a bistro.

The World Loves Melbourne visited Bistro Guillaume as part of a Tefal masterclass with Guillaume Brahimi himself (photo courtesy of Facebook page). One of the finest chefs in the land, Guillaume is a perfectionist and we love his ethos in the kitchen. Guillaume cooked the best roast chicken I've ever eaten. This chef loves to cook chicken, especially when he can get his hands on Barossa's finest free range. Don't buy average chicken Guillaume says, it's worth paying extra for intense flavours and quality. And when you cook chickens like Guillaume the difference is easily demonstrated in his restaurant dishes. This legendary chef also loves his beurre and takes pride in his stock, as the base for many of the dishes.

Come to Bistro Guillaume for Chargrilled King Salmon, or the Leg of duck confit, or try the Berkshire pork belly. Or lash out with the Chateaubriand with pommes frites. But I couldn't go past the Half a roasted chicken with Paris mash and chicken jus! Highly recommended.


Nobu

Ok so it's been a little while since I've visited Nobu in Crown. Come here to experience the influence of the legendary master chef Nobuyaki Matsuhisa. The World Loves Melbourne visited Nobu for a special dinner wanting to impress interstate visitors, and we were amazed by the coming together of  Peruvian and Japanese fusion. We know there are other Nobu establishments elsewhere in the world, and The World Loves Melbourne was taken by the one in Dubai. Robert De Niro connections are impressive.  Although many celebs are to be seen here...

 

So you walk down the stairs into an ambience of sophistication, the fit out here is lavish and well appointed. And you are met by a super chic waiter who escorts you to your table…

For first timers it takes a few minutes to work out the menu - don't let fusion become "confusion"! Amid the general noise in the place you need to listen very carefully to your waiter who will explain the state of play. We enjoy the ambience and whole backlit thing going on... Mood lighting impressed our interstate guests – there's a great sense of occasion here. (Photo above and below courtesy of website).

 

The World Loves Melbourne  is a big fan of the signature black cod miso, cod that has been prepared for days, marinated, and glazed with miso. A tender amazing dish. The wagyu rib eye with red pepper miso, ponzuy and anticucho sauces, also packed a punch and was happily shared. 

Then for dessert the amazing bento box action with the gold leaf featured a superb Hot chocolate fondant! With the killer combination of yummy green tea icecream! The flavours work incredibly together with the sweetness of the fondue and the balancing green tea, which is not overly sweet. Had to take a photo with my smartphone (sorry, the lighting is ultra dim). Presentation at Nobu is second to none...  We enjoyed perfect food and company in a sensational restaurant, albeit it will make demands on your wallet.


The Atlantic

The Atlantic is the premier seafood restaurant in Melbourne, with legendary Head Chef Donovan Cooke a culinary perfectionist (for example, three or four deliveries of seafood a day) and genius, weaving his magic with a loyal team of chefs who have followed him around the world. Fresh in my mind is the magic of 90s Melbourne iconic restaurant Est Est Est, where out of a small kitchen there came cuisine that was about 20 years ahead of its time. Donovan Cooke has had an amazing culinary history and is a force de jeure in the fine dining world.

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The World Loves Melbourne has visited The Atlantic several times and has thoroughly enjoyed each occasion. The menu here is varied and a full quiver of stunning seafood dishes. The origin of each fish appears on the menu. Interestingly, there is also a captivating "from the land" menu with selections such as Wood Fire Grilled Wagyu and 300g Full Blood Black Angus Scotch Fillet.

A highlight was this Moreton Bay Bug Spaghettini with olive oil, garlic, chilli, and parsley. With perfectly cooked pasta as the platform, the Moreton Bay Bugs appeared in between strands of pasta with alluring beauty, fresh from their sea bed. The siren of the sea was calling in this dish.  I still think about it. The Atlantic also excels is in its top notch service. The wait staff offered to "flay" my fish to remove major bones, with discretion and aplomb. Delicate and creamy, I enjoyed the Baby Snapper wood fired flavours, along with the wonderful sides. 

One of the signature dishes of The Atlantic is the Olive Oil Confit Ora King Salmon (NZ) with braised baby savoy cabbage, grilled smoked bacon, baby carrot and jus gras. This is genius. Personally I'm a huge fan of Ora King Salmon - it's different to any other salmon and has featured more and more in the kitchens of Melbourne. It's the frekin wagyu of salmon. So you have the creamy Ora King Salmon with marble like qualities as with wagyu, paired with sexy cabbage, and smoky flavours of the bacon. The jus also plays its role in this creamy exotic masterpiece, a dish that Donovan has been perfecting for over 20 years.

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The Atlantic is a standout restaurant in Crown with a highly credentialled chef and a crack team in operation.


 Dinner by Heston

Heston lovers can celebrate as Dinner by Heston has made its mark in Melbourne.

The sensory experience begins as you glide through the dark corridor, scented with woody smoke and heady leather aromas. Once inside, the fit-out is all class; think smooth timber tables, stylish circular banquets and lime green furnishings, all with that celebrated Yarra River view.

Not to be blurred with the wild magic of The Fat Duck, the food at Dinner is inspired by the historical dishes of the British Isles dating as far back as the 13th century. Heston has researched these dishes throughout his journeys and has developed with flecks of Australian ingredients. This fascinating culinary exploration is manifest throughout the menu which references the source of origin of each dish, from which one can feel the sense of place on the plate, reincarnated with each little bite. 

Service is superbly polished and the floor is graced with approachable ease. When explaining the bible of a wine list, there is real enthusiasm and an educational element from sommelier, Loic Avri. Have no doubt you will drink like a king from all corners of the globe, albeit with a hefty price tag.

Beautifully smoked, the ocean trout is fleshy and plump, enhanced by a zesty pickled lemon salad. Wood sorrel and smoked roe add great depth and texture to this starter.

Lamb & Cucumber (c. 1830) - The composition of best end of lamb with roast cucumber hearts, delicately cooked sweetbreads and broad beans is a hugely satisfying dish.


 

San Antone

Rumour has it that Crown Melbourne seached far and wide for outstanding American BBQ before teaming up with Kevin Bludso from famous LA eatery of his own name. The fit out, as with other eateries in Crown, is first class and upmarket. This is not a dingy BBQ venue but fits in to the vibe of Crown Melbourne perfectly. Interestingly when we met Kevin, his passion was for BBQ not just American BBQ. He was equally passionate about how BBQ might look in Melbourne as well Los Angeles. Melbourne might have it's own stamp on BBQ. Why do we always have to compare and even replicate America? So I liked Kevin from the get go.

The World Loves Melbourne feels BBQ in this city always gets judged on some region of America, but why can't people bring their own twist or expression?

So how was the BBQ? The World Loves Melbourne has been riding the American BBQ wave. (In fact we've been riding a few waves in Melbourne). So we kind of know what's good and what's not. When the first plate of San Antone BBQ arrived we wondered whether it would be juicy, spicy, melt in your mouth, quality, with kick, American BBQ? Well, we loved it. A good barometer is whether the chicken is awesome, and it was juicy and cooked perfectly.

Chorizo had real kick, how we like it. So far so good.

We find that brisket often steals the show, and it certainly did at San Antone. First class melt in your mouth brisket. They asked us whether we had any questions... So I plucked up the courage to ask where they got their meat from? After all some BBQ places hide behind inferior cuts of meat masked by their sauces basted all over the place. Not so at San Antone. The meat speaks for itself. Not masked. I was told the meat is prime cuts from Victoria's Gippsland. The best.

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Kevin is a delightful host and waxed lyrical with stories from the BBQ scene in LA as well as his appreciation of the foodie scene in Australia. He was one of the most engaging hosts we've seen at a media event. He pulled us in and engaged us personally through the dining experience.

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Sides were on point wiht Beans, Slaw and Mac n Cheese compelling. This was a feast.


Rockpool Bar & Grill

Rockpool Bar and Grill is a fine dining haven in the Crown Casino and is known for its spectacular meat dishes and the culinary genius of Neil Perry. The conversation around here is all about "dry-aged", "grass-fed", "rib-eye" and of course "wagyu".  Rockpool has a modern fit out with high ceilings, great use of timber panelling, subtle mood lighting, large artwork tributes to the humble cow, several attractive dining areas and luxurious tables and chairs. What struck me about Rockpool was the finery and great use of textures. The ambience here is refined yet relaxed.  Waiters dressed impeccably attend to your dining needs and are engaging and knowledgeable. 

The meat here is sourced from Australia's best producers and dry aged on the premises. Rockpool are strict about humane treatment of cattle and about  no hormones or antibiotic feed supplements. Rockpool features Blackmore's Wagyu, Greenhams and Rangers Valley meat. It's the best of the best.


Curiously the David Blackmore burger here was such a huge hit that many considered it to be the best burger in Melbourne. Neil Perry has taken to opening Burger Joint in Sydney with more outlets planned.  Wagyu heaven.  

Come to Rockpool for that romantic dinner, catch up with friends, and the restaurant is popular with corporates.


 Spice Temple

Spice Temple is an iconic fine dining restaurant in the Crown Complex in Melbourne that serves sophisticated cuisine that expresses spice nuances of the highest order.  Spice Temple teaches us that spice is not just about heat but balance and subtleties of flavour. It challenges notions of Cantonese sme old same old dishes and breaks out with imaginative dishes that salute regional China. Neil Perry is the mastermind behind Spice Temple and he knows how to celebrate a cuisine and bring standout flair, as well as deliver a fine dining experience. While we celebrate Chinatown, this is no Chinatown. It's about finery.  

Spice Temple boasts a top notch fit out with excellent use of timber slats, modern decor, window overlooking the Yarra and boulevard, and even incense aromas.  The ambience was of a silky restaurant. I would describe Spice Temple as spicy and silky.

Spice Temple has developed several famous dishes that thrill. The King Prawn wontons with aged black vinegar dressing make an immediate impression in terms of presentation and your first foray into the spicy sauce that imbibes this dish. The wontons themselves are beautiful and the style and filling first class. Thin and elegant wontons. The dish was generous - although I was eating a shared dish by myself (I'm no stranger to that). 

The combination of flavours and balance was impressive. Dancing on the tongue this dish was to be savoured. I felt a compulson to consume the spicy sauce almost as a soup. Apparently I'm not the first to do so. Soon my lips were burning but I wasn't deterred. Sizhuan peppers and chilli bringing the heat. 

The casing on the wontons was also perfect, not too thick. 

Spice Temple is also famous for its numbing dishes. After the numbing bliss of the Prawn wontons I wondered at my ability to imbibe the Hot and numbing crispy duck.  My decision, to order a half duck after a solid intital course of the wontons, meant this was to be an indulgent night. I was also keen to try the Hot, sweet, sour and numbing pork with chilli, sugar, black vinegar and Sichuan peppercorn for another time.

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No. 8

No 8 is a classic fine dining restaurant that celebrates fresh produce and exceptional technique. Located Riverside at Crown, guests have the option of enjoying the upstairs ambience in the private mezzanine area, inside on comfortable leather banquettes, or relaxing outside on the terrace overlooking the Yarra and city skyline. World Loves Melbourne enjoys the fit out of this hatted restaurant, and I preferred indoors to outdoors. There was still an abundance of natural light. We also appreciate the professional service at No 8 by John Lawson.

Come here for artisan breads baked daily, micro greens from Flowerdale Farms, Crispy Otway Ranges Pork Belly, Confit Ora King Salmon and Strzelecki Ranges Grass Fed Hereford Beef. My foodie mate reckons No 8 by John Lawson has the best steak in Melbourne.

Black and blue Portland Tuna (photo courtesy Facebook page).

We enjoyed this Milawa Duck breast at a special function, matched with a dark pinot with smoked plums on the nose. The duck was from the King Valley and was organic grain fed.

 No 8 by John Lawson is the perfect restaurant for a romantic dinner, group catch up, or even to dine alone. The menu has broad appeal and pays sensational homage to local ingredients. One of Crown's best.


 Man Tong Kitchen

Man Tong means "full house" in Chinese and this is a place to gather with friends and family. It was certainly popular on this weekday lunchtime with many tables full.

Our epic lunch at Man Tong Kitchen started with this flavoursome Hot and Sour Soup with Shredded Duck. The broth was thick and had spice and sour in volumes. What also impressed was the amount of other ingredients through the dish including mushroom and a good amount of shredded duck. (I found the food experience to be highly visual at Man Tong and hence took many a photo.)

The Peking Duck was a highlight, with a generous amount of Peking Duck inside pancakes. This meal is for 2, so you each get a Peking Duck pancake. I savoured every morsel.

From one highlight to another, we were then presented with the Xiao Long Bao. These dumplings are a specialty at Man Tong Kitchen and other sister restaurants. As always, when you put one of these beauties in your mouth the tasty soup explodes across the palate. The casing is delicate and the filling quality.

Chilli Wontons also hit the mark, with large wontons and spice nuance.

This is such a great Chinese affordable degustation (for Good Food Month). The Stir Fried King Prawn with Sliced Mango was another excellent dish featuring large King Prawns plump and juicy flavoured with a sauce, nestled on a bed of mango and salad.

Towards the end of the meal, this was refreshing.

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Man Tong Kitchen is presented by Crown as casual dining but it has the air of fine dining with upmarket well appointed fit out and a menu that caters for the high roller.

We were delighted to see duck re-emerge, this time with a Deep Fried Fragrant Duck with Fluffy Taro. This was purely indulgent. Golden and delicate on the outside and juicy and rewarding inside. The World Loves Melbourne is more than partial to duck and the advent of 2 duck offerings on the lunch menu for Good Food Month was sensational.

Our dining experience finished with this Crusted Milk Custard with Puff Pastry, which we found to be fun. Chipping away to break the crust we found a rich but smooth milk custard underneath.

Man Tong Kitchen delivers. Highly recommended.


 The Merrywell

The Merrywell is a fabulous spacious restaurant in the Southbank precinct near the Crown that serves up American style diner dude food.  It's a stylish establishment that also exudes a sense of fun.   The Merrywell has a modern fit out including parquetry floor, high ceilings, funky lighting, sleek bars and a cool upstairs area. The feeling is more of fine dining than a basic diner, but there is a sense of the casual along with the finery...

The World Loves Melbourne has visited The Merrywell about half a dozen times and has enjoyed each visit. This has to be one of the most atmospheric places to meet with your friends in Melbourne. You're right in the action here near the Casino. The large windows bring in the natural light and open up to the eclectic world of cosmopolitan Melbourne.

Not only is there a burger wave/trend in Melbourne but a trend towards the American diner concept. Having been to America I understand the excitement over burgers. I'm grateful we have moved from burgers mainly at fast food joints and local fish and chip shops - to the gourmet offerings of today. 

The Merrywell has a simple but pleasing menu with burger highlights such as "The Merrywell" burgerand the KISS burger . For $20 The Merrywell burger is a tad pricy on the Melbourne burger scene but you get a large burger with thick juicy quality meat patty, delectable cheese melted all over, lettuce, onions, sauce, crispy bacon and excellent tangy pickles. All in a large soft bun. And the burger comes with delicious golden chips/fries. (Photo courtesy of Facebook page).

The Merrywell burger comes wrapped in paper, which is fine, but the juiciness of the burger can mean bits of soggy paper can interfere with the burger. Perhaps I'm being picky. It's a hearty quality burger. Like me, you'll want to visit often, try the various burgers, and be undecided on which burger is the clear standout. Consistency rules here and I've found every burger experience to be rewarding.

 

 

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