Food, Top 10

Best Restaurants in Melbourne 2015

 

With the advent of 2015 and 2014 just behind us, it's time for The World Loves Melbourne to consider the best restaurants of Melbourne. In 2014 we wrote 307 posts on our website but visited many more restaurants. We aim to average at least one per day (need a treadmill). Melbourne has a vibrant scene, and we understand there are 20-30 new cafes/restaurants opening every month.

In 2014 we saw trends at each end of the spectrum - the continuation of American BBQ (stronger than ever) trend and the trend towards healthier eating (and superfoods). We embrace both. Casual dining was still preferred to formal dining, and shared dishes, set menus and degustations are still on trend.

Attending hundreds of restaurants in 2014 we also enjoyed some top notch events including the fabulous Baz Luhrmann Event at The Emporium Launch, the lavish Grand Hyatt Living Grand Event, the Brown Brothers Beach Summer Pop Up (house filled with sand and beach theme), several Audi Lifestyle Events, Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Awards, Australian Open Tennis final, AFL Grand Final, Birdcage at the Spring Racing Carnival, Rolling Stones Concert, Curated Christmas Shopping Experience in the CBD, Morexico at Terminus in Flinders, Scott Pickett Book Launch at Estelle, The Age Good Food Guide Awards, Malaysian Appreciation Dinner, and others. And of course the Melbourne dining festivals.

The following list is a personal experience of restaurants we have visited, some several times. We are always on the look out for places to take interstate and overseas guests so we also have this in mind. What is an iconic Melbourne dining experience?

Here are our best restaurants visited (recommended for 2015):

Best Restaurants

The Town Mouse

This is a fine dining restaurant where the “foodies” eat. With acclaimed Head Chef Dave Verheul in the kitchen, The Town Mouse shows great innovation and a contemporary menu with big flavours to please most tastes. The Town Mouse boasts some of the best service in Melbourne with the affable and professional Christian McCabe and team on song, and the design of the restaurant is funky and modern. The food has European influences and shows loads of technique. Come here for meat treated exceptionally such as their Smoked pork jowl and the Slow roasted saltgrass lamb shoulder to share. The Heirloom Kales dish is one of the best vegetarian dishes in Melbourne. Desserts have also received widespread acclaim, with a sense of theatre. The honey is from a hive of bees on the rooftop. 

 


 

 Saint Crispin

Saint Crispin provides a fine dining set menu experience in the heart of eclectic Smith Street Collingwood. The modern cuisine is presented with theatre and sophisticated technique with a nod to European dining. The menu is changed daily based on seasonality and freshness of native ingredients. Great for an occasion, the popular restaurant buzzes with conversation and the high ceilings and large windows make for a pleasurable aesthetic experience. Wait staff are truly professional and engaging, yet the restaurant is not overly formal, reflecting the personality of the highly talented chefs Scott Pickett and Joe Grbac who have worked in the top kitchens of the world. The Thomas Olive bar upstairs is one of the best boutique bars in Melbourne. One of Melbourne's best restaurants in terms of an overall dining experience. We are excited to return again this year!


 

Vue De Monde 

We've had the privilege of dining at Vue De Monde several times and each occasion has been a memorable experience. Shannon Bennett, what a legend he is! Shannon is a man who understands the customer and delivers on service and imaginative cuisine time and again. He pushes boundaries and always seems to keep his creativity flowing despite huge business demands of his many interests.

Vue De Monde is a fine dining restaurant that pushes boundaries with its modern cuisine. On arrival diners are escorted to an exclusive lift that takes them straight to the restaurant located 55 floors above Melbourne, with spectacular views of the city and Port Philip Bay. Shannon Bennett has wide experience having worked in the best kitchens in the world. Vue De Monde is acclaimed for its culinary innovation, sustainability, emphasis on local organic ingredients and fine service. Come here for a slice of Australia with tables featuring kangaroo leather surfaces, and carefully curated degustation dishes including Australian seafood, meats, plants and berries, for example. 

Apart from dining at Vue De Monde, during 2014 we attended several events catered for by Vue De Monde and couldn't get enough of the Vue De Monde Apple and Macadamia, and their Classic Lamingtons, not to mention the Vue De Monde version of Fried Chicken and Fish and Chips.

 


 

Best New Restaurants

Supernormal

Supernormal has lived up to its strong reputation on the occasions we've visited. This is one of Melbourne's best restaurants when it comes to entertaining your international guests, in ticking all the boxes. We visited Supernormal on a Saturday night with our Canadian friends and expectations were exceeded. Melbourne is full of standout culinary options but we wanted to take our friends to somewhere that's "so hot right now" and somewhere acclaimed and hatted. Supernormal has made a big impression from the "get go" winning a hat at The Age Good Food Guide Awards, let alone a bold neon window display. 

Supernormal is about Andrew McConnells favourite dishes from trips to Asia, notably Shanghai and Hong Kong. The menu is set up well for groups - just share dishes from small to large offerings and you can cover a lot of ground. Start with the Raw bar and the Snacks and appetisers and move on from there. Or select the set menu options which are great value. Supernormal has picked up on some trends in Melbourne, bringing its own twist. What we love is that it's a unique offering in Melbourne, not a copy of another, or indeed predictable. This is exciting modern food built on traditional roots and stories. 


 

Northern Light

Northern Light is a bright new star on the Melbourne dining scene with its unpretentious attitude and food that punches above its weight. These are foodie people who know their trade and who wow diners with a sense of playfulness and bold flavours (that are balanced and never overwhelming). The chef Adam Liston (ex Hare and Grace and The Commoner) and Glen Bagnara (previously at Chester White) thrill with a menu that is not convoluted but hones in on a host of rewarding dishes and a wonderful diversity of tastes. The staff here are engaging, and will chat as you imbibe at the long bar (as they did)... The vibe is mainly around the bar which consumes most of the room, with tables at the front and back. The outdoor tables offer an attractive dining spot to take in eclectic Collingwood.

With hip hop playing a sense of playfulness pervades, and is reflected also in the menu. They offer specials that people actually gravitate to (as opposed to some restaurants token efforts). From our research it looks like Northern Light change their menu from time to time, which keeps them and the punters excited and anticipatory. Northern Light impressed at every level and genuinely adds to the Melbourne culinary scene where others are a mere copy of another. These guys rise above the pack. Northern Light is a place for foodies, where the food takes precedence over margins. No cutting corners here. Highly recommended.


 

Nieuw Amsterdam

Nieuw Amsterdam is one of the outstanding recent additions to the Melbourne food scene as a bar and grill with finesse. Yes we've been riding a dude food wave but let's face it, isn't dude food en vogue always? Looking at the (my) waistline it's hard to argue against that. Nieuw Amsterdam could be described as "dude food when you get the dude to wear a designer shirt". One of Melbourne's best restaurants for pure chic.

Nieuw Amsterdam is one of those places where you feel a foodie connection instantly. You are struck by the elegance of the joint - a fair renovation has taken place from the ex Irish pub. The wooden floors and large windows are to be cherished. So is the staircase into the funky little New York style bar. Head chef Nick Stanton, ex Gordon Ramsey, has much kudos and is a star of the Melbourne scene. His flair is exciting, and the Nieuw Amsterdam kitchen is not about "same old same old", but fresh creativity and evolvement. Before having our dude food fix we like to recline at the bar and order a Negroni with clover, something refreshing before the meat onslaught.

Nieuw Amsterdam was calling our name when it came to the menu. Kingfish ceviche? Chicken waffles? Beef brisket? A reliable informant told me the Black Kingfish Ceviche featuring Daikon, dashi dressing, crunchy quinoa, finger limes was a "must have". Here we see Nick Stanton ooze technique from the "get go". A great example of the food on offer, we were struck by the delicatepresentation, looking as if every molecule was thought out, and the dish presented like a skillful artist. The Pork Trotter and Ham Hock Nuggets with burnt onion jam were a revelation.


 

Prix Fixe

Prix Fixe has quickly become a darling of the Melbourne culinary scene, with Chef Philippa Sibley Melbourne royalty with a string of culinary successes over the years. Bravo for a sense of adventure with the themed menu, cleverness and inventiveness around the cuisine and superb service expected at a top notch restaurant. We think this restaurant is one of Melbourne's best and feel at times it should be given more kudos. Prix Fixe was for The World Loves Melbourne one of the highlights of the culinary year in 2014 and it's no surprise to us they appear in The Age Good Food Guide 2015 Finalists (for Restaurant of the Year). I've visited several establishments in Melbourne that boast perennial favourites on the menu, yet there's something about the culinary fortitude of a chef and team that commits to a complete menu change each month. And then makes it work!

For us it's all about the overall dining experience, not just the intracacies of a dish or two. Prix Fixe delivers something unique in presenting a monthly themed dining experience. We were drawn to the theme of The Chronicles of Narnia, as something that illicits fond memories from childhood. I have to say there was a sense of excitement as we entered Prix Fixe to encounter an array of hanging fur coats, something like emerging from the wardrobe in The Chronicles. Each theme is carefully and imaginatively curated for compelling dining.

 


 

Best Cheap Eats

Kong

Kong is a Korean and Japanese fusion restaurant in Richmond that is a revelation rather than a replication. One of Melbourne's best restaurants for affordable fusion. Melbourne food identity Chris Lucas has done it again, with head chef Benjamin Cooper working wonders. After the success of Chin Chin and more recently Baby Pizza, Lucas has captured the imagination with Kong. The World Loves Melbourne visited Kong for a family birthday and was blown away by the new offering. Arguably a cheap eat, as we found this to be a classy yet affordable restaurant. 

This is not Chin Chin 2 although the familiar touches are here, including a walk off the street dining policy. The neon signage, film projection on adjacent wall, panda overdrive, and fun menu were noted. While we've seen a trend to Korean BBQ in Melbourne we haven't seen anything quite like this. Kong brings Korean flavours to the masses with fresh and playful expression.Meat freaks love it. Those who love Korean flavours are sold. And those who love fresh full flavours in cuisine love it. And there's a level of finesse with every dish. We enjoy introducing our kids to world flavours and Kong is a great restaurant for this. Approachable Korean.


 

Jinda Thai

Jinda Thai has quickly established itself as a formidable modern Thai restaurant and has a large fan base. Dishes are authentic, with the odd modern twist, and the staff are upbeat and service excellent. One of Melbourne's best restaurants for Thai cuisine. Jinda Thai is also giving back to the punters with a meagre $3 corkage. Walk in to a vibrant modern space full of natural light, which has a different but alluring ambience at night with chic lighting. Jinda Thai has a modern feel with large warehouse converted into a trendy restaurant. Exposed brick and wooden floors ensure vibrant noise levels. This is a place we also visited several times for its authenticity, affordability and ambience (and approachability on the edge of the city). Check out the Moo Ping Sticky Rice, the Skewers, Barramundi Fillet (crispy), Green Curry Chicken, Pork Neck, Special Fried Rice, Seafood Noodles and pretty much everything else. And the desserts - cake and coconut ice cream.


 

ShanDong Mama

ShanDong Mama in Bourke St has taken all before it in terms of Melbourne's best dumplings and is a value for money champion. One of Melbourne's best restaurants in terms of cheap eats. Having been to ShanDong Mama since their humble opening we've been tracking them since - and the quality continues to resonate. The story of Mama Wang coming from the ShanDong Province of China to bring her expertise to Melbourne is compelling. With family alongside her, Mama is unstoppable. She has strict quality standards and picks the ingredients from the markets herself for her dishes.

This restaurant serves up dumplings not found anywhere else in Melbourne. The famous Pan-fried pork dumplings with dill, shrimp, ginger and spring onion are considered by The World Loves Melbourne as the best in this city for the excellence of the skin, the right amount of crispiness, and importantly the quality of the filling. (We also recommend the Fish Mackerel dumplings and the Melbourne dumplings). Check out ShanDong Mama Mini in Centre Place, which has the killer combination of craft beers and dumplings.


 

Chin Chin

Chin Chin continues to colourfully dominate in a competitive Melbourne culinary scene after about 3 years, with kudos to Chris Lucas and the team. This is one of Melbourne's best restaurants for it's buzz and consistently excellent cuisine. With heralded restaurants stumbling and some falling, Chin Chin is still packed with diners every day rain, hail or shine. The World Loves Melbourne popped into Chin Chin for lunch, dining solo. Whereas on a previous visit we experienced the fabulous "Feed Me" option, this time a couple of dishes and rice, and a glass of wine was sufficient (before my business meeting). 

Chin Chin has a striking ambience with pop artwork, Asian images, the neon rabbit, and cool typeface of its logo. The lighting is slightly dim, the crowd energises at atmosphere of its own, there's activity and sometimes there's a sense of rush. In fact these are elements of Asia itself and you feel like you actually might be somewhere in Bangkok or Singapore or some other Asian city.

Another area where Chin Chin shines is that Asian fusion is done outstandingly. Every dish has punch. The spice and heat factor are not dumbed down. Spice Temple is another restaurant that comes to mind where the spice is authentic and not watered down. Melbourne diners are discerning and want the authentic. Credit to rock star chef Benjamin Cooper whose profile is growing nationally and internationally.


 

Gazi

Gazi is an exciting chic and vibrant restaurant in a great part of Melbourne on the corner of Exhibition and Flinders Streets, a place we visited many times over the last year. Gazi serves up Greek fare with a modern twist in a fun and eclectic  atmosphere. In fact visiting Gazi in Greece, its a hip trendy sort of place - not unlike say Brunswick or indeed hipster Melbourne. Gazi is not designed to rival say Vue De Monde as a fine dining zenith - Gazi is unapologetically casual and noisy - even slightly grungy. You need to "get" Gazi and understand where it's coming from as a taverna. It's just so different as a playful reinvention of the previously upmarket Press Club. Gazi is the brainchild of George Calombaris and is the place to go any day of the week. We were amazed that Gazi was packed early at 6pm on a Monday night with a waiting queue.

Of course everyone immediately notices the stylish roof with enough hanging terracotta pots to make a passionate gardener drool. A wow factor. But of equal appeal are the attractive dining areas including the sleek bar and the intimate booths by the window. The name "Gazi" refers to an eclectic neighbourhood surrounding an old gasworks in Athens. The restaurant website calls Gazi "a place where anything goes".  For us Gazi is a place that is not predictable - a place that's unique in Melbourne. We developed a perfect strategy of ordering from the shared plates on the left of the menu, and then selections from the larger plates (that we wouldn't share). Must-haves include the Saganaki, the Eggplant, Mousaka Omlette, and the Souvlakis. And the desserts are a highlight.

 


 

Best Dude Food

Belle's Hot Chicken

Belle's Hot Chicken has a magnetism that compels you to return for the ultimate comfort food, fried chicken, done expertly.  Can  a fried chicken joint be one of Melbourne's best restaurants? It's simple, but not everyone can do simple well, and bring the fried chicken bliss that Belle's does. Fried chicken has been on trend in Melbourne, but Belle's have reached the zenith with their hot and juicy offerings using quality chicken cuts. The affordability is amazing with Wings and a side for only $16 (at the time of writing), and will satisfy you're hunger. We love dirty eating and you need a serviette on hand as you negotiate your wings. If you want extra heat you can ramp it up into a major sweat. Here "hot" means "hot", with 3 levels of hotness, bordering on insanity. Southern style it is, with a modern attractive decor and diner setting.


 

Le Bon Ton

Le Bon Ton has that southern American feel to it (at least I've been to the south and can say that). In terms of dude food this is one of Melbourne's best restaurants. This is not chandelier finery but character personified with rustic exposed brick walls, interesting hotch potch timber roof, high solid tables, southern looking furniture including couches, attractive copper bar, and those large white candles. Bar Manager Evan Stanley ex Black Pearl has the place pumping. Evan knows his cocktails (another feature of Le Bon Ton) with his southern themed cocktail list but, evident from our chat, is also savvy on all things American BBQ.

Le Bon Ton has a great atmosphere. It's something of New Orleans but also something of Texas in its food and ambience. Lay back casual style with American cool...

What to order? We wanted it all. The engaging waitress suggested the Smoker's Lot - a massive meat tray of smoky-moist meat. What a sensation. For me this was the best BBQ I've had in Melbourne. The meat came out warm and smokin and featured Grain-fed Riverina Angus Beef Brisket (1/2 lb), Otway Ranges pork shoulder (1/2 lb), Jalapeno and cheddar hot-link sausage, and 1/2 Chicken basted in apple BBQ sauce. Every element was a knockout and a home run "out of the park". The brisket was high quality meat smoky-moist and with fat - melt in your mouth. The smoky flavours hit you and all meats on this board were smoked over iron bark and fruit woods for up to 12 hours... 

Texan style BBQ features sausage and the meat board here featured amazing sausage infused with jalapeno and cheddar - intense and rewarding. All the meat here is intense in flavour - but the adventurous will still add the hot sauces on the table. As you do. The hottest sauce hit me between the eyes like a redneck punching me in the face... The pork shoulder seemed a mountain of pork and more than the 1/2 lb advertised. Again, it was smoky-moist and delectable. Note the salad on the board - you need something refreshing to contrast all the meat.  So rewarding.

 


 

Best Burger Joints

Huxtaburger

Huxtaburger has done its homework on what makes a great burger. They simply have great buns. The glazed brioche bun melts in the mouth. You don't get that heavy starchy hit of bread but rather the bun combines wonderfully with the rest of the burger. The strength of Huxtaburger is fresh quality ingredients and simplicity. My favourite is "The Huxtaburger" which has those awesome buns, crunch of great lettuce, quality gherkin, sublime patty of MoondarraWagyu beef and melted cheese, tomato, mayo and ketchup. For a little extra you can get some great crinkle cut chips. Like everything Daniel Wilson does, there is adventure; amazing gourmet flavours yet sublime balance. There is kick in the mayo and pickles but it doesn't dominate the quality beef. The sensation is of a delectable light and slightly sweet burger. A contender for Melbourne's best burger. 

 


 

8 bit

Footscray is a culinary hub for a wide range of cuisines. It's better known for its Asian and African expressions, but now add the mighty burger to the scene. 8bit is an obvious “play” on 80s video games, with their marketing pointing to retro pop culture. Burger options range from the standard 8bit with cheese featuring Beef, Tomato, Lettuce, Red onion, Pickles, Mustard, Cheese, 8BIT sauce, to the Double Dragon featuring Double beef, Double cheese, Double bacon, Pickles, Mustard, Lettuce, 8BIT sauce. These burgersare juicy and addictive, flame grilled and in the American style. Check out the beer battered fries, also addictive.


 

Ziggy's Eatery

Ziggy's Eatery is a highly impressive modern burger joint on Carlisle St St Kilda that specialises in gourmet burgers and dude food at excellent value. These are not burgers slapped together but you get the impression of a kitchen of skilfull and passionate foodies that care for their customers. We were impressed at the high level cuisine here and the resonating passion of the owners. They simply serve some of the best burgers in  town.

Check out the Texan Giant Burger at Ziggy's as one of the best in Melbourne. It ticks all our burger boxes. The bun is critical to any burger, and where some burger joints in Melbourne fall down. Ziggy's offers a fresh soft brioche of high quality. Next, the meat patty is quality beef with right amount of seasoning and is a giant 250g. Not for the faint hearted! Aoli is excellent adding to the flavour of the burger, together with a killer Texan sauce. Not to mention the tomato, cheese, onion and lettuce of quality. Overall juiciness factor was high. Unapologetically  I prefer a juicy burger to a dry one. The combination of flavours just works here. A burger to reckon with.

 


 

Goneburger

Goneburger is a recent burger sensation to hit Melbourne, with a strategy of pop up and burger truck. Can Melbourne handle another burger truck? Of course, when the burgers are as impressive as Goneburger! The World Loves Melbourne dropped in on Goneburger and we were hugely impressed with their passion and quality of burgers. Surely Goneburger provides some of the best burgers in Melbourne. Anna and Andy, a New Zealander and a Brit, have made a huge impact since opening this burger joint.The phrase "Goneburger" is common in New Zealand - meaning "I'm out of here!" This is ironic as Goneburger is literally a daily pop up in Fitzroy St St Kilda, open from 3pm to 11pm each day. 

Goneburger has a compelling menu, with gourmet burgers at affordable prices. We imbibed The Beef and Bacon, a simple name that belied the wonder of this burger. The Goneburger features house crafted beef patty for a blend of the finest chuck and the juiciest grass fed short rib beef, with their own Goneburger sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, caramelised onions, smoky bacon, cheese and pickles, on a toasted brioche bun. As they say, "simple but classic", but "even a classic is better with bacon". Surely this is one of the best burgers in Melbourne. For a start this is one of the few burgers where you can easily see what is in it. The top of the bun is placed at an angle so you can see all the ingredients. The brioche bun was perfect for this burger, from Noisette. The patty is the hero - juicy as they say, with an awesome umami Japanese seasoning infusing the patty that is not overpowered by the sauce. Nuances. Add to that delightful smoky flavours to the equation.


 

Best Regional

Terminus - Flinders Hotel

Terminus, a fine hatted restaurant in Mornington Peninsula, was the venue for Morrexico, the fusion of Morrocan and Mexican cuisine for The Age Good Food Month. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to imbibe the degustation and check out the wonderful Terminus, one of regional Victoria's finest. Terminus is a fine dining restaurant at Flinders Hotel on the Mornington Peninsula, with a casual vibe. Normally Terminus features French cuisine but on this occasion was part of The Age Good Food Month's "hats off" event where hatted restaurants take their hats off to offer something completely different to diners. The fusion of Morrocan and Mexican cooking was a significant departure from French cooking, but encapsulated the culinary experiences of Executive Head Chef Pierre Khodja. The dishes were superb showing technique and sophisticated flavour profiles in spades. Our degustation went for 5 enjoyable hours. We aim to return.


 

Best Cafes

Seven Seeds

Seven Seeds is credited as being a highly influential coffee powerhouse that has shaped the coffee culture of Melbourne over many years. The World Loves Melbourne believes Seven Seeds is better than ever and continues to shine its love and significant influence on the cafe and coffee scene. Seven Seeds is a super passionate roastery and cafe. The lab here indicates the seriousness and passion for all things coffee. Seven Seeds never stands still but moves on ever evolving. The quality of coffee here shows no hint of dropping off, unlike some others that have diminished over the years. The coffee menu features Seven Seeds roasted coffee of course!  We visited Seven Seeds with friends from Canada (also a great coffee culture) to show them Melbourne's finest. 

A converted warehouse, Seven Seeds features large amounts of exposed brick, tiles, concrete floor, mounted bikes, and the large windows allow plenty of natural light. They even led the way in cafe fit outs with many since copying the Seven Seeds look. With universities nearby Seven Seeds attracts its fair share of students. It's an eclectic mix here of the young and fashionable.The menu at Seven Seeds has never been more exciting (and all day breakfast baby). The World Loves Melbourne believes the standard of food matches the peerless standard of coffee. Check out The Elvis french toast stuffed w/ banana caramel, whipped peanut butter and shards of candied bacon. Decadent and spot on. Have to love the candied bacon (tell yourself the acidity of the coffee cuts through all this dude food)...Would you think of Seven Seeds in the hunt for Melbourne's best burgers? Well they should be. Several of us ordered the burger and all raved. Juicy with quality patty, right amount of salad, and curly fries to die for...

Then its down to serious pour over coffee. My first coffee was the entree. The Panama Pour Over (only $6)  just explodes with flavour across your palate. Served with tasting notes like a fine wine. One of the best coffee experiences of my life - and there's been many thousand...


 

Stagger Lees

Stagger Lees is the brainchild of the folk at iconic Proud Mary in Collingwood. Many would know the song about the muderous dude who murders over a hat. In Brunswick St this may be a vintage hat or some cowboy boots. In any case the Americana theme at Proud Mary continues on at Stagger Lees.

He wore rat-drawn shoes and an old stetson hat

Had a '28 ford, had payments on that

- from Nic Cave version of the song Stagger Lee, very Brunswick...

The fit out is chic and the menu selections are all appealing here. My friends are health conscious but when Mike saw the Fat Bacon Toastie featuring Apple wood smoked bacon, gruyere fondue, fried egg served with winter greens and chutney, he was hooked. The toastie was served with eggs on top open style. This dish would impress Elvis.Having eaten scores of burgers around Melbourne I found the Stack & Billy Burger to be one of the best around. A chart topper featuring Black Angus shin patty, bacon, American mustard, catsup, aioli, pickles and cheddar served with bacon croquettes and greens. The balance of flavours is perfect. The patty is magical. Brioche buns are a great texture and mild sweetness. Much thought has gone into this burger including killer aoli, quality pickles and cheddar. Please remind me to put this burger in my "Best burgers of Melbourne" section. Kudos to Head Chef Chris Hamburger (do I say the obvious?)... Needless to say, coffee is amazing.


 

Operator 25

Operator 25 is a revelation cafe set in a former telephone exchange located in the legal district in the Melbourne CBD. The place is pumping with interesting dining spaces full of patrons, featuring an intergenerational crowd. The World Loves Melbourne decided to visit this cafe in a heritage building having heard rave reviews.Operator 25 has made an effort with its fit out with exposed brick walls, quality furniture, funky blackboard and top class artwork throughout...

The menu was compelling from ex Bacash chef Valerie Fong, with extra class in  options that are not the usual Melbourne brunch fare. On recommendation we chose what proved to be one of the dishes of the year - Sweet corn fritters, fried duck egg, tomato salad, goats curd, and herb oil. Spectacular presentation and spectacular taste. Ticking all the boxes, this dish provided generous portion of fritters and the fritters themselves were fresh and moist and full of flavour. Complementing was the oozy duck egg - together with the fritters so rewarding! The salad wasn't a token but fresh and crisp. A welcome addition to the equation is the goats curd, creamy and delectable. The balance of this dish is superb and a cacophony of culinary delight! Kudos to Head Chef Felipe Guedes.

 


 

CH James

CH James, a trio of festive spaces, has launched in Station Street Fairfield. Locals are keen to experience the modern menu and character of the venue, which includes a stunning outdoor courtyard. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to experience CH James and some of its signature dishes. The ambience here is a standout, with large welcoming windows and bright spaces, giving a feel of light and airy. Fascinating farm implements adorn the wall, a reference to the period of CH James and heritage. The fit out is such that the indoors and outdoors meets seamlessly, with the windows opening up to accommodate the coffee bars, and its an easy stroll to the courtyard.

 CH James is modern but features a nod to yesteryear with its compelling story of local CH James who was prominent in the northern suburbs in the halcyon period of Melbourne's development. Charles Henry James was a businessman extraordinaire in the 1870s and 1880s, and hugely influential in forming the unique community dynamic of the north we love today. Dreamer, innovator and fiercely local, CH James was an influencer who was keen to “have a go”, connect with his community and he conducted his business with distinctive flair. CH James became a model and mentor to young businessmen of the era.

CH James represented the interests of the northern community in the Legislative Council and was a champion of Fairfield, Alphington and Thornbury as well as suburbs such as Essendon, Brunswick and Flemington. CH James was also a man of style and could be spotted handsomely gowned in his silk brocade with heliotrope ribbon and fine diamonds with spangled sleeves. Hipster and fashionable. CH James and his wife Harriette were keen supporters of local charities, community projects and help to the underprivileged.

CH James is well equipped with a coffee bar that faces iconic Station Street. Customers can pull up to the bar for top notch Small Batch coffee and the barista skills of Yuta Tanaka ex Auction Rooms. The World Loves Melbourne sampled two lattes perfectly made with fine latte art to boot.Service here is excellent with Chris Krambias and the team personable and on their game. Chris has extensive experience in hospitality at top hotels such as the Park Hyatt in Melbourne and has a flair for service excellence.

CH James features an interesting and fine brunch and lunch menu, with Frenchman Franck Verschaeve (ex Pope Joan) the Head Chef classically trained from a fine dining background, but who has brought his skills to the cafe scene. Franck is a chef who likes to make his own pasta and jams and relishes, for example. 

 

 

 

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