Ask a local about the city’s most popular eat streets and Flinders Lane will almost certainly get a mention. Running parallel to Flinders Street, this low-key laneway is a favourite with the pre-theatre crowd and serious foodies alike. Just a short walk will reveal some of the city’s most talked about venues, all within very close proximity to each other. If you don’t know where to start, here are our tips for your next dinner time stroll.
Featuring beautifully executed takes on classic Asian food, Supernormal is a favourite along Flinders Lane. A neon-red cherry and katakana characters outside are a nod to the restaurant’s Japanese influence. There’s plenty of inspiration from China too, from pot sticker dumplings to slow cooked Xinjiang lamb with sesame seed flatbread. Don’t leave without trying the Kakigori Japanese shaved ice with toffee apple and hibiscus, or the peanut butter parfait.
You’re guaranteed a great night out at Chin Chin. Modelled on the dining halls of Asia with a shared eating concept, the restaurant has been packing in the punters since opening in 2011. The big queues (a much talked-about feature by reviewers) are justified – the food is extremely good. Safe bets include the crispy soft-shell crab, green papaya salad and dry red curry.
At Melbourne’s original all-day eatery, patrons line up for Cumulus Inc. from dawn to dusk. Highlights of the breakfast menu include a baked egg shakshouka and freshly made madeleines with lemon curd. Slow roast lamb shoulder with almond and smoked paprika steals the dinner show, and the buttermilk pannacotta is good enough to devour.
Cumulus Up Wine Bar
With your tummy suitably full, head on upstairs to the aptly named Cumulus Up wine bar where their climate controlled cellar holds a huge selection of wines to satisfy the wine connoisseur in you.
Lucy Liu is bringing sexy back to Asian dining. A pared-back, cosy underground space – taste your way through kingfish sashimi, sticky pork belly and peking duck dumplings. Snap your chopsticks, this is going to be a cracker.
Meatball & Wine Bar
Rustic open brick walls complement sleek concrete floors at the original Meatball & Wine Bar on Flinders Lane. Bar seating creates an intimate pasta-twirling atmosphere. DIY meatballs with options including pasture-fed Angus beef balls, red Italian tomato and house pasta.
Garden State Hotel
Garden State Hotel is designed to handle high demand – luckily. There are a handful of distinct areas including an indoor garden, classic pub area (complete with giant TVs) and bistro. Every Sunday enjoy a feast with friends at their shared Sunday lunch where you can devour a curated menu featuring a different producer every week.
A little café on Flinders Lane, Little Flinders has a rather direct approach to food (and its name). Classics including big breakfasts and brekkie burgers sit alongside acai bowls. You’ll find chicken parmas, steak and fish ‘n chips for lunch.
One of the Lucas Group’s newest restaurants, just a few doors down from Chin Chin, Kisume serves modern Japanese. A triple-threat venue including a premium kaiseki bar for 12 to 15-course menus and ground-level sushi station, Kisume is worth a little card splash.
The French Brasserie
Just off Flinders Lane, The French Brasserie prides itself in excellent service and an even better menu. Traditional French onion soup sits alongside snails in garlic and herb butter for entrée. Mains (plat de résistance) include a white bean ragout with confit duck leg and pork belly or minute steak.
The focus at Tazio is pizza and beer, but don’t let the simplicity of their offerings fool you. This stylish venue offers traditional margherita pizzas as well as more unique toppings like pecorino and truffle oil. If you’re on your best behaviour you might also luck into some of Nonna’s famous spicy veal meatballs, with basil and parmesan.
For more inspiration, check out A foodie’s guide to Flinders Lane – part two