You’ve made it through January, and February is flying by. But there’s still time to be the first of your friends to check out all the recent cafe, bar and restaurant openings. Read on for a handy hit list to get you started.
Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq
Take the family, or relive your youth, as you immerse yourself in the bright lights and luring sounds of Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq. Think dodgem cars, arcade games, bowling, carousels and a virtual reality ride that can transport you to another time. Or have your heart racing as you ride some of the world’s most exhilarating rollercoasters. While you’re at it, treat yourself to one of their loaded shakes (probably wait until after your rollercoaster ride).
Walking into Heroes is like transporting yourself to another world. The scent of smoky, barbecued goodness, the vistas of red, and the bustling city crowd make this one a winner. Situated on the edge of Chinatown, Heroes serves up Malaysian hawker inspired food and a solid stable of cocktails across four levels, including a rooftop bar (sooooo Melbourne, right?). Make sure this place is on your summer to-do list.
If you’ve ever watched Vikings on repeat, or been in the garden shed holding your hammer as if you were Thor, then Mjolner may just be the restaurant you’ve been waiting for. The restaurant, created in Thor’s image, gives diners a unique, decadent and memorable experience. You can’t go past the pasture fed short rib, served with white radish and chimichurri, but if you truly can’t choose, then sit back, relax and let the team serve you up a selection of their most popular dishes. Oh, and you even pick your own Viking knife to dine with. Cool.
Nestled next to the Botanic Gardens, Matilda has captured us with its honest, delicious food, and beautiful, elemental interior. Named after his daughter, Chef and Owner Scott Pickett describes Matilda as a relaxed venue where “guests can visit often and be guaranteed a local piece of meat cooked exceptionally well over live flames and open grills and paired with seasonal produce”. We’d have to agree.
King & Godfree
King & Godfree has been a stalwart on Lygon Street, pioneering Italian food and drink in Melbourne since 1884. After undergoing an extensive upgrade and facelift, the not so little slice of Italian heaven reopened its doors in December 2018 to serve you authentic Italian espresso, gelato, pasta and more. Don’t forget to stop past the deli after sipping negronis at the rooftop bar, Johnny’s Green Room.
Little Lon Distilling Co
Housed in a red brick cottage from 1877, Little Lon Distilling Co sits at the top end of Little Lonsdale Street. This infamous spot is a regular on local history tours, but head down on Friday nights and you can find some of the best small batch gin going around. Book in for a gin masterclass to learn more about the names behind the drinks, including characters like Little Miss Yoko and local larrikin Ginger Mick. Room for 20 patrons only, so get in early!
The newest patisserie on the block is also the weirdest, because it’s 100% vegan and has a nightclub vibe. Weirdoughs’ butter alternative is conjured from macadamia, cashew and coconut oil, making everything from almond croissants to fluffy turmeric custard doughnuts a plant-based wonder. Even the ham-and-cheese and after-dark pepperoni pizza croissants are animal-free. Novelty mirrors, holographic colour, DJs and late weekend hours will leave you totally weirded out – in a good way.
Fitzroy’s legendary croissanterie has expanded, so you can now get your fix in the CBD. It’s strictly standing room only, but who cares about seats when you can eat some of Melbourne’s most celebrated pastries? In fact, according to The New York Times, Lune‘s croissants are the best in the world. Heaven awaits at the Paris End of Collins Street, from classic to ham and gruyère cheese croissants and croissant-muffin hybrid the cruffin.
While there are other options at Mr Crackles, it’s really all about the piggy. How about the classic roll of crisp-skinned, slow-roasted, five-spice pork belly with Vietnamese salad? Or the crackling cup, which you can eat every yummy bit of because the cup’s a soft white roll. Or whole crackling sheets. Or straight-up crispy pork belly – by the kilo!
Southeast Asian cuisine meets Australian dining at award-winning Sunda. Chef Khanh Nguyen’s menu celebrates the bold and vibrant flavours of South East Asia, drawing on Asian herbs and spices as well as native Australian ingredients. Smoked eggplant is complemented with Davidsons plum and fermented coconut, and native pepperberry finds an unlikely friend in Sunda’s egg noodles. Bring your friends, make a night of it, because the menu is made to be shared and there’s plenty to choose from.