Some of Melbourne’s tastiest hotspots have reopened in a COVID-safe way. Time to tick these signature dishes off your culinary bucket list.
Pad Seuw at Chin Chin
Chin Chin’s firebomb jungle curry brought a couple of Masterchef contestants undone recently. But it’s their pad seuw that is the winning pick of Chin Chin’s South-East Asian menu. It’s a juicy tumble of braised wagyu beef, gai lan and fat rice noodles. It comes steaming with the heady aroma of master stock. And great news for those who have braved Chin Chin’s notorious queues – they’re now taking bookings.
Slow roast lamb shoulder at Cumulus Inc
Cumulus Inc‘s Euro-centric menu is all killer, no filler. Dishes that manage to meet in the middle of comfort food and sophistication. Their slow roast lamb shoulder with red pepper and almond is a case in point. Order the large serve with a couple of sides for a perfect communal dining experience.
Lobster roll at Supernormal
There should be a classic Melburnian proverb that says ‘Never order just one Supernormal lobster roll’. Aim for the neon cherries lighting up Flinders Lane, nab a seat and order a couple of serves. Take your first bite of that toasty brioche, luxurious lobster and spicy, flavoursome mayo. It will have you signalling for a second one while your mouth is still full. Cut to the chase and order two. That’s Melbourne wisdom for you.
Vegemite curry roti at Sunda
Sunda knows how to blend southeast Asian flavours and native Australian ingredients. Now that they’ve reopened, they’re offering set menus of Sunda classics, including ‘the full Sunda experience’. This degustation includes their phenomenal buttermilk roti with Vegemite curry. It’s a rounded pile of flaky roti next to a creamy smooth dipping curry of Vegemite, roasted yeast and sour cream.
Spanner Crab at Matilda
Scott Pickett’s Domain Road bistro is all about the flames and the hot coals. Even the cheese plate comes with wood-fired damper – so head here for one of Matilda’s smoky signature dishes. Don’t miss the Fraser Island spanner crab. It comes with the meat picked and presented prettily in the shell. It’s served with the charriest flatbreads and a dollop of prawn butter.
Colonel Tso’s cauliflower at Daughter in Law
Chef Jessi Singh playfully refers to the Daughter in Law menu as ‘unauthentic’ Indian food. Here you’ll find Indian dishes with groovy and delicious twists, such as a Peking duck paratha. If you’ve ever had that wickedly addictive dish, General Tso’s chicken, check out Daughter in Law’s vegetarian version. Colonel Tso’s cauliflower is a bowl of sweet, sticky, spicy, battered and fried good times.
Lettuce delight at Coda
Coda’s Modern Asian menu is an effervescent celebration of seasonal flavours. You’ll find luscious curries and beautiful betel leaf bites here. The menu varies to highlight prime produce, but there’s always the lettuce delights. This bright, crisp little dish might include duck, lap cheong and shiitake. A meat-free eggplant and tofu with enokis, crispy garlic and black vinegar.
A classic Bolognese at Trattoria Emilia
Trattoria Emilia is all about Italian classics here. So if you’ve been itching for a well-cooked Bolognese instead of a sad box from the freezer cabinet, they’ve got you covered. Soft ribbons of tagliatelle are coated in a rich Bolognese ragu. It’s soft, saucy and succulent. Finish your meal with boozy coffee in the form of a dollop of housemade tiramisu.
Chicken and rice at Abla’s
This dish is spiced with Middle Eastern flavours and crowned with soft, shredded chicken and pine nuts. The rice is amped up with lamb mince and cinnamon. Abla’s famous chicken and rice dish is aromatic comfort food at its best.
These Melbourne favourites haven’t reopened just yet but keep your eye out for when they do. It’ll be worth the wait.
Beef short rib at Mamasita
Mamasita’s lively and stylish Mexican cantina vibe captures the Mexi-Melbourne flavour. Try their chargrilled beef short rib with a spicy chimichurri. It is fall-apart tender and smokily aromatic. It’s a chunky little number so get a couple of sides and a friend to share.
Gnocchi at The European
Who can’t wait for The European to reopen? That transporting atmosphere is like a sophisticated European vacation without the passport. Their pasta is always the perfect example of classic Euro-bistro fare. Seasonal gnocchi is always a joy, especially in spring when it’s a fiesta of bright greens.