Just as Sydney was getting good at that small bar thang, Melbourne raised the stakes to remind their northern sibling who’s king of not just the drinks, but the food to accompany them. Three of our 10 best this year come from the tradition, from Town Mouse spin off Embla to Bar Liberty under a bunch of former Attica alumni.
We also got out of town because Igni, Aaron Turner’s homecoming post Loam, is too good to ignore – if you’re there, also seek out his other casual venture, Hot Chicken Project – while Captain Moonlight in Anglesea under Matt Germanchis will be the place this summer.
Then there was the welcome return of what’s now known as the Stokehouse Precinct in St Kilda, where the casual beachside diner Pontoon has just opened as part of the reborn Van Haandel flagship. And the precious Charlie Carrington, 22, wise beyond his years in a 7-year career that included Vue de monde and Sydney’s (now gone) Marque, laid it on the line with Atlas Dining in South Yarra while another former Vdm chef, Clinton McIver, continued the degustation drive with a Amaru in Armadale’s High Street.
Here are the 10 best restaurants we found in Melbourne and surrounds in 2016.
This light-drenched, scrubbed-back frolic, with its 6-metre-long zinc bar, above Kirks Wine Bar, is the brainchild of the European trio Ian Curley, Con Christopoulos and Josh Brisbane. The bistro menu is tres 4th arrondissement with contemporary cheekiness, from house-made charcuterie to wagyu tartare with truffle and chips, boudin noir with celeriac remoulade, smoked tongue with soured cream and three cuts of steak before cheeses and gelato and creme caramel. You don’t have to think too hard to have a great time, which you suspect is precisely the point.
1st Floor, 380 Little Bourke St (via Hardware Lane), Melbourne. Tel: 03 9600 2142
Lunch & dinner Mon-Fri
To read more about the best new restaurants in Melbourne in 2016, click here.