From Sichuan to Spanish, here's our pick of the best places to eat in Melbourne.
Best for Cantonese
Flower Drum has notched up more than 40 years of peerless food and service. Only the best produce leaves this kitchen – thinly sliced Paspaley pearl meat stir-fried with spring onion; mud crab baked with turmeric-spiked custard; Peking duck, carved and served at the table. It also has an encyclopedic wine list of big names and boutique offerings.
17 Market Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9662 3655
Best for native Australian ingredients
A 20-minute drive from the CBD, Attica is hard to get into – it’s Australia’s highest-ranked restaurant on the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, at No. 33 – but it’s worth the effort. New Zealand chef Ben Shewry is right at home with the native Australian ingredients he uses in his free-form but meticulous creations: wallaby blood pikelets topped with sour plum jam or cured kangaroo with bunya nut purée and kimchi. File under “once in a lifetime”.
74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea; (03) 9530 0111
Best for modern Australian with a view
A fine-diner in the sky, Vue de Monde is on level 55 of the Rialto building, with appropriately spectacular views, but its culinary heart is firmly on the ground in the Australian terroir. Kangaroo is charred table-side and served with munthari berries, while marron is swiped through tarragon emulsion. Even that Aussie dessert classic, the lamington, might turn up.
Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 9691 3888
Best for Sichuan
Chef Neil Perry lives and breathes Chinese cuisine and Spice Temple is his paean to the bold and brilliant food of Sichuan, Hunan and other regions – giving Cantonese a run for its money. From an incendiary white-cut chicken to a more sedate tea-smoked duck breast, the cooking is exactingly brilliant.
Crown complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank; (03) 8679 1888
Best for casual modern Australian
Andrew McConnell has a slew of restaurants under his belt but Cumulus Inc. best sums up the bustling early-to-late ethos, the small plates revolution and his hallmark of simple yet creative dishes. Some, such as tuna tartare with crushed green pea salad, are already classics. Or go with a group and order the perfect slow-cooked lamb shoulder.
45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9650 1445
Best for Italian
It’s not just great Italian food – it’s great Italian food served in a hallowed space harking back to the 1920s, with double-linen tables, wood-panelled walls and seats for ladies’ handbags. The grand Mural Room has a special place in Melburnians’ hearts and Guy Grossi delivers food to match, whether it’s his duck tortellini with porcini and silken duck sugo or perfect suckling pig. Drop by the downstairs Grill or next-door salumi bar, Ombra, for a less ritzy but wholly satisfying Italian experience. Go to grossiflorentino.com
80 Bourke Street, Melbourne; (03) 9662 1811
Best for Spanish
MoVida delivers on all fronts: a convivial atmosphere, waiters with personality and a drinks list with Iberian spirit. Inventive tapas include the signature anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet on crouton and the mushroom and blue cheese croqueta or bigger dishes (raciones) such as Pedro Ximénez-braised beef cheeks on a creamy raft of cauliflower purée.
1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9663 3038
Best for Chinese with a twist
Chef Victor Liong calls it “cheeky Chinese” and it’s easy to see why. Housed in a converted historic warehouse in an inner-city laneway, Lee Ho Fook brims with youthful vigour. And there’s a menu to match: tea-smoked eggs with Avruga and spring onion oil; pork belly slider with pickled cucumber and pork “floss”; jasmine tea custard and burnt caramel.
11-15 Duckboard Place, Melbourne; (03) 9077 6261
Best for a big night out
The wacky scientist of world gastronomy, Heston Blumenthal delves into the history books at this offshoot of his acclaimed London restaurant. Recipes dating back to the 14th century are tweaked for a modern audience. Meat fruit, cunningly designed to resemble a fresh mandarin, is luxurious chicken liver parfait disguised in a mandarin jelly casing. A rich, creamy Rice & Flesh is repurposed for an Australian audience with braised kangaroo tail and the pineapple tipsy cake is non-negotiable. Visit Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Crown Towers, Level 3, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank; (03) 9292 5779
Best for French
Master of the French culinary arts Philippe Mouchel brings a taste of Paris to Collins Street. His new restaurant boasts a bar perfect for slurping freshly shucked oysters anointed with seawater jelly and watercress cream. His Ferrari-red rotisserie produces the finest roast chicken in the land, served with potatoes cooked in the juices. Go to philipperestaurant.com.au
115 Collins Street, Melbourne; (03) 8394 6625