We continue our regular monthly feature where we summarise some of our highlights from the previous month and offer recommendations for where you should visit or have on your radar for the month ahead.
Encompassing new openings and old favourites, pop-up venues, events and everything in between, here is the inside track for those sharking for chips and drinks.
If we’ve missed any exciting new places off this list, please get in touch in the comments section. In case you missed it – check out what OPENED IN MARCH. ———————————————————————————————————————-
When? Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Prahran Market, starting around 10:30am and serving until the market closes or they sell out.
What is it? Authentic Mexican street food featuring pulled pork made spicy like carnitas. Slow-cooked pork made with imported whole chipotle, guajillo, ancho and pasilla chilies. Served as a taco or sandwich.
Who’s behind it? Dave and Leanne were the people behind the successful La Tortilla Farm taco stand at St Kilda twilight market way back in 2011. And who may or may not have had something to do with Secret Pizza, which may or may not have had the signature pork on top. I’ve said too much … now I have to kill you.
Size? As big as the food court at Prahran Market.
What’s on the menu? Chipotle pulled pork tacos (on authentic-recipe masa corn tortillas that are naturally gluten free) topped with Mexican crema and fresh salsa. Chipotle pulled pork sandwich on grilled challah rolls (like brioche but not as sweet, they are flakier and soft) topped with Mexican crema and tomato. Breakfast taco with scrambled eggs wrapped around a chipotle pork and doused with chilli and Mexican crema. Breakfast sandwich – similar to the taco but heartier and served on challah roll with sliced tomato. And Jarritos! Imported Mexican sodas: mandarin, lime, pineapple, guava, cola and tamarind.
Bookings? No, but get there early before they sell out.
When? May 2014
What is it? A modern interpretation of a European wine bar and bistro
Who’s behind it? Owners: Chris Watson & Andrew McConnell. Chef: Chris Watson
Size? 70 seats including seating at the marble bar, plus outdoor seating
What’s on the menu? An eclectic mix of classic and contemporary bistro cooking, expect: house made charcuterie, oysters and a raw bar, sharing plates and classic desserts.
When? May 1, 2014 (will open for dinner when the liquor licence is in place)
What is it? A contemporary Korean restaurant serving street eats from Seoul as well as patbingsu – Korea’s refreshing red bean drink.
Who’s behind it? Owners: David and Stephanie Kennar. Chef: Kim Maree Moore, previously Seamstress and Robbie Stein.
Size? 25 inside, shortly 20 outside, designed by The Anatomy.
What’s on the menu? Contemporary Korean eats made with local, high quality produce. A variety of kimchi is made in-house, as well as the kombucha (a fermented tea drink). The only Korean technology in Australia creates the various bingsoo (shaved ice desserts). Coffee by Industry beans, Green tea by Iteon, Tea by Oriental Teahouse
Signature savoury dish: SSAM parcels -of wagyu beef, red and white kimchi, cucumber pickle, shitake, radishes, confit garlic and ssanjung dipping sauce served with sesame and other mixed leaves
Signature sweet dish: patbingsoo is the traditional snow-like milk dessert topped with sweetened red bean and tteok (soft rice cake). In addition, a variety of original combinations of bingsoo are made with local, seasonal ingredients
When? April 11, 2014
What is it? Restaurant and bar – a sharing concept celebrating meatballs from around the world.
Who’s behind it? Co-owners: Carlos Swinton-Lee and Jo Duffield. Together they also run a hospitality consultancy in Melbourne called Bar & Restaurant Consultants.
Size? 76 seats across two floors. Designed by Kano, the brains behind MissChu.
What’s on the menu? Speciality meatballs, sliders, ribs, salt and pepper squid, salads, chorizo dough balls, warm olives, spiced nuts and various matching side orders. Desserts, ice creams and coffee. A great selection of cocktails, boutique wines and ales as well as their homemade soft drinks – lemonade, cherry and basil.
Bookings? Yes. Open seven days a week, 11am to midnight.
When? February 11, 2014
What is it? Breakfast-brunch, coffee, sandwich bar, salads and plenty of homemade goodies
Who’s behind it? With Rohan Green at the helm (ex-Jacques Reymond, Chateau Yering, to name a few from over 25 years’ cheffing experience) with his partner Louise Rocchi (ex-Cookie with over 12 years’ hospo experience).
Size? Seats 55 in and out. Deceiving from the outside, lots of room for prams
What’s on the menu? Home made, fresh and healthy is their motto – and great coffee by Campos. Awesome pies, rotating lunch specials – try the poached chicken and ham hock sausage. Breakfast favorites include artisan crumbed corn and paprika cake with smoked salmon and avocado horseradish cream, pulled pork with potato feta hash cake and sunny side duck egg, and funky sandwiches like ‘children of the corned beef’ or ‘Ike and Tina Tuna’ all with homemade produce.
Bookings? No need.
When? Thursday 8, May 2014
What is it? Bar and club in Melbourne’s CBD.
Size? 460 people can fit on the Eden Deck, VIP lounge and booth areas.
What’s on the menu? Thai and Indonesian cuisine, with an international selection of cocktails and an exclusive range of champagnes.
When? March 2014
What is it? Hole-in-the-wall meatball food stand
Who’s behind it? Food lovers who have given up their corporate careers to make home-style meatballs.
Size? Grab and go for lunch and convenient take-home dinner packs
What’s on the menu? Six types of meatballs; traditional; pork and fennel; vegetarian; BBQ; fish; and chicken and pinenut. You can have them in a cup, sub, wrap, salad roll or mini roll.
Bookings? Phone orders available or just go down and grab it. Online bookings will be available soon.
Contact: Kiosk 6, Spotlight Centre, 111 Cecil Street, South Melbourne 3205. Website.
When? March 28, 2013
What is it? Vietnamese hawker / street food kitchen
Who’s behind it? Brother and sister Ken Dao and Kathy Dao who grew up in Hanoi – the capital city of Vietnam. They want to bring the taste of Vietnamese street food to Melburnian food-lovers. They also want to add more diversity to the food truck scene in the city.
Size? Truck size.
What’s on the menu? Nem fried roll is the signature dish and there are three types available – seafood, chicken and vegetable. There’s also chargrilled chicken, pork and tofu served with vermicelli noodle salads (bun thit nuong) or in a Vietnamese baguette (banh mi thit nuong) or in soft rice paper roll (goi cuon).
Bookings? No. Following them on Facebook or Twitter for trading locations.
When? April 4, 2014
What is it? ‘An evolution of Melbourne Asian cuisine’.
Who’s behind it? Chef-owner Raphael Santos (Nobu, KOKO, Crown Casino, Grand Hyatt Melbourne)
Size? 60+ seating capacity
What’s on the menu? Melbourne versions of Asian street eats, such as ramen, Korean fried chicken, burgers, fried rice and bold, unique ice creams and desserts.
Booking? Yes, for groups of more than six.
When? April 3, 2014
What is it? Two Row Bar takes craft beer to the next level, curating taps with unique, weird and wonderful beers from around the world – following through to off-centre wines, real ciders and a vast selection bourbon, whisky and other spirits.
Size? 75 seats – the space downstairs is warm and inviting with bar seats, while upstairs is comfortable with couches, tables and chairs that can be moved around to suit groups.
What’s on the menu? Cheese with beer! Grilled cheese sandwiches like ‘The Dan’, which is a soft pretzel bun with smoked ham, cheese and beer mustard – also offering cheese boards, charcuterie, Wondersnack nuts and soft pretzels served with beer mustard.
Bookings? Sure thing. They’re happy to host parties in the space upstairs
When? April 22, 2014
What is it? A new approach to specialty coffee wholesale in Melbourne.
Size? Wholesale to cafes in CBD. Home subscription launching later in 2014. Cafe on the horizon! Stay tuned for some big name cafes using PLC.
What’s on the menu? Specialty coffee. Single origins. Supplying Mork Chocolate. Differentiated by offering unique, customised, holistic support to cafes.
Bookings? Yes – book a tasting – he will come to you and showcase his coffees!
When? March 31, 2014
What is it? Fonda’s third venue – a fresh twist on Mexican street food
Who’s behind it? Owners: Tim McDonald and David Youl. Head chef: Travis Humphery (ex-Chin Chin/Baby of The Lucas Group)
Size? 195 seats, some bar seating. Designed by Techne Architects.
What’s on the menu? Similar menu to the existing Fonda offer, including the signature fish tacos and chicken ensalada.
Bookings? Yes, for groups between 12 and 22 people. Email email@example.com to book.
When? Monday evening, May 26 at Jorg Restaurant
Who? Stage is Set – a collaborative chef six-course degustation menu
Who’s behind it?
Amuse: Nick Stanton – Nieuw Amsterdam
First: Josh Pelham – formally of The Square, UK
Second: Pippa Harry – Fatto Bar & Cantina
Main: Daniel Dobra – Brutale
Dessert: Ross Magnaye – Eau De Vie
Petit Four: Liam Power – St Ali North
What’s on the menu? $95pp, six courses, matched wines, tea and coffee included. James Kummrow is very pleased to welcome a new wave of chefs through Stage is Set, in particular Josh, who has recently returned from The Square, UK. After six years with two Michelin star chef Philip Howard, Josh has come home to Melbourne to stay. This event will champion Victoria’s autumn produce, and highlight the different backgrounds of each young chef.
Bookings? A must!
When? May 6, 2014
What is it? Dinner showcasing six different families of wine makers. Food and wine matched.
Who’s behind it? Clinton Mciver of our best meal in 2013 fame.
Size? 40 seats available
What’s on the menu? Menu to be confirmed
Bookings? Bookings available. Ticket price $120 per person, all inclusive – kicks off at 7pm
When? March 2014
What is it? Simple quality local burger shop, in the north of Melbourne.
Who’s behind it? Andrew Chew, owner of no vacancy gallery.
Size? 19 seats
What’s on the menu? Burgers.
When? April 20, 2014
What is it? After a year-long transformation of The Fat Penguin – a family-run business in Melbourne’s east – all is unveiled.
Who’s behind it? The Kew East cafe, behind the renowned blue door on High Street, has had a makeover and now boasts a new chef, a new courtyard, as well as a revamped kitchen and updated menu. The key to the Fat Penguin’s growing success is its family base, headed by hospitality veterans Frank and Jenny Facciolo and their three children. Son David is the head barista, other son Michael works front of house as a waiter, and daughter Marina shares barista duties across the weekday and weekend rush.
What’s on the menu? Highlights of the revamped menu, which features all-day breakfast, include house made toasted granola, poached rhubarb and yogurt panna cotta ($12.50), house made crumpets, orange ricotta and saffron poached pears ($13.50), corn and zucchini fritters, roquette, beans, fried egg and shaved manchego ($17.50), and Penguin Emperor – eggs, bacon, chorizo, mushroom, thyme roasted tomato and spinach ($17.50).
All-day lunch, include slow roasted lamb shoulder, snow pea tendrils, beetroot relish, Persian feta and crushed chickpeas ($19.00), salt and pepper calamari, Asian herbs, bean shoots, mixed leaves with hot and sour dressing ($16.50), roast chicken, torn figs, quinoa, shaved fennel, cucumber and pickled radish ($19.50) and Wagyu beef sliders, truffle aioli, bacon, pickles, cheese, brioche bun with beer battered chips ($21).
Bookings? For groups over six, otherwise small groups are fine to wander in and take a seat.
Contact: 713 High Street, Kew East. Ph. (03) 9859 3252. Website.
When? March 28, 2014
What is it? Vietnamese food store specialising in banh mi and vermicelli, based on authentic recipes straight from the Mekong Delta.
Who’s behind it? The Huynh family have been serving banh mi for the last 21 years and are now bringing their incredible house made Ba’gets and vermicelli to the CBD.
Size? 20 seats inside, 12 outside. Designed by Studio Equator.
What’s on the menu? Banh Mi (traditional baguettes filled with house made charcuterie, pate, grilled meats and tofu) and vermicelli bowls. A range of traditional sweets and pastries are also available. Vietnamese iced coffee, juices, sodas and pandan tea available in store also. Bread is baked hourly so you can be sure it will always be deliciously crispy, light and aromatic.
When? April 4, 2014
What is it? Australia’s only African food truck, Afrofeast brings delicious, healthy and affordable African street food to Melbourne.
Who’s behind it? Dennis Grace, a former street child trained in the ‘University of Hard Knocks’. He’s lived both worlds – tough street life and middle-class suburban. He now brings you tasty street foods from his mother continent – Africa!
Size? Standard food truck size with state-of-the-art facilities installed.
What’s on the menu? Mini bunnies, sweet potato wedges, Ethiopian injera and many more authentic dishes.
When? April 2, 2014
What is it? A mobile food van/truck offering a variety of gourmet and traditional pies.
Who’s behind it? George Vagianakis, who was trained at France Soir and worked with some of Melbourne’s best chefs.
Size? Truck size.
What’s on the menu? Pies. George recently entered some of his pies in the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition held this year in Sydney – he placed 10 entries and received eight medals across the gourmet class.
When? April 7, 2014
What is it? Nestled along city road South Melbourne lies Mr Loys Puff with its cheap and authentic Singapore hawker food.
Who’s behind it? Owners are Rudy and Russell, along with head chef Roy T (former restaurant-hawker smallholder in Singapore).
Size? 15 (currently)
What’s on the menu? Singapore’s famous curry puffs and traditional hawker food. Signature items include the curry puff and Hainan chicken rice.
When? March 21, 2014
What is it? Putting healthy, quality seafood on the map since 2006, Hooked is Melbourne’s go-to for fresh fish and chips.
Who’s behind it? Owner Ray Good, aka DJ Sugar Ray, has combined his passion for healthy eating with his childhood memories of his parents working at his Uncle Johnnie’s fish and chip shop.
Size? Hooked Hawthorn seats 40 people and features artwork by local artist Mulga, as well as a hand-painted wall mural.
What’s on the menu? Fresh and healthy fish and chips, homemade sauces and superfood salads, as well as a seared tuna burger and fish or grilled prawn tacos.
Bookings? No. Both dine in and take away is available.
When? April 18th, 2014
What is it? The Meatball & Wine Bar’s third chapter begins on Smith Street, Collingwood. With the success of Cityballs in Flinders Lane and Richballs on Swan Street, owner Matteo Bruno has set his sights on the hottest street for food in town.
The Meatball & Wine Bar bar is well known for cocktails including Negroni, created on site and available on tap and Balls Beer, a new draft beer in pilsner and ale created by Mildura Brewery specifically for The Meatball & Wine Bar.
Who’s behind it? Matteo Bruno, owner of Meatball & Wine Bar Flinders Lane, Melbourne (CityBalls) and Swan Street Richmond (Richballs)
Size? 20 at bar, 40 inside, 12 outside.
What’s on the Menu? The Meatball & Wine Bar offers a range of handmade artisan balls (beef, pork, chicken, fish, and vegetable), an option of sauces and bases, plus daily specials. Every meatball delivered from the kitchen comes with a pedigree and a provenance, with all our produce sourced from the best quality suppliers and with the traceable origins. In addition to meatballs, the Meatball & Wine Bar serves artisan charcuterie, heroes (three balls on focaccia bread), sliders (individual balls on a bun), mozzarella balls, seasonal salads and sides. And of course, their signature Whoopie Macs ice-cream sandwich.
Bookings? Bookings available for 2 people to 14 people
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Know of any other places opening soon that aren’t on this list or that were missed? Let me know! Send Email.
See you next month.