I’m a Sydney-sider, born and bred, but there is something about Melbourne that I love (friends and family aside). It’s the food. Sure, here in Sydney we have some great restaurants, but there is something about the food scene in Melbourne that sets it apart.
I had to travel to Melbourne last week and decided to take the opportunity to visit the eateries of some of the fantastic Chef Masterclasses chefs.
Before heading out with some friends, we kicked the evening off with drinks at our hotel bar at Radii (Park Hyatt), before heading out to Brunswick.
Meeting up with some very good friends, we had a quick beverage at Lygon Street bar Mr Wilkinson, and then onto the feast.
Mr Wilkinson or W as he is known to his friends was welcoming and uber cool. It managed to set the scene for a what was to become an epic night.
Thanks to a cancellation, we had managed to get a table at Hellenic Republic, home to Travis McAuley, and of course that Greek guy from Masterchef. I’ve never really eaten proper Greek food, so I was both curious and a little nervous – this could be an expensive exercise in food I may not have liked.
How wrong I was. We ate banquet style, and boy was it a banquet. With the food coming thick and fast, I owed it to myself to try everything, regardless of my usual take on it (yes, I’m talking about you, fish) and to my surprise, loved .. no became passionately obsessed with everything that hit the table.
For me, the highlights would have had to have been the peppered figs on grilled Saganaki, the Cypriot grain salad (to the Chef Masterclasses reader who commented it was “the business”, I agree), the slow cooked lamb and chicken (of course), and a desert that consisted of a baked custard inside a filo pastry case, which I could have eaten about 400 servings of.
We matched it with some brilliant wine, and finished off with a some shots of what I believe was a liquor made from mastic – then it was time to call in a night. You can find Hellenic at 434 Lygon Street in Brunswick. I know I’ll be going back.
The next morning, with the night before still buzzing in the back of my head a little, my wife and I ventured over to Spring Street from our hotel to have breakfast at The European. I had the opportunity to have dinner at The European once before with Exec Chef Ian Curley, which was incredible, and on the advice of several people decided to give breakfast a shot.
Once we sat down they didn’t muck around. We had a coffee in front of us before we knew it, and then another (required!). The choice of breakfasts was wide and varied, but we opted for one of my favourites, Croque Monsieur (for me)and chorizo and potato tortilla with a capsicum and tomato salad (for my wife), with both really hitting the spot. A perfect blend of ‘help for the morning after’ and pure gastronomical delight.
Joining the ranks of those recommending breakfast (and dinner) there, you can find The European at 161 Spring Street, opposite Parliament.
We hadn’t intended to go much further than that, but after checking in at the European on Foursquare, exec pastry chef Pierrick Boyer left me a message suggesting we drop by his patisserie. It was a little bit of a walk from Spring Street, but well worth it. Let me repeat – well worth it!
Tucked away on Little Collins Street is Le Petit Gateau, with a window display of some of the most amazing deserts and pastries you will ever see.
Pierrick prepared us a tasting plate of a few of them – Banoffee Bar (my wife’s favourite), a creation of hazelnut sponge, black sesame biscuit, green tea and raspberry jam, and a third slice of a rich chocolate slice – all truly amazing! If you’re in Melbourne, make sure you visit him at 458 Little Collins Street.
We even left with a lovely little package of macaroons for our flight home – the only way to end a delicious stay in Melbourne.
Sadly then, it was time to come home – where will I try next?