To avoid the risk of turning into a house and actively pursuing more baking, I have cut down my top 10 foodie finds from a weekly feature to every month. I hope you enjoy a more condensed version of this list.
My top 10 finds for January are:
1. The beautiful Bar Idda (pictured), located in the heart of Brunswick East on Lygon Street. The restaurant offers Sicilian inspired cuisine with a focus on seasonal produce. Owners Alfredo and Lisa La Spina have created a unique and authentic experience celebrating the food and culture from their parents’ homeland. A must order is the pan-fried lemon and ricotta gnocchi with roasted onions and pan-fried kale. Bar Idda is still one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne hands down.
2. The Royal Croquet Club is Melbourne’s newest and hottest festival this summer. Nestled on the banks of the Yarra in Birrarung Marr, the pop up festival features Melbourne’s favourite food haunts, beverages, live music and croquet! Broadsheet and the Royal Croquet Club have curated Melbourne’s very first installation of the Broadsheet Summer BBQ. Foodies will be in for a treat with some of Melbourne’s favourite food trucks rolling in for the festival, including Hammer and Tong, Beatbox Kitchen, Cornucopa, Little Mushroom Co, Nuoc Mama, Shari D’s, Toasta, Trailer Made and RTW Bagels.
3. Meatmother (also at the Royal Croquet Club) is a carnivores dream.Expect smokey meaty goodness in the form of pork slabs, beef brisket and ribs. My favourite is the pulled pork with chipotle slaw, mustard and pickles. Sweet tooths can top it all off with a Peanut Butter Cheesecake or a ‘Meatmother Mess’. My arteries are hardening just thinking about it.
4. Small Victories on Rathdowne Street in North Carlton for its top-notch coffee and quality brunch. Using Wide Open Road beans, the coffee is well extracted and rarely disappoints. With options like baked eggs with creamed corn and streaky bacon and buttermilk waffles with fresh cherries, chocolate and coconut icecream, you won’t leave here hungry. But be prepared to queue at busy times!
5. Pop up Scroll, the latest creation from Julian Chew, former owner of the popular Lip Cafe in Ivanhoe. Melbourne’s first scroll boutique on Smith Street in Collingwood, serves up sumptuous freshly baked scrolls daily. Twisted goodness of buttery dough mixed with to-die-for flavours and spices is the signature and namesake of Pop Up Scroll. At this stage they are only open until May – so make sure you get your scroll fix before then!
6. Gingerboy – Teage Ezard’s stylish laneway diner on Crossley Street. With its unapologetic bold flavours, Gingerboy cleverly transforms Asian street food dishes with polish and finesse. Recommendations are the Son In Law eggs, whole fried baby snapper and the deliciously fragrant red duck leg curry. Come here hungry and try the banquet to try the best of Ezard’s street food menu, otherwise known as “Australian freestyle food”.
7. Inspired by luxury patisseries in Europe and Japan, LuxBite in South Yarra are famous for their eclectic range of traditional and exotic cakes. Their signature cake, the gluten-free Meringue Monster, is a unique fusion of east-meets-west. Layers of beautifully aerated green tea sponge, sour strawberry mousse and watermelon yoghurt are paired with a lustrous meringue cloak studded with pistachios. Don’t miss their macarons and their infamous Lolly Bag Cake, featured on MasterChef, which will fill you with fuzzy feelings of childhood nostalgia.
8. Another one of my favourite restaurants this year has been Rice Paper Scrs, which is modeled on the hawker dining bars of South East Asia. The restaurant focuses on a sharing menu with house classics including crying tiger, steamed pork buns, Hainanese chicken and BBQ pork neck. The atmosphere is always buzzing and the service fun and friendly. Eating with your hands is also encouraged!
9. The former St Kilda site is still being developed but you can still get your Stokehouse fix at Stokehouse City in the CBD. The seasonal inspired menu has been crafted by Ollie Gould who was named Young Chef of the Year in the Age Good Food Guide 2014 Awards. The seafood here is superb. My dessert recommendation is the Honey panna cotta served with ricotta doughnuts, fresh mango, raw honeycomb and macadamia ice cream
10. One of my favourite cake shops in Melbourne is Le Petit Gâteau – a cake heaven for the most discerning sweet tooth like me. The Little Collins Street patisserie tempts me in every time with their indulgent cakes and tarts. It’s all thanks to their award-winning French pastry chef, Pierrick Boyer, and his team. My favourites are Mister Green Tea and the Brownie and Passionfruit Chocolate Gateau.