There’s no denying the strength of Melbourne’s dining scene. The city’s many restaurants, cafés, bars and all-round innovative approach to food and drink inspires foodies from all over the world.
But who’s leading the pack? And who’s taking that innovation to the next level? It’s a tough question to answer, as variety is what makes eating out in Melbourne so great.
Yet when it comes to gourmet talent, one has to applaud the culinary creativity of the hatted restaurants in Melbourne. The Good Food Guide, Australia’s leading restaurant critic since 1979, awards the prestigious “Chef’s Hats” to restaurants each year and there’s no denying it’s an Australian restaurant’s most sought after accolade.
Now in its 39th edition, the Good Food Guide 2019 was released in October 2018 and recognised the high quality of 67 restaurants in Melbourne. Similar to the Michelin Guide’s “stars”, the Good Food Guide has a three-tier scoring system and reviewing process.
Melbourne earned 2 three-hat restaurants, 14 two-hat restaurants and 51 one-hat restaurants. While falling short of Sydney’s 78 hatted eateries, Melbourne still has Australia’s crown jewel of fine dining – Attica. Head chef Ben Shewry is going as strong as ever and Attica is currently No. 20 in The World’s Best Restaurants list.
So, in celebration of the hatted restaurants in Melbourne, we wanted to recognise Quandoo’s leading hospitality spots that have been awarded the accolade. We’re proud to be partnered with some truly inspirational eateries.
There’s no disputing that Grossi Florentino is a Melbourne dining institution, first opening back in 1928. From humble beginnings nearly a century ago, this iconic Italian restaurant is now a two-hatted restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD.
The Grossi family took over in 1999 and steered the restaurant in a new direction, with their Bourke Street location now housing three different areas. Customers can fine dine in the Florentino restaurant upstairs, have a rustic Tuscan feast at the Grill, or enjoy antipasti and aperitivo at the Cellar Bar.
Now we all know Melburnians love a good Italian restaurant, in fact, the city is full of them. But Florentino is arguably the best. Yet why is that? According to this Good Food Guide review, “restaurants come and restaurants go, but Florentino is forever.” They describe Florentino’s food as having all the comfort of Italian cooking, but with a deeply refined twist.
The menu is driven by high-quality produce and Italian traditions, all while looking at things through the lens of modernity. À la carte primi dishes, for example, can feature creative combinations like risotto with strawberry and leek, or ricotta and yolk ravioli with amaretti biscuit and balsamic.
To complement the menu, Florentino has an extensive wine list. It’s curated to showcase lesser known Italian varietals alongside top-quality Australian, French and New Zealand grapes. If you opt for the Gran Tour degustation then we highly recommend the wine matching. It raises the meal to a whole new level of grandeur.
In addition to fine food and drink, Florentino also dedicates itself to the luxury of traditional dining and genuine Italian hospitality. Tables are decked in crisp white linen cloths, service is charming and attentive, and the atmosphere is both sophisticated and classy. As you can imagine, bookings at Florentino are essential.
Gran Tour Degustation: $180 (6 courses)
– Wine matching from $130 to $190
À la carte: $150 (3 courses)
Open Monday to Saturday
Lunch: 12 – 3:30pm
Dinner: 6 – 10pm
80 Bourke Street, CBD, Melbourne 3000
Ever since 1999, chef Teage Ezard has been leading Melbourne’s fine dining scene with his flagship restaurant EZARD. Not only did he reinvigorate the degustation, but Ezard also paved the way for combining the different elements of Australian and Southeast Asian cuisine.
With the kitchen now led by head chef Jarrod Di Blasi, EZARD’s iconic fusion of Asian flavours with Australian produce is as alive as ever. Yet Blasi, who was awarded the Young Chef of the Year in the 2017 Good Food Guide, has brought a fresh vision and changes are in the pipeline.
EZARD’s menu has long been connected with Thai cuisine. But according to the Good Food Guide’s latest review, the culinary approach is now “leaning to Japan rather than Thailand and more subtle layering of flavours instead of tasty jabs and punches.”
Whether you opt for the eight-course tasting menu or instead order from the à la carte, the Japanese influence is most evident – and inspirational. Heritage tomatoes are combined with black fig, hijiki seaweed and shiso herb; tempura tofu is served with aged hon mirin dressing; and Chinese-style duck is garnished with Japanese turnip.
Both vegan and vegetarian menus are available at EZARD, as is a creative drinks list. Joining a short wine list is sake, aperitifs, beer and some very unique cocktails. Their Aperol & Yuzu Spritz is innovation at its most refreshing – Aperol, cognac, yuzu citrus soda, orange marmalade and orange pekoe tea mist.
EZARD offers some of the best fine dining in Melbourne, yet the restaurant still retains an approachable ambience. Teage’s team of chefs are deeply passionate about quality and the service staff are dedicated to genuine hospitality. All in all, the dining out experience at this Melbourne CBD restaurant is not to be missed.
Tasting Menu: $150-185 (8 courses) or $100-130 (5 courses)
– Vegan and vegetarian tasting menus available
– Wine matching from $85-130
– Dinners on Friday and Saturday offer the 8-course tasting menu or a 3-course fixed menu only
EZARD 45 Lunch Menu: $45 (2 courses, one glass of wine)
À la carte: starters from $25, mains for $49, desserts from $23
Open Monday to Saturday
Lunch: 12 – 2:30pm (not available on Saturday)
Dinner: 6 – 10:30pm
187 Flinders Lane, CBD, Melbourne 3000
Tulum Turkish Restaurant
Although a new kid on the block in comparison to Florentino and EZARD, Tulum Turkish Restaurant has quickly made its mark on Melbourne’s dining scene since opening in 2016. After earning One Hat in the 2019 Good Food Guide, you get the sense this Balaclava restaurant is just warming up.
Tulum is a contemporary restaurant that offers a delicious variety of Turkish and Anatolian cuisine. Dining here is about the artform of meze plates and head chef Coskun Uysal is no more than a culinary genius in that regard. The Good Food Guide describes Uysal as having “a rare gift for cloaking dishes in narratives.”
The menu is a reflection of that storytelling ability, dishes often transporting customers from the cosy restaurant in suburban Melbourne to exotic Turkey. The Sardalay meze dish, specifically, will take you to the Mediterranean sea – pan-fried sardines, preserved lemon, bay leaves tartar, refreshing cucumber and Bonita tea.
Tulum’s use of Middle Eastern ingredients is imaginative beyond belief. Think katmer bread with smoked date butter and pistachio mousse; cold almond soup with dill and pickled grapes; lamb rump with pickled apricot and Turkish coffee crumble; or melon sorbet with Tulum cheese custard and mint.
Just one scroll through the restaurant’s Instagram feed and you can see the vibrant, gourmet nature of eating at Tulum. Named after a traditional Turkish goat’s cheese, Tulum is reflecting on its heritage all while embracing Melbourne’s appetite for contemporary dining.
With charming ambience, a low-key atmosphere and genuine service, Tulum is much more than just a neighbourhood eatery in Balaclava. In fact, it’s Melbourne’s best Middle Eastern restaurant and earned One Hat for all the right reasons.
À la carte: meze plates range in size and price, starting at $4.50 to $34
Open Tuesday to Saturday
Lunch: available on Saturday only, 12 – 3pm
Dinner: 5 – 11pm
217 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, Melbourne 3183
Hatted Restaurants in Melbourne
THE FULL LIST
Amaru, Cutler and Co., Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Flower Drum, Grossi Florentino Upstairs, Ides, Iki Jime, Ishizuka, Lume, Matilda 159 Domain, O.My, Rosetta Ristorante, Vue de Monde, Woodland Hous
Anchovy, Atlas Dining, Bacash, Bar Carolina, Bar Liberty, Bar Lourinha, Cafe Di Stasio, Carlton Wine Room, Caterina’s Cucina e Bar, Cecconi’s Flinders Lane, Centonove, Coda, Cumulus Inc., Da Noi, Donovans, Elyros, Embla, Ezard, French Saloon, Greasy Zoe’s, Highline at the Railway Hotel, Il Bacaro, Kakizaki, Kenzan, Lee Ho Fook, Lesa, Maha, Marion, Miznon, MoVida, Noir, Osteria Ilaria, Pascale Bar and Grill, The Press Club, Ramblr, The Recreation, Rockpool Bar and Grill, Ryne, Saint Crispin, San Telmo, Saxe, Scopri, Spice Temple, Stokehouse, Sunda, Supernormal, Tempura Hajime, Tipo 00, Tonka, Trattoria Emilia, Tulum