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. Similar to the Michelin Guide’s “stars”, there’s a three-tier scoring system and intense reviewing process.
Now in its 40th edition, the Good Food Guide 2020 was released in October 2019 and recognised the high quality of 78 restaurants around Melbourne. Within this count we’ve also included eateries in Geelong and Mornington Peninsula, for when you’re after a special culinary trip outside of the city.
Overall, wider Melbourne earned 2 three-hat restaurants, 16 two-hat restaurants and 60 one-hat restaurants. The city was comfortably ahead of Sydney’s 68 hatted eateries, as well as still having Australia’s crown jewel of fine dining – Attica, from world-renowned head chef Ben Shewry.
So, in celebration of the hatted restaurants in Melbourne, we’ve done a spotlight on three eateries we’re particularly fond of. Below you’ll also find the full list of the 2020 winners in Melbourne.
Hatted Restaurants in Melbourne
Amaru, The Chef’s Table at Kisume, Cutler and Co., Di Stasio Citta, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Flower Drum, Grossi Florentino Upstairs, Ides, Igni, Iki Jime, Ishizuka, Laura at Pt. Leo Estate, O.My, Paringa Estate, Rosetta Ristorante, Vue de Monde
Agostino, Anchovy, Atlas Dining, Bacash, Bar Carolina, Bar Liberty, Bar Lourinha, Bistro Guillaume, Cafe Di Stasio, Cape at RACV, Captain Moonlite, Carlton Wine Room, Caterina’s Cucina e Bar, Cecconi’s Flinders Lane, Centonove, Coda, Congress, Cumulus Inc., Da Noi, Doot Doot Doot, Donovans, Elyros, Embla, Etta, Ezard, Ezard at Levantine Hill, French Saloon, Greasy Zoe’s, Harley & Rose, Il Bacaro, Kakizaki, Lee Ho Fook, Lesa, Maha, Marion, Matilda 159 Domain, Montalto, MoVida, Napier Quarter, Navi, Noir, Oakridge, Osteria Ilaria, Philippe, Pt. Leo Restaurant, Rare Hare, The Recreation, Rockpool Bar and Grill, Ryne, Saxe, Scopri, Stokehouse, Sunda, Supernormal, TarraWarra Estate, Tempura Hajime, Tipo 00, Tonka, Tulip, Tulum
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
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, easily establishing itself as one of our favourite Middle Eastern eateries in the city. 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