We know you, Melbourne. We’ve seen your soul, black as an espresso martini, and we know what you’re after. You want new stuff: new bars, new diners, new cafes and brunch spots and smashed av’ dishes and ridiculous franken-coffees that make the angels cry. This is a city who’s dining scene moves faster than a bullet sushi train, where the line between ‘hottest spot in town’ and ‘soooo last week’ is an ever-changing battleground.
So if your finger has slipped off Melbourne’s foodie pulse in the last few weeks, we’re here to get it back on track. Presenting five brand new restaurants you should definitely check out this weekend.
St Luja describes itself as a ‘smoke-infused’ whisky and cocktail bar, which sounds just a teeny bit badass. It’s sprung up on Fitzroy St, a St Kilda strip usually associated with questionable kebab decisions. But there’s nothing questionable about this place: it’s a low-lit brooder with a killer cocktail list (Jesse Cummings from Fall From Grace is heading up the bar). Expect high-end booze combos with a puff of pink and the sizzle of a naked flame. Whack on a gorgeous little menu, built for sharing and degustations, and you’ve got the complete package.
If you’re a fan of Armenian food, listen up. CBD institution Sezar just got a little brother, named Shukah, and it’s popped up down the Windsor end of Chapel St. Shukah is run by the Kalian Group, just like Sezar, so expect the same spice-filled surprises, but with a simpler, more laid-back presentation. The menu is built around mezze-style share plates and the occasional hulking meat behemoth. Take our advice: start with the Baba Ganoush with smoked yoghurt and home-baked flatbread (the best we’ve ever tasted, hands down) then move on to the pomegranate-glazed lamb shoulder, straight out of the massive Mibrasa oven.
Brunswick St’s new tapas restaurant, but it’s doing things a little differently. For one thing, this place is all about the breakfast tapas. You can get quail eggs dusted with cumin salt or cured ocean trout with fennel and beetroot for BREAKFAST. Makes chilli scrambled look a bit passé... Nomada closes its doors at 4pm, so it’s not exactly a late-night venue, but their drinks list does happen to feature an excellent array of aperitifs and sherries, so you can kick back and sip the arvo away. Personally, we’re digging the Aurora Pedro Ximinez.
You don’t make friends with salad, but you DO make them with ridiculous double stack burgers, oozing cheese and mustard out the sides. That’s what’s in store for you at Fat Jaks, St Kilda’s new American-style diner and beer bar. They’ve got a few other things on the menu (and the parmas do actually look exceptional), but really you come here for the burgers. Want a hot tip? Go the Fat Jak two 170g free-range Aussie beef patties, double cheese, double bacon (fried dark and crispy), shredded lettuce, pickles and a Big Mac-esque sauce. Pair with some loaded fries and all-you-can-drink homemade orange soda. Delish.
“You can get steak and pomme frites anywhere,” says Fortify co-owner Adam Davies. “We wanted to show a different side of France.” Fortify is a brand new Armadale wine bar and European bistro, started by the guys who used to run Lyon’s #1 party hostel. That probably explains why the menu is so off-beat awesome: comfort food that’s been Michelin starred to sh*t. Example: a mac n’ cheese unlike anything we’ve ever tasted—home-smoked bacon, 14-month English cheddar, Japanese panko breadcrumbs and a drizzle of white truffle oil from Alba in western Italy. Wine list ain’t too bad either.
Want to kick on somewhere classy? We've got Melbourne's best wine bars ready to go.
Image credit: Griffin Simm | St Luja