Look, we all love eating out—it’s how we spend our time, our cash, and our precious daily calorie intake—but lately we’ve been looking for a little something extra. I know what you’re thinking: surely, working at The Urban List, we’re never short of ideas for places to eat. However at times even we need some fresh inspiration, which is where Food Social (the latest foodie club to hit Melbourne) comes in handy.
On the way to our first Food Social dining event last Saturday, we have to admit that we weren’t 100% sure that spending the night chowing down with a bunch of strangers was the best way to maximise our dining experience. But as soon as we were seated at Saba’s Ethiopian Restaurant in Fitzroy—the latest destination of Food Social’s A-Z global feast series—we began to relax into an evening of East African food, drinks and hilarious food-centric conversation.
Firstly, our table was a refreshingly eclectic mix: an artist, a wine buff who was fresh from a Melbourne Food And Wine Festival tasting, and a biomedical researcher. Not the average dining crowd, hey?! Within the first five minutes, I’d already been tipped off about a Footscray hot-spot tucked behind the train station that I’d never stumbled across, introduced to the best wine in Victoria, and met an artist who was exhibiting at an uber-stylish Brunswick Street gallery.
Over the course of six incredible East African dishes, accompanied by African beers and spiced ouzo tea, we continued to talk Melbourne’s latest openings, must-book events, and best cheese pitstops (the biomedic was Swiss, and grew up eating raclette… Lucky for some!) As for the hottest topic of the night? Who’d travelled the furthest to track down a dining experience. The winner at our table described a cracking story about making the haphazard trip with a friend all the way to San Francisco for a booking. Now THAT’S dedication, folks.
On top of learning from each other (and having a few good laughs at our traditional hands-only Ethiopian eating techniques—many, many napkins died in the process…), we were treated to an introduction to the traditional stews, salads and flatbreads that we were chowing down on via Saba, the restaurant’s owner. As well as learning about how the bread gets its flavour (hint: a little fermentation goes a loooong way), and the key to brewing a super-smooth coffee, Saba also showed off her dancing skills, making for a fantastic cultural evening that went above and beyond our usual Saturday night dining experience… You certainly don’t get that with your average booking!
As the night came to a close, our table swapped Facebook and Instagram deets to keep up-to-speed with each other’s food finds, and the conversation quickly turned to breakfast tip-offs for the next morning. Industry Beans? Code Black? Hit the markets and whip up something yourself? Do I smell the makings of a brunch meet-up coming on?
And now onto the deets... So, what’s all this club business about? Well, Food Social is by, and for, food-lovers who are keen to check out unique dining experiences at Melbourne’s best restaurants, from iconic dining institutions to the latest new openings. Founded by Pheh Sze (aka an avid foodie and the founder of Food Social, known to her friends as P.S), the club hosts global feasts, which are about appreciating Melbourne’s incredible international food culture, cook offs (think Melbourne’s very own MasterChef, where you and your mates get a chance to cook up a comp-winning dish!), and exclusive tastings at some of the city’s best specialist venues, from chocolate to cheese and beyond.
Not only do you get the chance to try some incredible dishes, and discover Melbourne chefs’ own stories (the how and why of their cooking journey), but at a Food Social event, you’ll also be in a room full of other foodies who are keen to share their latest finds. Want the downlow on where to brunch in Burnleigh? How about the most adventurous cocktail in Carlton? Simply strike up a conversation with a table of Food Socialites and we can guarantee you’ll have more suggestions than you have free evenings to explore them.
All in all, Food Social is a pinch at $10/month, with individual events tickets costing from $45 each. It’s especially worth it if you’re the sort of person who loves finding an excuse to discover new eateries that may have been hiding on your doorstep all along, or to escape the habit of heading to the same local venues, week in week out. And if you’re not 100% sure about picking up a membership yet, you can try out an event as a non-member for a little extra. We’ll see you food lovers—neigh, food *worshipers*—at the next one.
Food Social offers global feasts from A-Z, cook offs, and exclusive tastings in collaboration with top venues and chef around Melbourne. To check out what’s coming up, click here. To find out more about membership, click here.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey White for The Urban List
Editor's Note: This article is proudly sponsored by Food Social and endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.