Elsternwick runs in a leafy swathe between Kooyong Rd, Glen Eira Rd and the Nepean Highway. It’s full of important things like the Hopetoun Gardens, Ripponlea Estate (they throw the best teddy bears picnics) and most importantly, good food. If you want to find the best restaurants in Elsternwick, just head down to Glen Huntly Rd, near Elsternwick station—that’s where you get the good grub. Bring your wallet...and an appetite.
Here we go, guys. The best restaurants in Elsternwick.
The More The Better
Turns out there’s more to good Korean than good BBQ? Don’t believe us? Head on down to Min Seo’s little restaurant, The More The Better. You’ll find it on Glen Huntley Rd. For lunch we’re partial to the hot-stone bibimbap (who isn’t) with sunny side eggs, tender bulgogi beef and Portobello mushrooms. But if you’re coming by for dinner, try the salt-and-pepper silken tofu, or maybe the bahn-bahn fried chicken—partly sweet, partly salty, all delicious. Some interesting beer choices too: Hitachino Nest, Bia Hanoi and Robot Ninja for starters.
Sure, Changz on the more casual side of ‘restaurant’, but who the hell cares when double cheeseburgers with Canteen sauce, the legendary fried chicken ribs (we could eat about 50 of these things) and Japanese karaage burgers with miso mayo and snow pea slaw. They’re also one of the few places we know with Dr Pepper in the fridge, and don’t even think about leaving without sampling a few of their home-brewed hot sauces. It’s no exaggeration to say we own an actual Changz hoody—that’s how much we love these guys.
Motorina Pizzeria has been dishing up the good stuff to Elsternwick locals for ages, and in fact owner Raoul Symons has just opened up a new restaurant, Stella Deluxe, in Port Melbourne. The basics at Motorina never change: crispy-bottomed Napolitano pizzas with A-Grade toppings like field mushrooms, Tiger prawns, green olive puree and pancetta (not all on the same pizza, don’t worry). Our pick is the Salsicca: homemade veal and pork sausages, tomato, caramelised onions, fio di latte cheese and a sprinkling of rocket. Works every time.
Hunter & Co
Another venue that straddles the ‘restaurant’ divide, Hunter & Co just popped up this year. It’s a boutique wine bar, restaurant and provedore from Charlotte Spong and Ben Jager. The sort of place you can swing by for some European cheeses and smallgoods, or settle down with a drop of Garagiste wine from the Mornington Peninsula. The eat-in menu is built around seasonal European comfort food. Think slow-cooked lamb shoulder with pumpkin and Romesco sauce, or eggplant ragu with poached eggs and labne. Sadly, this one isn’t doing a late dinner service yet, but well worth a cruisy long lunch if you’re in the area. You can even grab a bottle of wine off the shelf and pay a small corkage.
After The Tears
Fans of Borsch, Vodka & Tears, did you know she has a sister? Welcome to After The Tears in Elsternwick, a Polish restaurant and vodka bar specialising in Pierogi, goulash and 1001 amazing things you can do with a cabbage. You could spend 40 mins browsing the encyclopaedic spirits list along, but we’ll skip ahead to the food: hearty Russian borsch with beetroot and potato, slow-cooked lamb ragu eggplants, carrots and fennel, or how about SEVEN different types of Pierogi. Our favourite? The porcini mushrooms dumplings with sauerkraut, brown butter, sage, cranberry and horseradish. You don’t forget those in a hurry...
We have our fair share of European food here in Melbourne, but good Russian cuisine is something that’s actually pretty hard to find. Nevsky in Elsternwick is changing the game with their traditional and home-style dishes like borsch (beef, beetroot, cabbage and potato) and Kharcho (Georgian spicy lamb with tomato and rice). They even have banquet menu options available, for those in larger groups. Pro tip: sit yourself down for A Russian Tale. Four delicious courses for a cool $55pp.
Like any good dancer, Arabesque hits the moves every time with their Middle Eastern and Turkish menu. They have a full meze range, with traditional dishes like Bildirjin (chargrilled quail sizzling on a hotplate) and Manti (plump Turkish lamb dumplings) to satisfy every craving. For mains, load up with the Sultan Lamb Claypot: slow-cooked lamb in a Moroccan sauce loaded with eggplant, halloumi and herb béchamel. Sounds weird but the couscous soaks up a lot of the juices. Will send you rolling home satisfied. And did we mention the Middle Eastern cocktails? We think our work here is done.
Hanoi Hannah Kiosk
You can find Hanoi Hannahs in Richmond and Windsor too, but Hanoi Hannah in Elsternwick focuses on the ‘sharing is caring’ mentality (after all, that means you can try more dishes!). Think crunchy spring rolls and fragrant coconut rice for entrée, lemongrass beef salad, vegetarian yellow pumpkin curry for mains and a Vietnamese iced coffee to wash it all down. Yes, please. Even better: their ‘All In’ menu is only $37 a head! You know where to find us.
Bang Bang At The Rifle Club
Going out with a bang (literally). Bang Bang At The Rifle Club was one of our favourite openings of 2017. An all-day eatery that lets you pig-out al fresco from dawn till dusk. They do an Asian-fusion spin on your more familiar classics, including ‘bia ha noi battered fish’ with yuzu mayo and salad (with French fries, of course) and if you’re feeling like digging in, chow down on the grilled lamb shoulder with pickled ginger and mint dressing. Deeeelish! If you feel like washing it all down, they have an extensive drinks list with some of the best cocktails in town, including ‘The Business’, which features chilli infused Tromba Blanco tequila, grapefruit and lime. Sold.
Carrying on the Italian trend, Bocconcini serves traditional home-made Italian nosh to the good people of Elsternwick. If you’re going with your pals, try out the Salumi Platter with cured meats and cheese, or the vegetarian platter, loaded with baked eggplant and zucchini fritters. Pasta-wise, it’s gotta be the house-made spinach and ricotta ravioli. Although if you really can’t decide (and how can you when the menu looks this delish), the Early Bird menu (with a pizza/pasta and a glass of wine) will set you back $25 per person, or try out the Menu Venezia for $45 with a platter, pasta or pizza, wine and dessert to share. A good mid-week value option.
An oldie but a goodie. Kotaraya is a bit of a jack of all trades, serving up some underrated Malaysian and Asian fusion dishes. Take your pick really. Cantonese Sizzling beef, Curry Laksa with Noodles, Mee Goreng, traditional Tom Yum Soup, chicken ribs in tangy sweet and sour sauce. It’s not the fanciest grub, but it’s damn satisfying. They also have both Malaysian and Chinese Banquets on offer for less than $35pp. And if you really need a cherry on top, they run BYO wine. TBH you had us at sizzling beef.
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Image credit: Bang Bang At The Rifle Club | Supplied