Melbourne may be the world’s most liveable city, but it’s fair to say that we face some challenges in the weather department. While most of the country is enjoying some spring sunshine by now, Melbourne is still struggling to crack 20 degrees. But look on the bright side! Everyone else is already in virtuous salad mode while we can still tuck into some winter warmers with minimal guilt. How else are we supposed to keep warm in these arctic conditions? Here are our picks of the greatest winter dishes from Melbourne’s best restaurants.
1. Dr Morse Bar & Eatery, Abbotsford: Wrap your mitts around a warm bowl of ham hock and vegetable soup and let the healing begin.
2. Hellenic Republic, Brunswick East: The kotopoulo psistaria (i.e. chicken straight from an iron bark spit, smothered with garlic and oregano) has to be tasted to be believed.
3. La Luna Bistro, Carlton North: Get stuck into the rabbit joints, served with smoked garlic puree and winter greens. It'll put hare (boom-tish) on your chest.
4. Dandee Donuts, Dandenong Market: Is there anything better than a piping hot jam doughnut? Short answer: No. Dandee have been doing their thang for 40 years and know their way ‘round this sugary treat.
5. Pope Joan, Brunswick East: The Pope’s winter feast series continues with September’s meat pie special, featuring cauliflower cheese, mushy peas, and new potatoes.
6. Hakata Gensuke, CBD: Knock back a bowl of any of the ramen on offer here and we can assure you that you’ll leave satisfied. For extra heat, try the God Fire, made with pork cha-su, thin noodles, black fungus and Gensuke’s secret brand of “Spicy Fire”.
7. Fitzrovia, St Kilda: Nothing says winter like meatballs. Fitzrovia’s pork and veal version come served with potato mash and peas, and topped with pecorino.
8. Meatball and Wine Bar, various locations: And speaking of meatballs... Our favourite combo is beef balls with green sauce in slider form.
9. Top Paddock, Richmond: This pretty-as-a-picture porridge served with strawberry and rhubarb compote is as much a treat for your tastebuds as it is for your eyeballs.
10. Le Chien, Seddon: Sink your teeth into the roast pork belly sanga, served with cabbage, fennel, and coriander slaw.
11. The Gem Bar and Eatery, Collingwood: Finish your weekend on the right note with a classic Sunday roast.
12. City Wine Shop, CBD: The humble apple crumble is winter’s ultimate dessert, and this Melbourne bar and bottle shop has it down pat. It comes complete with pouring custard AND vanilla bean ice-cream because no one should have to choose between the two.
13. Porgie + Mr Jones, Hawthorn: Slurp your way through a serving of truffle and mushroom soup and you’ll have a smile on your dial, even if the sun’s not shining outside.
14. Borsch, Vodka and Tears, Windsor: Known as Jewish penicillin, this chicken broth, complete with home-made matzah balls and pickles on the side, will send your sniffles packing.
15. Dandelion, Elwood: Gather your mates and dive into the divine caramelised pork hock with tamarind and fragrant herbs.
16. Moroccan, Fitzroy North: Don’t try and wrap your mind around the infamous chickpea bake. Is it dinner? Is it dessert? Who cares, just keep it coming.
17. The Cornershop, Yarraville: Think bubbling raclette on sautéed mushrooms atop a couple of Dr Marty’s crumpets. You can thank us later.
18. Longrain, CBD: For those who like it hot, the jungle curry of blue eye, wild ginger, grilled corn and holy basil will spice things up.
19. Middle Park Hotel, Middle Park: Forget boeuf bourguignon; try it with chicken instead, teamed up with bacon, mushroom, and red wine.
20. Epocha, Carlton: You can’t go past the roasted duck breast and confit leg, served with rhubarb, aka winter’s ultimate vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable, we checked).
21. Dead Man Espresso, South Melbourne: Get piggy with it and order the house-made beans with smoked bacon, pork belly, black pudding, and fried eggs.
22. Temple Brewing Company, Brunswick East: The molten baked camembert, studded with lemon, thyme, garlic and rosemary, is something to behold. And demolish.
23. San Telmo, CBD: Treat yourself with something straight from the grill, like O’Connor’s premium pasture fed-beef ribs. Finger-lickin’ good.
24. Luxembourg Bar and Bistro, St Kilda: Tuck into a cassoulet of confit duck leg and pork sausage. You can’t go wrong.
25. Builders Arms Hotel, Fitzroy: Another one for sharing, the roasted Western Plains pork shoulder boasts the best crackling ever and does not disappoint. Also comes with tart applesauce, fennel, and lemon.
26. Baba Sus, Glen Iris: Try the Devil’s Brew aka spicy Thai pumpkin soup, served with sweet potato chips and lemon yoghurt.
27. Mork Chocolate Brew House, North Melbourne: The campfire hot chocolate is more than a meal at Mork, bringing you the holy trinity of chocolate, marshmallow, and smoke.
28. Barry, Northcote: It’s finally okay to have chocolate for breakfast with Barry’s five-grain cacao porridge, featuring coconut labne, strawberries and pistachios.
29. Charlie Dumpling, Prahan: While we’re on the subject of chocolate, hands up who’s down for some milk-chocolate dumplings? We thought so.
30. Crowded House, Williamstown: Start your day with baked eggs over a spicy tomato, eggplant and capsicum braise, served with feta and herbed toast.
31. The Wolf and I, Windsor: Get stuck into the braised beef cheeks, served with potato puree, spinach, shallots and red wine jus.
32. Common Galaxia, Seddon: These lamb and chorizo meatballs are a bit special. Served with tabouli salad, beetroot yoghurt and lemon tahini, this is an interesting twist on a winter favourite.
33. Mankoushe, Brunswick East: Any of the piping hot wood-fire Middle Eastern pizzas on offer will cure what ails you, but we love the in-house sausage with grilled peppers and babaganoush.
34. The Counter, Hawthorn: Indulge your sweet-tooth with a hearty helping of hotcakes, served with caramelised banana, dulce de leche, honeycomb and clotted cream.
35. The Artful Dodger, Elsternwick: Hello lamb shanks. We’re going to miss you when you’re gone.
36. The Wilde Bar and Eatery, Fitzroy: Light a fire in your belly with a serving of the Guinness bread. Yes, you read right.
37. Kong BBQ, Richmond: Did someone say hot wings? With lashings of gochujang and chipotle, just try to stop at one of these spicy numbers!
38. Roving Marrow, Carlton: Feast your eyes on the Flinders Island lamb rump, served with charcoal eggplant and ricotta.
39. Pastuso, CBD: The product of 12 hours of love, how could you go past the cabrito tierno (braised goat)? They’ve turned up the heat with a Peruvian sundried chilli rub and aji mirasol sauce, all served with silverbeet.
40. El Chino, Fitzroy North: Catch the winter churros while you can! Think hot Spanish doughnuts served with chilli chocolate sauce. Mmmexican heaven.
41. Babu Ji, St Kilda: The kafirana will warm the cockles of your heart with slow-roasted goat, ginger, garlic, coconut cream and pounded masala.
42. The Town Mouse, Carlton: Try the fiery whole flathead, roasted with Vadouvan spices.
43. Brighton Schoolhouse, Brighton: The cheekily named Rhonda and Katut Hot Pot will set your heart racing with a tagine of slow-cooked lamb, baked eggs, sweet capsicum and whipped goat’s curd.
44. Proud Mary, Collingwood: Probably the best porridge out there, this dish comes with butterscotch bananas and sesame snaps. Um, yum.
45. Nieuw Amsterdam, CBD: Meatloaf isn’t always the most appealing of loafs, but how about when it’s made with duck and cherries? Try this, or you’ll live to regret it.
46. Auction Rooms, North Melbourne: This is chilli con carne on steroids! Think thick-cut beef short-rib with kidney beans, red peppers, avocado and sour cream, served with jalapeno cornbread. Olé!
47. Footscray Milking Station, Footscray: The baked haricot, lima and cannellini beans with house-made sugo is the ultimate in winter comfort.
48. Cutler and Co, Fitzroy: Get saucy with the bass groper, steamed mussels, saffron, fennel, and crustacean sauce.
There you have it, Melbourne. Don’t dilly-dally, get yourself to Melbourne’s best restaurants and tuck into these dishes before the sun starts shining.
Image credit: Sabine Legrand for The Urban List