There’s no denying that Melbourne’s hospitality industry has been one of the worst hit from the city’s very lengthy lockdowns. Amidst all the doom and gloom, however, several culinary success stories have arisen during our time at home.
They come in the form of ghost kitchens, pop-ups and delivery-only offerings, and most are limited to several—and in many cases, just one—menu items or item. Some are passion projects of well-known chefs who are keeping busy while their restaurants are shut, and others are more elusive—all, however, are selling out hours before close-of-trade on the daily.
Order up from the best ghost kitchens best in and around Melbourne:
Danny Rōnin is a man on a mission with a goal to create the “world’s largest digitally native food brand”. Starting with Rōnin Chilli, his recipe for success rests on five key principles: radical gifting, sustainability, inclusion, connection and participation. This little jar packs a punch with its balance of texture, heat and flavour. You can add it to your stir fry, pasta, curry or sandwich; anything goes. If you have a need for extra heat, then stay tuned for their extra spicy version coming in future.
You can purchase a one-off jar of the stuff for $20 or subscribe for regular deliveries of Rōnin Chilli, though with that perfect blend of crunch and spice, we think you’ll be opting for the latter before too long. Rōnin processes and deliver orders on Mondays, make sure you order yours here.
Good Pudd is making pudding great again, along with a few other dessert-focussed items on their menu. Highlights include the rhubarb and custard pudding, a coconut and cardamom chiffon and a highly addictive banana and brown butter cake.
The desserts come from UK born pastry chef Carley Scheidegger, who’s worked at the likes of Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurants back in England, and more recently at Melbourne’s cherished Lune Croissanterie—talk about credentials.
It’s an under-the-radar affair at Good Pudd, where you place your orders via Instagram. The changing menu is posted every Monday, while delivery takes place on Friday and Saturday in the Melbourne Metro area.
What happens when an ex-Lune pastry chef gets her hands on a commercial kitchen? @holysugar_ happens. Audrey Allard has kept busy the last few months delivering assorted boxes of stunning desserts in and around Melbourne. They come in at $45 with around four or five sweet treats inside; the offering is switched up weekly, but you can expect the likes of burnt honey and brown butter doughnuts, rum and mandarin brownies, baked cheesecake tarts and on occasion, a 'lemington'.
Very fancy, very pretty cakes. DM @holysugar_ between Tuesdays and Thursdays for delivery on Saturdays within 10km of Collingwood.
Lasagna Del Rey
From the chefs behind northside burger stalwarts, B. East and Henry’s, comes Lasagna Del Rey. No prizes here for guessing their craft, LDR do just three styles of lasagne, and they do it damn well. There’s beef, chicken and vegan; all three slices are organic, and all are delicious.
"We wanted to develop an alternative from the same old lasagna formula on the market at the moment. We've made three 'out-of-the-box' lasagnas—a lot of time and love has gone into selecting our ingredients and the process, giving our lasagnas extra kick-ass flavours!” says head chef Jarrod Moore.
Lasagna Del Ray delivers to Melbourne and the inner suburbs on Wednesday and Friday. Order ahead here.
Gomi Boys Ramen
COVID-19 and Melbourne’s lockdown left chefs Ben Reardon and Ryan Maher jobless, but it also gave them the kick up ass they needed to bring the city their fiery ramen. While Gomi Boys is new to our delivery options, the idea has been with the two for several years, who travelled across Japan in a van trying each and every sub-genre of the noodle-y soup. Since then, they’ve spent their spare time perfecting several different styles of ramen—like miso, shoyo and a classic tantanmen.
Gomi Boys heat and eat ramen is available for delivery and pick up in North Melbourne on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Find out more here.
Jolly Good Sandwiches
Jolly Good is the passion project of Melbourne Chef Raphael Exton-Pery, whose pedigree includes Spensley’s Wine Room, Little Andorra, and more recently Andrew McConnell’s Gimlet.
So far, Jolly Good has had just one pop-up in Fitzroy North which sold out in a matter of hours. Those hoping to try this chef’s take on the humble sandwich should follow his Instagram for the next location—and make sure you line up early to avoid disappointment.
Monforte Viennoiserie is a one-woman show from pastry chef Giorgia McAllister Forte, which deals in fine croissants. You’ll find them in the backstreets of Carlton North on Friday and Saturday mornings along with a tidy grip of filter coffee and premium honey-based sodas to compliment your flaky pastries.
Forte’s background working with pastry royalty Clair Ptak over in London means that everything is worth ordering here, but one would be negligent not to order the leatherwood honey & sea salt croissant… that is, of course, if it’s not already sold out by the time you get there.
Ex-Miznon chef Avi Azoulay has been very, very busy during lockdown making Israeli-style Babka, stacked with hazelnut and choc-chip. The rich, dense loaves of braided cake take about three days to make from start to finish, so there’s a finite number available each week.
"The idea came from a friend asking me if I sold them when I posted a picture on social media, and there was a lightbulb moment.
"I want to spread joy through lockdown with babka," said Azoulay.
The popularity of Azoulay’s babka has reached a point where one needs to join a waitlist before purchasing, which you can do so here.
Along with top-quality dishes coming out of lockdown, so too are there incredible business names. Unfortunately, Tom Selleck isn’t making these pies, but that doesn’t matter given how incredible these things are.
Magnum Pi comes from veteran Melbourne chef Jason Kubasek, who’s headed up Pillar of Salt, Good Times Milk Bar and High Society over the years. Now, lockdown has given him some time to focus on the art of the pie, which he has well and truly mastered with the likes of the pulled beef and merlot, and the moussaka pie.
Cooking out of a ghost kitchen, Magnum Pi is available for delivery here.
The Bao Project
Little is known about the geniuses behind The Bao Project, what we have discovered what is quite possibly the most addictively good katsu bao on the south side of Melbourne.
The Bao Project is available only via Ubereats in the bayside area on Fridays and Saturdays. You’ll find several worthy options on the menu hear, including but not limited to a miso pumpkin bento bowl and a “food court lemon chicken bao” which tastes exactly like you’d expect it to.
As with any discerning ghost kitchen, its popularity is such that they’ll likely sell-out before closing at 10pm on both nights of trade.
Pair your order with some fine booze. Here are Melbourne’s best alcohol delivery services.
Image credit: Babka Boi