Melbourne's long been a fool for food and drink, so with April 1st rapidly approaching, we take a look at the best new restaurant and bar openings on the horizon for the next month, with some exciting new names and a few familiar faces branching out.
We, for one, are pretty excited about the latest incarnation of the Meatball & Wine Bar empire opening its doors on Collingwood's Smith Street in the same spot that once housed Josie Bones. Though it will have the official moniker on the façade, all three outposts have adopted cheeky nicknames, with this new addition dubbed SmithBalls, the original CityBalls and the sophomore venue christened the money bags-sounding RichBalls.
What's not to love about pistachio, muscatel and parmesan chicken balls in pesto salsa verde or pork, fennel, sage and orange balls with white and creamy sauce? We love the way you get to mix and match and it's sure to be a big hit with northsiders after a tasty and not outrageously priced feed in stylish surrounds.
Former Josie Bones owners Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins are now focusing squarely on their craft beer outfit, Boneyard Brewing, which will have its own bar opening at some point in the near future.
Speaking of expanding empires, fancy sandwich lovers and tasty salad fans rejoice as owners Simon O'Reagan and Jackie Middleton plan to open a third Earl Canteen in the CBD's about to be unwrapped Emporium Melbourne shopping centre.
Joining the Earl in Emporium's cut above food court will be a new frontier for the for the famous market fare of South Melbourne Market Dim Sims, while chef Jerry Mai – who worked with David Thompson at London's Michelin-starred Nahm as well as stints at Gingerboy, Seamstress and consulting for Hanoi Hannah, Saigon Sally and Richmond's The National Hotel – will open her own Vietnamese joint cutely called Pho Nom.
Chin Chin mastermind, Chris Lucas, has been teasing us for some time now about the opening of Kong, an Asian-inspired BBQ joint that will see Chin Chin's sous chef Dan Briggs take over in the kitchen. Inhabiting the space formerly occupied by Pearl Café, the new space will sport a spiffy interior design from ubiquitous hospo fit-out heroes, Eades & Bergman. Best guess so far is late April.
The same air of anticipation surrounds the transformation of Andrew McConnell's about to depart Golden Fields, which will be reimagined and relocated to the city as Supernormal, straddling Flinders Lane and Collins Street, following the hugely successful, now closed pop-up test kitchen Supernormal Canteen on Gertrude Street, next to his superstar Cutler & Co. The Golden Fields spot will also emerge like a phoenix as an as-yet-unnamed wine bar. A date hasn't been confirmed however sources have said late April.
Down by the banks of the Yarra, head chef Leandro Panza will dish up Italian tapas matched with fine European wines at Southgate's Artusi, run by Tutto Benne dream team, Luis Pampliega and Tamara Volkoff. Right next to Hamer Hall, it's the perfect spot for pre-theatre fine dining or post-show unwinding.
Eat Drink Design Award-winners Top Paddock are branching out to South Melbourne with their latest venture Kettle Black on Albert Road, also mooted to open in April. Top Paddock offers the perfect combo of great design and fascinating food, so we're looking forward to this one.
And in case you missed them, here are March's best new openings:
Le Grand Cirque – Manu Fieldel's much hyped Melbourne outing, opening today (28th March) in Mama Baba's previous South Yarra digs.
Smith & Daughters – Fitzroy's newest vegan hotspot, with cruelty-free takes on yummo latin fare.
Ms Collins – the CBD's latest luxe venue for sipping, supping and shimmying the night away. Expect a suspended DJ booth, interesting artwork, and a clever food concept involving a revolving selection of Melbourne's finest chefs.
Ba'get – a fresh family affair in the CBD, specialising in Vietnamese Banh Mi to keeping the worker bees buzzing.
The Savoy Tavern – a defunct 70s icon on Spencer Street has been given a shiny new lease of life, after the space lay dormant for almost 20 years. Expect cheap and cheerful pub grub, perfect for a pre-game fix.
And check out more of our best new restaurant and bar openings for 2014 here!
Main Image Credit: Aida Mollenkamp