It's rare that a week goes by without a new opening here in Australia's dining capital, and no matter the persuasion of your palate, you'll be spoiled for choice no matter which side of the river you're on.
From Richmond, St Kilda, and then into the northern trend traps of Collingwood, Fitzroy and beyond, Melbourne's best new openings for 2022 can be found right here.
South Melbourne's award-winning brewery, Urban Alley, is opening up a second locale in the south-east suburb of Wantirna South. Set to transform Knox City Ozone, the multi-storey, 1000sqm brewery will see their entire range take to the taps—including the beloved All Nighter session ale and the classic Urban Lager—and as expected, some damn fine pub grub will be available over lunch and dinner. Those who prefer a little variety can make a pitstop to the dedicated gin distillery, backed by Tasmanian-born gin producers Dasher + Fisher. Nightowls will also relish in Urban Alley's 3am license—not bad, not bad at all.
Urban Alley Knox City opens Thursday 12 May. Keep up to date via their Instagram.
Korr Jee Chicken
The roast chook has just scored a major glow-up thanks to Chef Will Tang, whose pedigree spans across the likes of Vue de monde, Maze by Gordon Ramsey and Melbourne's Bar Lourinha.
Tang quietly opened Korr Jee Chicken, a casual pastel-licked diner, in the back end of 2021. At Korr Jee, they do just a few things, but they do them damn well—each free-range roast chicken goes through a 26-hour preparation process before being served up to you alongside a considered chicken-based menu (burgers, parmas and a little fried chicken make an appearance too). Tang calls on local suppliers and producers wherever possible on the menu, and that includes the drinks list which features a grip of local winemakers and brewers.
If you've ever visited Florence, Rome, Turin or Milan, there's a fair chance you've stumbled into a Mercato Centrale. The mega Italian-style food halls are staples to their cities, each packed out with artisan producers purveying everything from breads, pastas, meats, cheese and everything in between. And soon, they're about to open their first outpost outside of Australia right here in Melbourne. It'll be housed inside the art-deco McPherson building up on the west end of Collins St, and will take up around 300osqm across two-storeys where both local and international makers will fill the stalls.
Word is they'll be swinging open the doors toward the back end of 2022. More to come.
Taking on the culinary movement of Scandinavian cuisine, popularised by overseas institutions like Noma and Faviken, Freyja will be the newest addition to the Collins Street dining precinct. The name Freyja comes from the Norse goddess, who was responsible for beauty and love, residing inside the 130yo heritage-listed Olderfleet building, there’s a strong Scandinavian aesthetic with a collection of minimalist stylings including raw timbers and metallic flourishes with rich contrasting colours. Leading the charge in the kitchen are Jae Bang and Aaron Caccia who both hail from Michelin-starred diner, Re-Naa in Norway as well as Daniel Gordon, former head chef at Lee Ho Fook. Together the collective team are developing a menu incorporating plenty of the traditional cooking methods of the Nordic region including fermenting, smoking, and pickling, but menu details are still being held tight until closer to the opening in June.
The Continental Hotel Sorrento
It’s one of the biggest openings for 2022 and we couldn’t be more hyped to get inside the walls of the new-look Continental Hotel in Sorrento. Inside the mammoth coastal venue, you’ll find Audrey’s, Scott Pickett’s a fine dining restaurant with a focus on yesteryear charm, think staple Euro-inspired dishes with some of the best produce local to the Peninsula, from a lobster and caviar tartlet to local-caught squid with shitake XO sauce and rosemary flowers all with a sweeping view of the sea. For a nightcap, the late-night cocktail bar Barlow is set to swoon hearts with an 1800s-inspired fit-out, think deep-red velvet booth couches with a real speakeasy feel. The drinks menu has been carefully crafted by the team behind Eau De Vie and features a curated list of cocktails, wines, craft beers and spirits, there's even a signature Absinthe-based Pina Colada. Foodwise there's a slew of late-night snack plates imbued with charm, from the charcoal-grilled beef skewers with ume furikake (Japanese spice seasoning) and a sesame miso to Pickett’s go-to New York-style pizza slices and Conti fried chicken with creme fraiche and caviar.
The well-established restaurant collective, Botswana Butchery has opened up locations in New Zealand and Sydney but it’s finally Melbourne’s time to shine. Opening up on Flinders Lane, the new venue specialises in some of the finest game, meat and seafood produce available in Australia and New Zealand; expect a menu laden with prime cuts including Blackmore’s wagyu, a 1.6kg Tomahawk steak from Ranger’s Valley as well as grass-fed Cape Grim selections—the house speciality, a four-hour slow-cooked lamb shoulder will also be making an appearance. Led by culinary director, Angel Fernandez formerly of New York dining institution, Dante’s, the entire operation has precision-like elegance, the wine list is in excess of 1000 wines including several Victorian vineyards, and the bar shelves are lined with plenty of top-shelf options.
It's safe to say the iconic Railway Hotel in Brunswick has been through a few peaks and troughs in the last several years, but with a new owner and a new vision, the mainstay pub is back in action. Throughout the reimagined venue are several dining areas: an indoor bar complete with DJ booth, a dining room for your classic bistro seating service, a late-nght spirits bar and of course a sprawling beer garden perfect for a night spent with a pint and schnitzel in front of you. On the menus across the board are several nods to the region's migrant past, with many of the dishes leaning on Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Southern European flavours and cuisines. Hotel Railway is open now, and bring your friends, because they have capacity for 965 people.
By now, it's painstakingly clear that Melburnians love any sort of bar by the river, extra points if it floats atop the water. Well, the good folk at AVC are giving the people what they want with their latest venue, Yarra Botanicals. Set right on the Yarra River not too far from the city's other favourite floating pontoon, the two-storey glasshouse is set to champion local producers through its food and booze menu with everything on it being 100% Australian. And yes, if you're making the link between the name and gin, you'd be right in doing so; Yarra Botanica will be heroeing the stuff with an extensive list of Aussie gins and gin-based drinks.
Added bonus: the glasshouse structure means this one will be open throughout winter, too.
Yarra Botanica Is opening Wednesday 16 March. More here.
Luigi Paninoteca And Bar
Coming into to stake its own slice of the sandwich game in Melbourne, the recently opened Luigi’s Paninoteca & Bar in Windsor is bringing a different approach to the handheld genre. Helmed by owner Charlie Sirianos and head chef Luca Colombo of Thirty Eight Chairs and Cucinetta want to bring an authentic Italian street food approach to their establishment. Colombo who hails from the northern region of the boot-shaped nation described his passion for the new venture “I wanted to bring this real panini experience to Melbourne. Like the ones I would enjoy back in Italy.” Designed to eat in the morning, afternoon and at night the menu here features several classic combinations; from an authentic pork sausage, pecorino and peperonata number to the wagyu porterhouse with house-made salsa verde, melted fontina cheese, rocket and braised onions, all encased in a perfectly chewy dense panini roll.
A familiar 100yo Church Hall on the corner of St Kilda Road and Chapel Street is scoring one helluva reimagination. While Trinity Hall will be keeping onto its namesake (or at least the first half of it), the space is set for a transformation that'll welcome a 12-tap bar, a sprawling beer garden and a hefty reno featuring lush green booths, copper beer tanks, and a lengthy bar that spans the entirety of the main room. Safe to say punters are sorted on the booze front, and as for the bites? A rotating food truck park attached to the side of the venue. Trinity is expected to open at the beginning of April.
Suburban brewpubs are becoming a real thing in Melbourne, and the latest to open in Melbourne's outskirts is Kaiju Cantina. Set within a 445sqm warehouse conversion, you'll find all your Kaiju favourites—including plenty of the already-iconic Kaiju Krush—along with plenty of limited edition and one-off brews. Like any discerning brewpub, Kaiju Cantina features a banging pizza menu to tuck into on the brewzy afternoons. Stop in for a pint Wednesday through Sunday—more details here.
Armadale, Middle Park
After the success of their first venue in South Yarra, Ned's Bake is on the rise with two new locales across the southside. Like their OG home, breadwinners can expect Euro-leaning breads and pastries, damn good coffee and even the odd negroni if so inclined. Brunch enthusiasts are also spoiled for choice with casual baguettes and larger plates for those who need an excuse to avoid that 9am, 10am and maybe even 11am meeting.
Middle Park is open now, while Armadale is expected to swing open doors very soon.
Set within the grounds of the always-aesthetic All Saints Estate is the newly opened Bonnie from the Brown siblings. Eliza, Nick and Angela consider the casual diner a labor of love that offers the best of the Rutherglen region. They're keeping things considered with a stellar wood-fired pizza menu that's complemented by local cheeses, salumi, olives and other snackable go-to's alongside that vino you've no doubt doubled down on. You can't go wrong with the wine list, but you'd be remiss not to order up on a bottle of the All Saints shiraz—the region's known for it, after all.
Teller set up shop in the grand State Savings Bank building some months ago now, but northsiders will relish in the just-opened, summer-ready laneway beer garden. The two outdoor bars are equipped with 12 taps pouring local and indie brews, while the star of the considered menu has to be the truffle ricotta gnocchi, the cured salmon or their stellar takes on several pub classics.
Pearl Diver Cocktails & Oysters
If you've ever been to one of Speakeasy Group's bars, diners or restaurants, you'd know they don't do things by halves.
Their latest haunt, Pearl Diver Cocktails & Oysters does exactly what it says on the tin and so much more.First up is the oysters—sourced seasonally from across the country—which are served three ways: natural, dressed and cooked. You can't go wrong whichever route you take, though you'd be remiss not to order up on the natural dressed with Pearl Diver's signature martini. The cocktail list is equally considered and designed to pair with what you're slurping down; the light and bright Coconut + Yuzu goes down exceptionally well, but again, there are no wrong choices here.
Pearl Diver is open now, and yep, they have a 'not oysters' menu for that one friend whose palate hasn't ascended just yet.
Fresh pasta artisans, Pasta Poetry, won the hearts of Melbourne from the moment they opened their pasta store. There'd been talks that some sort of restaurant was in the works, and finally, the news is here that Pasta Poetry's alfresco diner is open for business. Nestled in between Pasta Poetry's OG outlet and St. Paul's Church, pasta obsessers can expect everything from classic ragu rigatoni bolognese, chickpea gnocchi and antipasto for days. There's also a custom-built bocce court—hello summer.
Connie's Italian Diner & Terrazza
A slice or two from that pizza joint tucked away in Heartbreaker is basically a rite of passage for any Melburnian. Like the venue it's housed within, Connie's essentially reached institution status, so it's only fitting that they'll be moving to its own 70-seat diner and 30-seat rooftop complete with pool table, jukebox and plenty of booths.
Expect Connie's menu mainstays like those deep-dish numbers and of course the larger-than-life 18" classics, as well as pasta of the day, eggplant parmigiana and baked clams to name a few. The new Connie's will open above Heartbreaker this April.
A lot of love has gone into ACDC Lane's newest resident, Bar Bambi; it's inspired by the hospo heritage that runs in the family of owners Nick and Daniel Russian which harks back all the way to Trieste, Italy, after all. The venue is a real stunner, but it's the menu that's already stealing Melbourne's hearts—that may be attributed to the (very) extensive negroni list, or that sessionable vodka pasta that everyone is ordering.
Melbourne's highest rooftop is opening its doors (staircase and elevator) on Friday 19 November. It—and it's sweeping vistas—have been likened to the rooftop watering holes of Tokyo and New York, but there's more to this spot than the view. Behind the venue is Gehan Rajapakse (Sofitel, Hyde Bar, Rah Bar, Club 23, Crown Casino) who's recruited an A-grade hospo team to bring this spot to life. Most notably is executive chef Alex Xinis, whose pedigree includes a two Michelin Starred restaurant in Greece and more recently, Melbourne's Press Club. Head up for a geeze of the view and make sure you order the Jacks Creek marbled porterhouse—it's another level.
Sydney’s famed Mediterranean diner in Surry Hills is making the trip south and setting up a second locale in the swank-filled Flinders Lane. Hospitality royalty in New South Wales’ culinary community, Nomad made its bones impressing the Sydney diners with their quirky reinterpretations to classic Euro-style cuisine including their insanely popular duck mortadella. The second NOMAD iteration will be situated on the ground floor of the Adelphi Hotel and will feature the signature wood-fired oven and house flatbread that helped the diner rise to fame. Owners, Rebecca and Al Yazbek, have a strong local focus in mind for NOMAD Melbourne; utilising local produce, creating relationships with local suppliers and farmers to ensure the highest quality, but also to help create a new identity to the Sydney counterpart. The 100-seat restaurant is set to open on Monday 15 November, book in over here.
Opening in what is now the northside mecca known as Welcome To Thornbury is the new home of NED Whisky and Grainshaker Vodka. The fully functioning bar is complemented by the working distillery where boozehounds with a penchant for quality spirits can simply sit back and enjoy the good stuff, or get stuck into a masterclass to really understand the nuts and bolts of what their drinking. The Distiller opens Friday 26 November.
Smith Street Bistrot
Scott Pickett, Melbourne chef and restaurateur has just announced he'll be opening a new French bistro in Collingwood, Smith Street Bistrot. This time paired with head chef Daniel Southern of Bar Margaux and restaurant manager Tash Sorensen from Embla the collective all-star team will open this Parisian-style eatery with a North-side edge. Expect a menu of clever reinterpretations of French classics as well as cocktails and a curated selection of fine wine. Smith Street Bistrot is expected to open soon.
Thy Thy Counter & Canteen
Thy Thy's origins date back to 1980 along Richmond's Victoria Street, and after a hiatus on the strip for quite some time, original owners Le and Ho are bringing their signature style of Vietnamese cuisine back, but not without several modern sensibilities. The classic rice paper rolls and special beef pho are just two stars of the show, but it's their Vietnamese iced coffee that may be the best in town. Thy Thy is open now—head here for more.
Chris Lucas, AKA the mind behind Chin Chin, Kisumé, Hawker Hall and other Melbourne favourites, has opened his latest restaurant—Yakimono. The inspiration comes from the team's love for Japanese cuisine and charcoal cooking. Hence the name "Yakimono" and Yaki is the Japanese term for grill. Set to open in a few months, the menu takes a modern take on Japanese dining. The two-storey, high-energy eating house references Lucas’ favourite Japanese hangouts from his time over in the island nation.
Right next door to Attica, Mission District is giving you yet another very solid reason to visit the southside culinary hotspot. From humble beginnings hustling burritos from the back door, Mission District has finally opened doors to their stunner of a venue—set in a grand 100-year-old Ripponlea building no less. It's best described as Cali-style Mexican, and you best get in quickly for that 12-hour brisket barbacoa burrito.
You may already be familiar with Manze and chef Nagesh Seethiah, his pop-up dinners have been spotted all over town including Hope Street Radio. Nagesh noticed a lack of Mauritian cooking in Melbourne, so, along with co-owners, Osman Faruqi and Jason Phu, decided to create a permanent home for Manze in North Melbourne. The menu will feature Mauritian-style cooking based on Nagesh's heritage utilising fresh produce that is locally sourced. The venue will also feature a wine bar with a selection of local and French wines.
Image credit: Bar Bambi