fine dining

Amaru

Heirloom tomatoes cooked with Marron head sauce

You know how they say you should always say yes to an opportunity?

Well, on a smaller scale, you should also always say yes to “do you want to come to xx restaurant?” because even if you don’t know what on earth your friend is talking about, you’ll probably still have a good time.

Yes, that’s how we ended up at Amaru with Haz, Gaz and Thanh, several days after the restaurant opened. It took me a while after agreeing to lunch to join the dots – Amaru is the first restaurant of Clinton McIver, who had a stint serving degustations at the Clayton Bowls Club (and who also worked at Vue de Monde).

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Lume

Beef cheek

It’s been a while since I’ve had a meal like the one at Lume.

They opened in South Melbourne a few months ago, bucking the trend for casual, shared dish restaurants, instead serving a long (LONG) degustation filled with adventurous and unique dishes.

Alastair and I went to lunch at Lume with Haz and Gaz at the beginning of November. At the time of our visit, it was $140 for a 15 course meal (I believe it’s now $165). Upon arrival we were seated in the (covered) courtyard out the back, which was filled with natural light and had a wall of greenery.

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Cecconi’s

Table

Disclosure: I attended and dined courtesy of Cecconi and AMPR.

I suppose we’re officially in winter now, aren’t we? Well, let’s pretend that we’re still in autumn (I’d like to pretend that we’re not in winter anyway) as the other month I was invited to Cecconi’s for an autumn menu tasting.

Cecconi’s has been in the city for quite a long time now: apparently almost a decade, so it’s terrible that this was my first visit to the Flinders Lane location. I actually remember the Cecconi’s that was at Crown, quite a long time ago now – Alastair and I ate there with Annette and Terry not long after we moved to Melbourne.

They must be doing something right to have been around the Melbourne dining scene for so long and I was excited to finally pay them a visit.

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Taxi: Ducks in a Row luncheon

Taxi

Disclosure: I attended courtesy of Taxi and Little Big Marketing.

As part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Roast series, Taxi are holding a “Ducks in a Row” luncheon each Sunday in June. In case you haven’t figured out from the name, the theme is ducky duck duck, with a 5 course set menu for $85 per person.

Taxi uses free range ducks from a new producer, Great Ocean Ducks, in the Mornington Peninsula. We were told that the ducks are fed strawberries in the summer, and apples in the winter (mostly because that’s what is readily available rather than for flavour purposes). But – cute, right?

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Attica: Tuesday Night Chef’s Table

Attica

So Attica must be one of Melbourne’s most famous and awarded restaurants. And I finally made it there thanks to Kat, who booked us into dinner for their Tuesday night Chef’s Table.

Run by Chef Ben Shewry, Attica has consistently been recognised as one of Melbourne’s – and Australia’s – top restaurants. Located on a quiet street in Ripponlea (at least, on a Tuesday night), the restaurant inside is quite understated: white linen tablecloths, black walls, and bright spotlights over each table.

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Estelle Bar & Kitchen 2

DSC_6360

When my FIL visited over Christmas, one of the few things he requested to do was a degustation.

I mean – we could’ve taken him to see the Melbourne sights: the beautiful Yarra River as it glints brownly in the sun, the finger biting excitement of a hook turn in the city, the half finished Docklands wheel overlooking Costco and the cargo ports ** – but having a nice meal sounded much more fun to me.

(**I say all this in jest! I do love Melbourne, really.)

So we booked in dinner at the Estelle. You may remember that Alastair and I had lunch there in mid-2012.

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Moon Under Water

Moon Under Water is the latest offering by Andrew McConnell, who seems to be gradually taking over Melbourne with his restaurant empire: Cumulus Inc, Cutler & Co, Golden Fields, and The Builders Arms.

Part of The Builders Arms, Moon Under Water is the more formal dining room, and I’m not sure if this is part of the formality but the room is white. It’s white white white. The floor is white, the walls are white, the ceiling is white, the linen is white. You wouldn’t think that white could make such a loud statement but it does. (I’m not sure what that statement is, except for: white!)

Foodwise, it’s a set menu – $75 for four courses (and a couple of additional nibbles) that changes weekly.

I am a big fan of Cumulus Inc and Cutler & Co, so was pretty keen to check it out, dragging along Alastair, Maztech, Dazzle, Bro and Bro’s gf (aka the usual suspects group 1).

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Meat Market

Another week, another visit to South Wharf.

Now that I’ve been down to the revamped area several times, I really think that South Wharf has been done well, particularly compared to other dining precincts (I’m looking at you Docklands and Southbank). I like that there’s a range of different price points and all the restaurants have a different feel, which makes me want to visit them all. So last Friday night Alastair and I headed down to Meat Market for a date night. (I say that jokingly… it was just dinner.)

Meat Market is mid-range in price, and was inspired by the Australian BBQ. Not too surprisingly, with a name like Meat Market, the menu has a focus on meat, meat, and more meat, with a few seafood items thrown in. And in keeping with the whole BBQ thing, there’s a large open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant where you can watch the chefs grill and cook your preferred protein.

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Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar: dessert degustation

The evening didn’t start well. First I literally just missed the tram – I was five meters to the tram stop when I saw the tram slowly roll away. Wah wah guitar.

I then became lost at Crown. I thought I knew where Mr Hive was located, but I was wrong – I had no clue. Which lead me to walk up and down the street several times trying to figure out how to get to the first floor of Crown Metropol until it finally clicked that I needed to go “inside” the main part of Crown. Into the disorienting Crown maze I went. And first thing I did? Went in the wrong direction and took the wrong escalator. BAH. Things weren’t going my way.

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