New Kids on The Block

Whether you’re on the hunt for something new, are stuck in a food rut, or just love to keep up-to-date with everything Melbourne, we’ve compiled a list of the latest or soon-to-come restaurants, and cafes, that will take Melbourne by storm in 2017. Just remember, you heard it here first…




Spoiler: They taste as good as they look. Photo by: Natalee Erceg.

Chapel Street’s newest addition, Abacus, is a foodie’s dream. Think Croquettes of speck and gruyere, paramsen béchamel pizzas with pumpkin, zucchini and parsley and watermelon-infused sweet vermouth cocktails- the perfect summer great. And that’s just the start of it. The cafe is almost entirely open, one of its major selling points. With no technical outdoor seating, customers can enjoy a meal, coffee or a few moments to themselves immersed in the vibrant hustle and bustle of Chapel Street. People watching with a side of croquettes, anyone?



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YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Buckwheat and chia crepes with berries, clotted cream, saffron pear, tim-tams and ganache…treat yo’self.




Mango and Saffron Pannacotta: if this won’t get you out of bed on a Monday morning, nothing will. Photo from Tinker Northcote’s official Instagram page.

It would be rare to find an Instagram feed Tinker Northcote hasn’t popped up on in the last month. From the self-dubbed ‘mischievous little dreamers’ team behind other Melbourne favourites, Legacy, Penta, and Temperance Society comes Northcote’s newest prized possession. Serving all day breakfast (something most Melbournians are avid believers in), dishes are healthy, vibrant, fresh and bursting with flavour, without breaking your bank- a peanut butter and raspberry smoothie (a combination that isn’t paired enough in my humble opinion) will set you back $9 (reasonable, compared to a lot of $12+ price tags), while their $17.50 smashed avocado (served with heirloom tomatoes, radish, and chilli) won’t stop you from being able to buy a house. Fan favourites include the smashed peas ($18) with beetroot borane labneh, feta, black quinoa, halloumi (an increasingly popular staple café item) and a poached egg on sourdough, the mouth-watering mango and saffron pannacotta and the spiracha baked salmon with raw zoodles, edamame, and avocado. My guesses? It won’t be long before this not-so-hidden gem pops up on your posts too.



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YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Mango and saffron pannacotta. See above photo.




Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Photo from Queen of South Prahran’s official instagram  page.

Joining an impressive list of Mexican restaurants in Prahran, Queen of South may have to rename itself to ‘king of the castle’. Alongside long-time favourites, Fonda and Jalisco and the much-loved chain Zambrero’s, Queen of South is changing the game. Located next to Huxtaburger on High Street, It’s Mexican; but not as you know it.  Boasting a large menu of modern Mexican cuisine, with dishes ranging from ‘delicious bite-sized antojitos to larger sharing plates’, head chef, Malcolm Williams, seeks to ‘introduce Melbourne to a more mature style of Mexican dining’. That he does, with items such as the lamb cutlets, with pastille glaze and sweet corn, ‘albondigas’, spicy pork meatballs with pickled jalapeno, and the ‘ocean troucha’, Tromba Blanco and ancho cured ocean trout with a corn puree. A specially designed vegan menu is also on offer, with dairy free alternatives such as ‘cashew cheese’. The drinks menu is just as impressive, featuring a variety of cocktails to compliment any meal. Like we said, it’s Mexican; but not as you know it.


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YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Publan style chicken, tomato, chipotle, oregano, bay and thyme with creama de mexicana and a charred corn salsa. Oh mi dios!




Coffee and eggs, the perfect combo. Photo from Higher Ground’s official Instagram page.

From the food gods who brought us Melbourne favourites, ‘Top Paddock’ and ‘The Kettle Black’, comes a third sister café, Higher Ground.  And it’s just as popular, just as impressive, and just as heaven-sent, as those that have come before it. It’s not hard to see why within a few minutes of a visit to the 19th century heritage-listed, three-storey, former power station. It follows the same winning formula for success; beautifully designed interior, freshly brewed coffee, a menu that seemingly caters to your every desire and, of course, the hotcakes (anyone who’s even considered going to one of the three sibling venues will know what I’m talking about; fluffy ricotta hotcakes, drizzled with warm maple syrup and topped with fresh seasonal fruit and flowers. You can close your mouth now).  Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the experience is different depending on what time of day you dine. With the look and feel of a Brooklyn warehouse, breakfast and lunch-goers will find themselves awash with natural light, as they brunch on dishes such as the steamed market fish or the spiced cauliflower, a twist on the traditional scrambled eggs. As the sun sets, the ceiling lights dim and customers are invited to dine on duck liver parfait, seared blue mackerel, and poached Saskia beer chicken.



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YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Roasted pork belly braised in cider and lemon verbena with baby fennel. The perfect winter warmer!



hot sauce

Some like it hot. Photo from QT Melbourne’s official Instagram page.

There’s no shortage of laneway bars In Melbourne, but Hot Sauce is the first of it’s kind. Part of Melbourne’s newly opened, QT Hotel, Hot Sauce is looking to be every bit of a hit as the name suggests. Devoted to all things fried, it’s menu is summed up in four words; Korean-Japanese street food. And people love it. Open until the early hours of the morning, it’s perfect for a late night dinner, and with an intimate bar offering, even late night drinks. Music plays all night and is a mixture of Korean pop, R’n’B, and hip hop, adding to the stylish, hip, atmosphere of the venue. The menu is as inventive as it is flavoursome; you’ll find dishes such as ‘taiwanese hot dogs within a dog’ in sticky rice buns, with mustard greens and crisp shallots, a ‘special cup of caramel fried chicken ‘n’ chilli’, pork and prawn gyoza and a mixture of bao’s and robata yakitori sticks. The only downside? The space is small, only hosting 60 odd people at once. But what Hot Sauce lacks in size, it makes up for in food, drinks, and atmosphere. You can’t possibly go wrong.


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YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Curry Tempura: crab filled chili with sweet potato, nori, prawn, calamari and special brown nashi pear sauce. It’s getting hot in here…



the alley

Does it count as a cheat meal if it’s good for you? Photo from The Alley’s official Instagram page.

Vegetarians and vegans rejoice; there’s a new sheriff in town. The highly anticipated ‘The Alley’ opened in April 2017 and it’s been non-stop since. The eatery features a range of classic breakfast options, such as the much-loved acai bowl, although lunch is where they truly shine. From vegan burgers (such as a maple ‘bacon’ burger’ made from coconut bacon) to gluten-free pasta and biodynamic wines (!) lunch in Melbourne has changed.  100% plant based, the café caters to the increasing demand for vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free options across the city, in the perfect location, with ‘grab-and-go’ options made available to those in a rush. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait a few moments in the early days though; I’m expecting this café to be an increasingly popular one.


YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Maple Bacon Burger. Portobello mushroom-sweet poatoe- adzuki bean burger with coconut bacon in a briche bun. The cooconut bacon says it all, really.



Set to open in early 2017, Bar Carolina has already got Melbourne talking. From the man behind fine dining haunts Sarti and Il Bacaro, comes the latest Italian restaurant to South Yarra. An ode to authentic Italian, the restaurant will feature homemade pastas and is set to host an impressive wine list. Headed by chef Paolo Mascopinto, this is one space to keep an eye on.

Toorak Road, South Yarra.
Website coming soon.




The perfect winter dish. Photo from Ramblr’s official Instagram page.

Don’t let its origin fool you; Ramblr is nothing like it’s owners previous venture, Leonards House of Love. While Leonard’s boasts a relaxing, yet lively ‘bar-house’ atmosphere and a menu of fried chicken and cheeseburgers- Ramblr is casual fine dining. What used to be a run-down pizza shop is now a stylish European-inspired restaurant, complete with exposed timber beams, an open kitchen, and chestnut wooden bars, a far cry from its state only months earlier. The dishes are creative and fresh, think fresh pasta with mussels, chili and roe, shaved calamari tossed in bone marrow and a triple cream blancmange that will have anyone and everyone calling for desert. Open most days of the week from midday to late, it’s the perfect place to bring a date, catch up with friends, or to even enjoy a meal to yourself. Any excuse will do, really.


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YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Mushroom spaghetti with poroni stock, mushroom duxelle and Grana Padano. Mamma Mia!




The stunning space at Stokehouse Upstairs. Photo from Stokehouse’s official instagram page.

 Although technically an old institution, Stokehouse restaurant underwent renovations (at an estimated cost of more than $13 million) in 2016 (after burning down in January 2014) and has come out as a whole new place. Residing in a restored 1920s building on St Kilda beach, it’s fine dining by the water. With an enviable five-star green rating, it’s as environmentally friendly as it is appealing. The menu, created by Executive Chef Richard Outsby and Head Chef Ollie Hansford, has a heavy focus on seafood, with popular items such as seared tuna, tender octopus and oysters natural making an appearance, as well as more daring dishes such as the king prawn taco with avocado and kale and poached marron salad with rhubarb and reflects, ‘an overarching philosophy of fresh, clean, zesty and light’ dishes. Enjoy seriously fine dining (and maybe a glass, or two, of menu favourite Pierre Paillard) as you watch the sunset through the palm trees on St Kilda Beach; the perfect summer evening.


YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Pancetta-wrapped chicken with fresh fig, ironbark honey, and native spice.



hotel jesus

Sangria with vino tinto, vermut and citrus. Anyone for a drink? (Or two? ). Photo from Hotel jesus’ official instagram page.

First Mamasita came to town and changed the Mexican food scene in Melbourne forever. Now, the men who brought it to us are back- and bigger- than ever before; with Hotel Jesus. Channeling the vibes of a retro 70’s diner, Hotel Jesus’ service is casual, fast-paced, and, well…fun. It’s the type of restaurant you drop by for a takeaway or a quick bite, with the space divided into 2 sections; the ‘tacoaway’ area (or ‘takeaway’ area, although I think the name speaks for itself), which seats 15 persons with an appetite for quick food on-the-go, and the ‘tostaderia’ (or the ‘main dining’ section), which seats approximately 80, persons, still with an appetite for fast service, however maybe paired with a thirst for sangria or Mexican beer whilst they wait. The menu has an emphasis on seafood and gusados (slow cooked meat) and is inspired by the tostaderia’s and taqueria’s of Mexico, with ceviche, tacos and Mexican street food making up the bulk of its offerings. As their website boasts it’s ‘Mexicana tostaderia meets tile-laden diner Americana’. It’s no Mamasita, no, it’s in a whole other league of its own. And it’s coming out on top.


YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Seafood taco with fried fish, pico de gallo and pickled jalapeno. There is a God.


Words by: Natalee Erceg.

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