by James Ridenour
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The List (My Melbourne Favourites)

My Melbourne Favourites in Alphabetical Order

3 Ravens Beer found in your Northern Suburb local.  55 American Pale Ale is my favourite but the entire range of craft beers are amazing.  Available at the best local pubs and bottle shops in the Brunswick, Fitzroy, Northcote and Thornbury areas.  Worth the trek north if you are not lucky enough to already live here.

5 Point Deli – Bagels.  The only thing Melbourne was ever missing was a really good bagel.  Melbourne is no longer missing anything.  Head down to the 5 Point Deli and chew your way to satisfaction!

400 Gradi – Pizza.   Made using the traditional Neapolitan method try the Margereta.  Voted best pizza in the world!   A thin crust, tomato sauce imported from Italy which is incredibly sweet and flavourful.  Topped with mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil.  Magnificent.

The Back Room Bar – Craft Beer and Whiskey.  Over 20 craft beers on tap with over 150 local and imported whiskeys on offer.

Baranow’s – Whiskey & Cigars.  (Now closed and has reopened as the Kilburn whiskey bar)

Bar Nacional – Doughnut.   It takes them four hours to make a doughnut.   The custard filled sugared ones are the bomb!

Bistro Vue – Dessert.   The tarte tatin outrageously delicious served out of the pan at your table and topped with a scraped vanilla bean and vanilla Anglaise sauce.

Black Pearl – Martini.   Gin, vermouth, olives.  Perfect enough said.

Cantina della Casa – Salads.  This Spanish café always has several salads on hand.  You can choose one or mix and match.  A wonderful place for a light and healthy lunch.

Canturi Jewels – Design.   I still marvel at the simplicity and intricacies of Stefano Canturi’s creations.  The perfect Australian heirloom.

Chez Dre – Desserts.  The best French pastries in town.  Slam dunk.

Christine – Accessories.  Start with a red plaid staircase and descend into accessories heaven.  Christine features some of the most elegant and unique designer women’s accessories available in Melbourne.  You know what they say you can never have enough hats, scarves and gloves ladies!  Not to mention the rest of the extensive collection.

Cutler & Co – Suckling Pig.  Best for sharing, slow cooked and available with side dishes like cos heart salad with buttermilk dressing and dill pickles or good old mac and cheese.   Crispy skin, moist and tender.  Simply divine.

Donovans – Service.  I could easily put this on the list for food, wine pairings, view, or even the variety of their extensive menu but it is the genuine hospitality of Gail and Kevin and their team that makes this my favourite service experience.  In hospitality for their entire careers Gail and Kevin are the consummate professionals and a Donovans experience is truly second to none.

Donovans – Seafood.  Donovan’s is my number one choice for the best seafood in town.  They have an extensive menu filled with the freshest seafood choices with plenty of other choices for those who prefer something different.  I once had a extremely well travelled guest proclaim that the whole baked fish at Donovans was the best he has had in the world.

Earl Canteen – Sandwiches.  Started by two fine dining restauranteurs who wanted to offer Melburnians quality food in a casual atmosphere.  Enjoy top notch ingredients, interesting flavour combinations and top notch service.  One of your best choices for lunch in the city.   

e.g. etal – Jewellery Design.   This contemporary jewellery design gallery features over 50 unique artist from Australia and New Zealand.  More of an art gallery than jewellery store.  Perfect for finishing your look.

Epocha – Cheese Plate.  Curated by the mistress of cheese herself.  Angie

Epocha – Best Short Wine List.  Like with the concierge its all about connections.  Angie has formed relationships over the years that allow her access to some of Europe’s best kept wine secrets.  The wine at Epocha is not only of superb quality but it is excellent value as well.

Elyros – Katisounia. Cretan cheese pie.  The restaurant managers mother’s family recipe.  It does not get better than this!

Ezard – Vegetarian Fine Dining.   Usually when I eat vegetarian I feel like I am missing out,  not with the vegetarian degustation at Ezard.  Every bit as complex and impressive as the carnivore version.  A must try.

Five Star Locksmiths – The best service in Melbourne for locksmithing.  Fast, courteous, accurate, well prices and efficient.  Don’t call anyone else!

The French Lettuce – Vanilla Slice.   Consistently rated as the best and for good reason.  Vanilla custard and pastry done to perfection.  Sinful.

Frootz  on Parade – Fruit and Veg.  When it just has to be fresh and flavourful this is the place.  Pricey but you get what you pay for.  Always the freshest and great service too.

Hannah’s Bar at Epocha –  Negroni.  The hospitality industry drink done by the hospitality professionals.

Heidi Museum of Modern Art – Contemporary Gallery.  Housed on 17 hectares the former estate is now the home of an all Australian contemporary art gallery featuring three galleries, an extensive sculpture garden complete with it’s own Cafe Vue.  One of Melbourne’s best spots to spend the day enjoying nature, art and some great food.

Hihou – Cocktail Bar.   A Japanese bar with all that entails, great light food, immaculate service and inventive cocktails.   No name on the door so click on the link for details.

iride Bikes – Bicycles.  The best service and the best bikes in Melbourne.  Cycling is undoubtedly Ross the owner’s passion.  If you want a bike shop you can trust that sells great products, this is it.

Jonathan’s – Butcher.  My favourite butcher.  Excellent cuts of meat but it’s the sausages that get me.  They are top quality and there are several awesome varieties.  Perfect for summer BBQ’s.

Kate Hill Flowers – Florist.   The freshest and highest quality flowers, great service and inventive contemporary design.   Kate’s designs may cost a little more but the service and end product are absolutely worth it.   I have been working with Kate for years and can’t recommend her highly enough.

Le Bon Ton – Burger.   Collingwood here we come.  Best burger bar none.  I can still taste it.

Le Bon Ton – Banana Cream Pie.  OMG in a single serve, heaven!

Localing – Private Tours.  Dan and Dean are two of the most in the know guys in Melbourne.  These guys know everything and their company is tailored to offer personalised concierge style services for all your needs outside your hotel.  Whatever you need from mobile phones to hosted bar hops or camping/glamping trips.  These guys can do it all. Locals take note, their night life tours are a great way to have fun in your own city.

Lord Coconut – Men’s accessories.   Whether it’s a gift for the man in your life or a gift for you this quirky store is hard to find but worth the effort.  Great cufflinks (made from Melbourne maps, Australian stamps, watch movements) walking sticks, rings, cufflinks or something lucky for the races this off beat store is one of the best.

Lupino – Veal Ragu.  Served with home made chilli oil for some zing.  The perfect winter dish.

Madame Virtue – Retail Fashion.   Looking for that one of a kind designer piece to make your outfit.  Melbourne ladies who are in the know all flock to Madame Virtue to find the extra special something.  Sourced from around the globe and featuring some of the world’s best haute couture and prét à porter.

Marais – Fashion.   Named after the famous and fashionable neighbourhood in Paris Marais features some of best designers around.  Style abounds in this contemporary paradise for fashion.

Northern Git – Mashed Potato.  The best mash in town.  Awesome steaks too!

Patricia – Espresso Coffee.  This is my favourite espresso.  Open Monday to Friday days only this tiny and hard to find café (ask the concierge) serves up a strong rich espresso that is second to none.  Standing room only.  Make sure you look up when visiting!

Precision Timing – Luxury Watch Repairs/Restoration.  The best place in Melbourne to have your automatic watches serviced.  Michael is a master with fine timepieces and there is no one I would trust more with my watches.   Michael works with all luxury brands and is sought after by the best names in watchmaking for precision repairs.

Proud Mary – Muffins.    Everything at this café is excellent but the muffins take the cake so to speak!  They are home made and the varieties change daily.  Be quick they usually sell out before lunch time.

Riverland – Sausage Sizzle.  A gourmet snag with all the gourmet fixings.  Goes great with the view of Princess Bridge and the Art’s Centre and perhaps a beer!

Rockpool – Steak.  Your choice of cut, grain or grass fed, done to perfection.

Rubiras at Swallows – Fish and Chips.  The freshest fish bought daily at the fish markets and 30 years of experience combine to make this the standout in Melbourne for seafood.  The entire menu is chalked on the board daily.  Off the beaten track in Port Melbourne but worth the trip.

Shoya –  Sashimi.   Served inside a hollowed out ice ball the sashimi and garnish are placed with such attention to detail the dish looks like a painting.  This signature dish of Chef/Owner Mr Nonaka and it tastes as good as it looks.

St Ali – Breakfast Eggs.   My Mexican Cousin, sounds funny, tastes amazing, poached eggs on corn fritters with baby spinach, haloumi and a beautiful chutney.   Great coffee too!  Be warned it’s very busy on the weekends and you may have to wait for a table.

St CrispinThe Degustation Menu – One of the best meals you can have in Melbourne and well priced considering the quality.

State Library of Victoria – Museum.   Most people do not think of the State Library as a museum but it is one of my favourite in the know recommends to my guests.  The permanent museum collection not only houses paintings of historical significance but also a rare book collection that rivals the best collections in the world.  The galleries are located around the domed La Trobe Reading Room so the view is as amazing as the collections.  Ned Kelly’s armour is here as well, a surprise to many!  Rotating exhibits are also of the highest quality.

Supernormal Canteen – Rolled Pork Belly.  Served with white Kimchi and Yuxiang sauce.  Delicious.

Supernormal Canteen – Lobster Rolls.  One of Melbourne’s best loved treats.  I dare you to try and stop at one! 

The Grain Store – BLT.  Bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich on a chewy authentic French Baguette.  Served with a mildly spicy chipotle sauce.  Delicious as is the rest of the offerings at this amazing café.

The Royal Mail Hotel – Wine List.   Ok it’s not in Melbourne but it’s worth the trip.  The perfect wine list comprises 108 pages of old and new world splendour.  The list must be seen to be believed with some of the world’s best wines.

Tivoli Road Bakery – Croissant.  Butter, flaky and sinful.  The rest of the offering are to die for as well!

Trippy Taco – Vegan Taco.  Vegetarian and vegan only but don’t let that deter you.  The taco’s are amazing and it’s great people watching.  Trippy Taco is a small venue that does a roaring trade so you may have wait for a table.

Uber  – Transportation.  The best way to get from A to B in style.  No dramas with taxis.  This smartphone app is used the world over and is slowly catching on in Melbourne.  Use a black chauffeur car for little more than the price of a taxi.  Luxury transportation with clean elegant cars and friendly knowledgable drivers.  Perfect transport for an evening out.  Apps available to download on iphone or Android.   The service is excellent.

Umberto’s Espresso Bar –  Eggs on Toast (Uova Di Lizio).  Eggs on toast with roasted capsicum, served with traditional Italian beans and potato rosti. This is Umberto’s Mother’s recipe so how can you go wrong?

Vue de monde – Sustainable Design.  Of course the menu, service and wine list are top of the list but I wanted to showcase something that most diners may now be aware of.   Shannon has done an amazing job of creating a space the has used as much sustainable furnishings and finishings as possible.  Kangaroo leather table tops, possum fun chair backs and a sustainable bathroom that is as incredible as the 55th floor view.



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3 Responses to The List (My Melbourne Favourites)

  1. craig May 19, 2014 at 21:38 #

    Nice list! Must carry around Melbourne!

  2. Daniel May 19, 2014 at 22:36 #

    Pretty impressive once again James and very extensive!! Viva Canada.

  3. Kym May 28, 2014 at 10:17 #

    Fantastic, thanks James… this is my new bucket list!

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