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By Concrete Playground
December 07, 2017

Melbourne's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Honouring the best new additions to Melbourne's restaurant scene this year.
By Concrete Playground
December 07, 2017


Honouring the best new additions to Melbourne's restaurant scene this year.

There were short-lived rumours that Melbourne's art and hospitality scene had reached peak saturation, but the city quickly put those to bed when its cultural ecosystem grew and flourished once again. It was a year of innovative new restaurants and they're not all from the big players — independent ventures are flourishing.

As we continue to attempt to define Australian cuisine, chefs continue to push the boundaries. We've seen (and tasted) fermented calamari noodles and cod roe in choux pastry, we've climbed three levels to find some of the city's finest Japanese fare and we've tasted duck smoked by our favourite pasta experts.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Melbourne to be a better, braver city. And so, these six restaurants — nominated in Concrete Playground's Best of 2017 Awards — are the Best New Restaurants of 2017.

  • 6

    Ramblr is the second venue from Leonard’s House of Love crew members Nick Stanton, Guy Bentley and John Harper, and is the perfect combination of everything we love about eating out. The decor, service, food and atmosphere are a testament to the fact that these cats know what they’re doing. We’re talking serious standards of technical execution and damn delicious food.

    It’s the little things that count, and Ramblr has paid lots of lovely attention to detail to produce a setting and menu that comes across as simple and approachable, though it evidently has a lot of thought and hard work behind it.

    A lot of places in Melbourne make great food. Ramblr makes food you will obsess over — seriously. These are the kind of dishes that will spring to mind when asked about your most memorable meal.

  • 5

    Saxe, a new two-storey restaurant and bar on Queen Street in the legal district, is here to make you believe in good ol’ fashioned hospitality again — the sort where you can make bookings for parties of any size, where you can order your own impeccably crafted main meal and where the staff are all hospitality professionals.

    Saxe is the first solo outing by Joe Grbac, who, having previously worked in a slew of award-winning restaurants, made a name for himself as co-owner of the much-lauded Saint Crispin on Smith Street in Collingwood.

    The menu is à la carte mod-Australian with a raft of influences and only 12 dishes all up. The food matches the decor, sophisticated and assured. It’s a refreshing change of pace – and trust us when we say it would be a crime to leave Saxe to the suits.

  • 4

    Paddock-to-plate takes on new meaning at Collingwood’s Project Forty Nine. The versatile space is a cafe and deli by day, restaurant and wine bar at night, and regularly plays host to functions and events. Using produce from their farm in northeast Victoria, and from a handful of small-scale producers, each offering at Project 49 is driven by ingredients.

    In the mornings enjoy Italian coffee, house-made baked goods and fresh menu offerings inspired by what’s in season. After brekky, stroll through the deli and peruse the shelves of local Victorian produce. If you stop by for lunch or dinner, head chef Tim Newitt — also a Beechworth native —will whip you up some modern Australian offerings with a pinch of Italian influence.

    Whether you’re eating, drinking or taking produce away, rest assured that it’s fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced at Project 49.

  • 3

    With its check-the-box menus and buzzy crowd, Supernormal Canteen is cruisier, cosier and more Japanese than its CBD sibling — closer to that first taste of Supernormal you encountered when it debuted as a pop-up on Gertrude Street in 2013.

    Familiar faces on the menu include the classic Andrew McConnell New England lobster roll ($16), but there’s also plenty of new mates to play with, as the kitchen makes excellent use of its new hibachi grill. Perch at the bar and watch the smoky magic unfold before your eyes — flash-grilled duck heart yakitori, char siu pork neck, huge oysters grilled to silky perfection in their shells. Beers lean to the local and the crafty and there is an assortment of fun cocktails starring ingredients like shiso, yuzu and fresh mandarin..

  • 2

    The simplest way to describe Kisumé, the luxe Japanese restaurant from lauded restaurateur Chris Lucas, may be this: three storeys of considered grandeur. Its design is impressive — a Chablis bar, a Kisumé Winewall, avant-garde art — and considered attention to detail travels throughout the three levels, from the menu down to the nifty coin-sized refreshment towels that entertainingly expand when you open them.

    In the kitchen, there’s acclaimed Korean-born chef K. S. Moon. Known the world over for his innovative flair. Moon arrived fresh from his Singapore restaurant, Mikuni, armed with some serious certifications including as an international sake sommelier. And his knife skills are impressive.

  • 1

    Backing up a wildly successful first restaurant with another cracker is never an easy feat, and yet the names behind cult favourite Tipo 00, have managed to hit it out of the ballpark with their new wine bar, Osteria Ilaria. Taking over the Little Bourke Street space next door to its legendary pasta bar sister, this chic newcomer complements rather than competes, steering away from Tipo 00’s pure Italianness to take an even bigger bite out of Europe.

    The warmly-lit space nails that modern rustic feel; it’s all white-painted exposed brick, with an open bar and kitchen down the length and a suave private dining room sitting up the back. And then there’s the menu. It’s clever enough to pitch this newbie among the Melbourne’s contemporary wine bars, yet there’s an easiness to the delivery that’s primed for that more casual, snack-happy, after-work crowd. Here, you’re invited on a journey across the continent, no matter how deep you fancy diving.

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