Critics' picks: The Age Good Food Guide 2017 reviewers' highlights

Cilbir (egg with smoked yoghurt and chicken skin) served at Tulum.
Cilbir (egg with smoked yoghurt and chicken skin) served at Tulum. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Amaru

Celeriac and egg: an unlovely-looking root vegetable meets a household basic and, in Clinton McIver's hands, turns into something extraordinary. My umami experience of the year, thanks to a little seawater coupled with the owner-chef's spot-on technique and extraordinary palate. Simultaneously earthy and elegant, unexpected and sublime. Cathy Gowdie

1121 High Street, ​​Armadale, 03 9822 0144, amarumelbourne.com.au

Anchovy

Like the creature for which Anchovy is named, my restaurant crush-of-the-year is small but perfectly formed. Service is smart, the drinks list savvy, and vivid Vietnamese flavours abound on a neat menu of about 15 mod Oz-Asian dishes. Lamb ribs cooked in master stock, glazed then grilled are a favourite. Janne Apelgren

338 Bridge Road, Richmond, 03 9428 3526, anchovy.net.au

The famous meat fruit dish.

Did Heston Blumenthal's famous meat fruit dish live up to the hype? Photo: Ashley Palmer-Watts

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I'd been sceptical that the meat fruit dish would live up to the hype – but it actually did! Bravo Heston. Andrew Hagger

Level 3, Crown Towers, 8 Whiteman Street, ​Southbank, 03 9292 5777, dinnerbyheston.com.au

Grossi Florentino Upstairs

The blood orange dessert is the prettiest constellation of citrus and chocolate. And the service – warm, smart. All heart, no arch. Jane Ormond

Level 1, 80 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 03 9662 1811, grossiflorentino.com

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Igni

The Google pin dropped wrong for Igni, which roughly tripled the excellence of the night – first in finding it wasn't in that creepy garage and then that it was as good as Loam and maybe better. Gemima Cody

2 Ryan Place, Geelong, 03 5222 2266, restaurantigni.com

Marion Wine Bar.

Wine and snacks at Marion. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Marion

Marion stole my heart: great service, stellar wine list and simple McConnell magic. Nathan Chisholm

53 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 03 9419 6262, marionwine.com.au

Nonna Casalinga

Special service moment: watching my daughter create a table-wide sculpture out of the corks and toothpicks given to her by staff (and then devour her bodyweight in bolognese). Patrick Witton

69 Liebig Street, Warrnambool, 03 5562 2051

Tulum

I'm still dreaming of the cilbir at Tulum, an intoxicating dish of crisp chicken skin, poached egg, brown butter and smoked yoghurt mopped up with fluffy Turkish bread. Michael Harry

217 Carlisle Street, Balaclava 03 9525 9127, tulumrestaurant.com.au

Gnocco fritto served with cured meats and pate at Trattoria Emilia.

Gnocco pâté at Trattoria Emilia. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Trattoria Emilia

What has Emilia-Romagna ever done for us – besides parmesan, balsamic vinegar and prosciutto? Oh, and Trattoria Emilia's gnocco fritto – pillows of fried dough to eat with salumi? Roslyn Grundy

360 Little Collins Street (enter via Gills Alley), Melbourne, 03 9670 7214, emiliamelbourne.com.au

The doughnut tree served at Vue de Monde in the Rialto building in the CBD.

Detail of the doughnut tree served at Vue de Monde. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Vue de Monde

The jerusalem artichoke doughnut tree is emblematic of the authentic connection to the restaurant's Burnham Beeches gardens and the sense of fun and creativity evident in the restaurant. Plus, it's a doughnut tree! Dani Valent

Level 55, Rialto Tower, 525 Collins Street, ​Melbourne, 03 9691 3888, vuedemonde.com.au