Each year The Age Good Food Guide releases a list of the 10 hottest new restaurants that have opened since the last guide was published. Over the course of this week we'll reveal the full list, starting with Epocha and Tonka.
49 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, 9036 4949
A pair of hospo veterans team up in their own restaurant in a history-steeped terrace. Result? Clever European food lifted by service smarts and an eye for detail. A cheese trolley trundles around the floor and you can nip upstairs for backgammon and a nightcap at Hannah's Bar.
The Age restaurant reviewer Larissa Dubecki says: "The two owners have the floor purring like a kitten, and the kitchen, headed by Michael Bolam (ex-Sanctuary in the Hunter Valley), is holding up its end with a classic Euro menu that transcends fashion. The enduring joys include a farmhouse terrine...and a gravlax of glossy salmon with potato salad. Lamb skewers - kalamaki - perfectly charry/pink, arrive with caramelised pieces of poached pear and melting gorgonzola. If peasants eat like this, you can count me in."
The low down
The best bit: Savvy, non-sucky service
The worst bit: Drinking more than expected
Go-to dish: Lamb kalamaki
Wine list: Interesting Euro-leaning list verging on the obscure, with the expertise to back it up
The full review: Epocha
20 Duckboard Place, Melbourne, 9650 3155
There's a sense of exhilaration just finding this coolly elegant restaurant, down an art-strewn alley off a laneway. And that's before you even taste the sophisticated new-school Indian food from former Young Chef of the Year Adam D'Sylva.
Larissa Dubecki says: "Tonka, Melbourne's first serious stab at upmarket modern Indian, is uncharted territory. Tonka raises the bar with the help of fine produce, the subtle, mysterious spicing of the headline curries and support act street foods, and proper service values."
The low down
The best bit: The Indian restaurant comes of age
The worst bit: Cross-cultural confusion
Go-to dish: Pani puri
Wine list A smart Italian-leaning list that goes well with the food
The full review: Tonka
At lunchtime tomorrow the next two restaurants on the 'hot & new' list will be revealed.
The Age Good Food Guide 2014 will be available for $10 with The Saturday Age on August 31, from participating newsagents, Coles, Woolworths and 7Eleven stores, while stocks last. It will also be available in bookshops and online at theageshop.com.au for $24.99 from Tuesday, August 27