And the prize goes to ...



The Bert Newton award for the Dag Turned Cool

South Yarra, which got its long-lost dining mojo back thanks to the Claremont Street/Yarra Lane revival and the arrival of Mama Baba, Two Birds One Stone and Claremont Tonic. Who said developers were a bunch of nuffies?

The Bob Dylan A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall award

Pete Evans for sparking a hail of Twitter derision after revealing his diet of ''activated almonds'' to Sunday Life Magazine. Even if it's true, Pete, why publicise it?

The Best Soundtrack award

Virginia Plain. Even if it wasn't named after a Roxy Music song, the vinyl collection and the rockin' DJ put it head and shoulders above the percussive junk plaguing dining land.

The Benny Hill award

Baby, the first Melbourne restaurant to commission neon signs in shapes suggestive of genitalia. The new vertical (lady) garden?

The Mick Jagger award for Remaining Cool Well Beyond The Usual Use-By Date


France-Soir for keeping its packed-to-the-rafters mojo after more than a quarter century. A night out here still feels special, even though you know you've seen it all before.

The Above and Beyond the Call of Duty award

Cam Smith and Matt Steadman for their 3RRR radio show, Eat It, for which they have volunteered their time to discuss all things food for the past 25 years (Sundays at noon).

The Weeping and Wailing award

Annie Smithers, for the announcement that she's selling her eponymous restaurant that spawned the Kyneton dining boom and helped encourage the idea that eating in country restaurants was not a waste of time. Get in quick.

The Lost in Translation award

Hihou, the gorgeous, Tokyo-style bar of Simon Denton, Taka Omi and Miyuki Nakahara, in the space formerly known as Verge where beautiful service, moody lighting and great drinks and snacks can have you channelling your inner Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.

The Careful We Might Lose Her award

Pascale Gomes McNabb, the Melbourne native who's designed some of our most unique and iconic spaces (Cumulus Inc, Cutler and Co, Stokehouse) and is now doing most of her best work interstate, particularly in Sydney (Claude's, the Bentley).

The Best Argument for Daylight Savings award

Demitri's Feast, the normally breakfast and lunch Greek joint on Swan Street, Richmond, that opens Thursday to Saturday nights in summer with a glass case full of excellent seafood and marinated lamb and chicken that's tossed onto the grill, kissed with little more than quality produce, lemon, garlic, sea salt and olive oil.

The Refuse To Die award

Vin Cellar, for bobbing up again under new ownership after being read the last rites.

The Deja Vu award

The Meatball and Wine Bar. Anyone been to New York's Meatball Shop? Now you don't need to.

The Sign of the Times award

The Builders Arms, which had to stop using its courtyard due to a smoke complaint from neighbours. Makes you long for the good old days when all people had to whinge about was noise pollution.

The Advanced Hair (Yeah-Yeah) award

Matt Preston for the new MasterChef-inspired conservative coif that seems to have more to do with the show's ratings ambitions than with Preston's cravat-flaunting personality.

The Jumping the Shark award

Dude food. Enough already.

The Sad Farewell award

The Brix. And we're all the losers.

The David Bowie C-c-c-c-c-changes award

The Melbourne Pub Group, for taking over the beloved Prince of Wales and inviting a storm of fury over suggestions the band room is not long for this world. At your peril, Julian Gerner.

The Where-Have-You-Been-All-Our-Lives award

Mark Best, for coming south and gracing us with Marque-lite - sorry, the Pei Modern.

The Eat Streets of Shame award

Melbourne City Council, for refusing to renew permits for food trucks at Docklands. Surely something that makes people want to go there is a good thing?

The Taking-the-Geek-Out-of-Greek award

George Calombaris, whose intended downsizing of the Press Club made front-page news, and who is soon to launch the test case ''souvlaki is the new burger''.

Honourable mention: Shed 5.

The Welcome Back From Holidays award

Paul Mathis, who probably needs another five years' sabbatical after opening six new businesses in a rather busy couple of months.

The Who's Cooking the Dinner award

MasterChef: The Professionals, which lured a shed-full of the industry's illuminati to a Friday-evening taping featuring the mercurial Marco Pierre White. But surely their kitchens can't run without them?

The Melbourne Weather award (sponsored by the Bureau of Meteorology)

Trocadero, which launched its open-air terrace with a glittering party driven indoors by cold, sleet, rain, hail …

The Making Us Proud award

Frank Camorra and his MoVida compadres, for taking Sydney by storm.

The Weight Watchers award

Darren Purchese, whose salted-caramel ice-cream (Connoisseur brand, in your local supermarket freezer section) makes home-made desserts that much better.

The Ned Kelly award

The male baristas of Melbourne intent on outdoing each other in outlandish displays of facial hirsuteness. Just keep the whiskers out of the lattes, please.

The Americanisation of Our Culture award

The slider. It's just a small burger, people.

The Naomi Wolf Prize for Unintentional Irony

The Newmarket's Cellar Bar. The one-time dive bar home of schnitz'n'tits welcomes burlesque artists to spice up Paul Wilson's Mexican molecular degustation. You say potato, I say potat-o.

The Frequent Flyer award

Neil Perry - although we hear he's got a nice little deal with an airline.

Honourable mentions: Shaun Presland (Sake) and Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Guillaume).

The What Not to Name Your Restaurant award

Henry and the Fox, which recently lost head chef Michael Fox. Runner-up: Brooks, although we hear sommelier Matt Brooke is happy in the role. Thank-you very much.

The Short-Lived award

Greg Malouf, who ditched MoMo for sunny England, retained the Petersham Nurseries' Michelin star then but announced his departure.

The Wannabe Rockstars award

Andrew McConnell, Daniel Wilson, Jesse Gerner, Karen Batson, Raph Rashid and all the other chefs signed up for the Big Day Out's inaugural Chow Town. Living the dream, guys.

The Christmas Will Be Interesting at Your House award

Andrew and Matt McConnell, the brothers who independently claimed more Gertrude Street real estate with the Builders Arms (on top of Andrew's Cutler and Co) and Casa Ciuccio. Throw cousin Jason McConnell into the mix with San Telmo, on the doorstep of Matt's city gaff Bar Lourinha, and backyard cricket could get nasty.

The ''It Better Be Bloody Good'' award

Mamak, the happiest kerbside queue in Melbourne after the famed Sydney roti specialist decided to grace us with its presence.

The Third Person award

George Calombaris, for constantly referring to himself as ''GC'' on Twitter.

The Shortest-Lived Excitement of the Year award

The Argus, in Hepburn Springs, which all-too-briefly rocked the Casbah with chef Ryan Sessions and managerial svengalis Frank Moylan and Melissa Macfarlane.