Ringwood, 23 kilometres east of the city, is a largely green and residential suburb, but a recent revamping of its Eastland shopping centre has proved to be not only a major drawcard for shoppers but a magnet for foodies as well. If you find yourself hungry in Ringwood, you are more than in luck with a tasty pot of gleaming newbies and hidden gems to tuck into.
Ring in the new day
For those who (rightly) believe that coffee is the most important meal of the day, but don't mind chasing it with some house-baked sourdough toast and house-made jam, get straight to the charming Brewhouse Cafe/Winebar. They brew excellent coffee (including cold drip) from Community Roasters and spin top breakfast dishes like fiery eggs on hash browns and avocado, with Sichuan salt and Sriracha. Rubiki, highlighting organic and seasonal produce, cooks up dreamy breakfasts like poached eggs with caponata salsa and blood orange hollandaise (as well as killer lunch dishes such as twice-cooked goat's cheese souffles and mussel pots). For those who want a soothing view of rolling greenery with their single-origin long black, head to rustic Mister Fox at the Ringwood Golf Course for stylish, seasonal dishes. For those who love nothing better than coffee and a simple pastry within an old-school deli environment, head to Casa Latina and grab a seat at one of the couple of small tables surrounded by cabinets of hams, olives and cheeses, and shelves stacked with imported pulses and chocolates. Chew the fat with the friendly owners and choose some antipasto fixings to go.
Brewhouse Cafe/Winebar, 105 Bedford Road, Ringwood East, 03 9879 6669
Rubiki, shop 13a, North Ringwood Shopping Centre, 204-206 Warrandyte Road, Ringwood North, 03 9879 0869
Mister Fox, 352 Canterbury Road, Ringwood, 03 8822 4174
Casa Latina, shop 20, North Ringwood Shopping Centre, 204-206 Warrandyte Road, Ringwood North, 03 9876 4221
Get lunch squared away
For a zippy range of restaurants in a picturesque setting, aim for Town Square at the newly revamped Eastland. This gorgeous green forecourt is a flowing space landscaped with flower beds and herb gardens and surrounded by a clutch of restaurants offering swift food in big, bright, indoor and outdoor settings. Here, among others, you'll find the lauded Huxtaburger as well as Frank Camorra's taqueria, Paco's Tacos, and a mega-sized outlet of George Calombaris' Jimmy Grants for those who fancy one of those super souvas, including that lush prawn and herb version. Order an epic bento box from Kyoto Cafe and sit ringside at the kitchen to watch it be prepared. Hunter & Barrel pair craft beers with meat cooked over coals or on skewers and for those who prefer to skip straight to dessert, Lavezzi Gelateria has opened its first store outside of Italy right here in Ringwood. Get a couple of scoops or customise a "nudi stick" – it's like a bespoke Magnum, with your choice of ice-cream, chocolate coating, sprinkles and drizzles.
Paco's Tacos, level 3, shop r07, Eastland, 175 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 8820 8000
Jimmy Grants, level 3, shop r06, Eastland, 175 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 8419 8818
Huxtaburger, level 3, shop r03, Eastland, 175 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 9417 6328
Kyoto Cafe, level 3, shop r09, Eastland, 175 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 8820 8003
Hunter & Barrel, level 3, shop r04, Eastland, 175 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 9876 8388
Lavezzi Gelateria, level 3, shop r02, Eastland, 175 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 8845 9110
Ring the dinner bell
The Firehouse, in a beautiful old red-brick, heritage-listed fire station, serves up finessed and flavoursome seasonal Mediterranean fare, such as haloumi with peppered strawberries – salty, spicy, sweet – or confit duck leg with beets, pear and maple. (If you're more in the mood for just a casual drink, relax at St Florian, the attached bar.) Taj Agra, with its richly hued dining room, specialises in North Indian cuisine and features an epic menu of classic dishes.
While you'll find many of the above mentioned Town Square restaurants are also open for dinner, just around the corner from the main event, you'll find The Cellar Door, which showcases the produce of the Yarra Valley. It's a lovely open setting, rich in air and greenery, with a deli area for you to pick up some Yarra Valley goods for home or a baguette to go. The menu can serve up a simple showcasing cheese plate or peppy pickled white anchovies to snack on with a glass of wine, while more substantial dishes include Western Plains crispy pork cheek with stone fruits, or grilled beef with house-made mustard and greens. Punchy beer doughnuts glazed in Heathmont honey are yeasty little flavour bombs. There's a mezzanine bar with a club lounge feel and pretty photographic cushions of forest scenes pepping up vintage arm chairs, plus a gorgeous rooftop bar and a microbrewery on site.
The Firehouse, 253-257 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 9876 8100
Taj Agra, 129 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 9879 7123
The Cellar Door, level 3, shop r10, Eastland, 175 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood, 03 8845 9111