Favourite local restaurants of top Melbourne chefs and Good Food Guide reviewers

Ben Shewry admires France Soir's consistency.
Ben Shewry admires France Soir's consistency. Photo: Joe Armao

Pay it forward: as we launch the Good Food Guide reviewing season, experts nominate their favourite local dining spots.

Ben Shewry, Attica

France-Soir is just super consistent, and that's an underrated commodity in restaurants. We focus so much on newness but this place does not vary at all and holds its standard so well. They import a lot of wine and the wines by the glass are excellent. I love the room and watching all the people who come in – you'll see everyone from young couples on a date to people in their 80s just sitting down for dinner at 9pm or 10pm. There's nowhere else in Australia quite like it.

11 Toorak Road, South Yarra, france-soir.com.au

Jung Eun Chae, Chae

It's hard to pick one favourite! I will choose A1 Lebanese Bakery, a Lebanese bakery and Middle Eastern grocer that offers a warm, friendly space and a delicious menu. My favourites are the lamb with hummus and pickles and the cheese pie.

643-645 Sydney Road, Brunswick, a1bakery.com.au

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22:  The assorted mushrooms with pickled chilli noodle soup served at  Tina's Noodle Kitchen in Preston on January 22, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Luis Ascui/Fairfax Media)

Mushroom noodle soup with pickled chilli at Tina's Noodle Kitchen. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Shannon Martinez, Smith & Daughters, Lona Misa

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Tina's Noodle Kitchen is probably the place I eat at the most. Three times on a good week. Hung over? Tina's. Sick? Tina's. Vegan? Tina's. Solo diner? Tina's.

352 High Street, Preston

O My Beaconsfield- Seven years and one fire on, the brothers behind O My are running one of the most engaging fine dining experiences in Victoria. 25th March 2021 The Age News Picture by JOE ARMAO

O.My in Beaconsfield has bounced back from a fire. Photo: Joe Armao

Dave Verheul, Embla

My favourite restaurant to eat at recently has been O.My. We all had a horrific year last year but what the Bertoncello brothers went through (with a fire damaging their venue) really was another level. The fact that they bounced right back and have also managed to refine the offering so much really is testament to their passion and dedication.

70 Princes Highway, Beaconsfield, omyrestaurant.com.au

Helly Raichura, Enter Via Laundry

There's a great place near me called Luyang Dumpling House. I usually order six or seven dishes so I can have my own yum cha. I'm vegetarian so I get the deep-fried egg and chive dumplings, and I love the "chef's special" cucumber with a tonne of garlic, and a peanut, tofu and shiitake dish, which are both served cold. Oh, they also have great spring onion pancakes. I could go on and on.

617 Station Street, Box Hill

Khanh Nguyen, Sunda

My favourite local is Banh Xeo Tay Do. The location is like an arcade and it's run by a humble husband-and-wife team. It's simply the best banh xeo (a Vietnamese-style crepe) I've ever had – I can't cook it any where near as good as this place does. It's super crisp, with delicious dipping sauces. Amazing!

Shop 4, 62 Nicholson Street, Footscray

Brigitte Hafner, Tedesca Osteria

It's an easy choice for me: Ten Minutes by Tractor, hands down. They are the best they have ever been right now. The food experience is adventurous, creative and delicious. The fitout is beautiful and sophisticated with a country warmth about it. The service is great, as you would expect. But my favourite thing is the wine list and the passionate sommelier team led by Xavier Vigier: such an interesting and ambitious selection.

1333 Mornington-Flinders Road, Main Ridge, tenminutesbytractor.com.au

Shane Delia, Maha, Maha Bar

I am a huge fan of Komur, a small Turkish barbecue joint in a converted old-school fish and chip shop. The owner, Emir Uker, is the son of Melbourne's adana (ground lamb) kebab god Suphi Uker, of Katik Turkish Take Away, so it was destined to be a success. But the magic of this place isn't its DNA or a flashy fitout – it's about Emir and his charm. It's real hospitality, real food and real people.

446 Mount Alexander Road, Ascot Vale

Rosheen Kaul, Etta

My favourite local restaurant is Pacific Seafood BBQ House. I make a weekly pilgrimage with my family for their incredibly comforting yet precisely rendered Cantonese cooking. Our staple order of dried scallop and egg white fried rice with perfect, unbroken grains isn't even on the menu, but is always available if you ask nicely.

Shop 8, 240 Victoria Street, Richmond

Scott Pickett, Chancery Lane, Matilda, Estelle

Matsuya is my local Japanese, just around the corner from home. It's always busy, always fresh and always delicious. Must-orders are the okonomiyaki, the karaage chicken, and the sushi boat, which is massive and fun!

146 Station Street, Fairfield

Tom Sarafian, Little Andorra

I'm really excited about Gray and Gray Bread and Wine. The owner, Boris Portnoy, is cooking beautiful Georgian and Russian food with flavours that Melbourne has never seen before.

188 High Street, Northcote, breadandwine.com.au

Matt Wilkinson, Montalto

Since restrictions have eased, I've mostly spent my time on the Mornington Peninsula. I've got two new favourites: Many Little, which has amazing cocktails and Sri Lankan-inspired curries; and The Heritage, which is probably the best pub in Australia. Head in for hearty meals with cold frothies and the biggest smiles from the owners and staff – it's a hospo's dream night-off place.

Many Little, shops 2-5/159 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South, manylittle.com.au); The Heritage, (3059 Frankston–Flinders Road, Balnarring, theheritagebalnarring.com.au)

General photo of Omnia restaurant in South Yarra on Thursday 15 April 2021. Photo Luis Enrique Ascui

Omnia in South Yarra. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Hugh Allen, Vue de Monde

When I go out to eat it's usually at places run by people I've worked with in the past. Omnia Bistro is basically all old Vue de Monde guys – and they're some of the best chefs I've had the pleasure of working with! The food is delicious and it's good for a quick snack or a large family feast.

625 Chapel Street, South Yarra, omniabistro.com.au

Colin Mainds, Cutler & Co

Chae, a six-seater Korean restaurant in a Brunswick apartment, is far from the norm. The ethos is "temple food", something you quickly understand when dining there. Slow cooking processes, thoughtful fermentation in soy and miso, not to mention housemade soju, sake and kombucha. The underlying feeling left after each meal is that it is healthy and from the heart. Try to find a better Korean restaurant – you won't.

Address provided upon booking, chae.com.au

The medium sushi plate. Komeyui Japanese restaurant in South Melbourne. 10 June 2020. The Age Goodfood. Photo: Eddie Jim.

Komeyui's sushi plate. Photo: Eddie Jim

Clinton McIver, Amaru

One of my favourite restaurants is Komeyui. We generally go for Sunday lunch as it's easier with small kids – I order a heap of sashimi and then some extra pieces of their special sushi, such as the uni or the ikura (salmon roe).

181 Ferrars Street, South Melbourne, komeyui.com.au

Dan Hunter, Brae

Yield would be my pick. A small, family-run restaurant and provedore showcasing the best growers and producers within our region and local community.

43 Main Street, Birregurra, yieldbirregurra.com.au

Gemima Cody, The Age restaurant critic

I'll go all in for the Paradise Valley Hotel in the misty mountains. Sure, the Vue de Monde alum running it have made some outstanding wine choices, but they didn't mess with the locals' pub expectations.

Duck pies meet fish (crisp gurnard) and chips (hand-cut) and knickerbocker glories (pictured).

And yes, that is a platform for the Puffing Billy steam engine at the bottom of the garden. Toot toot!

249 Belgrave-Gembrook Road, Clematis, paradisevalleyhotel.com

The Age,
EPICURE - Lagoon Dining,
char siu.
Pic Simon Schluter 15 November 2019.

Lagoon Dining's char siu. Photo: Simon Schluter

Michael Harry, GFG22 Victorian editor

I keep going back to Lagoon Dining, a sleek little spot serving modern Chinese-ish dishes in the red-sauce pasta heartland. I mainly go for the dreamy char siu pork – tender, glossy slices with a side of spring onion relish. It's too good, especially with the fluffy spanner crab fried rice, or the crunchy chicken chop with white pepper togarashi and bulldog sauce.

263 Lygon Street, Carlton, lagoondining.com

Roslyn Grundy, Good Food deputy print editor

A trip to Sri Lanka pre-Covid sharpened my interest in that country's cuisine. With no prospect of eating street-food dishes in situ for some time yet, I'll stoke my appetite for spice-flecked tempered potatoes and lacy crepe-like hoppers swiped through curries and dhal at Drums Cafe. Despite the name, it's more of a stall, with communal seating in the laneway outside. And while I'm at the market I can pick up all the ingredients to make Sri Lankan dishes at home.

Stall C245C, Preston Market, 30a The Centreway, Preston

Andrea McGinniss, Good Food digital editor

I love a buzzy European bistro, even more so now that I can't get to Europe. I also love a steak night and I've found great examples of both at the new-but-feels-like-it's-been-around-forever Bar Romanee. Chef Anna Quayle's five-course chef's selection for $80 is a guaranteed good time, but Mondays I'm in love – with the $30 hanger steak, frites and coleslaw.

25 Anderson Street, Yarraville, barromanee.com

Annabel Smith, Good Food deputy digital editor

I'm spoilt for choice for cheap-eats favourites in Footscray but I often can't go past the pad see ew at Sapa Hills. Unfurling the carpet rolls of rice noodles is especially fun, and the dark soy-slicked brisket gives nearby pitmasters Up In Smoke a run for their money.

112 Hopkins Street, Footscray, and 623 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, sapahills.com.au

La Pinta : M mag. The Serve. La Pinta 791 High Street, Reservoir. Photo by Jason South. 13th November 2020.

Grab a seat at the bar at La Pinta. Photo: Jason South

Larissa Dubecki, GFG22 reviewer

Residents of Reservoir, rejoice: the opening of La Pinta has eliminated any need to leave your suburb. This jewel-like tapas bar mixes perfect, non-try-hard design (the 1960s espresso bar murals were wisely retained) and Iberian good times in the form of tortilla, pigs' head croquettes and burnt Basque cheesecake. Charismatic owner Catherine Chauchat dispenses vermouth and advice in equal measure. And if you don't live in Rezza, don't worry: it's right near the train station. Just be there before 6pm to guarantee a seat.

791 High Street, Reservoir, lapintareservoir.com.au

Ardyn Bernoth, National Good Food Editor

Restaurants like Firebird are rare creatures south of the Yarra. Sleek, modern, unflappably professional Asian eateries of this breed tend to flock north. So I feel lucky to have this gorgeous Vietnamese member of the Commune Group close to where I live. Every dish emerges from the flames of either a charcoal grill or giant wood-fired oven, both of which warm the high-ceilinged room and every heart with dishes like the darkly burnished duck a l'orange.

223 High Street, Prahran, firebird.hanoihannah.com.au

Dani Valent, GFG22 reviewer

Tulum is my go-to local. Coskun Uysal has changed Melbourne's idea of Turkish cuisine while telling heartfelt personal tales through tasty and creative dishes. I love the manti – tiny beef dumplings with garlic yoghurt, Aleppo pepper and mint.

217 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, tulumrestaurant.com.au

Michael Harden, GFG22 reviewer

Bars are my safe space and Gerald's Bar is walking distance from my house, so my fondness for it might seem entirely proximity-related. But I'm fonder of well-cooked food made with excellent ingredients, quality booze and staff as good with a quip as they are a martini. The curmudgeonly demeanour of its namesake is an added bonus.

386 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, geraldsbar.com.au

The Good Food Guide, presented by Vittoria Coffee and Citi, will be out in November.