The Age Good Food Guide 2017: Victoria's top 10 hot and new bars, cafes and restaurants

The front bar at Bar Liberty, Fitzroy.
The front bar at Bar Liberty, Fitzroy. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Here are 10 of the best new restaurants to open in Melbourne this year, ranging from a bakery with queues out the door to the venture by an established name.

Bar Liberty

Melbourne's answer to Bar Brose, it's ex-Attica sommeliers pouring frontier wines, beers and spirits alongside a hot mix of dishes from Rockwell & Sons chef Casey Wall. Come on Sunday afternoons, when light pours over the minimalist room, to nerd out over bottles of Jura chardonnay and chicken skin crackling BLTs.

234 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, barliberty.com

Is Embla home to Melbourne's best chicken dish?

Wood-roasted chicken at Best New Restaurant Embla. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Embla

The street-level wine bar is just stage one of the Town Mouse team's Russell Street project, but the wood and bronze room with ringside seats to the wood-fired kitchen already pulls huge crowds for chef Dave Verheul's wood-roasted chicken and Christian McCabe's idiosyncratic wine list.

122 Russell Street, Melbourne, 03 9654 5923, embla.com.au

Steak and onion rings at French Saloon.

Steak and onion rings at French Saloon. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

French Saloon

It's the boho loft from a New York rom-com: all big windows, whitewashed walls and geranium-ringed terrace. The bistro menu favours freshness over Frenchness: opened-to-order oysters, butcher's cut steak with fat onion rings, and wines both edgy and stalwart.

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380–384 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, 03 9600 2142, frenchsaloon.com

American-style dive bar Heartbreaker.

American-style dive bar Heartbreaker is Bar of the Year. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Heartbreaker

Masterminded by the Everleigh crew, this shambolic dive is like an uptown heiress slumming it at a downtown dive. The jukebox blasts Bowie, vinyl booths are bathed in red neon, and the drinks are shots, beers or the Everleigh's signature bottled cocktails.

234a Russell Street, Melbourne, 03 9041 0856, heartbreakerbar.com.au

Roasted mushrooms and polenta at Higher Ground.

Roasted mushrooms and polenta at Cafe of the Year Higher Ground. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Higher Ground

Even with 250 seats there's a line every lunchtime at this latest inner-city cafe by the team behind Top Paddock and the Kettle Black. Thankfully the hype is worth it for everything from their berkshire bacon sandwich to salty roasted sprouts as a drinking snack.

650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, 03 8899 6219, highergroundmelbourne.com.au

Society garlic potatoes at Igni.

Society garlic potato 'noodles' at Santa Vittoria Regional Restaurant of the Year, Igni. Photo: Josh Robenstone

Igni

It's fine dining at its most roll-with-it in the backstreets of Geelong, from the wines delivered by gun hospitality vets to the food. There's no menu. Just chef Aaron Turner (of much-missed Loam) serving a mystery mix of incredible ingredients all touched by his ironbark-fuelled grill.

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

Kate Reid and her brother Cameron have doubled production at their new Fitzroy premises.

Kate Reid inside her new Lune Croissanterie premises in Fitzroy. Photo: Pat Scala

Lune Croissanterie

Turns out, a background in aerospace engineering makes you a dab hand at pastry science. There's always a queue, starting at dawn, for Kate Reid's cult croissants and their almond-sprayed kin. The other option is book one of the nine seats for a $50 breakfast pastry deg.

119 Rose Street, Fitzroy, lunecroissanterie.com

Mussels and 'nduja served at Marion wine bar.

Mussels and 'nduja served at Marion wine bar. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Marion

Andrew McConnell's glowing white-and-tan wine bar is excellent. What a shock. Sommelier Liam O'Brien's award-winning list is natural, progressive, but classic too, while the kitchen serves a menu with the same produce-driven bent as Cutler & Co next door – plates of padron peppers, crab and avruga on rye crisps and a rosy steak.

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

Grilled prawns served at Oter.

Grilled prawns served at Oter. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Oter

Here in the Flinders Lane basement that once housed Japanese restaurant Yu-u, French-born chef Florent Gerardin is bringing back sexy symmetrical tarts and veal head terrines, but also grilling prawns on a Japanese binchotan grill. Mod-French at its finest, scythed by crazy exciting (and scary expensive) wines selected by Champagne Taittinger Sommelier of the Year Jordan Marr.

Basement, 137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, oter.com.au

Tom Yum soup served at Soi 38.

Cheap eats: Tom yum soup at Soi 38. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Soi 38

The full-on funk of real Thai boat noodles has found a place in a carpark in the CBD serving braised duck, pork, beef or tom yum bowls (pictured above) either wet or dry with your choice of egg or rice noodles.

38 McIlwraith Place, Melbourne, soi38.com

The Age Good Food Guide 2017 is on sale in newsagents and bookstores for $14.99 with The Age (usually $24.99), while stocks last. All book purchases receive free access to the new Good Food app.