Melbourne's most exciting restaurant openings of 2022 so far

Serai brings Filipino flavours to the CBD.
Serai brings Filipino flavours to the CBD. Photo: Chris Hopkins

ICYMI, catch up on the biggest restaurant openings in Melbourne and beyond (plus a few coming soon).

Serai

Many people say they've never tried Filipino food in Melbourne. Even fewer will have had it the way Serai chef Ross Magnaye is cooking it. Drawing on the encyclopaedia of flavours he encountered at home, Magnaye creates dishes that suit a Melbourne wine bar, his favourite type of venue. Ubiquitous kingfish crudo is actually exciting, thanks to assertive chilli, lime and fermented coconut, and duck glazed with calamansi is a clever riposte to duck a l'orange. Throw in wood-fired cooking, fun wines and cocktails, and it's easy to agree with our chief critic Besha Rodell that, "Serai has all the style, all the craft, all the joy of what makes eating in this city and country such a varied, complex, and exuberantly evolving pleasure".

Bistecca alla Fiorentina at Gill Americano.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina at Gill Americano. Photo: Adrian Lander

Racing Club Lane, Melbourne

Grill Americano

Could this buzzy, bold CBD steakhouse be the cure for Melbourne's pandemic hangover? There's theatre in everything from tiramisu served tableside by jacketed waiters, to simple chicken croquettes given gravitas by the silver stand they arrive on. Splashing out is easy when eight steaks mingle with chateaubriand and a 2000-bottle wine cellar. But you can also have a fine time sitting at the 14-metre marble bar with olive ascolane and an Americano. Restaurateur Chris Lucas says this project is inspired by Venetian hospitality, New York-style steakhouses and Italian grills. Our critic Michael Harden says it might be Lucas's best work yet.

112 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Helly Raichura's Enter Via Laundry is about to open as a permanent restaurant after four years of home supper clubs and pop-ups around Victoria. 
Credit Jana Langhorst 
For Good Food, 17 March, 2022

Enter Via Laundry is now entered via a Carlton laneway. Photo: Jana Langhorst

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Enter Via Laundry

A long overdue revolution in Australia's understanding of "Indian" food – a reductive description of the subcontinent's many cuisines – is under way in a modest two-room venue. Helly Raichura has graduated from cooking in her home to opening her first venue, and her ambition has grown with it, serving tasting menus that spotlight a different region of India every six months. Currently her focus is on the west Bengali region, resulting in dishes such as lamb cutlets with Davidson's plum or dhal lifted by desert lime.

Nicholson Street, Carlton North

***EMBARGOED FOR GOOD WEEKEND, JUNE 25/22 ISSUE***
Good Food  / Good Weekend review by Dani Valent : Moonhouse
Photograph by Chloe Dann (photographer on contract, no restrictions)

Moonhouse finds a home on Balaclava's main street. Photo: Chloe Dann

Moonhouse

Nearly every restaurateur in Melbourne was falling over themselves to snap up the old Ilona Staller site in late 2020. Simon Blacher was the lucky one, and set to work on honouring the graceful art deco former bank, which dominates Balaclava's high street. With its sweeping curves that mimic the facade, it might be Melbourne's best-looking opening of the year, but the food is no afterthought. Canto staples such as XO pipis meet Aussie-Chinese fare such as beef and black bean, with fun snack-size Hainanese chicken club sandwiches thrown in. It's set to be a magnet for southsiders.

282 Carlisle Street, Balaclava

02/03/22 Interior at Smith Street Bistrot, Collingwood. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

Scott Pickett's chic Smith Street Bistrot will transport you to Paris. Photo: Chris Hopkins

Smith Street Bistrot

Rendered in a pitch-perfect imitation of a back-street French bistro, Scott Pickett's latest play with this Collingwood site is his most luxe yet. Wrought iron, gilt, marble and red leather compete for your attention, while plates show serious classic technique melded with touches you could only get away with in Australia, such as sesame oil in the tuna tartare. But it all works. Skip the passport and airport headaches, and head to Smith Street, tout de suite.

300 Smith Street, Collingwood

Disneyland for vegans- Smith and Daughters in Collingwood. 2nd February 2022, The Age news Picture by JOE ARMAO

The open kitchen inside Smith & Daughters mark two. Photo: Joe Armao

Smith & Daughters

Bigger, bolder and more grown up than the original vegan trailblazer, Shannon Martinez' soaring new space in a Collingwood backstreet is softened with Old World touches. The restaurant draws on the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East in a true celebration of vegetables.

107 Cambridge Street, Collingwood

FURTHER AFIELD

Fen​

It's back. Four-plus years have passed since this fine diner closed, but having had a stint flipping gourmet burgers, Ryan and Kirstyn Sessions are back, and they're as focused as ever on their latest iteration of Fen in the seaside fishing village of Port Fairy. The dining room is open only on Friday and Saturday nights, with one sitting for 14 diners, all of whom will experience virtually the same menu of highly local, expressive dishes. Dietary requirements are not part of the Sessions' lean staffing set-up, with the exception of coeliac requests. And the verdict? It's as good as ever.

24 Bank Street, Port Fairy

COMING SOON