You may not have heard of many of these soon-to-open venues but get excited, these need to be part of your summer.
As the "hot vax summer" of 2021 hit the US and the UK, Australia could only watch in wonder as visions of parties and full capacity dining were beamed to us. It seemed so alien as Australia was wading into winter. No longer. The work is done, freedom is calling and we can finally enjoy our reward.
From a primo pizza palace by Italian don Ronnie Di Stasio to Merivale's beach party with fish king Matt Germanchis at the helm of the Lorne Hotel, here are some places you need to put on your radar for our own hot vax summer.
Melbourne's vegan queen Shannon Martinez is uniting her restaurant and deli in a Collingwood warehouse. Photo: Supplied
Smith and Daughters
When Melbourne's vegan queen Shannon Martinez unites her restaurant (Smith and Daughters) and deli (Smith and Deli) in a Collingwood warehouse, she says there will be "nothing like it in the world". And it's truly shaping up as the full plant-based package. There'll be a deli stocked with vegan blue cheese, bries and a mortadella Martinez has been working on for years. See also a grocery store with fresh produce, pastries and a dine-in canteen, and the restaurant proper, offering Martinez' Mediterranean-leaning menu, using a freshly installed wood grill. But it's also a giant art collaboration featuring murals by tattoo artists Tamara Scoulidis and Clare Clarity, custom uniforms by Et Al, and an in-house homewares range designed by Heart of Bone.
When can we go? Fingers crossed, the end of November.
Secret weapon: "Guests that book the chef's table will be served a special personalised menu, getting sneak peeks into future dishes and the chance to watch exactly how we do what we do," Martinez says.
107 Cambridge Street, Collingwood, smithanddaughters.com
270 Lonsdale Street
The HQ Group likes to go big with their projects. This is, after all, the team behind Arbory Afloat, the giant floating restaurant and bar with its own pool that graces the Yarra each summer. Their latest still-to-be-named project is no exception. Four venues will be spread across five levels including a rooftop bar, numerous restaurants (helmed by executive chef Nick Bennett), plus music spaces and art installations. After two years where artists and hospitality veterans have suffered greatly, they hope to celebrate both under one roof. From mid-December, you will be able to come for breakfast and not leave until they call time on the last gig late at night.
When can we go? Mid-December.
Secret weapon: The reimagined venue is where food, drinks, music and art collide, with emphasis placed on creating a platform for creatives to showcase and be enjoyed.
270 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (no website)
Port Melbourne Beach Club
Cabanas, pilates and bottomless brunch on the beach seem like they belong in a completely different universe to the one Melburnians have inhabited for the past three months. But it's really happening, and so soon you might want to book in a hurry if you want a daybed. Got a dog? Bring 'em. Like oysters? There's a happy hour every Tuesday afternoon. Hate standing up? The bar offers a mini Esky service and table service in some areas, where you can summon satay sticks, lobster rolls or avocado bowls (for those coming for the pilates sessions).
When can we go? From November 6.
Secret weapon: Daybeds and cabanas are fully serviced. They're technically free to book, but there's a minimum spend on food.
Port Melbourne Dog Beach (corner of Beach and Bay streets), exchangebeachclub.com.au
Chef Jung Chae at CHAE, a unique Korean dining experience in a Brunswick apartment block. Photo: Justin McManus
Chae in Cockatoo
Chances are you were intrigued by Jung Eun Chae's six-person-only Korean restaurant partly because of its surprising location in her one-bedroom Brunswick apartment. But her philosophy of introducing diners to the medicinal food of Korea (not the pop culture fried chicken and rice noodles Melbourne has in abundance, but the healing, ferment-focused cuisine of her homeland), has become an even better proposition now that Chae has gone bush. Relocating to a property in Cockatoo, she now has ample room to grow her own produce, compost her waste and greatly expand on her production of kimchis, soy sauce and the sweet fruit enzymes she uses instead of sugar – items you can only buy once you have dined at her restaurant.
When can we go? Delayed guests will be rescheduled in December, new bookings, January.
Secret weapon: Chae says she is "planning on hosting workshops on how to make Korean staple food such as kimchi, gochujang and even makgeolli (rice wine)" soon, and she's also importing onggi, Korean traditional microporous earthenware that is used in the preparation of ferments.
33 Mountain Road, Cockatoo, chae.com.au
Dame's club-style muffaletta with celery salt cucumber. Photo: Supplied
Brace yourself for "coffee to cocktails and all the snacks in between" from Jackie Middleton and Simon O'Regan, the dream team who revolutionised on-the-go lunches with OG sandwich star, Earl Canteen. Dame represents a big move for the duo. They've taken a premium space in Collins Place, and decked it out in marble and bronze. Here they plan to dominate business breakfasts and fuel Gucci shoppers with bloody marys, redefined caesar salads and an epic club-style muffaletta (the many-layered sandwich of New Orleans fame). Later, they'll bring it home with aperitivo drinks and terrines, post-work or pre-theatre, under the glamorous atrium at the top end of town.
When can we go? Doors open early 2022, just in time for the Australian Open.
Secret weapon: Location, baby. "Watching the promenade of Collins Street with an excellent coffee or glass of wine will help Melburnians remember why we all love our city so much," Middleton says.
Collins Place, 71 Collins Street, Melbourne, instagram.com/dame.melbourne
Lisa Valmorbida from Pidapipo gelato store. Photo: Sarah Pannell
Destined to be the red-hot ice-cold hit of the season, the team behind Pidapipo Gelateria are finally launching what you might consider an edible theme park for iced treat fans. Lisa Valmorbida's business has always owed its success to the fresh local produce that makes the milky gelato and sorbetto pop, and here that paddock-to-cone philosophy will become a next-level proposition. A rooftop garden will supply their own lemon myrtle, wild strawberries and honey from their beehives. One-off gelati, classes, ice-cream cakes and their own chocolate brand is on the table too.
When can I go? Early 2022.
Secret weapon: Here you'll find a chocolate-making room where Pidapipo will develop small batch artisanal chocolate products including their own Pidapipo Roche.
429-431 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, pidapipo.com
Rocco's Bologna Discoteca
Rocco's in Fitzroy won us over with its Napoli-drenched meatball subs during Melbourne's multiple lockdowns, and now this pivot/side hustle from the team behind Fitzroy's Poodle Bar and Bistro is getting its own spin-off series in Fitzroy (location yet to be revealed). Better still, it will be a far cry from a sandwich and lasagne-only situation. It will be an all-day restaurant with a huge private balcony for low-key soirees, transforming from sandwich shop to trattoria at night when pastas and plenty of amaros come into play.
When can we go? December 3 for takeaway, dine-in January
Secret weapon: Co-owner Emilio Scalzo thinks it will be the "intimate bar upstairs which opens up to an outdoor decking". Plus, a summer party with sibling Poodle. Stay tuned.
Address to be revealed shortly. instagram.com/roccos_bologna
Chef Joe Vargetto (left), Slyvester Terzini and Arnaldo Terzini from Cucina Povera (below). Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen
Losing Simon Denton's excellent Denton Wine Bar last year came as a blow, softened by the promise that he and chef Kieran Hoop would soon be opening a Japanese-leaning restaurant at Denton's Yarra Valley winery. Thanks to the uncertainty of lockdowns, this is delayed until spring of 2022. The good news? Hoop has used the delay to build his own pizzeria and wine bar in Camberwell. This will look like a tight menu of "things that can be cooked in the one wood-fired oven". That will be five or so Napoli-style pizzas focusing on fresh ingredients, plus dishes that can use the oven's residual heat, like meatballs in vodka sauce which will be slow cooked overnight, plus vegetables and whole chickens. Expect good wines too.
When can we go? Mid-November.
Secret weapon: Hoop has learned much from Melbourne wine lords like Denton (who will do events here showcasing his vineyards' best) and Philip Rich. His time at venues like the Toff and Cookie means there will also be an emphasis on art, music and good times, including the lunch kitchen transforming into a DJ booth at night.
625 Camberwell Road, Camberwell (no website)
Farmers Arms, Creswick
Nestled in the sweet spot between Ballarat and Daylesford, Creswick is a beacon for its walking and mountain bike tracks, antique stores and the Farmers Arms, an ideal country pub for knocking the froth off a pot after investigating the above. And things are only getting better. A fresh renovation has expanded the already excellent beer garden, while chef Clinton Park, who has honed his skills in smoked and cured meats at Tasmania's Agrarian Kitchen and Bluebonnet Barbecue, has taken command of the kitchen. Expect marbled sher wagyu, air-dried in-house (to be grilled or turned into tartare with cured egg yolk, finger lime and anchovy mayo); Park's own charcuterie and Brit-style pork pies with ham hock jelly; plus local Terra Australis gin, Red Duck beers and Bendigo Lome shiraz and pine mushrooms plucked from the forest when the season hits.
When can we go? Right now if you live regionally; October 29 for metro.
Secret weapon: Park says the big hook is "a 100km mountain bike trail is being built, set to make Creswick the mountain biking hub of Victoria".
31 Albert Street, Creswick, 03 5345 2221, farmersarmscreswick.com
We're keeping an eye on
The beachside venue, one of the hotly anticipated Victorian projects by Sydney's powerhouse Merivale Group, won't launch its full agenda until next year, but they have already come out swinging, hiring chef Matt Germanchis of the much-missed Captain Moonlite to helm the kitchen. Opening early 2022. 176 Mountjoy Parade, Lorne
Cucina Povera Vino Vero
Maurice Terzini (Icebergs) is returning to Melbourne to work on this low-key good times Italian star with Sylvester Terzini and Mister Bianco's Joe Vargetto. Expect the pure, from-scratch food they grew up seeing their migrant parents making in their backyards. Opening January. 445 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
After a $120 million renovation, Sorrento's 145-year-old Continental is reopening as a luxury hotel with a rooftop bar, street food and a flagship restaurant, Audrey's, (seafood platter, above right) overseen by Scott Pickett. Coming in March. 23 Constitution Hill Road, Sorrento