Bring it on: Where the Good Food team can't wait to eat and drink in Melbourne

Hit the town: Pork and ginger gyoza at Yakimono.
Hit the town: Pork and ginger gyoza at Yakimono. Photo: Julian Lallo

It has been a long time between sittings in our favourite haunts. As we approach the state opening up, Good Food's Melbourne team reveals what they will be getting stuck into just as soon as they can.

O.MY restaurant. 

O.My is a garden-focused neighbourhood jewel in Beaconsfield. Photo: Supplied

Gemima Cody

Dishes I can't wait to eat again

As eater-in-chief, I will be deep diving into the wildly creative, intricately prepared creations of chefs very soon (yes, I'm extremely lucky). But some real talk: over much experimentation, I have found that the humble pub parma plus beer on tap is pretty much impossible to replicate at home. I bought an airfryer, which helped get some of that crisp factor, but nothing can mimic the secret ingredient that makes you pine for the pub – the sticky carpet smell, and the broad mix of people. I'm pretty lucky that my local is now the Paradise Valley Hotel in Clematis. It's run by Vue de Monde alumni and I could rock up on Puffing Billy. But I do miss the Builders Arms in Fitzroy too. paradisevalleyhotel.com, buildersarmshotel.com.au

Experience I've missed the most

Wine service and casual chef menus (not a degustation, mind you, just an intuitive list of dishes built on what suppliers have provided that day) so I don't have to do the mental labour of planning everything, or anything. I want surprise, and I want to learn something about an ingredient or a wine from someone with immense expertise. Hence my major pull towards Public Wine Shop, where Ali Currey-Voumard is remixing menus daily, and ex-Builders Arms somm Campbell Burton is pouring his favourites. publicwineshop.com.au

The table that has my name on it

I truly hope that we've all learned to see what jewels we have in our neighbourhood. For me, I have O.My, the garden-focused Beaconsfield restaurant to which I was privileged enough to award two hats for its innovative degustation. They also run a more casual offshoot, Ned's Lounge, which crams their garden into exciting snacks like Jerusalem artichokes with salted egg, and sourdough-battered dill pickles. It also has the might of the fine diner's wine list. I have watched them battle the dragon of shutdowns and want to introduce my neighbours (who I have only met over the fence) into the fold. I hope this local connection is something that grabs us all. omyrestaurant.com.au

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The place I am desperate to try

Lillian Terrace at Society in the city. I bought a nice dress for my birthday, specifically to wear to the big show that is Lucas Restaurants' new flagship. I have worn nothing but boots and leggings since. I want to day drink with friends at what I know, from an initial visit, is the "It' restaurant of the year. Chef Martin Benn may be gone, but his exquisite, intricate creations, like the cherry chocolate dessert modelled on the city's skyline,  will still be delivered by a brigade of chefs, servers and sommeliers who are the best our city has. societyrestaurant.com

Good Food- Entrecote Prahran -(left to right) Rebecca Boyd, Tim Menger, Jason Jones ,Jeremy Vogrin And Ruth Giffney  7th October 2021, The Age news Picture by JOE ARMAO

The Entrecote team in Prahran: from left, Rebecca Boyd, Tim Menger, Jason Jones, Jeremy Vogrin and Ruth Giffney. Photo: Joe Armao

Michael Harry

Dishes I can't wait to eat again

I cannot wait to have the full spread at a weekend yum cha brunch session. Gold Leaf in Preston is a go-to for its clattering, chaotic atmosphere and plentiful trolleys, but my MVP is Crystal Jade in the city. You can order everything a la carte, from slippery siu mai to the "footballs" – crisp, doughnut-like spheres of glutinous rice flour filled with savoury minced pork – so it's all piping hot and fresh. Best served with a saucer of volcanic chilli sauce. crystaljademelbourne.com.au

Pub I've missed the most

Watching CUB's heartstring-tugging commercial To The Pub made me realise (between sobs) how much I miss my local, The Great Northern Hotel in Carlton. It's a no-frills backstreet boozer with loads of heart, and they love dogs. I'll bring my trusty hound, settle in for the arvo and say cheers to the end of a long compound lockdown. gnh.net.au

The table that has my name on it

Entrecote Prahran was the first place I booked the second reservations reopened – it was like buying concert tickets. I'm counting the days for those signature steak frites. You can't go wrong with a slab of medium-rare Cape Grim porterhouse with plentiful chippies, crunchy green salad and the crack-like secret herb butter sauce. Perhaps with a round of oysters and spritely mignonette dressing to start. It's just relocated to a new venue in Greville Street, so I'm expecting white tablecloths. I'm expecting cold chablis. I'm expecting Real Housewives. And I can't wait. entrecote.com.au

The place I am desperate to try

The new Nomad at the old Ezard at Adelphi. Jacqui Challinor's hit Sydney restaurant has been rumoured to open a Melbourne spinoff for what seems like years now. Will this summer finally be the moment? We think so. Fingers crossed. nomad.melbourne

Poodle Bistro's menu is all about old school hotel classics. Chick with truffle. Parisian gnocchi, a quality club with chicken crackling, crab and tarama vol au vents. 

Poodle's menu is all about old-school hotel classics such as vol-au-vents. Photo: Emilio Scalzo

Roslyn Grundy

Dishes I can't wait to eat again

Give me all the snacks. Small, elegant and not built to take away, bite-sized flavour bombs such as Bar Lourinha's whipped bacalhau montadito, and Poodle's spanner crab and taramasalata vol-au-vents are the best reasons I can think of to get properly dressed for the first time in weeks. barlourinha.com.au, poodlefitzroy.com.au

Experiences I've missed the most

At home, coffee comes without the hiss of an espresso machine, the clatter of teaspoons on saucers, and the chatter of other patrons, and I've missed them more than I thought possible. I can't wait to sit in a cafe and sip a made-to-order flat white from a china cup. I'll be hitting up some of the CBD cafes that have probably missed us too, including the office favourite, Tukk & Co and Liminal in Collins Street, and Axil Coffee Roasters at Melbourne Central. tukk.com.au, liminalmelbourne.com, axilcoffee.com.au

The table that has my name on it

After rescheduling a weekend lunch booking at Du Fermier in Trentham three times, I can hardly wait to plant my feet under the table by the fireplace and let Annie Smithers feed me French farmhouse dishes. I'm dreaming of a tureen of soup served to the table followed, perhaps, by lamb with spring vegetables plucked from her garden and some kind of fruit-filled dessert. I'm not budging until the sky has begun to darken and I've finished all the oozy cheese and drained the last drop of sticky wine from my glass. anniesmithers.com.au

The places I am desperate to try

Tom Hunter and Jordan Clay have been in lockdown more than they've been open since reconfiguring a bayside kiosk in Albert Park as smart seafood-focused wine bar Pipis Kiosk late last year. So I can't wait to finally visit and order their "snack attack" and whatever else Hunter recommends.

Also on my wishlist are Aru, the CBD sister to Sunda, where the banh mi-inspired pâté en croute is calling my name; Kadota in Daylesford, where Aaron Schembri and his Japanese-born wife Risa are serving a six-course Japanese menu in the former Kazuki's site; and Lulu's Char Koay Teow in Hardware Lane, where I've promised to take my CKT-loving son, having not seen him in months. pipiskiosk.com.au, kadotarestaurant.com.au

The Sunday Age ,The Serve  Pipis Kiosk.  Pic Simon Schluter 7 May 2021

Smart seafood-focused wine bar Pipis KioskPhoto: Supplied

Emma Breheny

Dishes I can't wait to eat again

I've had lots of lockdown daydreams about sitting down to a steaming bowl of pho and taking a deep breath of the star anise, clove and pepper in the broth. That's definitely a restaurant experience you can't replicate at home. I'm also hanging out for properly spicy food like Chongqing noodles or cumin lamb from Dainty Sichuan. And gorgeous, delicate pasta at Tipo 00. And oysters I don't have to shuck myself. daintysichuanfood.com.au, tipo00.com.au

Restaurants I've missed the most

The ritual of going out to dinner has been a gaping hole in all our lives, but I especially miss the theatre of sitting in a place like France-Soir, where everyone (staff included) is part of the show. Visiting Gerald's or Embla again will be like seeing a good friend: it just feels right. The craving for yum cha is real, too. I'll be booking a seat at Golden Dragon Palace very soon to load up on har gao, siu mai and all the rest. france-soir.com.au, geraldsbar.com.au, embla.com.au, goldendragonpalace.com.au

The table that has my name on it

I nabbed a table for Marion's first Friday night of indoor dining and am counting down the days until I'll be there, glass of something delicious in one hand, hoping a plate of 'nduja mussels and fried bread is about to hit the table. marionwine.com.au

The places I am desperate to try

I have a long list on my phone that I keep adding to but towards the top are a bunch of Sri Lankan restaurants that have been frustratingly outside my five-kilometre radius, including Spicy Flames in Dandenong. Bring on the hoppers. I'm waiting with bated breath for Daylesford's Bar Merenda to open its doors, a humble little spot that promises food and service from the heart and an absolutely cracking wine list. And I need to get to Gray and Gray Bread and Wine, Pipis Kiosk and Public Wine Shop, three new-ish spots where the snacking is good and the service promises to be casual yet razor sharp, something Melbourne does so well. spicyflames.com.au, breadandwine.com.au, pipiskiosk.com.au, publicwineshop.com.au

***EMBARGOED FOR SUNDAY LIFE, AUGUST 15/21 ISSUE***
Life Loves - Melbourne Eat : New neighbourhood bar, Auterra, offers fine-dining snacks to match their stellar selection of wines and grower champagnes. Try the king prawn sandwich with kimchi and mustard leaves. $14 each
Photograph by Chloe Dann (photographer on contract, no restrictions)

Auterra's king prawn sandwich with kimchi and mustard leaves. Photo: Chloe Dann

Ardyn Bernoth

Dishes I can't wait to eat again

The cheeseburger from Gimlet, washed down with several cocktails of the same name. But it must be at midnight (former curfew, suck on that) and I want to be squashed into one of its luxe booths with at least six double-vaxxed friends. And I need one in our party to cut the burger into six wedges so we can nibble on them like they are the height of snack refinement, like I did one balmy night way back in January. I will have come from Di Stasio Citta, where I will have eaten my all-time favourite bar snack, sage and anchovy in a golden batter sarcophagus, one elbow leaning on the cool marble bar, watching video artist Reko Rennie hurtle in the red dust in his gold Rolls. gimlet.melbourne, distasio.com.au

Experience I've missed the most

I miss being looked after by someone passionate about serving customers. I miss the smiles, the warmth and generosity that can shine in people who may have done it unspeakably tough over the past two years but who welcome you back into their restaurants, cafes or bars with a true spirit of a word I have come to adore: hospitality. It is these people who make the Australian restaurant scene great. And I can't wait to see them again.

The table that has my name on it

It's just my local, a little Italian overlooking a park, called Riserva. I like that I can walk there if the mood takes and we can usually always get a table, sometimes on a good night, out on the footpath. I like that the owner knows my husband wants the biggest wine glasses he has for his red, and that I like polenta chips to start. And crab pasta. I enjoy sometimes being the last to leave and chatting to the staff while they polish glasses. There are many openings that will dazzle us over summer but just being able to go back to this local will feel like lockdown is really over. riservawine.com.au

The places I am desperate to try

I have four places at the top of my list, two of which opened before LD6. First, Auterra, the wine bar offshoot of two-hatted Amaru restaurant in Armadale, with it's Gabriel-Glas stemware, poppy design by IF architecture and prawn and kimchi sandwich that has gained celebrity status. And also the Flower Drum Bar: I am desperate to check out this revamped space in the hallowed Cantonese dining room where you can indulge in cocktails and har gau on a bar stool. I also can't wait to check out the love child of local restaurateur Joe Vargetto and Sydney restaurant icon and owner of Bondi Icebergs Maurice Terzini. They open Cucina Povera Vino Vero in the city in January. Opening also in early November is the yakitori offshoot of Chris Lucas' Society pleasure palace. Yakimono will be bold, brash and super fun purveyor of Japanese fusion on a stick. auterrawinebar.com.au, flowerdrum.melbourne, yakimono.com.au