Opened February 2020 Who Shane Delia Vibe Handsome and romantic modern Middle Eastern bar.
Is Shane Delia’s gorgeous, glamorous Collingwood bar his best work yet? The harissa and turmeric braised beef-stuffed borek bun, arak pickled cucumbers and brilliant hummus served with maple-roasted carrots would say yes. Service is great too, as is the on-theme wine list with its Lebanese wine producers and selection of raki and arak. 86 Smith St, Collingwood, (03) 9417 3531, mahabar.com.au
Gimlet at Cavendish House
Opened June 2020 Who Andrew McConnell Vibe New York-style French bar and bistro given a McConnell makeover.
The 10 minutes it was allowed to open in June gave a tantalising glimpse of chic Gimlet’s potential – a big, beautiful Manhattan-referencing room with a central bar, leather booths and a menu that mixes marron with saffron rice, wood-fired flatbread with clams and chilli, house-made gelati and great cocktails – Gimlets, of course, alongside Leanne Altman’s superb wine list. 33 Russell St, Melbourne, (03) 9277 9777, gimlet.Melbourne
Opened November 2019 Who Chris Lerch, Keat Lee and Ned Trumble (co-owners) Vibe Smart, tasty Melb-Asian in the heart of Little Italy.
A crack team of Ezard alumni joined forces at this modern pan-Asian diner to great, super-tasty effect. Whitewashed brick walls, a black granite bar and a focal-point open kitchen play backdrop to a menu of playful, vibrant dishes including not-to-be-missed hot-and-sour potatoes to Xinjiang-spiced lamb ribs and a vibrant mango pudding. There’s great wine too and must-do, theme-appropriate cocktails. 263 Lygon St, Carlton, (03) 9349 1939, lagoondining.com
Opened January 2020 Who Brigitte Hafner Vibe A modern Australian take on a traditional Italian osteria.
Brigitte Hafner’s Mornington Peninsula trattoria is one of the best-looking restaurants in the country and one of the most original. Nailing the illusive “eating in someone’s house” vibe, it features a fixed-price menu of local ingredients cooked by Hafner in a kitchen that’s not so much “open” as in the room. Immersive and heartfelt, Tedesca should be at the top of every to-do list. 1175 Mornington-Flinders Rd, Red Hill, tedesca.com.au
Opened November 2019 Who Larry Kestelman (owner) and Stephen Nairn (chef) Vibe Casual high-end bistro for local scenesters.
Chef Stephen Nairn cooks some of the best, most finessed bistro food in town – pastry cigars filled with smoked ocean trout and lemon crème fraîche, Gruyère custard tart with marinated capsicum, dry-aged pork belly with roasted peach – in a huge, surprisingly well-serviced room kitted out for comfort and South Ya Ya razzle-dazzle. A voluminous wine list completes the picture. 625 Chapel St, South Yarra, (03) 8080 8080, omniabistro.com.au
The Hardware Club
Opened November 2019 Who Andrea Ceriani (co-owner) and Nicola Dusi (chef and co-owner) Vibe Retro cool Melb-Italian.
Verdict It’s flavour over dogma at this stylish retro diner that delivers northern Italian trattoria goods through a distinctly Melbourne filter. Chef Nicola Dusi combines big flavours with an impressively deft sense of balance – Brussels sprouts elevated by tonnato sauce; radicchio tossed with honey, walnuts and lentils; ravioli stuffed with toe-curlingly good ossobuco – plus solid Italian wine and thoroughly good-natured service. Upstairs, 43 Hardware Lane, Melbourne, (03) 9670 1110, thehardwareclub.com
Mimi’s & Una Más
Opened January 2020 Who Jordan Toft (executive chef) Vibe Two opulent seaside eateries with seductive Mediterranean vibes.
At Mimi’s, expect silver service in a breezy beachside setting. The menu is seasonal with dishes centred around an impressive Josper charcoal oven, including whole grilled fish, salt-baked mud crabs, and wagyu rib eye. As for drinks, the wine list could be the most extensive in town. For a more relaxed experience, saunter next door to Una Más and grab a couple of flavor-packed tapas plates – charred octopus with fermented habanero sauce, hot pork terrine – and a bottle of funky minimal intervention wine for a real good time. Coogee Pavilion, 130a Beach St, Coogee, (02) 9114 7324, merivale.com
Opened October 2020 Who Jacqui Challinor (executive chef), Rebecca and Al Yazbek (owners) Vibe Old space, polished new energy.
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