Rockpool Bar & Grill, Melbourne

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Category: CBD, Dinner, Lunch, Modern Australian, Steakhouse

The first time I dined at Rockpool Bar and Grill was the year I started at my first full-time job. Cashed up, carefree and childlike, I strode into the restaurant with my two high school friends, past the open-plan kitchen and through to the equally grand dining room resplendent in plums and browns. I remember being seated at the table in one of those comfortable leather chairs and being greeted by the image of a proudly posing cow on the menu in front of me – all the while feeling as if I was crashing a party made for wealthy businessmen.

On this night, the proudly posing cow had the last laugh. My friends unwittingly chose ‘My steak tartare with chips’ and were stunned to find that it was a dish best served cold. As they alternated between gagging and giggling at the prospect of eating this uncooked delicacy, I couldn’t help but savour every bite of my delectable duck ragu. It was sublime.

Rockpool Bar & Grill
Crown complex, Southbank VIC
(the last restaurant before Queensbridge St, right next to Crown Towers)
http://www.rockpool.com.au/melbourne/rockpool-bar-and-grill.html

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The pretty La Petanque

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Category: Dinner, French, Lunch, Winery restaurant

A SUNNY DECEMBER MORNING IN NADI, FIJI

Tubbymistress is sitting in the backseat of an old taxi, en route from Fiji’s international airport to the palm-tree lined paradise known as Denarau Island. The contrast between the streets of Nadi and the tourist hotspot is immense, as if a veil of instant paradise has been made to order, leaving the rest of Fiji shrouded in third-world darkness.

FRIENDLY TAXI DRIVER (glancing at Tubbymistress in the rear-view mirror): There is regular time, and there is ‘Fiji time’. Only the planes run to schedule, you know.

The taxi headed over the narrow bridge and into Paradise.

The dining room at the very pretty La Petanque

The dining room at the pretty La Petanque

La Petanque is more south of France than Fiji. Instead of palm trees, you’ll find a beautiful garden that winds down to an equally charming restaurant. Instead of wonderful but sometime forgetful ladies delivering pina coladas to bikini-clad Tubbymistresses reclining on poolside deck chairs, you’ll find polite and friendly staff who make a habit of greeting you at the door as you arrive. The one thing that La Petanque and Fiji have in common is that they both seem to run to ‘Fiji time’ – perhaps not a bad thing if you’re here for a leisurely Sunday lunch.

La Petanque
1208 Mornington-Flinders Rd, Main Ridge VIC
www.lapetanque.com.au

Il Bacaro: When in Rome …

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Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch

Il Bacaro, gleaming under the street lights on Lt Collins St

Il Bacaro, gleaming under the street lights on Lt Collins St

Sometimes the best decisions are made on the fly. Like, choosing where to dine on a Saturday night. Or securing a rare on-street car park in Melbourne’s Lt Collins St and deciding that the Italian place across the road is just the place to chow down.

When I stepped into Il Bacaro, I saw a cosy restaurant filled with diners – and seemingly little chance of securing a table. Listed in the Australian Good Food Guide as a premium cut on Victoria’s restaurant menu, this was hardly a surprise. What was a surprise was that we couldn’t have planned the night better if we tried – settling for a place at the bar offered one of the best first-time dining experiences I’ve had in some time.

Il Bacaro Cucina & Bar
168–170 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, VIC
www.ilbacaro.com.au

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Cafe Vue cocktail night

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Category: CBD, Dinner, French, Lunch, breakfast

If only I’d discovered this earlier. Last chance: 7 pm on 26 March!
$75 per person.

Cafe Vue Cocktail night
‘Friday night at the movies’
430 Lt Collins St, Melbourne VIC
http://www.vuedemonde.com.au/

The Victorian

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Category: Bayside, Dinner, Lunch, Modern Australian, Small plates, breakfast

The Big Vic, in all its glory

The Big Vic, in all its glory

EARLY ON A SATURDAY MORNING
It’s a calm, crisp Melbourne morning. Tubbymistress is ‘jogging’ along the beach, her ragged breathing punctuating the sound of children laughing and women talking on their iPhones. The bay is a serene shade of blue, its waves too sleepy to cause more than a ripple. Suddenly, a beacon of light looms up ahead.

The Victorian
123 Beaconsfield Parade (corner Kerford Rd)
Albert Park VIC

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Pearl Restaurant: Full Moon Mud Crab Feast

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Category: Dinner

Just got this email from Pearl. As if I need another reason to go back!

The Full Moon Mud Crab Feast is a treasure on the Pearl dining calendar. The entree and dessert are different from what I feasted on last year, but the main? Oh, how I’ve missed you …

Pearl Restaurant and Bar
631-633 Church St, Richmond VIC
http://www.pearlrestaurant.com.au/mud-crab/

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Il Solito Posto

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Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch, breakfast

Feel like pasta? Try Il Solito Posto. Tucked down a laneway off Collins St, this little bistro may look unassuming from the outside, but inside it’s a hub of activity, buzzing with conversation and oozing with charm; its dimly lit, rustic atmosphere the perfect canvas for after-work drinks and a bite to eat.

Il Solito Posto
Basement 113 Collins St (entry on George Pde), Melbourne VIC
www.ilsolitoposto.com.au

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Benito’s (not Mussolini’s)

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Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch, Monday to Friday

antipasto platter

Antipasto platter

I first encountered Benito’s a couple of years ago after emerging from a fun, girly dinner at Bistro Vue.* As I headed down the laneway with my friend Larrabee, I shoved my hands deeper into my coat pockets, fumbling for my car keys and an ounce of warmth.

Larrabee took my arm, leading me toward Lt Collins St. ‘There’s a little restaurant I want to look at,’ she said, nodding toward a small, unassuming café/restaurant across the road. ‘I walked past the other day. I can’t remember its name … but I think it sounds kind of fascist?’

Benito’s
445 Lt Collins St, Melbourne VIC

* More about Bistro Vue another time.

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Moulin Noir

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Category: Bayside, Dinner, French, Lunch, Tapas, breakfast

Chocolate tart: Just one of the sweet delights on offer at Moulin Noir

Chocolate tart: one of the sweet delights on offer at Moulin Noir

Moulin Noir, a little French café/restaurant tucked off Bay St, is a great casual dining experience. It’s perfect for lunch, with sandwiches large enough to silence even the most talkative of ladies. As I found out recently, dinner was pretty good too.

Moulin Noir
Rouse St, Port Melbourne

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Coda

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Category: CBD, Dinner, French, Lunch, Tapas, Vietnamese

Don't want to book? The bar is your friend.

Don't want to book? The bar is your friend.

Craving Vietnamese food? Or maybe something a little more ooh la la? Whether it’s Vietnamese or French cuisine you’re after, you’ll find something to please your tastebuds at Coda—another Hot New Thing Down a Laneway Serving Dishes Designed to be Shared.

Coda
141 Flinders La, Melbourne
www.codarestaurant.com.au

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