What to Expect
Melbourne is transcending Sydney in Epicurean prowess and is widely accepted as the food capital of Australia. With its multicultural and eclectic heritage, ethnic influences and fresh local produce, Melbourne is a melting pot of authentic experiences. Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian and Spanish are a few of the culinary areas where the city reaches a standard equivalent to the countries of origin. A wealth of restaurants and food emporiums have arisen in the past decade, creating districts that have become famous for the cultures they represent. Gastronomic tours around the city are bound to bring untold pleasure to any self-respecting bon viveur.
Lygon Street, locally known as the antipodean Via Veneto, is Melbourne's Little Italy. The inimitable 'deli' is heaven-in-a-corner-shop with crumbly pecorino, mortadella, numerous salamis, and hessian sacks brimming with borlotti and cepi beans. In one corner, a pyramid of cavolo nero mingles deliciously with the ever-present scent of warm focaccia. Bliss! Local trattorias will tempt you and if you succumb, try a bowl of robust Bollito Misto, saltimbocca or zampone for a genuine Italian hit.
Next stop, Chinatown. Experience the magic of the Orient on Little Bourke Street, alive with everything exotic from tangy lemon grass to pak choi; row upon row of hung glossy ducks, skin puckered and crisp, and kaleidoscopic arrays of weird and wonderful fish. The Flower Drum is the place to go for a superior banquet.
If you prefer a taste of the Middle East, head for Sydney Road, Brunswick. Souks, spice and Syrah! Small intimate restaurants serving wonderful Arabian bread to dip in oil and dukkah, followed by baba ganoush or a tagine accompanied by a tiny pot of harissa paste. Spoon it on your couscous, but beware, it's not for the faint-hearted. For lovers of Greek food, Lonsdale Street is home to the largest Greek community outside Athens. Don't miss out on sticky dolmades, great hunks of aromatic lamb kleftico, a bowl of plump kalamata olives and a bottle of chilled retsina.
Complementing the ethnic contingency, there is a glutton's gorge of modern Australian fusion food, or Pacific Rim, bringing together influences from Asia to the Mediterranean, but still retaining a definite local flavour. The city is teeming with quality produce, ranging from the exotic to local bush food. Freshly caught seafood is plentiful and barramundi is a must. In a city abundant with first-class eateries, Est Est Est stands out as a forerunner in the art of fusion. This stylish haven for serious food lovers comes highly recommended and if you're in a daring mood, well, the braised kangaroo tail samosas and gum-leaf smoked venison steaks are a top-rate Australian delicacy.
Melbourne is undoubtedly a city to savour and enjoy - an essential city for 'foodies' of the world. Cultures are embraced here and tables lavishly laid in their honour.
Where to stay
There are plenty of first-rate hotels, ranging from the luxurious to the downright quirky. Whether you want New Orleans architecture, ornate Japanese gardens, object d'art or even a 100-year-old palm tree, any taste can be satisfied. Top of the pile for glamour and grandiose splendour is the Grand Hyatt. Bathed in soft hues, the decor throughout is sublime, especially the lobby in marble and oak. All top-floor rooms have impressive views, marble bathrooms and king-size beds. There are two restaurants, offering typically-Melbourne high-standard cuisine. The amenities include an extensive food hall, health club and tennis courts.
If your tastes are a little more design-orientated, The Adelphi breaks the mould. The style is cool and fresh with a unique 80-foot glass-bottomed swimming pool that precariously pouts over the edge of the building. You can literally float in space. There are also stunning views of the gothic spires of St. Paul's from the bar. Superior rooms are at the front, numbers ending in 01.
The Prince is one of Melbourne's more recent success stories. Innovative, funky and wickedly hip. Rooms have a Japanese influence, the latest home-entertainment systems, stone walls in atmospheric dark tones, billowing drapes and pink wing-backed chairs. The overall effect is that of a theatrical illusion. Mink, the basement cocktail bar, oozes lofty pretension. The restaurant at The Prince is Circa, specialising in French cuisine of the highest quality you can expect to find throughout Melbourne.
Sydney and Melbourne are the busiest international gateways. You can fly direct to Melbourne with Qantas, British Airways or Singapore Airlines. Inter-city flights via Sydney are also available, as are charter flights with Britannia Airlines. Qantas and Ansett are the two main domestic flight carriers within Australia.
Skybus operate 24 hours a day between the airport and city centre, approximately every 30 minutes. Greyhound also provides a service and both arrive at the Melbourne Transit Centre in Franklin Street.
Car-rental companies have offices in the domestic terminal areas and taxis are available from the ground floor of the airport.
Pre-Travel Check List
All visitors to Australia need visas.
17 Market Lane
Tel: +61 3 9662 3655
Booking is advisable. Recommended in the Age Good Food Guide 2000.
Est Est Est
440 Clarendon Street
Tel: +61 3 9682 5688
Booking is advisable. Smart dress code applies.
For a more in-depth guide to Melbourne's top-of-the-range and ethnic restaurants, see the Age Good Food Guide 2000 or visit www.fodors.com
The Grand Hyatt
123 Collins Street (Paris End)
Tel: +61 3 9657 1234
Fax: +61 3 9650 3491
187 Flinders Lane
Tel: +61 3 9650 7555
Fax: +61 3 9650 2710
2 Acland Street
Tel: +61 3 9536 1111
Fax: +61 3 9536 1100
For additional information, visit Melbourne's own web site at: