Monday, 2 August 2010

Melbourne food round up

"How very Melbourne" was the comment made by my friend David as we were slipping out of the Panama dining room. I'd have to agree.

Melbourne has a different vibe to Sydney. In the city centre you have the laneways decorated with artistic graffiti, shoes hanging from telephone wires and cool independent cafes. Out in the suburbs there are grungy pubs and converted warehouses with peeling paint. Managing to be effortlessly cool and home to hip-young-things out for the evening.

Long may it continue. I fear that as the city develops, big business might muscle in and push out all of the independent places which are the life blood of Melbourne's chic scene.

Last week I spent three days down in Melbourne. Here's a quick recap of some of the places that I ate.

Maze by Gordon Ramsay

The latest outpost of Gordon Ramsay's Maze empire is located at the Crown casino. It was my first visit to the Melbourne restaurant, but my second time at the Maze empire having visited the NY restaurant back in 2008.

We went for the seven course chef's menu. As you'd expect the food was all very good, but I don't think it attained the heights you'd expect from a Gordon Ramsay meal. There wasn't a innovative or wow factor dish, just seven solid performers. The food wasn't served on warm plates and the service could have been better. Must try harder.

The Panama Dining Room, Collingwood
"How very Melbourne", indeed.

Part of being effortless and cool means you don't have a sign above the door, so we initially got lost. When we finally found the anonymous grey door and ventured inside, graffiti scrawled on the wall pointed us up  to the third floor. Amazing floor to ceiling widows, a snooker table, sofas and a dining area created a welcoming and laid back atmosphere.

They had a massive, imported and local, beer selection and decent wine list. The service was a little hap-hazard, but the rabbit and leek cottage pie I had was very tasty.

Somewhere to take friends when in Melbourne. You can look like one of the cool kids and nonchalantly say, "I've heard of this place in Collingwood I thought we could try".

A couple on the floor below is Queen Rice, which looked like a similar venu serving Asian food at slightly lower prices.

Proud Mary
I visited Proud Mary back in March and decided to head back there for breakfast one morning. The food lived up to the same high standards and was a great way to start the morning.

Pacific House
My training course was in Richmond, aka little Vietnam. One lunchtime a few of us headed to Pacific House for duck and BBQ pork belly. Worth a visit if you are in the area, but don't trek half way across town.


  1. Hmm must go back to Melb, shame about Maze, good food is good food but when it has the name Gordon Ramsay attached to it you'd expect more?

  2. I love Melbourne. One of favourite restaurants... well japanese cafe is in Collingwood. I hope its still there.

  3. Love the vibe of Melbourne, something our beloved Sydney lacks. Will be there on Friday but it's a shame I'm only in town for a day :(