Since their inception in 2013, the Time Out Melbourne Food Awards has quickly established itself as the bible for Melbourne's dining scene. From Restaurant of the Year to the People's Choice, a Food Awards trophy signals a restaurant that is a notch above the rest.
Here, we present all of our Food Award winners, dating back to our inaugural champions in 2013. For the most up-to-date guide to Melbourne's restaurant scene, be sure to check out our most recent winners of the Time Out Food Awards, as well as our Melbourne restaurant hit-list.
Embla sums up what we love about the restaurant scene right now. A lack of attitude. Style without fuss. Above all, a place that you visit intending to have a quick glass of wine and a snack, and then emerge blinking, two bottles and eight courses later.
The bar at Lûmé, and its manager Nick Tesar, are among the very best in Australia, full stop. The level of creativity, the use of incredible techniques and left-field ingredients, the beautiful presentations and above all the imminently enjoyable flavours are second to none.
It takes some guts to break the news to Melbourne that it needs another pasta-lovin’ Italian joint performing a nostalgic simulation of a 1950s Roman backstreet osteria where Sophia Loren might wander by at any minute. Thankfully, the owners of Tipo 00 are made of hardy stuff. They ignored the naysayers and proceeded to open the pasta bar of our dreams.
A degustation-only restaurant serving a set 18-course menu? Not exactly the thing you expect from a couple of rising star chefs finally getting the keys to their own place. But Shaun Quade and John Paul Fiechtner at Lûmé aren’t particularly concerned that everyone else is piling down the path marked casual, fried and fast.
It’s a long way from dishwasher to sushi master. Over the course of his working life Koichi Minamishima battled through the ranks to become head chef at the highly esteemed Kenzan. And then he surprised everyone by pulling a disappearing act and bobbing up at his own fully realised restaurant with the wow factor utterly sewn up.
Tonkotsu broth. That’s the Hakata Gensuke calling card. A rich, cloudy, fragrant noodle-bath of long-simmered pork bones, cooked and cooked and cooked some more in massive vats to release all that tasty, milky collagen. Gosh, it’s good. It’s the bedrock upon which Hakata Gensuke’s deserved reputation rests and it’s a mere $13 bucks for your baseline bowl of Japanese penicillin.
The cafés. Oh, the cafés. They’re taking over Melbourne. By the time you finish reading this, another five will have opened within a one-kilometre radius of your home. In a market so over-supplied it takes a pretty big effort to stand out from the crowd. But that’s precisely what Shannon Bennett’s Piggery Café does without even raising a sweat.
It takes a special kind of guy to decide to open a tiny, forward-thinking, degustation-only restaurant in Beaconsfield serving produce plucked from their own allotments. In fact, it takes three of them. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Bertoncello brothers, a trio of industry true believers who’ll make even the most rusted-on cynic shed a fuzzy tear.
Scott Pickett’s picture now appears in the dictionary under the entry for “busy”. True dinks. The affable Aussie bloke from the tiny SA town of Kangarilla has been putting the pedal to the metal over the past 12 months since St Crispin, the Smith Street restaurant he co-owns with Joe Grbac, took out the 2014 Time Out Food Award for Best New Restaurant.
George Calombaris’ fancy souvlaki shop is no late-night greasepit. It’s a bar, diner and takeaway in one where you can get ouzo for a fiver, hammer huge fresh salads full of almonds, barley and citrusy handfuls of rough cut parsley, or get a baggie of slow roasted lamb to go.
A decade is a long time in restaurant years – especially in Melbourne, land of the fickle diner. So what is it about this high-end Cantonese restaurant that’s kept it kicking strong through 38 years, two recessions, the digital age and a plague of screechers decreeing the death of fine dining?
Attica is the little restaurant that could, in the little suburb that you wouldn’t expect, headed up by one Ben Shewry – the New Zealand chef famed for surfing, foraging and crying, to whom tricks and gimmicks are anathema and sustainability is innate philosophy.
If this isn’t the best little hole-in-the-wall dumpling den in Melbourne, we’ll eat the menu. Just watch us. The space is no more than a plain canteen, and it’s located in a Bourke Street arcade. But what they lack in décor and ten point precision pinches on the rustic dumplings, they make up for in crazy freshness and flavour.