The Time Out Food Awards are one of the biggest nights of the year for the restaurant industry – and a great party to boot. It’s the night where the city’s finest chefs, most exciting new eateries and cheap eat champions are awarded for their contribution to making Melbourne one of the most delicious cities in the world. This year, the awards were the largest yet, with five brand new gongs reflecting the current state of Melbourne’s eating habits: Best Food Truck, the Drinks Service Award, and three new People’s Choice categories, comprising Best Takeaway Coffee, Best Takeaway Lunch and Best Late-Night Snack Vendor.
This year, it all went down at the brand new venue The Cut Steakhouse in the historic Alfred Place. More than 300 guests were treated to gin cocktails on arrival by Fever Tree and beers by Young Henrys, not to mention canapés which ranged from beef and pork polpette with smoked scamorza to buttermilk ricotta. Tunes were courtesy of Mel Musu, with the fotobox capturing many happy snaps throughout the night. Cargo Crew helped dress to impress, and Friday Flowers made the space bright and beautiful.
Before long, it was the moment everyone had been waiting for. The crowd stood with bated breath as host Sean Baxter (ex-Masterchef) took to the stage to kick things off.
The room burst into cheers as the Restaurant of the Year award went to Russell Street wine bar and eatery Embla.
Embla beat off stiff competition from nine other top Melbourne restaurants to take out the main prize. It was also victorious in the category of Best Casual Dining Restaurant.
“Embla represents everything that’s great about Melbourne dining right now,” said Time Out’s chief restaurant critic, Larissa Dubecki. “You can go to what is nominally a wine bar and be served a fabulous meal that doesn’t have to break the bank.“
Chef of the Year went to Aaron Turner of Geelong destination restaurant Igni, which was also named Best Fine Dining Restaurant.
At the other end of the dining spectrum the award for Best Cheap Eat went to Fitzroy Indian eatery Mukka, while Taiwanese snacks-on-wheels Ghost Kitchen took the prize for Best Food Truck.
Time Out readers had the chance to vote in four People’s Choice Awards this year. In addition to People’s Choice: Best Restaurant were three awards sponsored by Mastercard.
People’s Choice: Best Takeaway Lunch Spot was won by the George Calombaris chain Jimmy Grants. People’s Choice: Best Takeaway Coffee went to St Ali in South Melbourne and People’s Choice: Best Late-night Snack Vendor was the vegan franchise Lord of the Fries.
A new category, the Drinks Service Award, was added for 2016. The award acknowledges innovative beverage service that complements restaurant food offerings, and was won by South Melbourne’s Lûmé.
The Time Out Legend Award was given to Ben Shewry, of famous Ripponlea restaurant Attica, for revitalising notions of Australian food and bringing it to an international audience.
All the winners walked away with trophies and the glory that comes with a Time Out Food Award. Guests left with plenty of Hydrodol for the inevitable next-day hangover, and OpenTable VIPs left with fabulous gift bags. The celebrations would not have been possible without the support of Mastercard, OpenTable and Hydrodol; all your booking, payment and hangover needs sorted.
Keen to experience all the winners for yourself? Remember to purchase our Time Out Food Awards October issue, on sale this Thursday September 21, and start ticking off our winning restaurants. Enjoy!