The ten best dishes we ate in 2016

Looking back on a twelvemonth of utter deliciousness, these were the standout hits
Photograph: Graham Denholm
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It seems like there is never a lull in new restaurant openings, and as difficult as it is to pick out the best restaurants in Melbourne, there's something to be said about pointing out the best dishes the city's restaurants' have served up. The 10 best dishes we ate this year are those that are memorable, the dishes that aren't just great products of a kitchen but also make diners want to keep coming back.

10 best dishes of 2016

1
Marion mussels and Nduja
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Wine bars

Mussels and n’duja at Marion

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

The perfect meeting of pig and ocean, the spicy soft Calabrian salami is added like a crumbly spice mix to the chilled shellfish and cucumber ribbons on a raft of toasted bread. Lucky it’s become a rusted-on menu fixture at Andrew McConnell’s pitch-perfect wine bar.

2
Embla_003.jpg
Bars, Wine bars

Roast chicken at Embla

icon-location-pin Melbourne

It’s probably not fair to highlight the roast chook amid Embla’s cacophony of excellence but this drills down into the essence of Sunday night dinner perfection: an organic free-range bird, perfect golden skin, a wicked amount of garlic and rosemary, gremolata and a plate-lickable chicken sauce. Wildly addictive.

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3
Philippe roast chicken
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, French

Seaweed oyster at Philippe

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Philippe Mouchel is on a mission to change the mind of anyone who thinks oysters are best eaten au naturel with his bivalve on the shell, encased under clear seawater jelly with a single perfect spinach leaf and watercress cream. Arrestingly beautiful, it’s also terribly delicious.

4
Soup at Syracuse Winebar and Restaurant
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

Chervil and carrot soup at Syracuse

icon-location-pin Melbourne

It’s been a long time since anyone considered soup top of the pops, but Philippa Sibley’s changing all that with her silken, sunshiny carrot and chervil number with roasted scallops and a sweet textural sprinkle of Amaretti crumbs. In a word: luscious.

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5
Chicken lollipops at Lakeside Mill
Photograph: Vince Caligiuri
Restaurants, Bistros

Chicken mousse lollipop at Lakeside Mill

icon-location-pin Pakenham

Jake Kellie does good snackage – the wicked green lozenges of pickled juniper, topped with bronze fennel and lemon verbena powder spring to mind. But the chicken mousse lollipop, a deboned piece of golden-tanned skin-on chook wrapped around chicken mousse and sticky with jus gras, are our new favourite canapé.

6
Jam jar with egg at Oter
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, French

Egg, truffle and dashi, at Ôter

icon-location-pin Melbourne

It’s an ugly duckling of a dish, not least because it’s served in a clunky jam jar, but in the eating it’s all oh là là: a barely-set egg, chewy nubbles of chicken offal, a dash of dashi and an obscene wealth of black truffle shaved over the top.

Time Out says
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7
Marron at Igni
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Modern Australian

Marron and pil pil at Igni

icon-location-pin Geelong

It’s all about the fire at Igni, and for this one Aaron Turner waves a marron tail somewhere in the direction of the coals before plating with pil pil (a buttery, crustacean-infused sauce) with a couple of fermented baby cucumbers. Simply brilliant.

8
Entree at Host
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Modern Australian

Blood butter at Host

icon-location-pin Brunswick

Hipper-than-hip Host pushes the carnivorous boat out with “blood butter”, best imagined as classic blood pudding that’s been whipped into a delicious, glossy sauce – dip in with the super-salty potato crisps sprinkled with minty bay leaf powder. 

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9
BBQ Pork bun at Tim Ho Wan
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

Barbecue pork bun at Tim Ho Wan

icon-location-pin Melbourne

Step back, naysayers, bleating about how Melbourne’s Tim Ho Wan isn’t a patch on the Hong Kong original. The truth remains that THW does a mean pork bun, all sugar-dusted doughy sweetness giving way to jammy barbecue pork centre. More please.

10
Beef at Ricky and Pinky
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants, Chinese

Wagyu shin at Ricky and Pinky

icon-location-pin Fitzroy

It’s a real-deal Chinese cold starter: tight-fleshed Wagyu shin in a delicious slick of sesame oil, crunch arriving in the guise of diced radish and cloud ear fungus, and the addictive ice-and-fire flutter of Sichuan pepper.

Melbourne's best restaurants

Paccheri at Osteria Ilaria
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Restaurants

The 50 best restaurants in Melbourne

Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old, and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Melbourne's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, that is. So behold, our eat-and-destroy list – a guide to Melbourne's 50 best restaurants.

Need a drink with your meal?

Whisky and Alement bartender
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Bars, Cocktail bars

The 50 best bars in Melbourne

Time Out's editors tortured their brains (and destroyed their livers) to bring you this: the definitive guide to drinking in Melbourne.

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