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The ten best dishes we ate in 2016

Looking back on a twelvemonth of utter deliciousness, these were the standout hits

Photograph: Graham Denholm

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

Mussels and n’duja at Marion

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.

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Fitzroy
2

Roast chicken at Embla

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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Melbourne
3

Seaweed oyster at Philippe

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.

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Melbourne
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4

Chervil and carrot soup at Syracuse

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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Melbourne
5

Chicken mousse lollipop at Lakeside Mill

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.

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Pakenham
6

Egg, truffle and dashi, at Ôter

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.

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Melbourne
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7

Marron and pil pil at Igni

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.

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Geelong
8

Blood butter at Host

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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Brunswick
9

Barbecue pork bun at Tim Ho Wan

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.

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Melbourne
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10

Wagyu shin at Ricky and Pinky

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.

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Fitzroy

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