The best sushi trains in Melbourne
There’s a childlike wonder that comes from visiting a sushi train. Maybe it’s the possibility of sampling endless Japanese snacks, maybe it’s the fun of eating the entire menu with your eyes, or maybe it’s the thrill of nabbing a plate before your fellow diner makes a move for it. Whatever it is, a visit to the sushi train means on you’re on the right track to a good time. Once you’re settled at the station, expect to pile your place with expertly crafted sashimi, sushi, nigiri and gunkan. Don’t be alarmed if you build up a jenga tower of finished plates - this just means you’re doing it right. Whether you’re looking for a good ice-breaker date or want to bust out the chopsticks solo, here are the best places to hop aboard the sushi train. Still hungry? Try one of Melbourne's best Japanese restaurants or check out our guide to the best teppanyaki in Melbourne.
The best pancakes in Melbourne
Any proud Melburnian will tell you our city is the brunch epicentre of the country, and as we know, the cornerstone of any good brunch is a solid pancake. Whether you’re a traditionalist with a penchant for lemon and sugar, or you opt for the most jam-packed crêpe on the menu, here are our top picks for a flipping great time in Melbourne. Still got the morning munchies? Check out Melbourne's best breakfasts and top bottomless brunches.
The best late-night bars in Melbourne
We’ve all been there: the clock has struck 12, but unlike Cinderella, you’re not ready to go home. Luckily, some of Melbourne’s best nightlife comes alive in the wee hours of the morning, and we know where to find it. Need dinner first? Check out the 61 best restaurants in Melbourne. Still keen to kick on? Pop into one of the city’s best bars for dancing.
The best yum cha spots in Melbourne
If you’re anything like us, you’ll consider yum cha to be one of the five major food groups. Bustling carts bristling with steaming boxes of miniature Chinese goodies – what’s not to love? ‘Yum cha’ literally means ‘drink tea’ in Cantonese, and that certainly remains an important part of the service, venues all over the city are putting unique spins on this centuries-old artform. At Time Out, we’ve made it our mission to explore each of those yum cha iterations. So without further ado, we present to you our top picks for dim-spiration. Still hungry? Try one of Melbourne's best Japanese restaurants or check out our guide to the best sushi trains in Melbourne.
Listings and reviews (5)
A suburban bar that’s busy on a weeknight is always a good sign. It hints at reliable food, great wine and friendly service that keeps locals coming back for more. Essie is no exception. Huddled on Malvern’s Station Street strip, this heritage Victorian wine bar is also the perfect in-the-know-hideaway to flaunt to out-of-towners. Inside, the feel is industrial-with-a-soul. Expect to be hit with an instant warmth thanks to the venue’s dark moody timbers, exposed brick walls, and glowy lighting. The fit out has been meticulously handcrafted and curated by the owner, Angus Brettingham-Moore, but nothing here feels laboured. Instead, settle in for a pretension-free, laid-back sesh. Whether you’re cosying up on date night or adding to the already buzzing atmosphere with a group of mates, Essie has a space for every occasion no matter the season. Hang out on the leafy street during balmy summer nights for curbside dining, pull up next to the fire in winter, nurse a glass of red in the front room in autumn, or duck out to the courtyard for a pint under festoon lighting in spring. The wine wall boasts over 200 bottles, making it a tempting siren for connoisseurs and rookies alike. Drops come predominantly from independent and minimal-intervention producers, and there’s a tipple from almost every continent, with a range of price tags to match. When asked if Essie has a wine specialty, Brettingham-Moore smilingly says, “everything.” Service is friendly without being intrusive and
Meet Harvie: Armadale’s halcyon hangout that refuses to take a bad photo. Owners, Andrew Savvas and Nick Foley, modestly say they’ve done little to fix up the two-storey Art Deco build. What they have done is let the venue’s striking bones shine through in a showcase of natural beauty. Elegant interiors that could lean stark – white marble tables, sculptural architecture, monochrome artworks – are softened with Parisian-style chairs, blue velvet banquettes and greenery dotted throughout. Harvie has a space for every occasion, whether that’s date night, kick ons, or sunkissed sundowners. The rooftop is beautiful, just like the people who grace it. It’s also regularly heaving, so get ready to make friends as you squeeze between tables and end up in the background of each other’s selfies. While the terrace might feel like a main course, don’t skip the amuse-bouche of the spiral staircase. In the foyer, tip your head back and admire this winding work of art before watching clouds float by in the circular skylight. If the weather’s ‘pulling a Melbourne’, head to the front room downstairs and nab the curved window seat. Out back, the courtyard is disarmingly cosy on a cold night (the fireplace helps), and idyllic in summer, when the retractable roof lets in the best of the season. In autumn, the team will unveil a second rooftop bar where you can choose a cigar to pair with your favourite dram. Cocktails change to match the weather, and you’ll see lots of organic mixes on the
Little Prince Wine
The refurbishment of The Prince Hotel was a four-year labour of love, and Little Prince Wine – part bottle shop, part wine bar – was the final jewel in the crown. The hybrid hangout has quickly carved out a niche for mid-week dining, last-minute wine runs and all-out underground feasting. While the culinary offering changes to suit the seasons, you can expect satisfying Euro-centric fare year-round. The tight menu makes it hard to make mistakes. Standouts include the smoked ham and cheese croquettes, which come with a molassesy-chipotle and a bright salad of fennel, parsley and mandarin, and the crowd-favourite gnocchi pomodoro, which ticks the boxes with mozzarella and basil, but gets straight As for the addition of nduja. On a cold night, reach for the menu’s newest addition: Little Prince’s take on provincial French casserole. Served in a piping hot skillet, it takes serious willpower not to wolf down this rich cassoulet of confit duck, white beans, saucisson, and kaiserfleisch the moment it hits the table. For those looking to grab and go, the deli has you sorted. From capocollo to sopressa, manchego to Milawa blue, fresh salads and antipasti, it’s easy to eat like a king (or a prince) from the comfort of your own home. If a DIY charcuterie board is feeling too-hard basket, leave it to the kitchen to satisfy your cheese needs. The St Marcellin comes warm and drizzled with honey, slowly melting into an addictive pool of cheesy, nutty goodness, begging to be mopped up wit
In 2021, Melbourne nearly lost one of its most iconic venues. But, thanks to Tom Rattigan (Lily Blacks, Double Happiness, New Gold Mountain) and Joshua Stevens (New Gold Mountain), Madame Brussels – a former brothel and all-round good time parlour – was resurrected. Tucked up on the third floor of an unassuming office block and manned by staff in kitschy cute tennis outfits, Madame Brussels is the garden party that never stops. This quintessential Melbourne rooftop bar is a pastel fantasy of pink, green and white, and comes decked out with more Astro-Turf than you can poke a parasol at. Boasting a leafy skyline vista made for scoping out city streets and catching killer sunsets, this is the spot to wow spritz-loving out-of-towners. No longer helmed by hostess with the mostess, Miss Pearls, the reopened Bourke Street bar has lost a little of its flirtatious charm. The double-entendre-laden menu has been stripped out and replaced with a list that instead nods to the area’s heritage and famous figures. Sangria has long been synonymous with Madame Brussels, and The Parliamentary Mace (created in honour of the Victorian mace that was lost in the brothel in 1892) ensures this legacy continues. The light, bright, housemade white Sangria is a deft blend of summer fruits, enlivened with a subtle floral fragrance. Wills’ Summer Fix (named for Tom Wills, a notorious cricket match-fixer and founder of the AFL) is a perfect play of prosecco fizz, ruby grapefruit zing, and a citrus twist
Pearl Diver Cocktails and Oysters
Pearl diving is hard work. It takes a good eye, patience, and a passion for oysters. Coincidentally, these are three traits shared by Alex Boon and Pez Collier, the lauded Brisbane bartenders who spent two years gently buffing their idea for a shucking great oyster bar into a polished pearl. It also took funds to kickstart the duo’s foray into bar ownership. That’s where 50 per cent partner, The Speakeasy Group (Nick & Nora's, Eau De Vie, Mjolner), steps in. The collaboration is part of the brand’s Pathways to Partnership program, an initiative to bankroll visionary venues of hospo-preneurs. If Pearl Diver is anything to go by, the scheme could birth a whole new slew of city go-tos. Stepping into the space is like being catapulted back through the decades to a soirée on the Titanic, hosted by Gatsby. The elegantly nautical fit-out by Studio Y (whose creds include Nick & Nora’s and Lûmé) features cheeky touches like palm tree coat hooks, old-timey ship paintings, and a blingy gold diving helmet. Grey mesh drapes billow from the ceiling like a ship’s sails, and after a few Honeydew Swizzles, you might even feel like you’ve been scooped up into an oyster net. Stop by the bar’s glass cabinet to eye four different oyster varieties from a smattering of Aussie states. Each is designed to be enjoyed natural with mignonette and lemon, or tricked up with a choice of three different dressings. The refined apple, anise and cucumber pairing has a long liquorice finish, and is the perfe