Some might visit Melbourne for some surf, to visit the Melbourne Arts Precinct or to meander through the strikingly modern Federation Square development, filled with bars and cultural events along the Yarra River, but it would be a shame to miss out on some of today's hottest chefs in the city's foodie scene.
While Sydney boasts some iconic and world-famous restaurants, such as the cuisine of chef Peter Gilmore at Quay, facing the Opera House, or that of Neil Perry at Rockpool, known to foodies the world over as the representation of fine Australian dining, Melbourne also offers some exciting and authentic culinary experiences.
Nestled near the Yarra Valley, where visiting oenophiles love to meander through the vines to discover pinot noirs and Australian bubblies, Melbourne lives and breathes gastronomy morning to night. Wine bars are popping up on every corner, offering nationally produced vintages for tasting.
Even shopping excursions are becoming gourmet: at the Royal Arcade, a shopping centre that has retained its 19th Century charm, Koko Black serves a unique hot chocolate, blended with raspberry puree or salted butter caramel.
For a first epicurean outing in Victoria's coastal capital, head for the CBD, in the vicinity of the beautiful Flinders Station. It would be impossible, nearly criminal even, to keep the culinary recommendations to just one address.
In Melbourne, hip restaurants are everywhere, but the chefs like to keep a low profile. You'll know you've landed on a winner when you open the door to a place and see a crowd waiting to be seated.
And you don't have to settle for just one style of cuisine, as the city is serving up delectable dishes from all around the world, a representation of the various cultural communities that make up this beautiful place.
At MoVida, for example, where patience is required, they have taken tapas to a whole new level. Delicious small plates of salt cod croquettes with a sauce gribiche, crumbled pressed pork with mahon, thyme and jamon, or hand-filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on croutons with smoked tomato sorbet have become so popular that the restaurant had to open several outposts throughout the city.
Give Cumulus, Inc. a try, as well. With a view of the kitchen, you'll surprise your palate with a selection of Australian oysters, grilled octopus with romesco and fennel, boudin noir with smoked tomato and parsley salad or a Wagyu beef rump with smoked onion and horseradish.
If you're in the mood for Asian flavours, you'll find your bliss in the Cantonese cuisine of the highly respected Flower Drum.
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If celebrity chefs are more your speed, the star of the moment is Ben Shewry. Chef Shewry runs Attica, voted the best Australian restaurant in the world by the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. Ranked 32nd in the world, Attica actually placed ahead of Sydney's famous Quay.
The New Zealander has set up shop in Ripponlea, a suburb to the south of the city, where he serves up Australian native ingredients, such as red kangaroo served as a tartare with bunya nuts from the gardens of the nearby Ripponlea Estates or sweet King George whiting and pearl-oyster meat cooked in an envelope of paperbark, an indigenous member of the allspice family.
If you want to experience the epitome of Australian cuisine, though, you'll have to reserve well in advance as the 50-seat restaurant only operates for five servings a week.
Meanwhile, local celebrity chef and Melbourne native Shannon Bennett rose to stardom in Australia as a judge on MasterChef. His fame stems from his restaurant Vue de Monde, situated on the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers, which has won over epicureans with dishes such as salt cured wallaby, duck tongues with mountain pepper, barbecue lamb hearts and truffle marshmallow.
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