As much as I love George Calombaris (at least up until the whole scandal with him underpaying his staff), I had to admit that celebrity chefs are not exactly my cup of tea. Although I’m sure it’s not always the case, often it feels as if the only chefs that end up as celebrities are the ones who spend more time selling their brand, rather than cooking. So you have to understand my mixture of apprehension when I first heard earlier this year that Miznon was going to make an appearance in our very own Hardware Lane.
I had a terrible lapse in judgement a few years back, when I decided to have my first proper steak at Rockpool Bar and Grill. Unsurprisingly, that meal sort of ruined all future steaks for me; although I’ve had some decent cuts of meat here and there since, it just doesn’t compare to the dry-aged, 9+ marble score David Blackmore wagyu served up at Rockpool. With that said however, I’ve always heard that San Telmo does some bang-up steak, being an Argentinean restaurant and all. First impressions certainly cemented that fact – the dining room was old-school masculine, with ample amounts of leather and marble, and cow hides adorning the walls. The whole place just screams steak really.
Well it took almost a whole three years, but I finally made it – Attica. We braved the vicious three-months-in-advance booking system – multiple times – and finally landed the prime spot of 6pm on a Saturday night. If you didn’t know about Attica – best restaurant in Australia, and 32nd in the world – you’d be roundly excused for not thinking very much of it at all. Located in the sleepy Melbourne suburb of Ripponlea behind a nondescript brick facade, Attica looks very much like a local bistro.
There’s nothing that perks me up quite like a good meal at a wine/tapas bar. The cosy venue, sophisticated and indulgent atmosphere, and parade of small but exquisitely designed dishes (and maybe a drink or two!) never fails to put me in a good mood. And for the longest time, my go-to spot has been MoVida Next Door. Of course, I knew about Embla – who doesn’t? It’s only the Age Good Food Guide’s best new restaurant of 2016 – but I’ve never quite mustered myself up for the visit, despite having almost-went several times.
Every year in December, Chris and I celebrate our anniversary, his birthday, and Christmas, all in the span of 2 weeks. Instead of doing 3 separate things, we usually just end up having one lavish session of present-exchanging and food-eating. But this year I had a bit of trouble picking the restaurant; out of all the ones I haven’t been to, I couldn’t get into any of the 3-hat restaurants, and all the 2-hat restaurants were divided up into untested newbies and older places I’m not so interested in. And 1-hat restaurants, well, it just doesn’t quite feel special enough, you know?
A few weeks ago, I quietly darted off to China for a couple weeks to see my beloved grandparents and extended family. I lived with my grandpa and grandma (on dad’s side) for a good 2 years in my early childhood, and despite that not being very long in the grand scheme of things, they feature in some of my fondest memories. Eating is serious business in China, with every street corner and side alley packed with restaurants and street food, all jostling for attention at rock-bottom prices. However I did predict that I would be aching for something Western after 10 days, so I booked a long lunch at Hell of the North for when I came back. And…