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Modern Australian


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.

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For the longest time, Hammer and Tong has been one of my favourite brunch spots. But despite always intending to make that return visit someday, K presented me with some very sad news before I could make my way back – Hammer and Tong has quietly disappeared in the night. Predictably, I was a little devastated. When I heard that the space had been taken over by Nomada however, the pain eased significantly. And what’s so special about Nomada? Not much, except for the fact that they serve tapas for brunch. Let that sink in for a bit. Tapas. For Brunch. And I can’t even bring myself to think about the $35 breakfast degustation – I may just hyperventilate. I…

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Higher Ground

To date, my favourite place for brunch is probably Top Paddock (with special mention to Hammer and Tong). However, Top Paddock is by no means an only child; the same folks are also responsible for other brunch big-name such as The Kettle Black, Two Birds One Stone, and formerly Three Bags Full. Given that every single one of these cafes are popular in their own right, it was no wonder that their newest addition, Higher Ground, made a splash when it opened in a former power station near Southern Cross.

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The Napier Hotel

Before tapas and clean eating became popular, the corner pub was where it was at. There was no gluten free or organic, just huge, hearty meals served up with a cold pint. The Napier Hotel has honoured the age-old tradition of meat and 3 veg since 1866, and despite the ongoing gentrification of the Fitzroy area, still remains a beloved local watering-hole to this day. But then again, calling The Napier (The Naps? Nazza?) a corner pub seems like a bit of a short sell. Although the rabbit warren of comfy rooms and well-worn furniture has hardly changed with the years, the menu has kept up with the times. Along with the standard pub meals, there is also a long…

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Hercules Morse

I was an avid reader as a child (and even more of an avid-er reader now), often downing books as fast as my parents could take me to the library. I distinctly remember that in year 3, I went through the booklist for the entire year by September, and my teachers ended up telling me to read the dictionary – and I imagine they were only partially joking! But despite all that reading, there is a certain age-group of books I somewhat missed out on. I migrated from China to Australia when I was 5, and by the time my English caught up to my Chinese at about age 7, I was at the tail-end of the era of picture…

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Dinner by Heston

Heston Blumethal – where does one start? When I first heard that The Fat Duck was opening in Melbourne, I was at least twice as excited as the next person to eat at the three Michelin Star wonder. The price however made me quail ($550pp), and I had to comfort myself with the fact that after The Fat Duck closes, it will be permanently replaced with Dinner By Heston. The extraordinary experience starts at the entrance, where you walk down a long, dark corridor towards a light sculpture, only to reach what seems to be a dead end. After a couple of confused blinks, the black reflective panel to your right slides silently open and voilà, you have arrived!

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