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We’re mad about Melbourne
Certainly it does not have the brazen showgirl beauty of Sydney but there is a pulsing beating heart in Melbourne that is as exciting and vibrant as some of our favourite international cities. There are wine lists to die for and some of the most intelligent and interesting cooking in Australia today. Great galleries and a tram service that gets you just about anywhere within the city. Good beach side and docklands locations, great accommodation that doesn’t break the bank. Part of this cultural diversity can be directly attributed to migration. The early Chinese migration brought about by the gold rush means that Australian Chinese are among the oldest generations of Australians. Chinese food in Melbourne encompasses a depth and breadth that is really worth exploring from the less refined but good cheap food in China town to those high–flying establishments serving Chinese haute cuisine. The acknowledged financial center of Australia has meant Melbourne has always had restaurants with incredible wine cellars and a depth of recklessness about the spend in Melbourne’s best restaurants.

A new generation not comfortable with formal surroundings might have changed the dining experience to less formal circumstances but they have not tolerated a quality drop or a demeaned wine list.

The big spend is there for the taking but we feel our recommendations are utterly rewarding, great value for money regardless of price.

Vue de Monde always something new and interesting, stunning dining room and bars, attentive knowledgeable service without being obsequeous, and a wine list to die for, what more could you want?…click here
image copyright © Vue de Monde, photographer Simon Griffiths

BYO is an anathema to most tourists but means ’bring your own’ wine and whilst it can be found throughout Australia and great restaurants throughout the world will always accommodate special bottles from private cellars, BYO is something peculiar to Melbourne where there is an abundance of good BYO restaurants and cafés.

Melbourne may not have the spectacular harbour views of Sydney but what it does have is a beating pulsing heart that is not found in any other city in Australia. It’s cool……and, we just love it!
In fact, we have a theory that cities that love their dogs have something special. Just take Paris France! And, before anyone bangs on about how disgusting it is to have dogs in restaurants I need to state; I do not own a dog, have never owned a dog, but after years of working in hospitality I’d have to say the customers with animals generally have better manners than average! Je suis désolé, mais c’est la vérité!

left so many fabulous shops just everywhere, the Richmond area and of course Chapel Street and right no not the beach free community seating right in the heart of Melbourne at Federation Square

Public seating has been huge in America for some time but you have to love Federation Square with the gorgeous black and white striped deck chairs with lounging locals and international tourists who lounge in front of spectacular city backdrops. The 360° views were dazzling, the conversations stimulating and in every direction were people who felt totally safe in their environment enjoying a stunning sunny Sunday and making friends with complete strangers whom they might not have otherwise met.
We love that! Add to that just about anywhere within the square you can get FREE WIRELESS INTERNET — now really is that so hard? There are umpteen basic places to eat or have coffee within the area and you can collect and answer your email at the same time. A cold beer hamburger and chips at the Beer Deluxe is a good katzenjammer option. God only knows why more municipalities in Australia can’t get it together to provide wireless internet for visitors. As a side, we are working on a list of restaurants that have wireless internet! If your establishment is listed in Galaxy Guides and has free wireless internet please submit your establishment click here

Melbourne is famous for its street art and the belssing is that in these wonderful lanes are planty of excellent dining and drinking spots…just across the road on the same side of the river as Federation Square

Australia’s Paris, Melbourne is a city that lovingly accommodates dog lovers and their doggies

Antique shopping for everything from Australiana, to 60s to vintage lace Melbourne is a fossickers heaven and then you can add to that vintage clothes with an emphasis on the 60s and dozens of tiny designer shops that show creativity is alive and well in Melbourne…left a must do Chapel Street Bazaar and right Shag vintage

Try a sunny day and take a walk along the Yarra River to see just how much Melbournians love a dash of sunshine when it seems like the entire city is out for a drink. Australians are open books and international tourists should never be afraid of conversation, and whilst we do advise a little caution it is an Australian custom to take complete strangers home, feed and water them and give them a bed if perhaps they don’t have one.

The Melbourne Cup is a horse race that brings a nation to a stand still. Marian Clarkin sums up the 2009 Melbourne Racing Carnival click here

image copyright © Marian Clarkin

Bastille Day in Melbourne is big and there are all sorts of fab mad events, parties and dinners to attend so stay tuned for the 2010 events. Check out the Sorry Grandma 2009 Bastille day Ball click here
Marian Clarkin has it on good advice that their 2010 Bastille day Ball will be even more fun so stay tuned!

Last updated 31 December, 2013

scroll down… for load of tips about what to do and what to see in Melbourne

new reviews pending but highly recommended

if you love ChampagneGalaxy Guides Champagne editor Kaaren Palmer has a fabulous Champagne walk in Melbourne city that explores some of the city’s best bars… CLICK HERE and for a list of other great places to drink Champagne in Melbourne… CLICK HERE

Chamagne editor Kaaren Palmer has been in Melbourne and waxes lyrical about Vue de Monde. The Galaxy Guide team just doesn’t understand why Bennett doesn’t get a decent rating int the S pelgrino top 100. To read the menu Kaaren and company enjoyed please click here

France–Soir Bar Brasserie Restaurant
11 Toorak Road,
South Yarra
reservations +61 9866 8569
open 7 days, lunch 12 noon til 3.00 pm, dinner 6.00 pm til midnight

Another Melbourne institution, classic French bistro food, praise the lord brains are peeled, when they advertise late they mean it…wine list to make you cry for joy! AO

melbourne index
about $20
Apologies for the lack of cheap eats, but there is plenty of great cheap food in China Town and less satisfying Chinese food in the middle price range.
about $60
  • Bar Lourinhã
    tapas and wine, great service, list and food and no rules
  • Il Carusi II
    Italian pizza and wine, very simple but cheap and good most of the cost is the wine
  • Longrain
    broadly Asian with plenty of Thai, bar and restaurant stays open late
  • The European
    old style Italian food all day a bit of an institution
  • about $80
  • Añada Bar & Restaurant
    tapas bar, wine interesting area close to city centre
  • City Wine Shop
    contemporary Australian, Spring Street, food all day, fab wines by the glass, casual
  • Cumulus Inc.
    contemporary Australian, city centre, open all day, breakfast lunch and dinner, very good!
  • Movida Bar de Tapas
    Spanish tapas, great food and wine and service, lots of atmosphere, Hosier lane city, we love Movida!
  • _$100 to the max
  • Café di Stasio
    Italian old style but good, excellent wine list playful waiters in the true Italian sense
  • Pearl
    contemporary Australian, excellent service, food and wine list, Richmond
  • Stokehouse
    contemporary Australian, fab food, wine list and view can be lots of annoying kids Sundays
  • Vue de Monde
    modern French, the full deal, fab food, wine and service – Champagne editor Kaaren Palmer has just eaten at Vue…highly recommended July 2012
  • drinks and late night
  • drinks
    inner city walking distance

  • from top to bottom, The Melbourne Supper Club and Cumulus

    Marian Clarkin, Melbourne contributor…pictured above.

    Into horses and having a bit of fun Marian Clarkin discovered that polo events are fun and not at all reserved for just the wealthy click hereread Marian’s story

    images copyright © Marian Clarkin 2010

    the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
    Ann Oliver

    champagne editor
    Kaaren Palmer


    Jan Bowman
    Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

    Olivia Stratton Makris
    Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

    Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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    unless otherwise stated
    copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.