Five impossible-to-ignore trends in Melbourne’s food scene in 2022
Here’s what’s trending, from table service to theatrical touches to serve yourself.
Back to the future
Our desire for the luxury of dining out, before QR code ordering or fast-casual concepts, came to the fore. Table service, waiters in white jackets and cheese and caviar carts enliven the dining rooms. You’ll see them gracing the floors of Grill Americano, Entrecôte, Vue de Monde, Hemingway’s Wine Room and Bar Bombay Yacht Club. And dishes like vitello tonnato, beef rossini and lobster Thermidor are back in full force.
Nornie Bero’s Mabu Mabu Big Esso brings indigenous ingredients to Federation Square. Photo: Chris Hopkins
Cuisines, cultures and forgotten voices claim their place at the table. Restaurants such as Enter Via Laundry, highlighting regional Indian cuisine, and Mabu Mabu’s Big Esso are notable additions. Podcasts such as Bad tasteposts like Colornaire and outfits like Women and Revolution in the Wine Industry are changing the conversation. More please.
One of Tippy Tay’s negroni fountains. Photo: Pete Dillon
Smoke and mirrors
Who said a staff shortage had to be catastrophic? Innovators saw an opportunity to create pleasure at the table. Tippy Tay’s Negroni Fountains keep table glasses filled without extra hands. The same goes for quality cocktails from The Everleigh, Homegrown and others. And hotpot restaurants are a double whammy for labor and all-inclusive fun for the table.
Murray cod tartare from Restaurant Navi. Photo: Justin McManus
thank you cod
Barely seen in restaurants a decade ago (a result of overfishing and environmental degradation), Murray cod is back on the menu thanks to innovations in aquaculture and a greater willingness of chefs to source sustainable seafood. Sydney chef Josh Niland, Murray Cod’s greatest champion, no doubt helped. In Melbourne, find it in a light curry at Enter Via Laundry or Gomi Boys Ramen from time to time. Navi serves it in tartare, while the fat goes into a martini-like drink at his nearby cocktail bar.
Untitled’s curvaceous bar. Photo: Simon Schluter
Expansive bars, crescent-shaped arcades and numerous booths are key to the new restaurant layouts. Untitled in Richmond has lots of rounded edges and wavy lines (courtesy design firm du jour Flack), Moonhouse in Balaclava played up its art deco bones, while Smith Street Bistro has a wall of shell-shaped cubicles of clams and the new Four Pillars bar at the distillery combines curves with an equally trendy copper.