Argh is March almost over already? I feel like this year is moving at warp speed. Already there have been lots of new openings (with more on my hit list) and some revamps of favourites as well. Consider this your dining update for the first quarter of the year. I’ve got all your bases covered from a little cafe now open for dinners to Melbourne’s first high end Turkish restaurant.
Small Axe Kitchen
One of Brunswick’s cutest cafes, Small Axe Kitchen, is now open for dinner on Wednesday to Sunday nights. Airy and bright with louvered windows opening up to the outdoors Small Axe is cheery and charming. The menu is Italian influenced and a highlight for me was the pasta which is all handmade in house. The spinach pasta teamed with earthy mushrooms had me thinking being vegetarian would actually be quite bearable ($22). Head here for a casual brunch or dinner. The chef’s menu for $60 is also great for a group.
Chef Joe Grbac (of Saint Crispin’s fame) has his own restaurant in the CBD now called Saxe. The food was sophisticated and service is really spot on. The main dish I can’t stop thinking about is the addictive dehydrated pork belly crisps. So so moreish. The restaurant is divided into a more casual dining space downstairs and more fine dining upstairs. We headed upstairs for dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary and it’s perfect for a date night or special occasion. Only drawback is not many people know about it so for our dinner, which was admittedly a Monday night, there was only one other couple in the restaurant. Slightly awkward but it did mean that the excellent service was absolutely flawless!
Contemporary Turkish restaurant Yagiz opened just before Christmas but the official launch wasn’t until recently. In the heart of South Yarra, Yagiz offers something very different for the area. The restaurant features sharp design with concrete breeze blocks lining one wall and a large communal dining table. Nose to tail eating features prominently here (chef Murat Ovaz used to work for Colin Fassnidge) and the launch party included Ovaz carving up a whole lamb.
Pascale at QT
The restaurant at Melbourne’s coolest hotel, QT, has had a reboot with executive chef Andy Harmer changing up the menu so that it really wows. Whether you are at the roof top bar or dining downstairs QT always has a great buzz to it and now the food reflects that sense of excitement. Forget staid hotel dining, this is a place which is a destination in itself and really showcases local indigenous ingredients. Still dreaming about how buttery and rich the West Australian wood fired marron was teamed with blanc chorizo and desert limes. Book here for a group or if you have visitors from out of town you want to impress.
Details: QT Melbourne, 133 Russell street, Melbourne (Ph (03) 8636 8800)
Legendary Northcote pizza place Farro has opened a new restaurant right in the heart of Fitzroy. The secret to the pizza’s here is that they’re made from spelt. The bases were pliant but with some nice crunch to them thanks to charring from the wood fired oven. There’s more to Farro than just pizza and I can recommend the spritzes, polenta chips and calamari. Come here with your family for an early casual dinner or later with a group of friends for pizza, people watching and some bar hopping down Brunswick street.