Australia’s top 100 restaurants

With the Australian Financial Review‘s announcement of Australia’s fifth top 100 list of restaurants after the one below, Gourmet Traveller’s, Yelp’s and Dimmi’s, I started to get that feeling of deja vu about the usual suspects who will populate the list. Now that readers don’t care what a printed newspaper says about restaurants and just want a listicle of places that they can search for on Urbanspoon or Yelp, who better to build that listicle than the votes of Australia’s chefs who don’t need to be paid for collating the list? So asks the AFR. My answer: a random number generator.

Press reload to try and make a better list. Try once per annum to generate an annual award show and give them a series of imaginary hats.

  1. 121BC NSW
  2. A Tavola NSW
  3. Africola SA
  4. Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar SA
  5. Apple Daily Bar and Eating House WA
  6. Aravina Estate, Yallingup WA
  7. Assaggio SA
  8. Attica VIC
  9. Balla NSW
  10. Beppi’s NSW
  11. Bistro Dom SA
  12. Bistro Guillaume VIC
  13. Bistro Molines, Mount View NSW
  14. Bistro Thierry VIC
  15. Bistrode CBD NSW
  16. Black Hide Steakhouse QLD
  17. Bomba VIC
  18. Bread in Common WA
  19. Chat Thai NSW
  20. Chill on Tedder, Main Beach QLD
  21. Circa VIC
  22. Du Fermier, Trentham VIC
  23. D’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, McLaren Vale SA
  24. Esca Bimbadgen, Pokolbin NSW
  25. Ester NSW
  26. Euro QLD
  27. Felix NSW
  28. Fish Face NSW
  29. Fish House, Burleigh Heads QLD
  30. France-Soir VIC
  31. Fuku WA
  32. Galileo Buona Cucina WA
  33. Guillaume NSW
  34. Hanuman NT
  35. Harvest Cafe, Newrybar NSW
  36. Icebergs Dining Room & Bar NSW
  37. Innocent Bystander, Healesville VIC
  38. Italian&Sons ACT
  39. Izakaya Den VIC
  40. Jolleys Boathouse Restaurant SA
  41. Jonah’s NSW
  42. Kitchen by Mike NSW
  43. Knee Deep, Wilyabrup WA
  44. Komeyui VIC
  45. Lanterne Rooms ACT
  46. LP’s Quality Meats NSW
  47. Maha VIC
  48. Malamay ACT
  49. Matteo’s VIC
  50. Mister Bianco VIC
  51. Mocan & Green Grout ACT
  52. Momofuku Seiobo NSW
  53. Moon Park NSW
  54. Mud Bar & Restaurant, Launceston TAS
  55. Neram Harvest, Armidale NSW
  56. No. 8 by John Lawson VIC
  57. Nu Nu, Palm Grove QLD
  58. Osteria at Stefano Lubiana Winery, Granton TAS
  59. Osteria Balla NSW
  60. Osteria di Russo & Russo NSW
  61. Patricia’s Table, Milawa VIC
  62. Pee Wee’s at the Point NT
  63. Pei Modern VIC
  64. Porteno NSW
  65. Punch Lane VIC
  66. Quay NSW
  67. Reserve, Maleny QLD
  68. Rosa’s Kitchen VIC
  69. Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld VIC
  70. Rumi VIC
  71. Sagra NSW
  72. Salt Grill, Surfers Paradise QLD
  73. Sayers Sister WA
  74. Seoul Food NT
  75. Sepia NSW
  76. Shiki SA
  77. Shira Nui VIC
  78. Silks WA
  79. Spice Temple NSW
  80. Street ADL SA
  81. Tani Eat & Drink, Bright VIC
  82. The Argus Dining Room, Hepburn Springs VIC
  83. The Atlantic VIC
  84. The Bathers’ Pavilion NSW
  85. The Blue Swimmer at Seahaven, Gerroa NSW
  86. The Carlton Wine Room VIC
  87. The Devonshire NSW
  88. The Dispensary Enoteca, Bendigo VIC
  89. The Gala Restaurant WA
  90. The Mayflower Restaurant SA
  91. The Source TAS
  92. The Trustee Bar & Bistro WA
  93. Three Japanese TAS
  94. Town Hall Hotel VIC
  95. Vini NSW
  96. Wills Domain, Yallingup WA
  97. Yering Station Wine Bar, Yarra Glen VIC
  98. Yoshii NSW
  99. Yu-u VIC
  100. Zanzibar cafe, Merimbula NSW

Footscray Market Opening Hours – Christmas 2014

Welcome to Year 6 of my Christmas vigil to commemorate Footscray Market’s complete inability to publish their Christmas/New Year’s opening hours online. Here are the opening hours, this year presented by the special request of Pat Nourse.

Saturday, 20 December 20147:00AM-5:00PM
Sunday, 21 December 2014CLOSED
Monday, 22 December 2014CLOSED
Tuesday, 23 December 20147:00AM-5:00PM
Wednesday, 24 December 20147:00AM-5:00PM
Thursday, 25 December 2014CLOSED
Friday, 26 December 2014CLOSED
Saturday, 27 December 20147:00AM-5:00PM
Sunday, 28 December 2014CLOSED
Monday, 29 December 2014CLOSED
Tuesday, 30 December 20147:00AM-5:00PM
Wednesday, 31 December 20147:00AM-4:00PM
Thursday, 1 January 2015CLOSED
Friday, 2 January 20157:00AM-7:00PM
Saturday, 3 January 20157:00AM-5:00PM

As for the regular Footscray Market trading hours, they are as follows:

Monday – Closed
Tuesday and Wednesday – 7:00am-4:00pm
Thursday – 7:00am-6:00pm
Friday – 7:00am-8:00pm
Saturday – 7:00am-4:00pm
Sunday – Closed

Not an economic analysis of food trends

Thomas the Think Engine takes on an economic analysis of food trends and the growth in American barbecue in Melbourne, and it’s really quite wrong.

The whole city is suddenly buzzing with American cuisine – and just a few short years ago, that would have seemed like an oxymoron.

The reason is one restaurateurs almost grasp.

“Alabama-born, Dallas-raised Jeremy Sutphin, chef at Le Bon Ton, attributes it to adventure and awareness. ”I’ve been here eight years and the palates are searching for something different – and people are becoming more aware.” “

He’s right about that awareness. Australia’s knowledge of America is now a lot deeper and wider – we’ve now been to America enough that we’ve ventured beyond LA and New York.

He draws a link between travel to different countries and the perception of increased interest in their food. The problem is that the food trends that get written about in the Australian food press from Broadsheet to Epicure bear absolutely no relationship to how the vast majority of Australians eat in restaurants. They bear something of a relationship to how a minority of inner city urbanites eat in the short term, but even then, they’re a terrible guide. Claire from Melbourne Gastronome and I have had a running joke that every year since 2004 someone in Epicure has announced that this will be the year of Peruvian food, but that never happens. I’m still waiting for my plate of delicioso cuy con papas.

Actual food trends are long term and driven by a huge number of factors. If it was as easy as tracking overseas departures, I’d be rich after my investment in an L&P distribution deal. New Zealand is Australia’s biggest destination for short term departures but it’s still pretty tough to get a paua fritter in Melbourne. There probably is a link between Australian travel and interest in foreign food but it isn’t a sufficient condition for it to become popular in Australia.

Here’s a better representation of Australian restaurant trends in Google search data: searches in Australia for different national cuisines in the Restaurants category of Google.

Italian is still dominant with Thai breaking away from Indian and Chinese in mid-2005. Interest in American food has stayed relatively static with some growth in interest since 2011, but not nearly as much as the hype suggests.

For another confirmation of the difference in scale, Urbanspoon lists 1228 Italian restaurants in Melbourne and 131 American restaurants excluding McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Subway and Pizza Hut (which should probably also go in the Italian column). Including the chain restaurants, there’s 233. American food is really quite marginal.

When food writers talk about food trends, they’re really talking about a game of cultural capital to distinguish themselves and their readers from others, rather than what most people eat or will be eating in the future. Food writers are talking about American food because it distinguishes them from the mass of people who still love a creamy carbonara and Hawaiian pizza from their local Italian joint. The easiest way to predict what food writers will call a trend next is to see which restaurants open within walking distance from their house or office.

Melbourne’s Oldest Restaurants

Melbourne’s oldest restaurant is Florentino (est.1928), if you count restaurants opened on the same site, serving the same cuisine under the same name. The oldest continuously running restaurant (as far as I could find) is Cuckoo Restaurant in Olinda (est.1958) which took over the site from Quamby (est.1914). Even though they’re important to local cuisine, I’m not counting pubs. The oldest is the Duke of Wellington (est.1853) but it’s unclear if it has had a kitchen for that long.

Can you make generalisations about who will last a quarter of a century in the restaurant business? Is there a recipe for success in Melbourne?

Name yourself Jim and serve any cuisine at all as Jim’s Greek Tavern, Jimmy Watson’s (Italian), Jim Wong (Chinese) all attest. As for location, get in on Lygon Street and serve affordable Italian food, or as close to Parliament House as possible. Public servants obviously like to eat.

As for what to serve, it doesn’t seem to matter a great deal. The quarter century industry survivors run the gamut from some the world’s finest dining to unmitigated shit. There’s not any clear pattern as to what price point or level of service guarantees longevity. What does guarantee it is that they’re almost all family-friendly. If you go to any of them for a weekend lunch, I’d bet there would be more than one high chair. This is a list of restaurants where people went as children and still return as adults.

Here’s the list from the map: all of Melbourne’s restaurants older than 25 years as of today. Huge thanks to eatnik, essjayeff, stickifingers, mysecondhelping and dananikanpour for all the suggestions.

I’m sure that there are a large number missing: almost every suburban fish and chip shop will be 25 years old by now. It also omits chain restaurants. The first McDonalds opened in Melbourne (Glen Waverly) in 1973 and by 1982, there were 33. In the same year, there were 35 Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. Burger King set foot in town in 1986. Also a word of caution about the opening years: they’re not necessarily exact. Quite a few were gleaned from reviews where they mention that a restaurant has “been open for more than 30 years” without mentioning an exact date.

If you know of any missing, comment below.

Alasya Restaurant1978Lebanese
Bedi's Indian Restaurant1980Indian
Brunetti - Carlton1985Italian
Cafe Di Stasio1989Italian
Caffe e Cucina1988Italian
Casa Del Gelato1980Italian
Cuckoo Restaurant1958German
Donnini's Pasta1981Italian
Domenico's Pizza1968Italian
Dragon Boat Restaurant1986Chinese
Dunyazad Lebanese RestaurantLebanese
Flower Drum Restaurant1975Chinese
Gaylord Indian Restaurant1985Indian
Golden Orchids Malaysian Restaurant1979Malaysian
Grossi Florentino1928Italian
Hanabishi Japanese Restaurant1988Japanese
Il Gambero1970Italian
Izakaya Chuji1989Japanese
Jim Wong Restaurant1968Chinese
Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar1935Italian
Jim's Greek Tavern1980Greek
Joe's GarageItalian
Kunis Japanese Restaurant1977Japanese
La Porchetta Carlton1985Italian
La Spaghettata Restaurant1984Italian
Lobster Cave1987Seafood
Masani Italian Restaurant1984Italian
Paris Go BistroFrench
Patee Thai - Fitzroy1983Thai
Pellegrini's Espresso Bar1954Italian
Penang Coffee House1976Malaysian
Ricardo's TrattoriaItalian
Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant1972Vegetarian
Shark Fin Inn City1980Chinese
Spaghetti TreeItalian
Stokehouse1989Modern Australian
Stuzzichino Caffe Bar Spuntini1987Italian
Sukhothai Restaurant1989Thai
Supper Inn Chinese RestaurantChinese
Tandoori Den Camberwell1981Indian
Isthmus of Kra1989Thai
The Old Paper Shop DeliCaf‚
The Olive Tree1971Italian
The Waiters Club1947Italian
THY THY RestaurantVietnamese
Toto's Pizza House1961Italian
University Cafe1953Italian
Vlado's Charcoal Grill1964Steak
Warung Agus1989Indonesian
Geppetto Trattoria1981Italian
Eastern Bell1989Chinese

Footscray Market – Christmas Opening Hours 2013

Welcome to Year 5 of my Christmas vigil to commemorate ’s inability to publish their Christmas/New Year’s opening hours online. Consider my annual dose of community service done. Here are the trading hours:

Monday 23 December: 7:00am-4:00pm
Tuesday 24 December (Christmas eve): 7:00am-4:00pm
25-26 December: Closed
Friday 27 December: 7:00am – 7:00pm
Saturday 28 December: 7:00am – 5:00pm
29 – 30 December: Closed
Tuesday 31 December: 7:00am-4:00pm
Wednesday 1 January (New Year’s Day 2014): Closed

The regular opening hours for Footscray Market are:

Tuesday and Wednesday – 7:00am-4:00pm
Thursday – 7:00am-6:00pm
Friday – 7:00am-8:00pm
Saturday – 7:00am-4:00pm

I have seen the Bulgarian Ambassador

Originally sent: 2 February 2006

About this series

Happy Australia Day and Lunar New Year!

M and I celebrated by going to the Australian Embassy function at Phnom Penh’s most expensive hotel, Raffles, and drinking imported stubbies of Victoria Bitter at their expense. Thanks again, foolish Australian taxpayer. The Australian Embassy paid Raffles to serve the traditional Australian buffet of miniature hamburgers and noodle soup, which as I recall, is generally what I toss on the barbecue each year.

The event also gave M a chance to bail up embassy staff to ask why the Embassy hadn’t made any comment about her organisation’s director being unjustly jailed by Hun Sen when every other organisation in town has given the Cambodian Government an earful. To Hun Sen’s credit, he did let M’s director and a few other political detainees out on bail as a “gift” for the opening of the new American Embassy fortress. As I indulged in a small beefburger or three, M schmooozed her way up the ambassadorial chain as far as Third Secretary, which is a solid achievement given that they were far more interested in the free booze, but in doing so we both missed the chance to meet the Bulgarian Ambassador to Cambodia. To give you an idea of the Australian Embassy’s pulling power, he was by far the most important guest after the local government crony. Apparently, Bulgaria boasts an unbroken diplomatic relationship with Cambodia; a superhuman feat given that diplomacy wasn’t one of the Khmer Rouge’s greatest assets.

On the subject of things that are of Bulgarian diplomatic vintage, M and I bought our own 1970s Vespa from a previous volunteer which seems to run just well enough for me not to be constantly swearing at it. The 150cc two-stroke engine sounds like you’re riding two whipper snippers that have been lashed together which hopefully strikes unbridled fear into the hearts of the surrounding motorists. My workmates asked me why I bought an old motorbike when I could buy a either a new Korean Honda rip-off or a newly-stolen real Honda from Vietnam for a similar price. My answer so far is “no idea”. They all ride things with an electric starter and no clutch whereas I’m trying to give Asia’s stupidest traffic a greater degree of difficulty and own a bike that nobody wants to steal. After a few weeks of riding it, I don’t know how I’ll ever live without it.

I quit my job yesterday which gives me a great sense of catharsis after a few months of not being busy. I’ve got a new marketing job at AMK Cambodia, one of the larger microfinance institutions in town. If anyone wants to know any details regarding the Cambodian monkhood and HIV/AIDS, the time to ask is now.