In Where Chefs Eat, a new book published by Phaidon, more than 400 of the world’s best culinary creatives give their recommendations: where they pitch up for a late-night supper, the restaurants they wish they’d opened, where they would be prepared to travel. And wherever they end up, we trust it will reflect their own good taste: be it a backstreet noodle joint or a mountain-top Michelin-starred eyrie. Asking chefs where to eat is nothing new.
So why not look to our own head, sous, and commis chefs to dish out the insider tips for Melbourne?
Rockwell and Sons is a Melbourne staple for us. When Casey and Manu opened the doors to their new restaurant we were one of the first ones through and time and time again while living in Melbourne we found ourselves asking “where to for dinner tonight?”. We regularly came up with the same answer. There was even a week where I went a little crazy and visited four times in five days because it is just that good. I have had the fortune to send travellers from all around the world who ask me for an itinerary for Melbourne and I always send them to try the world class Double Patty Smash or for the Wednesday Fried Chicken Night.
We have had many nights with them out on the lash with casey and I am currently rocking the Rockwell and Sons T-shirt in London as we speak (with many people giving me the thumbs up who know or have heard about them). The food is cracking, they love their craft beers and the beats are on point. This is a chefs restaurant. And as Dennis Denuto from The Castle has always said…
In summing up, it’s the constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s justice, it’s law, it’s the vibe, and…no that’s it…it’s the vibe. I rest my case.
Which restaurant do you eat at most regularly? A tie between Phu Vinh in Footscray and Nora in Carlton
Breakfast? Nora and Small Victories. I was put onto Nora by a cycling mate, Peter Bradley, and I’ve never looked back. It is refreshing to go to a cafe and get good coffee and inspired food. They are killing it, in my eyes. Small Victories has been on our fav’s list for ages. The boys come to Rockwell heaps and they can cook. It has a little more familiar menu than Nora but it doesn’t come close the repetitive cafe menus that seem to be “command C’d” all over the city.
Late Night? Noodle Kingdom. The menu takes some knowledgeable navigation but it is open late, tasty, and cheap.
Bar? Two Row Bar. An always rotating craft beer list and tasty cheese sandwiches. It is also 2 minutes from Rockwell and on the way home!
Cheap and cheerful? Phu Vinh in Footscray. I’d eat the Bun Rieu and Hu Tieu 4-5 times a week if I lived a little closer. Their soups are so clean and fresh. It is a great meal after exercising or a long week.
High End? The Town Mouse. I love everything about the place and it is ran by some of the best guys in the business, Front and Back of House. The menu is so adaptable from Bar Snacks, to a light meal, to an all-out rad feast.
Worth travelling for? Luxembourg. Haha, yes, I consider travelling south of the river travelling. South of the River is hard to navigate. Chris is killing it there and the food seems to get better every time I eat there.
International restaurant? Prune, East Village, NYC or Roberta’s, Bushwick. I probably ate at Prune thirty times when I lived in NYC. It was just always exactly what I needed. Veal Sweetbreads for dinner, Carbonara for Brunch, or the burger for Lunch, it was always as good as anything going in NYC. (Not sure they do lunch anymore) Roberta’s was always just a sick place to hangout and eat. They got known for their pizzas but they did so, so much more. The pre-Blanca tasting menus in Roberta’s were some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
I hope nobody discovers…? Oh, that’s not fair. Anyone that works hard and takes pride in their work deserves to be discovered.
My neighbourhood? Joe Taylor is a great little bar in North Melbourne that continually ticks all the boxes of a great bar. Awesome cocktails, good banter, super solid beer list, and great snacks. I feel guilty that I don’t get to stop in more often.
Guilty Pleasure? Yo-Chi Frozen Yogurt with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Hot Star Tawainese Fried Chicken. I don’t even know if I like it that much or Iove it more than I want to admit.
Staff are talking about? St Hotel in St Kilda, Sean is kicking goals with his Thai food, I’m embarrassed to admit I’m the only one who hasn’t been as everyone raves about it. Or Supernormal, it seems like one person eats there every week from our staff and they always are pumped about it. Andrew is a legend and his restaurants never fail.
Wish it was my idea? Everyday Coffee, but that is silly, as it would require me to have some knowledge of coffee. But they’ve never failed me 3+ years of making me coffees and are always pumping.
What’s your favourite dish on your current menu? It would have to be a tie. Either the Fried Chicken for cope with the occasional bouts of being homesick or the Double Patty Smash, cause I’ve made thousands and thousands of them and I still love to eat them.
Why should Melbourne foodies search out Rockwell and Sons? Cause you’re hungry and want your food cooked by people that really care about what they do.