It’s not about the view, it’s about the food, says Josie Delap in The Economist’s 1843 magazine. “Lacking Sydney’s brash beauty,” she writes, “restaurants cannot rely on the charms of their surroundings to woo customers; their food must do the work.” And, she says, it does – with gusto. “The city’s grid-like layout makes travel easy and out-of-the-way spots accessible. When a former chef from Vue de Monde, one of Melbourne’s glitziest dining spots, took over the Clayton Bowls Club bistro, in a distant suburb, it was packed at once.”
“Today, a typical Melbourne line cook might be a third-generation Greek who is trained in Cantonese technique, has staged in kitchens in Denmark and Spain, and dreams of opening a native-ingredient-driven pho joint,” write Maria Shollenbarger and David Prior in Conde Nast Traveler. “Relaxed sophistication defines the dining scene—which owes an equal debt to the design community, whose collaboration with restaurateurs is another Melbourne hallmark. Here it’s not enough to recycle furniture, dim the lights, and pump in the beats: In Australia’s most progressive city, thoughtful and elegant spaces are a common priority, manifested in the clever utility of a tiny laneway café, a gorgeously reinvented pub, and the high design of a fine-dining destination.”
Legendary local restaurateur Guy Grossi – whose food philosophy combines his Italian heritage with love of Australia’s fresh produce and relaxed lifestyle – believes the reason for Melbourne’s distinctive gastronomic culture is food that’s less structured and formal; more natural and earthy.
The owner-chef of Melbourne’s perennially popular fine-dining establishment, Florentino, on his recipe for success.