My City Melbourne with Adam D'Sylva
Chef Adam D’Sylva, who runs the highly acclaimed Coda and Tonka restaurants reveals the places he likes to eat, drink and be merry in his hometown of Melbourne.
Melbourne is without doubt the food capital of Australia. It is buzzing 24/7 with phenomenal culinary offerings, great wine bars and wonderful places to meet friends. For me (right now) it is all about Asian, and there are some gems across the city. The best place to start is the renowned ‘Golden Mile of Food’ in and around Flinders Lane in the CBD. It is here you’ll find my two restaurants (my work life pride and joy), Coda and Tonka, as well as a bunch of fantastic eateries serving delicious food from early breakfast to late night feasts.
My first port of call most mornings is Cumulus Inc for the breakfast bacon bap roll with relish – my personal heart starter. Chef Andrew McConnell is a genius and you’ll find lots of great dishes across his many restaurants, including Supernormal or the wine bar-inspired Cumulus Up. The ricotta dumplings are off the charts (when available), while the nudi version of gnocchi are just sweet pillows of love and I just can’t go past the signature lamb shoulder. Madelines baked to order, rum baba with endless rum. What’s not to like?
The One and Only Flower Drum
To enjoy upmarket Chinese with great service, perfectly executed food and an awesome dining room, go to Flower Drum. There is generous space between tables that allows you talk freely and not be part of the conversation on the nearby table. The ‘must have’ dishes are the Peking duck, assembled at the table, as well as an appetiser of the dim sum selection followed by pearl meat. The mud crab and seafood dumpling are also amazing. I always feel like a king when dining there, either for a boys’ lunch or a romantic dinner. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday there with a magnificent lunch that somehow (too easily) progressed all the way through to an early dinner. Great times.
Trunk restaurant and bar is a funky beer garden, and a great place to catch up with friends, grab a bite to eat or even just take a break for a quick coffee.
An oasis amongst the laneways of Melbourne, Trunk’s main dining room serves fresh and fragrant flavours of the Middle East and Mediterranean flavours. The beer garden is great for catching up for drinks after work or dropping past for a bite and the cheeky beer during the day.
I like it so much, I got married there.
Pacific House - Quick and Easy
For a cheap and cheerful Chinese that you can BYO, go to Pacific House, either in Richmond or Toorak. Consistent and affordable food including bullet proof Peking duck, soy chicken, crispy pork belly and whole steamed fish of many varieties from the live tanks.
I Love Pho
For the cleanest, tastiest pho, I Love Pho is a twice-a-week ritual for breakfast for me. I’m there when it opens at 9am for a hot aromatic broth with Thai basil and heaps of fresh chilli to kick start the day.
Groceries at Minh Phat
While down Victoria Street Richmond, one of my favourite places to shop for Asian groceries is Minh Phat. It has everything you need.
Owned and run by the famous Grossi family, Arlechin is a new hot wine bar serving late night supper and snacks. A world class cocktail list is curated by Joe Jones of Romeo Lane and Tonka fame. I like to dine upstairs at Grossi Florentino then pop round the back for an after-dinner drink at Arlechin.
Tried and True
For a romantic night, enjoy one of the cosiest dining rooms in the city at Il Bacaro in Little Collins Street. An institution for over 20 years, it has service that’s always impeccable and never fails to impress.
An old favourite
Out St Kilda way, Café Di Stasio is an institution and a place for all occasions. Top service with food to match.
Stay and play
For an overnight stay when heading to the city or coming from interstate, Crown Towers is the perfect port of call. Luxury at its finest. Fantastic spa treatments and a range of excellent restaurants.
Get away and relax
There are lots of parks and great spots by the Yarra to relax, but when I want to get away from it all, I head down the coast to the Mornington Peninsula, which I do on a weekly basis to have a hit a golf. After a quick round, I like to ease all the pain (from slicing all day) with a relaxing dip at Peninsula Hot Springs, natural outdoor thermal springs, before kicking back for the night at Polperro Winery. Their luxurious villas are stunning with open fire places – perfect for sipping winemaker Sam Coverdale’s world class Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Merchant and Maker in McCrae is the place for breakfast, the donuts are to die for. Their coffee is the best on the Peninsula and their short blacks are accompanied with a shot of sparkling mineral water. Nice touch.