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New Melbourne hotspots

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2 July 2010

Here’s our pick of the best:

The Estelle, 243 High Street, Northcote.

In the few months since it opened, Northcote venue Estelle has generated quite a buzz, scoring a coveted place in Gourmet Traveller’s Hot 100 list, which described it as "one of the most unique dining spaces in Melbourne".

The Estelle’s stylish but casual interior has the look of a refined 1950s diner, with sleek pink and black tiles, retro bar stools and wooden table tops recycled from a bowling alley.

While there are a few vegetarian dishes on the menu, this is really a place for meat lovers. For those who want to venture beyond steak there is plenty to try such as cotechino (an Italian specialty sausage), braised whole rabbit, slow-cooked beef short ribs and black pudding omelette.

Fresh and seasonal fare abound as evidenced by a long list of daily specials, which might include smoked meat of the day, potted meat of the day or a mouth-watering spit roast. The Estelle also has a great cocktail list and a charming courtyard.

Il Fornaio, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda.

Renowned pastry chef Philippa Sibley recently took over as Executive Chef at St Kilda’s Il Fornaio café and has set about reinventing the place.

Bread baked on-site is no longer a mainstay (it’s now ordered in from Noisette in Port Melbourne) and the focus instead is on lush cooked breakfasts, share-friendly bar snacks and of course dessert.

The much-anticipated new menu launched last month, with divine sweet treats - such as spiced pineapple tarte tatin - on offer.

Sommelier Jane Thornton, formerly of high-end restaurants Ezard and Vue de monde, matches Sibley’s incredible desserts to a carefully crafted wine list which emphasises boutique bottles from the old and the new worlds, as well as an exquisite dessert wine range.

Sibley has also created a small menu of savoury tastes to counterpoint the sweets, which can be enjoyed first and then followed by dessert.

The Galley Room, Level 1, 510 Flinders Street, Melbourne.

Located at the Southern Cross Station end of the city - a part of Melbourne CBD not normally known for its stylish watering holes - new cocktail bar The Galley Room offers a fresh chic décor and a serious drinks menu that will satisfy even a fussy barfly.

Galley Room has a stunning drinks list created by experienced barman Jason Williams, whose innovative cocktails feature homemade ingredients such as raspberry syrup, green apple sherbet, grilled pineapple foam and peach tea "air".

Try The Galley Room’s Willy Wonka inspired Golden Ticket, complete with Snozberry Syrup. The food is also good and focuses on tapas plates and gourmet pizza.

Biero Bar, 525 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

Trying exotic international and boutique beers can prove a costly exercise, but at new city watering hole Biero it just got a lot easier.

This new venue features 10 ‘Beervaults’ - clear cylindrical dispensers that allow customers to buy a beer sample or use a spare vault to store a full bottle of beer they want to savour over a few nights at the bar.

There are weird and wonderful beers including Stone Brewery Smoked Porter from San Diego and Mikkeller White Wax Black from Scandinavia.

Furnished with leather couches and dramatic chandeliers, Biero has a chic and comfortable front room and a stylish dining area where meals have been designed to complement the beers.

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