Thursday, September 14, 2006

Melbourne CBD

Syracuse, 23 Bank Place
(03) 9670 1777
This beautiful old building with high ceilings and marble-top tables reminds me of Prague or Vienna. The focus is totally on the wine at Syracuse. The wine list is dozens of pages long, with prices ranging up to the thousands of dollars. The food is served in smaller tapas-like platters, mostly with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flavour.

Our garlic prawns were sublime, and the ordinary-looking chicken liver pate was amongst the best I have ever tasted. The waiters are knowledgeable and helped me navigate the encyclopaedic wine selections without taking out a second mortgage.

City Wine Shop, 159 Spring Street
Opposite Parliament and downstairs from the fabulous Melbourne Supper Club, the City Wine Shop feels as if it has been a part of Melbourne for years. Sit on the tiny outside terrace, inside at the bar or in the back room on the high stools surrounding the communal table.

Sample the cheeses of the day and choose from a wall of wine worthy of the famous Cul de Sac wine bar in Rome. The tiny menu is hard to resist too. But the best thing – of course – is the wine. Sample the fruits of unusual varieties such as arneis, viognier, durif and langrein without having to fork out for the whole bottle.

Ezard at Adelphi 187 Flinders Lane
Teage Ezard is the gastronimical high priest of Australian fee style food, as he calls it. A visit to this restaurant is less of a night out than a pilgrimage. The eight course tasting menu is recommended.

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennetts Lane
The Melbourne equivalent of Ronnie Scotts and the home of the Bennetts Lane International Jazz FestivalCookie, 252 Swanston StreetYou will find an obscenely long bar in this place, with a similarly impressive wine and beer list. The balcony is a good place to people-watch.

Victoria Market, 513 Elizabeth Street
Victoria Market is a historic landmark in Melbourne – it is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere. Originally known as a food market, it is now the place to buy anything from organic fruit and veg, authentic Mediterranean food, hardward and of course Aussie souvenirs.

The Night Market takes place on Wednesday nights in summer, Its major focus is on food and entertainment. About 20 food hawkers provide a culturally rich range of food including African, Mexican. Spanish, Malaysian, Indian and Middle Eastern street food – not to mention the wineries who set up stall and sell fantastic wines by the glass or case! A great place to spend a summer’s evening.

Feddish, River Building, Yarra Terrace, Federation Square
In a city like this, sometimes a sunny spot is not what you seek. On one of the hottest days of the year, the outside terrace at Feddish is a shady spot where you can relax and watch Melbourne melt whilst you sip a cold martini. The food is not bad either: modern Australian staples with interesting choices such as peking duck risotto and char-grilled crocodile on rainforest rice. Pretty good wine list, with a decent by-the-glass selection which actually offers non-Aussie wines too.

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