Time Out Food Awards 2013: Restaurant of the Year

This award recognises restaurants that are consistently performing at the top of their game. And the winner is...

Winner: Attica

Attica: it’s the little restaurant that could in the tiny suburb you wouldn’t expect where head chef Ben Shewry has been blowing minds with his precise, story-filled dishes since 2006. Shewry trades in fresh and clean and exciting cooking that never leans on the props of hyped-up ingredients. You’ll find no caviar and truffles trespassing here. Instead, Shewry summons deliciousness from native leaves, sustainable seafood and maybe even quandongs. Perhaps you’ll start with a pure walnut purée topped with impossibly thin shavings of pine mushrooms and a solitary cabbage flower, served Thumbelina-styles in the walnut half-shell. There might follow a single mussel – a creamy burst of ocean salt that explodes from a delicate rice flour shell, and a slender fillet of King George whiting bathed in lemon myrtle butter and finely pearl meat served in a paperbark cocoon. The room is just as understated and excellent as what's on the plates. It’s a soft-lit, charcoal art gallery for food – although the energy is anything but. However serious the cooking, Attica is all about fun. Manager/sommelier Banjo Harris possesses an enthusiasm of rampant infectiousness, and he ups the good times further by matching your eight courses with anything from funky natural wines from South Australia to some Kizan Sanban sake. You’ll be toasting marshmallows over an open fire in the garden and fishing chocolate eggs out of nests of foraged grass. Things may be unusual – dessert is a mini beehive stacked with with layers of al dente pumpkin, meringue and a lemon thyme cream sweetened by aphid honey – but never weird. Shewry is a frontiersman who knows exactly where he’s steering his kitchen. There’s just the right amount of whimsy and zero BS at Attica. That’s what makes it magical. That’s what makes it the best.


Runners Up

Moon Under Water

Fitzroy

Perfect seared scallops and parmesan biscuits; Andrew McConnell’s white-on-white restaurant out the back of the Builders Arms delivers four courses of fierce cooking for just 75 clams matched by incredible wine and service. 

Brooks of Melbourne

Melbourne

It’s the bar and restaurant that’s got everything sorted from booze to snacks to service. Motown meets big wines and chef Nic Poelaert’s envelope-pushing menu, all enhanced by the hospitality stylings of owners (and cheeky bastards) Mario di Ienno and Gerald Diffey. 

Vue De Monde

Melbourne

You’re on the 55th floor of the Rialto with Melbourne glittering at your feet. You’re smashing up liquid nitrogen frozen herbs, and drinking outlandish wine while you do. It’s the best dinner show in town.

Pei Modern

Melbourne

This is super-chef Mark Best’s casual answer to his Sydney fine diner, Marque, where you're as well placed to go a tasting menu of upscale bistro dishes or sit at the bar with some incredible natural wine and sardines on toast. 

 

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First published on 16 Jul 2013. Updated on 13 Jun 2014.

By Time Out Melbourne editors   |  
 

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