Time Out Food Awards 2013: Best New Restaurant

There's never a year when we don't have a swagful of great new eatieries but the past 12 months has seen us up to our eyeballs in delicious eats

Winner: Brooks

Our expectations were sky high when we heard that our favourite booze dons Gerald Diffey and Mario di Ienno were teaming up with and ex-Embrasse chef and vegetable whisperer Nic Poelaert. And damned if those expectations weren’t met, smashed and raised. If you’re here for the Motown, a glass of whatever gun sommelier Matt Brooke has on pour and some of the genial hospitality you’ve come to know and love from Diffey’s legendary wine bar Gerald’s, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, it wouldn’t be a night misspent if you ventured no further than the gleaming marble bar. Shae Silvestro is shaking serious cocktails, and the likes of crunchy creamy rye puffs filled with chicken liver parfait are bar snacks worth a visit for alone. But for maximum effect, go the five-course degustation for $80. Poelaert is an envelope pusher who favours samphire over salt and who is making a stand for serious cooking in a town besieged by burgers. The meli melo – a party of no less than 35 vegetables – is the most arresting homage to roughage we’ve ever seen. Blanched cauliflower florets, radishes and batons of choko are laid out over a paint palette of pureés from pickled cucumber to beetroot and pumpkin, all coated with a sprinkling of dehydrated olive soil, bee pollen and edible flowers. Or then there’s a perfectly pink, scorch-edged cube of beef rump sheltered by a teepee of ‘burnt vegetables’ – a thin spread of potato baked till jet black. It has the texture of meringue with an intense roast-potato edge, but none of the acrid, burnt taste you’d expect. With an expert crew lead by the unshakeable Paul Guiney working a room that embraces the ageless style of white linens, and sturdy silverware, this is a restaurant that makes us want to frock up for dinner again. And cheers to that.

Runners Up



You’ll find no fluorescent signs or placemat menus at this mod-European Rathdowne terrace. Just classic crystal decanters, snappy wine lists, heaving dessert trolleys and some of the most whipsmart service in town.



An affront of marble; a ludicrously thick bible of Italian wines and the only hand-picked mud crab pasta you’d ever consider spending $65 on. Simplicity meets excess at Rosetta in a way that’s very Neil Perry and very good.



Trocadero redefines the theatre restaurant. You’ll find no over-priced mediocrity here, rather a well-realised restaurant with sweet riverside views and Nick Bennett’s excellent mod-Mediterranean creations – don't miss the nettle fettuccini with venison ragu.

The Town Mouse


Christian McCabe had peaked in Wellington with his restaurant Matterhorn, so he packed up his head chef and moved into Drummond Street to impress Melbourne with beautiful small plates and blushing G and Ts.


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

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