Best Restaurants of 2014

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Here’s the next post in my series of the ‘Best Bits of 2014‘. This time we’re talking about the best restaurants I’ve been to this year. While I really loved New Zealand and the food we had there while on holiday (check out my post on New Zealand food here and the extra photos here) I’ve decided to keep this post just about the restaurants I’ve been to in Australia (see my other reviews too).

So, here goes:

1. Arintji – Federation Square:
Arintji has to be one of my all time favorite restaurants here in Melbourne, and its because of the service as well as the really tasty food. I was really impressed with it, so much so that I can’t wait to go again, and hopefully I will in the new year. Check out the post on Arintji I wrote earlier this year. I almost talked some friends into going there last week but instead we went to restaurant number 2 – Fonda Mexican.

2. Fonda Mexican – Flinders Lane:
What I most love about Fonda Mexican is the atmosphere of the place. It has this strange mix of restaurant, bar and Mexican food with bright and colourful decor all in an unobtrusive frontage within the CBD. I sat there for just over 3 hours the other night having a great chat with some of the girls from work and I’m really glad we chose Fonda Mexican rather than a different restaurant. Actually, its the second time I’ve been there with colleagues, as I went there a few months ago to celebrate a colleague’s success with after work drinks.

Evidently the margaritas are awesome but I have to say that the chicken burrito I tried wasn’t amazing in terms of Mexican food, but it was a nice chicken wrap. However, I really enjoyed the hot chips with chipotle mayonnaise but again it wasn’t really very Mexican. Not having been to Mexico, I am happy to be corrected, but there wasn’t any spice or heat in the dishes we ordered so it can’t really be Mexican food, can it?

3. The Boathouse – Maribyrnong:
I am a huge fan of Masterchef, as I’ve said before, and written about here. I’m also a fan of Gary Mehigan so naturally I took my hubby along to see his restaurant The Boathouse here in Melbourne. Set on the Maribyrnong river it’s a really beautiful place to have a meal.

Actually, I’ve been and experienced a meal here three times: two breakfasts and a dinner. Personally I prefer the breakfasts and last time I went (during winter this year) I absolutely loved the pancake! It was a single huge pancake, thick but light and fluffy, served with warm stewed rhubarb and a dollop of cream. To top it all off, and to contrast with the red of the rhubarb, was crushed, slightly sweetened, pistachios. It was soooooo good! I hope they still have it on the menu next time I go – and there will be a next time, of that, I’m sure.

I loved this pancake so much.
Part of the interior of the Boathouse.

4. No. 35 – The Sofitel Melbourne:
Ever stayed at the Sofitel Melbourne? I haven’t had the pleasure as yet, probably because I live in Melbourne, but one thing I haven’t missed out on is the top quality food at the Sofitel. High up on floor number 35 is the bizarrely named No. 35 restaurant – wonder what they named it after?

The tables are placed around the edges of the restaurant so you can see for miles around Melbourne and beyond as you dine. My table was overlooking the MCG and Melbourne’s other sporting arenas, with a view of Federation Square and the hills in the distance. By dessert the entire city was lit up and the view was truly beautiful. Dinner was spectacularly presented and I really loved the side salad of carrot and raisins we ordered. My husband thought his fish was amazing and I really enjoyed the cheese platter we had for dessert. Incredible as it is to say this, the cheese platter was better than the chocolate dessert we also ordered. I’d love to go back again, but it’s pricey so it’s a special occasion restaurant for me – and luckily my hubby surprised me with it for my birthday!

My chicken dish with fresh greens.
The fish dish my hubby ordered and he raved about all year.
The carrot and raisin salad I loved. 
The awesome views from the 35th floor at night.

5. Waterfront – Port Melbourne
The best part of the Waterfront restaurant was definitely the waterfront view. The restaurant is situated in Port Melbourne right on the water, and I mean right IN the water, as the restaurant overhangs the water and is situated on the boardwalk. We dined at sunset, which was the best time of day to see the lights around the bay light up, and to watch the ships coming and going from the port as the sun went under the horizon. I also saw the Spirit of Tasmania head off for Tasmania and watched it cross the horizon too.

We both ordered fish for dinner and they were both amazing: one of the best fish dishes I’ve had at a restaurant and I’m fussy about my fish. My husband ordered a snapper and it was presented beautifully, but he found that the dish was best eaten with fingers – which is tricky to manage when you’re at a fancy restaurant! But you gotta enjoy your food, right?

The atmosphere was lovely with the dimmed lights and plenty of space in the restaurant, although there were a lot of tables. We were seated at the bay window overlooking the port and nestled in the comfy cushions. I felt like we had a romantic night and it was all by chance because two weeks earlier we’d been for a walk along the cycle way at Port Melbourne and just happened to find this restaurant. This is now a special memory for me and I am looking forward to going back to Waterfront next year.

The scallop entree we ordered.
The snapper in curry my hubby ordered.

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