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How to find the best restaurant in Melbourne

How to find the best restaurant in Melbourne

My sister (who works alongside me at Getting Lost) and I recently spent 9 days in Melbourne attending the Reed Gift Fairs.  Reed Gift Fair is a massive trade fair where makers like ourselves set up stands and try to match with retailers who will then sell our products in their stores.  Alongside long days where we’d frequently loose our voice from talking so much we were also child free and had our nights free to explore.  We were determined to not waste a second (my mantra is if we stop we’ll fall down) and we wanted to find the best of everything Melbourne had to offer.  To do this we employed a few strategies which we reckon will help you to find the best restaurant in Melbourne (or any city for that matter)

 

#1 - Ask a local

We arrived in Melbourne from a 4 hour flight from Auckland and went straight to setting up our stand at the Gift Fair.  It was massive, there were the invariable set up issues and by the time we finished for the night at 9pm we were shattered - and starving!

Lacking the cognitive ability to even search and being unfamiliar with this part of Melbourne we asked the guy on the front desk at our hotel.

A few questions about what we like, how far we felt like walking and we were on our way to Gradi - an Italian restaurant at South Wharf.  The food was sensational and our minds were reeling at a world where restaurants were this busy at 10pm on a Thursday mind (which of course felt like midnight on our still NZ clock).  

It was great - but we still hadn’t found the best restaurant in Melbourne.

 

#2 - Play Getting Lost

There was no way we were going to Melbourne without playing Getting Lost.  We ended up playing the Girls Road Trip Edition in Yarra Valley, the Walkers Edition through the CBD and the Cycling Edition through St Kilda.

In every Getting Lost Game we have stop for a treat, drink or meal cards.  They’re designed to get you out of your comfort zone and try things that you ordinarily wouldn’t.  It’s not designed to find the best restaurant (although sometimes you may).

We found an amazing seaside restaurant on St Kilda - Stokehouse.  Literally glowing orange as the sun set against it’s floor to ceiling glass windows and we sat there relaxing, trying Barramundi for the first time and drinking wine.

It was great - but we still hadn’t found the best restaurant in Melbourne.

 

#3 - Use the trip guides

We actually only did this once.  And I reckon anyone in a new city should do it and you will always find somewhere great. 

We decided to go to the top rated restaurant in Melbourne.  It was booked out.  So we went to the number 2 restaurant in Melbourne - Da Guido La Pasta.

A cozy, authentic Italian restaurant with a mouth watering menu.  But across the road was a restaurant with lines literally down the street.  We searched that one - not rated the best.  We asked our waiter - apparently they served Chicken Parma’s the size of your head for under $20.  And there’s the problem with trip guides (or any opinions really) - one persons idea of great is a parma the size of your head, another is fancy Italian - and those people don’t all review restaurants.

It was great - but we still hadn’t found the best restaurant in Melbourne.

 

#4 - Do all of the above!

The restaurant we found on the recommendation site was in a part of town we hadn’t explored. We went for a wander after dinner and found an epic laneway with a great bar.

We found the restaurant in St Kilda while playing Getting Lost and while there got chatting to the waiter.  We asked him (a local) where we should go for dinner on our last night.  He asked what we liked - we told him about the bar that we’d found down the end of a laneway that we loved.  So he said, if you love that, you’ll love French Saloon.

In a busy alley off Little Collins street we could have walked past it and never found it.  It had a tiny and painted sign that blended in to all the other graffiti in the alleyway.

We went up some stairs to an unmarked door - and there beyond it was the best restaurant in Melbourne.

It ranks only 317th on Trip Advisor and came up in absolutely none of my Googling.  I doubt even a Getting Lost Game would be able to find it unless you like walking in random doors.  And you’d have to find just the right local to recommend this little gem.

But add them all together.  Add the randomness of a Getting Lost Game, the diligent reviewers favourites and a well briefed local and you’ll find your favourite too.  And your favourite may not be our favourite.

But for me - I will be forever trying to recreate that amazing French Saloon Porterhouse Steak and it will be the very first place I go to when I’m back in Melbourne again - before doing all 3 again to find my next best Melbourne restaurant….

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