The Weekly Review’s new food editor Alice in Frames names her favourite Melbourne dishes and TWR wine guy Ben Thomas suggests their perfect drink matches.

Watch Alice and Ben trying some must eat dishes

Tagliolini al nero @ Tipo 00

361 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
9942 3946

Alice Says Picking a favourite here is like picking a favourite child (mine is called Leopold; he has four legs). The slippery ink-stained tagliolini with thin shavings of squid and a generous sprinkle of bottarga has stolen my heart, but the thick pappardelle swimming in a golden elixir of silky rabbit ragu comes a very close second. Their non-pasta offerings are pretty schmick too; there’s a grilled tongue dish with pink peppercorns that’s guaranteed to get tongues wagging … Alas, I fear I’ve already said too much.

Ben Says Look for a refreshing, zippy white without too much flavour for this intense dish, such as fiano, originally from the Campania region that surrounds the Italian food mecca, Napoli.

Why not try … Oliver’s Taranga Fiano 2015 (McLaren Vale) $24. Oliver’s Taranga Fiano is always so easy to drink, a bottle never seems to last long. This vintage has aromas of fresh-cut pear, white petals and lemon rind. It’s textural, weighty for a white and bursting with apple, pear, chalk and citrus flavours.



Crab omelette @ Lau’s Family Kitchen

4 Acland Street, St Kilda
8598 9880

Alice Says Divine in its simplicity, super-crabby and (let’s face it) way better than any omelette I’ve attempted at home, this dish is quintessentially Melbourne because of its origins in Gilbert Lau’s iconic kitchens (first Flower Drum, now Lau’s) and because it’s never actually been on the menu; it’s the sort of dish you have to ask for by name. Ben Shewry from Attica (Australia’s only restaurant ranked in the official list of the world’s 50 best restaurants last year) declared it “one of the best dishes [he’d] ever eaten”.
Ben Says Just the thought of crab and chardonnay has me weak at the knees. Rich, oaky chardonnay works with a rich bisque, but the mineral line of chablis has crab omelette written all over it. Why not try … Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 2014 $24, imported by Dan Murphy’s. It smells of stonefruit, blossom and chalky minerals. It’s bright and racy, with pink grapefruit and peach flavours that build in intensity as they flow through the mouth.



Pistachio gelato @ Pidapipo

299 Lygon Street, Carlton
9347 4596

Alice Says Look, I know this isn’t a “dish” but if you’ve ever committed to joining the gelato queue snaking around Lygon Street on a warm summer’s night, you’ll know it’s worth the wait, and the mention. Think Nutella in terms of intensity of flavour and nuttiness, but less sweet and with an otherworldly, toasty warmth. Lisa Valmorbida’s time learning the art of the gelateria from what I imagine was some kind of Fro-Yo-Yoda (but with an Italian accent) means The Force is strong with this one.

Ben Says Intense flavours are needed to match the sweet, nutty gelato. Go for Italian vin santo, where trebbiano grapes are picked and dried before fermentation for a double flavour hit. Why not try … Tenuta Il Monte Vin Santo Reserva 2002 (Chianti) $30; trebbiano grapes are harvested before being hung on wooden poles to dry and concentrate the flavours. Bright amber in colour, it smells of sultanas and tea. There’s a burnt toffee character that adds an extra dimension.



Tuna Belly @ Minamishima

4 Lord Street, Richmond
9429 5180


Alice Says This dish is so good people stopped the reservations phone dead in its tracks when Minamishima opened for 2016 trade (I should know: I was pressing redial on my phone for half an hour). Chef Koichi Minamishima sources his tuna belly from Nagasaki and it must experience some serious turbulence on the plane ride over because once the artfully sliced sliver hits your tongue, it’s so tender it practically melts.

Ben Says The vinegar in the rice makes a wine match difficult here but a drier style of sake, such as a junmai, gets the nod. Why not try … Kikusui Organic Junmai Ginjo $20. Kikusui translates as chrysanthemum water and this is made from organically grown rice. Smelling of wild fennel, banana and honeysuckle, this is off-dry but textural and with a rich body of green melon and a floral perfume.



Chocolate souffle (& the tarte tatin) @ Bistro Vue

Normanby Chambers, 430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
9691 3838

Alice Says If you’ve made a late-night visit to Bistro Vue, it seems only fair to go hard or go home (do not go home). That means ordering both the crispy apple tarte tatin – turned out in front of you, laced with heady spices and drizzled unashamedly with creme anglaise – plus the fluffy, light-as-air chocolate souffle, guaranteed to be cooked to perfection because (as rumour has it) they always cook a spare.

Ben Says A young, fruity vintage port or muscat traditionally works with rich chocolate, but it can mean a sugar coma is a distinct possibility. The cocoa notes in the crystal malt used in dark beers are the perfect savoury foil for this. Why not try … Coopers Brewery Dark Ale (Adelaide) $4 (375ml). You have to love a beer that comes with a “best after” date. Made using roasted and chocolate malts, it smells of blood orange, burnt toffee and mocha. There’s a smooth mouth feel and crisp refreshment to its lengthy dark chocolate, coffee and malt flavours.



Chinizza @ Lee Ho Fook

11-15 Duckboard Place, Melbourne
9077 6261

Alice Says What’s a Melbourne-must list without a pizza, right? Except, combine said pizza with a spring onion pancake, slightly gooey, slightly chewy cheese and a fist-pump. The pizza base is fried, not baked (because yum) and then it’s topped with finely sliced spring onion, sesame oil and heaps of fresh buffalo mozzarella so when you bite into it, your taste buds are discombobulated – as if you accidentally used Apple Maps instead of Google and ended up in Carlton instead of Chinatown.

Ben Says Champagne is a more versatile drink than it’s given credit for and its bready, yeasty notes are the perfect match here. Why not try … Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose NV $120, the NV champagne rose that all others are gauged against. Aniseed, red berry, cherry and grilled-peach aromas are complex and refined. Similar in the mouth, with a line of energetic pithy citrus and cherry, raspberry flavour. Lemon zest, too. It’s got grip, zip and goes all too quickly.



American Grillz @ Maker & Monger

Stall 25, Prahran Market Harvest Hall, opposite the Blanco Kitchen
0413 900 490

Alice Says Within weeks of opening his humble toastie stall, the Rainman of fromage, Anthony Femia, was making Melbourne’s “best” lists and winning the hearts of cheese lovers across the city. It’s the mix of cheese, including authentic Cabot cheddar, that takes this grilled cheese sandwich into nek-level territory and, somehow, with the addition of several types of onion, plus herbs, it doesn’t ever feel so stodgy you have to stop eating (sometimes you have to stop me from ordering two).

Ben Says You’d get much pleasure drinking an icy cold, super hoppy IPA beer with this, but a dry, nutty sherry with hints of salty sea spray will be a great foil for all that cheese. Why not try … 919 Wines Pale Dry Apera (Riverland) $30. The art of crafting sherry, or apera as we’re bound to call it in Australia, is a dying art and 919’s Eric Semmler is one of Australia’s finest practitioners. Aromas of grilled nuts, sea mist and fresh-cut Granny Smith apple leap from the glass before carrying through to the oily, impossibly dry saline palate.



Croissant @ Lune Croissanterie

119 Rose Street, Fitzroy

Alice Says The Reid siblings’ buttery, crunchy, impeccably folded croissant spans an epic three days of preparation. I had hoped that exploding from a tiny hole-in-the-wall in Elwood to a supersonic uber-lab in Fitzroy would have helped to satisfy demand, yet somehow it’s only meant a slightly more civilised wake-up time to get in line. Try to book a seat at the Lune Lab for a three-course tasting menu with an extra-large helping of #smug as you watch the counter selection shrink before the throng’s very eyes. Brunch with a view.

Ben Says With its low alcohol levels, sweet moscato is often referred to as the breakfast wine. The best moscato has a vibrant line of acidity that keeps it fresh, rather than cloying. Why not try … Castello del Poggio Moscato Provincia di Pavia (Asti) $14. There’s a gentle spritz to this floral wine, which helps control the sweetness. Rose-scented Turkish delight dominates. It’s subtle, but there’s a hit of pithy grapefruit on the finish that controls the wine’s sweetness and brings it into balance.