TasTe of sT Kilda
Amelia Hungerford explores the restaurants and eateries peppering Melbourne’s fitzroy street, indulging in some of the tastiest fare this delicious city has to offer along the way.
each of the quartet of little golden bowls placed before me is topped with a miniature salad, fragrant herbs, chilli or spices. aromas of slow-roasted lamb, goat, dal and signature butter chicken mingle over the table.
“There’s more?” i look up at Mani, owner of Melbourne’s Babu Ji, with the suspicion of someone about to hear the words ‘just a wafer-thin slice’.
i’ve already enjoyed a parade of classic indian specialties, each more delicious than the last, including the most succulent tandoori chicken i’ve ever tasted, zucchini flower fritters stuffed with mozzarella and cashews and smoky charred trout, all washed down with a unique selection of craft brews that i’ve plucked straight from the fridge myself.
Babu Ji is indian cuisine in a way i’ve not seen before, playful, cool and utterly irresistible in its indulgent flavours; it’s easy to see how the restaurant concept has just last year been transplanted to New York. The only problem is fighting the desire to try the entire menu in one sitting.
australian flavours st Kilda has long been known for its beach, boardwalk and café culture, just a short tram ride from Melbourne’s CBd. Restaurants and eateries are peppered along the length of fitzroy street, from the waterside esplanade to the intersection at Princes street. My gourmet tour begins at Captain Baxter, a hip haven for asian-inspired street food nestled beside a crackling fireplace in the st Kilda sea Baths. flavoursome bites such as kingfish ceviche and black bean beef buns accompany cocktails with australian twists such as the Matilda sour (honey rum with lime and ginger from Kangaroo island). Mains for sharing is the focus: think hearty portions of crispy pork hock, fried salmon tail, beef shortribs and cauliflower steak with sides and brown rice.
Where The esplanade becomes fitzroy st is where we find lady Grange, home to woodfire pizza, elegant cocktails and beach views.
Head north to acland street where The Prince reigns from day to night, with a bar (Prince Public Bar), casual dining (PoW Kitchen), taqueria (acland st Cantina), chic events space (The deck), and a boutique hotel with spa, The Prince. Here, the 40 rooms are light, pared back and spacious, overlooking the courtyard below. The fact that the complex is home to Circa is a bonus.
The two-hatted restaurant is set in a sun-drenched dining room above fitzroy st where bare tables provide a relaxed backdrop for dishes that are anything but. oysters are a Circa favourite, but we skip straight to crispy smoked quail with delicate rolls of butternut and cured cobia layered under slivers of purple daikon. snapper with bite-sized battered mussels, guanciale and cauliflower,