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.

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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,

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