Good Food Guide names top picks for Victorian dining

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In its first year of opening, Japanese restaurant Minamishima was named Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year at The Age Good Food Guide Awards, presented by Vittoria Coffee and Citi.

Minamishima’s manager and sommelier Randolph Cheung also won the Citi Service Excellence award and the restaurant also took home two chef’s hats.

Owner-chef Koichi Minamishima opened his  restaurant in late 2014 offering omakase (chef’s choice) dining with one goal: “To fill each customer with joy through the art of sushi”. Coupled with Cheung’s service and expert sake and wine matching, Minamishima has found the recipe for success.

All the awards, hats and top tips for dining over the coming 12 months in Victoria will be in The Age Good Food Guide 2016.

Also winning two major awards was Birregurra restaurant Brae: the Santa Vittoria Regional Restaurant of the Year and Citi Chef of the Year for owner-chef Dan Hunter. The restaurant, almost two hour’s drive from Melbourne, retained three hats, the Guide’s highest accolade.

Attica was the only Melbourne restaurant awarded three hats in the 2016 Guide. However, the two hat category increased from 16 to 20 restaurants in the past 12 months, with Minamishima, Circa, Moon Under Water, The Press Club and Woodland House all joining the two-hat ranks.

Pasta bar Tipo 00, run by a team who have worked at places like Saint Crispin, Estelle, Vue de Monde and the Grossi family’s Merchant, was the year’s Best New Restaurant.

The Young Chef of the Year title, chosen by industry veterans Alla Wolf-Tasker, Andrew McConnell and Philippe Mouchel, was awarded to George Tomlin of The Town Mouse in Carlton.

The Age Good Food Guide Editor Roslyn Grundy said Melbourne was continuing to cement its global reputation as a dining destination.

“You know you’re looking at an educated food city when some of the year’s hottest openings are a vegetarian fine diner, a dedicated pasta joint, a sushi restaurant and a diner devoted to Nashville-style hot chicken,” said Grundy.

Three new awards were added to this year’s Guide. ASRC Catering, which creates training and work opportunities for asylum seekers, picked up the inaugural Food For Good Award, celebrating innovation, charity and sustainability. Vibrant Indian diner Delhi Streets in Melbourne was named Best Cheap Eat; and crowd favourite Red Spice Road in Melbourne received the People’s Choice Award, based on a huge GoodFood.com.au poll of diners.

Regionally, the big winner was Central Victoria with four restaurants (Catfish, Ballarat; The Good Table, Castlemaine; Masons of Bendigo, Bendigo; and Public Inn, Castlemaine) earning their first chef’s hat.  The Mornington Peninsula also shone with Ten Minutes by Tractor awarded two hats, and Montalto, Paringa Estate, and Port Phillip Estate all with one hat.

The top suburbs and towns for dining excellence based on number of hatted restaurants are Melbourne (23), Southbank (six), Richmond (four), Carlton (three), Fitzroy (three), St Kilda (three), Red Hill South (three), Collingwood (two), South Yarra (two), Castlemaine (two), and Daylesford (two).

A total of 15 awards were presented, recognising the talent, depth and diversity of Victoria’s restaurant scene.

  • Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year: Minamishima, Richmond
  • Best New Restaurant: Tipo 00, Melbourne
  • People’s Choice Award: Red Spice Road, Melbourne
  • Citi Chef of the Year: Dan Hunter, Brae
  • Young Chef of the Year: George Tomlin, The Town Mouse
  • Santa Vittoria Regional Restaurant of the Year: Brae, Birregurra
  • Food For Good Award: ASRC Catering
  • Best Cheap Eat: Delhi Streets, Melbourne
  • Citi Service Excellence: Randolph Cheung, Minamishima
  • Vittoria Coffee Legend (for an outstanding long-term contribution to the industry): Gail and Kevin Donovan, Donovans
  • Best Bar: Romeo Lane, Melbourne
  • Donlevy Fitzpatrick Award (honouring restaurant-quality food in a bar setting): Bar Clarine, Fitzroy
  • Champagne Pol Roger Sommelier of the Year: Meira Harel, Lake House
  • Wine List of the Year: Woodland House, Prahran
  • Regional Wine List of the Year: Ten Minutes by Tractor, Main Ridge

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