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Bottoms up

Oh hi, blog-world.

A good friend recently suggested I write a blog about the many, many places I go to eat, drink and be merry. It does happen frequently, so I didn't think it too bad an idea. Thus: Melbourne Patron has been born.

I tend to frequent Fitzroy, Collingwood and the city most often; however, being not-from-Melbourne originally, I am always open to exploring new areas and awesome venues. Particularly if they're cool and serve alcohol. I also fly back to Sydney several times a year, and wouldn't discount the possibility that I may well blog about my adventures there, too.

My social adventures generally comprise venues of the pub, bar and restaurant varieties, but I work in the coffee industry by day, so do appreciate a darn-good dose of caffeine and smashing brunch. Not much of a clubber or picnicker, I'm afraid, but the food and drinks at those aren't overly exciting anyway. Teppanyaki, yum cha, high tea, and random events (does the Tramcar Restaurant count?) all come up once in a while.

So, hold on to yer hats, folks. Pour a drink, ready the lemon slice, and as my Nanna never said but I am prone to, "bottoms up."

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Spice Temple

Spice Temple  Neil Perry's Fine Dining Chinese Restaurant at Crown, Southbank, Melbourne
It's considered an institution in Melbourne, and with a chef to its name like Neil Perry, a location like Southbank, and an existence of six years in the Melbourne restaurant scene (when staying power is notoriously elusive), it's no wonder. Spice Temple's name is a pretty accurate description of the restaurant: food heavy in spices and spiciness; a dim space with a sort of hushed reverence.



The quiet tone of Spice Temple (Shop 7, Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank) could well be due to its design. With lots of dark wood and more traditional red and gold carpet, one might be forgiven for thinking it's a little dated. What keeps it current is the symmetrical and perpendicular fittings, creating neat squared-off eating nooks, and the dark, felt-like soundproofing material spaced out overhead, muffling any white noise.



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Saint Crispin

When Smith Street had just become a local area for me, I used to walk past Cavallero and think about how I 'must try that place soon'. But as everyone knows, Smith Street (and surrounds) is not short of venues, and I must have been busy checking out all the others first, because before I knew it, Cavallero had closed and I had missed my chance. Apparently it had been struggling. Who then, would dare to take on the site, and what would they make of it? Smith Street is a prime location, but it's also full of competition. This would have to be good.



Enter Scott Pickett (Estelle Bistro) and Joe Grbac (The Press Club). Two chefs who used to work together at London's fancy-pants The Square (which boasts not one, but two Michelin stars), they joined forces to open a brand new venue as both business partners and co-head chefs. The result: Saint Crispin (300 Smith Street, Collingwood).

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Entrecote

The shops along Domain Road, South Yarra have a reputation for being a bit posh. It is South Yarra, after all, and the majority are cafes and restaurants that take advantage of their location (opposite Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens) by providing some outdoor seating. Apparently The Real Housewives of Melbourne even frequent one or two venues along the strip.

A little further down the road, on the corner of Millswyn Street, EntrecĂ´te(131-133 Domain Road, South Yarra) is having a party of its own - still refined, but with a little more colour and personality. In operation as a Parisian-style steak bistro since January 2015, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week in the former site of the infamous Lynch's Restaurant.



Business partners Jason McLaren Jones and Adam North developed the idea when they bumped into each other in Paris in late 2014. They took a meal together at the institutional Le Relais de L'EntrecĂ´te: a no-bookings bistro that ser…