The regular cafe-attending, restaurant-frequenting, Uber-Eats-ordering and MasterChef-watching Melbournian is no spring chicken when it comes to dining well. Growing up in a culture that celebrates the perfect crema, and condemns non-premium curdled soy milk, the average Aussie has high expectations.
With these standards, we accept relatively steep pricing – assuming that the dish quality will be equally (if not more) impressive. And against this backdrop, the ambitious up-and-coming restauranteur has to force his way into the competitive hospitality industry with some sort of a bang. Or at least architecturally designed fit-outs, sophisticated menus and impeccable service. Not to mention a sunny courtyard for ladies who brunch – and bloggers requiring ideal lighting for their smashed avo photoshoot.
As a digital creative agency that has worked with a number of leading hospitality influences, we have learnt a thing or two about efficient restaurant/bar/cafe management. We have seen some evolve with Aussie trends, and have witnessed others swim against the stream, developing innovative approaches to the dining experience.
Of these inspirational establishments, we note two praiseworthy players that hold a significant role in Melbourne’s contemporary hospitality scene. These venues show a steadfast commitment to maintaining or transforming their reputation in the food-celebrating community.
Hanoi Hannah Vol.II
Due to increasingly popular demand, and overcrowding in their old Elsternwick location, Hanoi Hannah has upsized – and upgraded. Now located a few doors away from the original restaurant, Vol. II seats 100 diners and accommodates its celebrated chefs with ample kitchen space.
Its interior features exposed brick walls, timber floors and big black window frames – a timeless industrial style streamlined across Hannah’s venues. Yet, unlike its counterparts and predecessor, this location is hallmarked by its large central bar, lit up by red neon signs that read ‘FOR YOU, BY US’.
The menu has also been revamped with new Vietnamese dishes. Dinner additions include steamed fish and dry-aged roast duck, whilst hot pita pockets filled with smashed eggplant or spicy brisket are now available for lunch.
The success of Elsternwick’s 2.0 Hanoi Hannah is obvious. Hungry customers wait eagerly to be seated at the next available table, whilst others pop in to pick up their Vietnamese dishes to-go. We are inspired by these bold changes and continue to be impressed by the Commune Group’s commitment to culinary excellence.
The institutional Cafe Latte is a staple restaurant in Hawksburn. Defined by its authentic Italian character, Lorusso’s trattoria demonstrates an unwavering commitment to fine dining, and to its locals.
Showcasing some of Italy’s most refined menu classics, Cafe Latte reaffirms it’s culinary integrity with a mix of traditional and sophisticated Pugliese dishes inspired by Lorusso’s upbringing in the southern coast of Italy.
From freshly made pasta, dressed in black squid ink, to eggplant parmigiana dusted in mozzarella, you won’t find a granule out of place – nor a flavour off kilter. You can credit that to the exemplary craftsmanship of Latte’s chefs and the uncompromising vision of Lurusso.
Much like the central cafe starred in American sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Latte has a local feel. And locals do indeed feel at home. We credit this to three successes: stylish interior decor, Saturday’s Bottomless Antipasto & Aperitifs, and the Italian warmth radiated by Latte’s staff.
Timeless posters and vintage maps of Italy adorn the exposed brick wall, as an impressive selection of premium liqueurs embellish the marble bar area. Both intimate and family outings are invited into this cosy chic atmosphere that emphasises Latte’s appreciation of ‘la bella figura’ – the beautiful figure.
Weekends are best known at Latte for their Bottomless Antipasto and Aperitif happy hour, with a selection of quintessential Italian delicacies designed for sharing. Celebrating the ‘art of leisure’ and time spent in good company, this tradition is obviously centred around food and alcoholic beverages. Between 12 and 3 pm on Saturday’s, the restaurant is humming.
The more culinary innovation we see, the more we’ll share with you. For continued insight into our booming hospitality scene, stay tuned for emails to come.