Destinations

Where to eat, sleep and visit in Melbourne right now

Kelly Thompson and Embla's Christian McCabe spend a weekend in Victoria's capital.

An unbeatable coffee culture, a dynamic arts scene and a collective of boundary-pushing restaurants and bars — Melbourne has it all. It's also the city that consultant and illustrator Kelly Thompson and restaurateur Christian McCabe (co-owner of Embla and sister restaurant Lesa) call home.
As part of Gourmet Traveller's partnership with Mazda CX-5, Thompson and McCabe spent a weekend driving around Melbourne in search of stays, restaurants and cultural offerings that are a cut above. Here, the couple lists their favourite pit-stops.

Lyall Hotel and Spa, South Yarra

The Lyall Hotel is all class. The South Yarra gem sits on peaceful Murphy Street and offers guests a luxury boutique stay close to the heart of the city. Suites are designed in contemporary style and range in their offerings; rooms with fireplaces and park-facing terraces make the most of the The Lyall experience. Thoughtful touches are a constant reminder you're staying somewhere special — there's underfloor heating in the bathrooms, a gourmet minibar and a pillow menu to ensure a good night's sleep.
The hotel's three-level spa includes eight treatment rooms and features dedicated zones for hydrotherapy, relaxation and beauty. Of course, location is everything, and The Lyall is a only a short distance from many of Melbourne's hotspots. McCabe and Thompson chose the new Mazda CX-5 as their weekend mode of transport, employing its Active Driving Display to help navigate changing traffic conditions and its 360-degree monitor for parking ease. 16 Murphy St, South Yarra, thelyall.com
The Lyall's interiors feature Australian-made furniture and original artworks by French artist Thierry B. Photo: Instagram/davidboonphoto

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Southbank

The bold design of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) has made it one of Melbourne's most recognisable buildings. Its jutting rust-red facade contrasts beautifully with the museum's sleek glass and metal interiors. Designed by local architects Wood Marsh, the 2002 build enhances the contemporary art experiences it contains. The museum was originally established as a space to develop and commission works by emerging local and international artists; challenging the city with its thought-sparking exhibitions, installations and talks, ACCA goes where other museums don't. Its current showcase, "The Theatre Is Lying", explores the alternative worlds and realities of theatre and its deliberate blurring of fact and fiction. A vivid mashup of memes, global politics, personal narrative and pop culture, the exhibition features five new commissions by artists including Matthew Griffin and Sol Calero. 111 Sturt St, Southbank, acca.melbourne
Sol Calero, 'La puerta' 2018, installation view at ACCA. Photo: Andrew Curtis via Instagram/acca_melbourne

Atlas Dining, South Yarra

The menu at Atlas Dining is fresh and exciting. But don't get used to it. Charlie Carrington's South Yarra restaurant changes its cuisine of focus every four months. An ambitious undertaking, mad, even, and yet Carrington continues to deliver and delight with his playful takes on traditional flavours. So far Atlas has embraced Vietnamese, Israeli, Korean, French, Mexican and Peruvian. Carrington's latest menu is inspired by the food of Thailand's street stalls. Punchy flavours permeate dishes such as a fragrant red curry of quail and a massaman curry with a grilled pork-neck skewer. And don't miss a dessert of fried banana coated in palm sugar and roasted jasmine rice with banana sorbet. Taking its intrepid approach seriously, Atlas doesn't miss a beat when it comes to detail. Cutlery is wrapped in leather holders and menus come in the form of passports. The window for trying each cuisine is short, sure, but Carrington's approach means diners can look forward to a new experience each visit. 133 Commercial Rd, South Yarra, atlasdining.com.au
Red curry of quail with spring onion, makrut lime and chilli oil. Photo: Instagram/atlasdining

Iki-Jime, Melbourne

Iki-Jime is where you'll find all of your seafood classics — just not as you know them. Formerly Bistro Vue, Shannon Bennett's relaunched Little Collins Street restaurant comes with a fresh focus on sustainability and flavour. Quality seafood plays hero in clever remixes of favourites: the "prawn cocktail" features prawns cooked in court-bouillon and sprinkled with a crumble of cured duck egg yolk, lemon rind, finger lime and chives; and "fish and chips" translates to nests of crisp-fried potato and leek wrapped in raw tuna and topped with oyster emulsion and pickle powder. The restaurant's nose-to-tailfin approach only adds to its offering, with some bar snacks spiced with prawn-shell powder and fish trim. Different, clever and masterfully executed. 430 Little Collins St, Melbourne, (03) 9691 3838, ikijime.com.au
"Fish and chips" of raw tuna and fried potato and leek at Iki-Jime. Photo: Julian Kingma
Brought to you by the New Mazda CX-5. A cut above. To learn more about the New Mazda CX-5 and its innovative features, click here.