The end of the year is a good time for reflection and for those of you who have been following Gastronomical Ramblings over the years, you will know that this process also involves looking back on the year's food adventures and picking out some of the most memorable dining experiences.
Read on for the top 10 food adventures of 2016:
Number ten: Oneyada thai cafe, ABBOTSFORD.
The folks behind Melbourne's best Thai restaurant have opened a brunch venue that delivers the same quality and deliciousness of Jinda Thai. Whether you're a fan of Thai cuisine or after a unique brunch experience, Oneyada Thai Cafe is a must-visit.
NUMBER NINE: LUXEMBOURG, ST KILDA.
Birthdays no longer have quite the same appeal as they once did but hey, if my age has to go up by a year, then bring on some good food. And I got just that with Luxembourg's modern European fare, with dishes like the steak tartare, fancy potato skins and airy light gnocchi trumping even the best birthday cakes.
NUMBER eight: mukka indian restaurant, fitzroy.
I must admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Indian cuisine. That is until my dining experience at Mukka. The delicious spread from the Fitzroy restaurant surprised me by not only winning over my taste buds but also by the butter chicken and naan cravings that came a few days afterwards. Return visit definitely and hopefully soon.
number seven: dumbo, west footscray.
2016 has been a great year for the west side with the opening of several new restaurants and cafes, and Dumbo is a new favourite. Even something as basic as the avo on toast left quite the impression. Huzzah to the opening of Dumbo and huzzah to there being more tasty options on the west!
number six: kitty burns, abbotsford.
My first visit to Kitty Burns took place early in the year and I knew from the get go that the cafe was a keeper. Needless to say, I have since returned on several occasions. The venue, decor and dinnerware really impress but more importantly, the food also wows. For these reasons, Kitty Burns stands out from the rest of the crowd that is Melbourne's abundance of cafes.
number five: san telmo, melbourne cbd.
A picture is worth 1000 words but there are only a few that you need to take from the above photo and that's 'grilled perfection'. The CBD eatery has been around for years but I only got around to squeezing in a proper visit recently. The flavour-packed and perfectly-prepped Argentinian dishes had me mentally kicking myself for not visiting San Telmo sooner.
NUMBER four: ROYAL STACKS, MELBOURNE CBD.
Given the number of new burger openings, it's not so surprising that a burger eatery made it onto the top 10 list. When it comes to Royal Stacks, I'm not the only fan of the Shake Shack-style feed, with the success of the eatery highlighted by the additional openings across Melbourne and Sydney throughout the year. Burgers fit for royalty!
number three: milk the cow, carlton.
The folks behind Milk the Cow really know cheese, serving up all sorts of cheese, matched wine/whisky/beer/cider/sake/cognac flights and cheesy dishes. They even know how to pick a great blue - two of the very few blue cheeses I have enjoyed were served at Milk the Cow! Cheesy good times guaranteed.
number two: lune croissanterie, fitzroy.
I am not a morning person and there are very few things that will get me out of bed bright and early in the morning; catching a flight and lining up for Lune's croissants. Yes, the croissants are THAT GOOD. The texture is unlike anything else I have tried (including the ones I had eaten during my week in Paris) and the flavour combos are absolutely delish. But don't take my word for it (or the New York Times) and try them yourself if you haven't already done so.
number one: Dinner By heston, southbank.
Everyone raves about Dinner by Heston and with very good reason. The brilliance of Heston Blumenthal oozes out of every bite, morsel and dish served at Dinner by Heston. The Meat Fruit and Tipsy Cake dishes were every bit as delicious as everyone makes them out to be, if not more so! I have visited twice this year and anticipate that my most recent visit won't be the last...
- Kuu Japanese Cafe, South Melbourne. Combining Japanese and brunch; two of my favourite cuisines, there's plenty to love when it comes to Kuu.
- Cho Cho San, Potts Point (NSW). One of my dining highlights of the year came as a highly anticipated meal following a half marathon run. Down to the sensational quality of the food (and perhaps a little because of the appetite I had worked up), the feed at Cho Cho San was very satisfying.
- Tasmanian Food & Wine Conservatory, Sassafras (TAS). Featuring several products from some of Tasmania's best producers, there is plenty of deliciousness under one roof. A food heaven for foodies.
- Moores Hill Estate, Launceston (TAS). Good wine, good food, good company and one amazing truffle toastie makes for one fine food adventure!
And in case you were wondering, here are the top 10 lists from previous years: