When you're travelling around in your Melbourne car rental, and you fancy a bite to eat, the amount of choice can be overwhelming. Why not narrow that down and check out some places with authentic Australian cuisine?
On Bray Street in South Yarra, you will find Sweetwater Inn. Designed with the outback in mind, the Inn might appear a bit rough around the edges, but it has a heart of gold. Kitted out with corrugated iron, lots of refurbished wood, barrels for tables and steel drums for chairs, the bar looks like it's been pieced together from scraps of sheds along with ingenuity and passion.
The drinks list is extensive and where that authentic Aussie charm comes through. The Billy Tea (the name plays off the common expression that refers to having tea around a campfire in the outback) combines West Winds Gin, green tea, ginger lemon and honey. The Tin Can Kel is a combination of Tromba Tequila, St Germains Elderflower Liqueur, lime and soda. If you want to mix it up go for the Emma Chiset which is made from beetroot-infused 666 Vodka, fresh dill, apple and soda – that's the kind of drink that you have to try for yourself.
The Tromba Tequila, The West Winds Gin and 666 Vodka are local craft spirits, and the Fosters beer cans are undoubtedly Australian.
After a couple of drinks, satisfy your hunger with one of the tasty dishes available. Have a gander of the menu which includes many Aussie favourites, like the rissole sandwich with gravy and melted cheese, or the chip buttie with the lot (the lot consisting of bacon, beetroot, a fried egg and tomato sauce). They also have a couple of vegan options – such as the vegan prawn skewers. The food is served on chunky wooden boards and in metal cans and tins which only adds to that rustic charm.
This restaurant, on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy, offers a modern vibe with seasonal Australian food and wine. The place is relaxed but professional – the team don't take themselves too seriously but want to give you a good time.
The menu is made to be casual, offering distinctly Australian flavours in an accessible way so everyone can find something to enjoy. The dishes use local produce, tastes and textures.
Its all-day autumnal menu has a wide variety of things to choose from. For something to start with, go for the smoked eel with pepperleaf goat cheese and seaweed lasagna or the spiced confit duck leg. For a quick lunch choose an option from the express lunch menu, like the small leaf tamarind marinated Wallaby wrap. Finish it off with a rolled wattleseed pavlova.
Pairing your meal with the right wine is easy, considering the wine list includes many local greats. For a white wine, try the Bancroft Bridge Semillon SB from NSW. A good red is the Sticks Pinot Noir from Yarra Valley. If you're in the mood for something else, there's a whole selection of beer and a couple of Pipsqueak ciders.
Enjoy your food and wine in the chic surroundings. The restaurant is clean and uncluttered with an open-plan layout. The simple elegance comes through in the crisp white walls with black finishings and pale wooden tables and floors.
Charcoal Lane is also involved with Mission Australia, so it's a place you can feel good about eating in. The restaurant provides skills, training and experience within the hospitality industry to Aboriginal youth so they have better job opportunities available to them.