This article first appeared in the WSOP 2012 special issue of World Gaming magazine.
With its stable of award-winning restaurants, world-famous chefs and ever-expanding list of new developments, Crown is arguably Australia’s most impressive dining precinct.
With around 40 restaurants throughout the entire complex it’s difficult to visit them all regularly, but over the years this bear has enjoyed countless meals at a wide range of Crown’s restaurants. Boasting a range of premium restaurants offering a vast variety of world cuisine coupled with high-quality service, Crown is firmly entrenched in Melbourne’s vibrant culinary scene. Combine this with an ideal location on the banks of the iconic Yarra River and you have a host of bustling riverside eateries to chose from, allowing diners to enjoy views of downtown Melbourne while tantalizing their taste buds in style. Here’s a selection of my favorite dining haunts at Crown to whet your appetite.
Inspired by a selection of France’s popular neighborhood bistros, sophisticated culinary temple Bistro Guillaume is a popular choice for those looking for a bit of European flair. A fine example of contemporary Australian cuisine with French influences, Bistro Guillaume is the home of French-born master chef Guillaume Brahimi. Boasting a list of accolades too long to mention Guillaume is firmly planted in the hearts of diners as the country’s most revered French chef. Health-conscious guests can choose from a wide range of main course size salads. Diners who are looking for something a little more robust should make a point of sampling Guillaume’s signature dishes such as beef bourguignon, bouillabaisse, duck parmentier, Berkshire pork belly and crème brûlée, which are all expertly prepared.
Those after a true ocean to plate experience should visit Melbourne’s largest seafood restaurant, The Atlantic, which serves a selection of high-caliber pristine fresh seafood straight from the pans of multi-award winning chef, Donovan Cooke. Center stage is the kitchen with Donovan at his 30-foot long, three-ton bespoke oven surrounded by a brigade of 28 chefs, sous chefs and pastry chefs servicing the 300-seat restaurant. The Atlantic is Crown’s largest restaurant, but has been cleverly designed for intimacy.
Another stylish venue featuring clever design is cutting-edge gastro-pub The Merrywell in Crown’s emerging West End precinct. Melbourne’s hottest new bar and restaurant, The Merrywell opened in April and is a modern interpretation of a gastronomy-driven pub offering a trail-blazing blend of quality food, drink and service. The venue is casual yet unpretentious and was designed by Melbourne-based leading architects and interior designers, Mills Gorman, who have maximized the site’s expansive views of the Yarra River. In addition to the stunning view The Merrywell boasts a series of inviting spaces that combine to create one of Melbourne’s most innovative dining venues. The eye-catching décor includes unexpected design details such as an illuminated wall made of 9,000 beer bottles. Whether dining solo, as a couple or celebrating with a crowd, this is a great venue to gather, graze, unwind, relax and have fun.
Nobu is amongst the world’s most recognized Japanese restaurants. Known for its innovative new-style Japanese/Peruvian cuisine Nobu started as a business partnership in 1994 between chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his partners, actor Robert De Niro, producer Meir Teper and managing partner Richie Notar. With the original restaurant in New York, the Nobu brand is now established in many locations around the world including London, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Milan, Hong Kong and Waikiki, and features in the Michelin Guide. For a more indepth look at the Nobu dining experience read our review on page 34.
More expressions of the Orient are on offer at Crown’s iconic Chinese restaurant, Silks, which has recently welcomed two-Michelin-star chef Peter Chan as the new executive chef. Formerly executive chef of two-Michelin-star restaurant Wing Lei, located at Wynn Macau, chef Chan is revered for his innovation, creativity and authentic Cantonese dishes. He is regarded as one of Asia’s most consistent chefs and secured a Michelin star for two consecutive years before being awarded a second Michelin star for Wing Lei in the 2012 Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide.
Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar
Fans of more traditional cuisine will appreciate Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar located on level one of the Crown Metropol hotel. The restaurant caters to diners and hotel guests alike and the menu is a tribute to British dishes, which have been re-invented and modernized. Evocative of the best British cooking with a hint of nostalgia, the dishes are a showcase for executive chef John Lawson’s immeasurable talent and skill. Influenced by dining in New York, Melbourne and London, Lawson applies traditional French cooking techniques in a modern context and has created a menu that is reflective of his British heritage and love of comforting dishes that burst with “big flavors”.
Rockpool Bar & Grill
Connoisseurs of Wagyu beef will be drawn to Rockpool Bar & Grill to experience why Neil Perry’s signature beef meals receive world-wide recognition. Rockpool Wagyu beef hangs in a chiller room with viewing windows, as part of the traditional dry ageing process. Before carving into a first-class cut, drop into Perry’s glittering cocktail bar, The Waiting Room, which serves a selection of spectacular cocktails and sumptuous snacks ideal to start or finish any evening.
Fans of fusion-based food should visit Spice Temple, which offers Asian-fusion at its best combined with a sexy interior, spice-filled menu and a cocktail list to rival the best bars in Melbourne.
Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons
Those after a more opulent dining experience should visit Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons. Inspired by a vision of a third millennium Roman Trattoria Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons illustrates a contemporary idea of Rome within the heart of Melbourne. The brainchild of Maurizio Terzini and Robert Marchetti, the restaurant offers Marchetti’s own salumi range, cheeses matured by Assineur Richard Thomas and wines made in Italian styles by local vineyards, providing guests with an authentic Italian dining experience with expert service.
All these top restaurants are located amongst other established favorites such as Koko offering traditional and teppanyaki Japanese, Number 8 restaurant and wine bar serving modern Australian dishes, JJ’s Bar & Grill, Breezes and the recently reopened Conservatory. Crown has a superb choice of top-class restaurants and there is something on offer to cater for every palate.