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*Title Photo: Pure South’s King Island pasture fed wallaby, parsnip, native pepperberry sauce – Photo credit: Pure South Dining

As the colder months approach, Southgate restaurants are keeping Melburnians warm with new menus integrating the best local and regional produce, limited edition specialty drinks and dishes, and a range of foodie events including makers dinners, regional foodie fests, opera nights and Mother’s Day high teas.

 Innovative winter menus incorporate some of the best seasonal produce to create indulgent meals, with new offerings providing the perfect excuse to revisit a favourite Southgate venue, or discover a new haunt amongst the 13-strong staple of restaurants, bars and cafes.

 Melbourne’s beloved risotteria, the award winning Tutto Bene, is adding six new dishes that deliver a taste of winter to their menu. Hot picks include the Finocchio, a roast baby fennel with snap fried khol rabi and the Pannacotta di gianduia, a stunning hazelnut chocolate pannacotta with lemon gelato and fennel pollen. Plus of course, risotto, always risotto.

Risotto Masterclass at Tutte Bene Photo Credit: Tutte Bene
Risotto Masterclass at Tutto Bene
Photo credit: Tutto Bene

“We love working with fennel at this time of year – it grows in abundance and you can be creative with how you use it in both savoury and sweet dishes. It is such a versatile plant, with all parts being edible from bulb, stalks, leaves and seeds, while the fronds and pollen are great accents to any dish,” says Nathan.

 Tutto Bene’s risotto masterclasses are back by popular demand, on 13 June and 11 July. Clue: if you’re using Arborio, you’re doing it wrong. The event includes a take home goodie bag with all the right ingredients. Book pronto, as it’s tipped to sell out.

 Waterslide’s new cocktail list delivers some of their most creative winter-warmer concoctions yet. ‘Auntie Faye’s Cure No.23’ is inspired by the head bartender’s Auntie Faye, who would add a large measure of bourbon to her apple and rhubarb pie to cure your ailments. The cocktail version takes over 24 hours to prepare, delivering powerful punch of flavour with spiced rhubarb, apple syrup, and a hit of bourbon, topped with custard, rhubarb skins and crush. Guaranteed to kick your winter chills to the kerb.

'Aunty Faye's Cure No. 23' Cocktail -Waterslide Bar Photo Credit: Waterslide Bar
‘Aunty Faye’s Cure No. 23’ cocktail – Waterslide Bar
Photo credit: Waterslide Bar

 A commitment to provenance is something a number of Southgate chefs are passionate about, whether that means working with the best local suppliers of fresh produce, or paying homage to a specific region of the world via carefully curated local and international ingredients.

 Pure South Dining brings the best of Tasmania to the table and their extensive wine menu is perfectly curated to match the impressive food offering. During May and June, a series of wine dinners will be taking place providing the chance to sample incredible wines from bespoke Tasmanian wineries Piper’s Brook, Moorilla and Torbreck accompanied by special menus from their Michelin star chef, David Hall.

Pure South's King Island Beef Tartare, taco, daikon, avocado, finger lime Photo credit: Pure South
Pure South’s King Island Beef Tartare, taco, daikon, avocado, finger lime
Photo credit: Pure South

 BearBrass has secured the makers of three of their favourite Yarra Valley producers to attend their special ‘A Taste of the Yarra’ event on Sunday 27 May. With tastings on offer from Napoleone Beer & Cider, Four Pillars Gin and TarraWarra Estate, patrons can also enjoy a special Yarra Valley Bar Menu accompanied with live music from Rory McKenna across the afternoon.

 La Camera Southgate is bringing regional Italy to Melbourne with Gior D’Italia. Friendly chefs will lead diners through a culinary tour, using their daily specials as their flavour passport. Each week in May a different region will take the spotlight with a selection of delicious meals showcasing the unique elements of the selected district. It’s a tour of Italy with a view of the Yarra River.

La Camera’s Opera Nights have become a fixture on the calendar for many, combining culture and cuisine in one electrifying evening. The next event takes place on Monday 28 May, when the souring voices of Samantha Du Rennes, Suzanne Shakespere, Lino Del Giudice and Richard Thomas will come together to give the ultimate wine and dine experience, enjoyed over a set three course menu.

 Waterslide is hosting a bevy of special events throughout the cooler months, including their own Waterslide Gin & Tonic Appreciation Day on Thursday 3 May and Waterslide’s Rum Day on Thursday 14 June. June will also see the return of their (literally) hot ‘Fitzroy Hipster’ cocktail, back by popular demand. Available for a limited time only, the delicious combination of spiced whipped butter and rum is Waterslide’s take on the classic Hot Buttered Rum and is guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out.

 Pure South Dining is hosting a unique King Island Degustation Dinner on 1 June, celebrating the world-renowned produce from the island’s wild shores and seas. The intimate dinner will showcase some of the restaurant’s most remote, and in some cases exclusive, suppliers from King Island’s farms, dairies and fisherman. For example, the newly available King Island wallaby is now on the Pure South menu, but cannot be found anywhere else on the mainland.

Sunday blues are a thing of the past thanks to the continuing ‘Free Flowing Champagne Sunday Lunch’ at Pure South Dining. Enjoyed with either a two or three course lunch, Pure South will be rotating the bubbles with Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut, Bollinger Special Cuvee and Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial. Sunday afternoons never looked so good.

 Southgate is home to fifteen diverse restaurants, bars and eateries with cuisines ranging from German to Tasmanian to modern European. A range of boutique retailers including vintage fashion, books and stationery can also be found within the precinct.

Tutto Bene's Finocchio Photo credit: Tutto Bene
Tutto Bene’s Finocchio
Photo credit: Tutto Bene

**Information and Images Courtesy of Southgate restaurants/supplied by Fuller PR – Keryn O’Donnell & Keshia Hutchens

P.J.O'Briens Winter Seafood Chowder Photo credit: P.J.O'Brien's
P.J.O’Briens Winter Seafood Chowder
Photo credit: P.J.O’Brien’s

Connie Lambeth

The Australia Times News

Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events

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A Taste of the Middle East – Bar Saracen Opens in Melbourne CBD


Bar Saracen is the creation of Joseph Abboud, who owns and runs Lygon street institution Rumi, and Moor’s Head restaurants, together with Front of House pro, Ari Vlassopoulous. They have recruited Tom Sarafian to head the kitchen. Tom has been working with Joseph at Rumi for the past three years and his CV includes Mo Mo in Melbourne and St Johns and Moro in London, amongst others.

Saracen is a word, initially meaning anyone from the Middle East, but then during the Crusades it came to mean an Arab from the Middle East. Ironically, the Arabs didn’t know they were being called Saracen.

With Joseph’s heritage from Lebanon and Ari’s from Greece, they both liked the word and its meaning, and settled on this as the name of their first joint venture.

For the menu, Joseph and Tom began dabbling in more refined Middle Eastern dishes at Rumi and will evolve these ideas at Bar Saracen, including a range of mezze, barbecue and larger dishes, and sweets. In time there will be a tasting menu available.


In creating their new restaurant and transforming the space that was once Rosa’s Kitchen, Joseph and Ari have been busy knocking down walls – Joe is good with a hammer while Ari is better with a brush, painting the place with whatever was in his parent’s garage.

Bar Saracen is now a fifty-odd seat restaurant with banquettes, a private table, a bar that can seat eight, and window tables with stools to watch the passing parade.

A couple of beers on tap, others in in bottles and cans; wine is a short list of Australian and imported wines, with the imported varieties coming from wherever Arabs have been: Spain, Southern Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and more, with a few pleasant surprises thrown in.

Bar Saracen opens Tuesday to Friday for lunch and dinner, and Saturday for dinner only.

Joseph and Ari suggest people drop in for a drink and a snack, a quick meal before the theatre, or stay for the tasting menu or more if they want.


Bar Saracen

22 Punch Lane

Melbourne 3000

Phone: 03 8639 0265


Instagram @barsaracen

Information and Images Courtesy of Bar SaracenJoseph Abboud


Connie Lambeth

The Australia Times News

Editor GOURMET – Food/Wine/Events

Follow us on Instagram:


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