10 May What’s Good Wednesdays: Jesse McTavish
Melbourne’s Best Restaurants Right Now, According to Melbourne’s Best Chefs and Pros, Every Wednesday.
Welcome Chef Jesse McTavish, the man regularly labeled “Australia’s best breakfast chef” and the Executive Chef responsible for arguably Melbourne’s most successful cafés (and consequently the wave of activewear breakfast goers who photograph first, eat second) at Top Paddock and The Kettle Black.
Since moving on as part-owner at The Kettle Black and Executive Chef across the group, McTavish now spends his time on consulting gigs across Bali, Byron, Melbourne (tough gig), but now he’s back opening Fitzroy’s latest café on everyone’s hit list with the boys from Bomba Bar in Nómada on Brunswick St (where Hammer & Tong used to be, RIP).
“Nómada’s an idea that Jesse Gerner and I have had for quite some time, this ‘daytime tapas bar’. It’s tailor-made breakfast eliminating the whole ‘sides’ section of a menu that often gets forgotten and pisses the kitchen off because it stops the workflow. So now we’re celebrating it and giving them as much time as the mains.”
McTavish grew up hunting and gathering, well before the Instagram lords started calling themselves ‘foragers’, so expect lots of alternative flavours and seasonings they’ve collected or developed themselves at Nómada. Think homemade bacon with a potato sauce served through a siphon and sangria flavours in the form of sorbets and gels – it’s easy to tell Jesse Gerner is a co-owner. McTavish’s favourite? Sweet Pumpkin Porridge with almond milk and sultanas rehydrated in sherry.
The vibe of McTavish’s favourite Melbourne restaurants right now? Genuine. If there’s one thing we know it’s that he doesn’t dig pretentiousness and neither do we, so this list will sit just fine. If restaurants that walk the walk without having to talk the talk are your vibe, check out Chef Jesse McTavish’s five best Melbourne restaurants right now in his What’s Good Wednesday List.
1. South Yarra – RAMBLR
PERFECT FOR: Casual Dinner / Easy Eating
WHY: “I could eat here once a week. Every time I do Ramblr it’s because it’s so approachable – the food is something we all love to eat but with an exciting twist. It’s professional without being stuffy and it’s not pretentious, which you can find at a few too many places across Melbourne these days.”
GO-TO DISH: “Half Roast Chicken with garlic cream, grilled leek and jus gras.”
2. Melbourne CBD – TIPO 00 (Italian)
Perfect For: Lazy Dinner / Celebrating / Classic Dining
WHY: “It’s so approachable. It’s loud, it’s fun and the food’s epic without any pretentiousness. Their respect of keeping it simple with no overworking is why it’s in my top five. Every single time, you can’t fault anything they do.”
GO-TO DISH: “The Rabbit Tagliatelle w Gippsland rabbit, olives & oregano.”
3. South Yarra – FRANCE SOIR (French)
PERFECT FOR: Celebrating / Dinner w Parents / Classic Dining / Date Night
WHY: “It’s classic French Bistro. The Steak Frites and three different types of oysters are just perfect for me. It’s approachable for anyone from 15-85 yrs old. It’s incredibly consistent, iconic and doesn’t let you down – that’s what Mum and Dad need when you take them out.”
GO-TO DISH: “Steak Frites.”
4. Armadale – AMARU (Mod Aus)
PERFECT FOR: Feeling Lux / Date Night / Special Occasion
WHY: “In a genre that can be so wanky and so pretentious, Clinton gets it right and sets the benchmark for professionalism in fine dining. They don’t take the piss – a lot of the tacky theater stuff at fine dining venues really shits me and Clinton doesn’t do that – just cracking, progressive dishes. Not one person I’ve sent there hasn’t said it was awesome.”
GO-TO DISH: “It changes all the time. Just let them feed you.”
5. Melbourne CBD – CITY BBQ (Chinese)
Perfect For: Hangover Cure / Fast AF / Cheap Eats / Dining Solo
WHY: “After a big night, I go there and get Roast Duck at about 1 pm in the afternoon when my stomach can handle it. I sussed it out about five years ago after trying a bunch of roast duck places and City BBQ was the best. My mind just needs consistency when I’m in that state. Their service is abrupt and almost rude with plastic plates but now I’ve been so much I don’t have to order and they’re stoked to see me. Perfect for when it’s cold and raining to grab a table for one, drink Tsing Tao and smash half a duck or a whole bird – who am I kidding?”
GO-TO DISH: “Half Roast Duck. I’ve been known to eat a whole one…”
That’s Chef Jesse McTavish and this is What’s Good!
Access the local venues that Australia’s best chefs and pros dine at. Hit Hood Food Guide up: