Eating cheaply and well in Melbourne and around Victoria

Cheap Eats: Melbourne 2010 - The Age

By Tricia Brown
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The Age Cheap Eats 2010

The Age Cheap Eats 2010 [©Penguin Books Australia]


Eating cheaply but eating well in Melbourne has never been easier with the recent release of The Age Cheap Eats 2010 edited by Nina Rousseau.

The 2010 edition contains more than 500 reviews including 100 new places to eat and drink. Melbourne city and suburbs are well covered but the country section makes finding cheap eats in wine regions around Victoria much easier.

If out in the vineyards and tiring of vine dining then grab the guide and find out where the locals go, that great little cafe or foodstore, bistro or wine bar. The Yarra Valley section, for example, recommends the Healesville Harvest for breakfast (which I can highly recommend) or try the dark red ale at White Rabbit Brewery. 

The Mornington Peninsula pages offer Montalto for lunch...but isn't that too fancy for cheap eaters? Not at the Piazza Cafe, which is the casual cousin of the swanky dining room next door. Or try Spuntino Pizzeria at T'Gallant Winery where abundance is the word.

Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula, Great Ocean Road and Central Victoria follow with plenty of recommendations that will have you eating well with money left over to spend at the cellar doors along the way.

Melbourne's best bars has a dedicated chapter and this year's guide has many new features scattered throughout including where to find the best burgers, best late-night eats, best chocolates etc along with the more quirky best souvlaki and best Yarra Valley brewery crawl.

A brand new coffee section featuring Melbourne's best coffee spots (this IS Melbourne after all) also has Matt Preston's picks for six of his favourite coffee places.

Maps are at the back and each review includes a page number reference to these maps, along with a Melway reference.

Sadly, as noted by editor Nina Rousseau, the current economic times have taken their toll with more restaurant closures than usual over the past year including Beetroot, Viet's Quan, Taj Agra and Taste of Africa, although the latter is apparently re-opening sometime in 2011.

Stars are awarded out of three for food, value, ambience, service and decor but paramount is the food and price. Some three-star favourites of mine include Ginger Garlic in Eltham, Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar in Bourke Street, The Grand in Richmond and Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander out in Healesville.

Bar Idda in Brunswick East is the 2010 Cheap Eats Champ, a worthy award for its seasonal, familial Sicilian food cooked with heart by Alfredo La Spina, along with its warm service and cosy atmosphere. The Country Champ title goes to Mr Hyde in Geelong who is also a three-star winner in Cheap Eats for three years running, a popular and deserving winner for its top-rate food.

Best Posh Eat goes to The Court House in North Melbourne with its fancy front bar, art deco detail, wood panelling and classy food - "It's posh but not too posh."

Tofu and good can it be? Well, at En Izakaya in Balaclava, quite remarkable it seems as they were awarded the World Food Dish of the Year. Part of their bar food menu it is "an amazing meeting of textures (soft, almost creamy, eggplant meets lightly crisp-fried tofu) and flavours (charred eggplant smothered in sweet miso paste)." 

With every listing tried and tested by a crack team of independent reviewers, Cheap Eats 2010 brings you all the know-how to eat and drink well around Melbourne and beyond and still stick to the budget.


The Age Cheap Eats 2010 edited by Nina Rousseau is published by Penguin Books (2010; RRP A$24.95). Subscribers of and Winepros Archive can purchase this book at 12.5% discount from our book partners Seekbooks (postage extra).



  • Central Victoria (VIC)
  • Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula (VIC)
  • Great Ocean Road (VIC)
  • Melbourne (VIC)
  • Mornington Peninsula (VIC)
  • Yarra Valley, Dandenongs and the Ranges (VIC)

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June 17th, 2010
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