Those that have known me for a long time know that I have been on the elusive search it seems, for a gay winemaker. There is no ulterior motive here other than I have thought for a long time that the creativity and artistic drive it takes to make wine, as well as the precise science in getting it right, should appeal to the gays like me…
When I was an apprentice chef, it was an industry of flamboyance and personality, and gay chefs were everywhere. Now it seems they are rarer than rocking horse shit and I often pause to consider what ever happened to them all? Front of house still has its fair share of representation and I am sure there are lesbian chefs across the country ready to remind me that they are part of our community as well, and yes, that point is taken. So it has been a nice experience to find some gay owned or operated.
There are also many venue owners and operators who are gay or lesbian, and so I thought it was time to have a look at the gay dining agenda in Melbourne.
There are literally hundreds of venues that are GLBT owned in Melbourne where you can enjoy great food, excellent wine and terrific service. Happy for more to be added to this list – maybe it can become the definitive lesbian and gay dining guide to Melbourne. Feel free to offer a comment or two if you have found a venue where you live.
With the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival kicking off this week, there may just be some visitors to the festival who want to support the LGBT community that they may or may not be a part of.
Jason McLaren Jones and his partner Brahman Perera are the people behind four Melbourne venues – Porgie and Mr Jones in Hawthorn, Friends of Mine in Richmond, Snow Pony in Balwyn and Mazzitell in in Richmond. All are terrific venues and cover breakfast, lunch and dinner so check them out.
On the south side is Fitzrovia on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda. Owned by chef Paul Jewson and front of house Manager Marco, these partners in life have lived and worked together for 20 years or more. Their food is impressive and the service is impeccable, so it is well worth a visit for some seasonal fare. A commitment to fresh, local and seasonal produce is paramount to them and it is prevalent in their ever changing menu.
While in this area, also check out Illona Staller in Balaclava and Cicciolina in Acland Street, St Kilda. Owned by some lovely ladies, these venues have cemented their place on the Melbourne culinary landscape and are highly respected in the industry. Great spots to eat for sure.
Longrain, with venues in Melbourne and Sydney, are regarded very highly for their impressive Thai food. Chef and partner in the business is the very lovely Martin Boetz, a proud member of our community and a terrific chef with an extraordinary understanding of the nuances of Thai food. You can find Longrain in Melbourne in Little Bourke Street, at the Paris end of Chinatown and in Sydney’s Surry Hills. It should be on everyone’s list of dining options at least once.
Then there is the amazing empire of the indefatigable Vernon Chalker. His venues include Madam Brussels in Bourke Street, Collins Quarter and Ra in Collins Street, Bar Ampere and The Gin Palace in Russell Place in Melbourne. Each of them with their own wonderful history and personalities, they are all excellent venues in which to eat and drink in Melbourne town. Some of the best spots for a cocktail once your done with everything else.
If you are on Commercial Road in South Yarra, the Hotel Prince Max is a great place to stop for a beverage or a meal. Owned by the effervescent Michael Broderick, it’s been a stalwart on Commercial Road for decades and has been restored somewhat to its former glory. A great operator and a terrific venue for a pre show or event dinner. They have a tidy wine list and a great outdoor area for sips and nibbles.
On Cato Street in Prahran you will find Ice Café. Open for breakfast and lunch every day, and dinner on some days, this is another community hangout. Owned by everyone’s favourite lad, Liam Quinn, the venue is well worth a stop in if you need to cure yourself from the night before, or if you need to recover from the gym across the other side of the street. Either way, it’s a great place to see and be seen.
Aptly named The Bottom End at the Spencer Street end of Little Collins. The love child of an honest pub and a down home party girl, this venue is the brain child of Michael Delany Korabelnikova. It’s the home of Poof Doof so a great place to get your boogie on, as well as a US style diner to make sure the stomach is lined. I can attest to the mac cheese balls and warn they are addictive. Delaney Korabelnikova has been behind some other terrific Melbourne venues and is quite smooth operator.
There are many more venues that have a strong GLBT flavor and I suggest you ask your friends for recommendations of any they know – these are but a few that are worth looking at if you are here for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and want to join the Gay dining agenda.