What is fine dining? Is it white linen tablecloths, waiters in tuxedos, candlelight and champagne on ice? Is it upscale clientele, snooty sommeliers and strict dress codes? Or does fine dining simply mean good food and wine in whatever form it takes?
According to some of the world's best chefs, fine dining can be a number of things.
For Ashley Palmer-Watts of London's Dinner by Heston, fine dining is about quality, technique and execution as well as pureness and balance. It's a special feeling and experience, exquisite, aspirational and delicious.
For Gabriel Kreuther of New York's Gabriel Kreuther, fine dining is about avoiding trends and staying with what you believe is good. Authenticity, he says, is the key to his 21 years of success.
For René Redzepi of Denmark's Noma, fine dining is about cuisine that reflects the soil, topography and climate of the location in which it's cooked.
And in Melbourne? Well you'll just have to visit one of these fine dining restaurants to find out.
Radii Restaurant & Bar explores Modern Australian cuisine, as Head Chef Craig Sung leads his team in an exciting and innovative direction. Different from your traditional multi-course fine dining experience, Radii offers a sharing style menu which is refined and globally-inspired.
Let your Chefs take the lead and share a sumptuous feast that's crafted daily and showcases the country's best seasonal produce. Choose a little or a lot, it's up to you.
Grossi Florentino is steeped in tradition. The restaurant is where you'll find genuine hospitality entwined with luxurious dining and exquisite wine. The Italian-inspired menu highlights raw, seasonal produce, while the wine list navigates you through the idyllic beauty that is both Australia and Italy.
The service is precise, the food memorable, and the atmosphere outstanding. Diners are delivered an experience full of depth — not only in style, but in regional representation.
What began as a humble desire to serve Cantonese food to the people of Melbourne has grown into one of the city's most-loved Chinese restaurants. Even the most critical of food critics are sent into a flurry at Flower Drum and with Executive Chef, Anthony Lui's at the helm, it's little wonder why.
Flower Drum could rival any dominant restaurant and is well known for its elements of refinement and delicacy. It combines great food, fine wine and impeccable service to deliver something truly unique and special.
Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne is an American-inspired steakhouse that sources meat and fish from Australia's very best producers. It offers an incredible wine list and sharp, enthusiastic service, and perfects the refined yet relaxed experience.
The menu is simple yet packed with choice, with everything from cured ocean trout to spanner crab pasta, confit lamb ribs, free range duck and Cape Grim beef. The sides are delicious and desserts amazing.
Conveniently located between Collins St and Little Collins St, Syracuse Restaurant & Wine Bar makes the most of the tree-lined pedestrian thoroughfare it sits on. Bank Place is one of Melbourne's hippest hot spots and the atmosphere in Syracuse is always buzzing.
With lush outdoor seating, ornate archways, soaring ceilings, curving chandeliers, soft lighting, antique furniture and great wine filling every nook and cranny, the mood is romantic and welcoming. As for the food, the menu is simple, elegant and mouth-wateringly exquisite.
The name 'Tonka' might be named after its once iconic nightclub persona, but Tonka is a far cry from the hedonistic partying days of Honkytonks. Today, Tonka is inspired by the city of Jodhpur in India, an aesthetic concept of blues and pinks that is delightfully calming. Art adorned ceilings by Melbourne artist Naomi Troski depict the magic of India, and are the hero of the space.
Tonka is a fine dining favourite that combines cocktails with the vibrancy of Indian flavours. The restaurant has been causing a stir since it first opened its doors in 2013. If you want fine dining which is relaxed yet substantial, this is the place.
A pioneer of laneway dining in Melbourne, Punch Lane has been a local's favourite since 1995. Situated in the heart of Melbourne's entertainment district it's popular with theatre-goers and long-lunchers needing a break from shopping. Grab a $40 express lunch and enjoy two courses and a glass of wine. Or, put yourself in Executive Chef Giselle Saffigna's hands and enjoy a five course tour of the exquisite menu.
Choose a la carte and enjoy dishes like grouper, whole john dory, porterhouse steak and gnocchi. If you're opting for dessert, be sure to ask for the quince, gingerbread and yoghurt ice cream.
Fine dining is about what you make it to be, but in a nutshell it should represent a performance or a journey. Think of it as if you're going to a play or show – fine dining allows you to tell stories about its splendour. As long as there's a higher art to how you experience it, the story could be subtle or bold. It's about creating memories, sharing good wine, and enjoying the moment.