Winter is Coming...

It has been a bitterly cold winter to date in Melbourne and you could be forgiven for thinking you were living in the Northern Hemisphere on some of those icy and gloomy mornings. But a cold, prolonged winter has a silver lining... comfort food and lots of it. We need to stack on those extra layers of fat to protect us from the elements and a food coma is just the trick. Our little hit list will help guide you to Melbourne's best destinations for resplendent, glorious comfort food that will help lift your spirits, even in the depths of this wild and wooly winter. 

FIVE WINTER DESTINATIONS THAT YOU MUST EXPERIENCE BEFORE THE BIG THAW: 

Zia Theresa, 90 Lygon St, Brunswick East

On a Wednesday night this charming and cosy Italian restaurant serves up a generous bowl of authentic and rustic pasta, plus a house wine for just $20. A fire flickers away and the glowing dining room is a welcome respite from the cold outside. A carb overload is encouraged here and the service is warm and cheery. 

Hakata Gensuke, 168 Russell Street, CBD

Patience is a virtue and you'll be waiting outside for a table in the big chill while you salivate over the extensive selection of ramen at this famous city locale but it's definitely worth the wait. Slurp down on a bowl of the signature pork bone broth or chow down on chicken karrage (Japanese deep fried chicken) and you'll soon forget the lashing wind and rain outside. Prices are very reasonable and the service is well, very Japanese and we just love their sense of boundless enthusiasm and fun. 

Marion's Wine Bar, 53 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

A smorgasbord of shared plates and impeccable vinos are the order of the day at this beautiful Fitzroy wine bar, run by the legendary Andrew McConnell. Oysters, confit duck, a whole rainbow trout and mussels and nduja are just some of the dishes designed to whet the appetite. Wines by the glass are on the expensive side but this is a Friday night destination for pure indulgence and quality. 

The Union Club Hotel, 164 Gore Street, Fitzroy

Another beauty north of the river, shoot some pool in front of the open fire at The Union Club and then tuck into some classic pub fare which includes the Holstein Chicken Schnitzel, a Panko crumbed free range chicken breast topped with fried egg and served with crispy bacon sauerkraut, our favourite dish. Beers flow, there's plenty of decent wine to quaff and the burgers are just $15 on Sunday's. Just a few solid reasons to hibernate here during those long winter weekends. 

Pho Hien Saigon, 3/284 Hampshire Road, Sunshine

Nothing but exemplary Pho served up at this Sunshine institution. The broth simmers for 12 hours and you can smell the flavours and aromatics as you walk in the door. Thin tender beef slices or chicken breast is served over chewy noodles with a delicious savoury broth to boot. Cheap, cheery and quite simply, a winter wonderland. 

Antonella Morelli