Nagesh Seethiah recommends

ManzéMauritian flavours and Vin Naturel2/1 -5 Errol St, North Melbourne 

Since chef Nagesh Seethiah opened Manzé in late 2021 in North Melbourne, we’ve been eating and drinking there every opportunity we get! Nagesh feeds and nourishes the community with their seasonal set menus. The experience is always generous, and the dishes are made with incredible local produce, beautifully balanced and comforting. The space always feels so genuinely welcoming and thoughtful.

Manzé pays its drinks menu the same respect it does food. Focus is on sharing ethically sourced, sustainable products, where care given is to producers. It’s such an honour for T.I.N.A to have a place on the Manzé menu in the company of some delicious wines and spirits. We appreciate the support from our very beginning!

So obviously we were stoked when Nagesh agreed to give us the intel and share some of his favourite places to eat with us:

Udom House – North/West Melbourne

A great little cafe in North/West Melbourne that opened in 2021. They started with Thai flavoured pies, but just started offering a lunch and breakfast menu. Its around the corder from Manzé – I have the Thai omelette of Num Prik Ong a few times a week before work and never get tired of it.

Etta – Brunswick East

If I didn’t work nights and lived in Brunswick East, I’d likely be at Etta for a drink and a snack every week. Hannah has run her neighbourhood restaurant for 5 years now, and with Rosheen as head chef, it just keeps getting better and better!

Shop Bao Ngoc – Brunswick

You need to keep an eye on their instagram for weekend trade, but run there when you see Ngoc advertise their banh mi or specials on instagram! Truly some of the most generous, loving and caring people in Melbourne – what Ngoc and Matt do for the community out of their little shop is astounding.

Migrant Coffee – West Footscray

Melo and Stacey’s cafe in West Footscray is such an expression of culture – I really wish I lived closer so I could spend more time there! Great coffee, unreal bagels with Filipino and Island flavours – the space is always vibrant, full of energy and so family friendly. You’ll always feel welcome there.

To’s Bakery – Footscray

I love the selection of snacks and treats here and always stop in when I’m in Footscray. I know everyone has their banh mi spot, but the range and quality of snacks here is next level. And everyone is welcoming and friendly!

Imogen’s Top 5 Drink Picks for Summer

Summer’s been weird. 2-3 years ago would have seen me doing a lot of drinking at this time of year, along with Christmas wine matching and broken bottles in transit up and down the east coast. This year it’s wordle and chill – and much less wine. That being said – while I drink a lot less, there’s still so many quality craft drinks I enjoy. These also help provide inspiration for non alc. When I’m not drinking off the list below, you can find me enjoying a lager or a margarita. Here is my summer top 5.

WINE La Petit Mort – Stanthorpe

These are new wave wines out of Queensland’s granite belt. Chrissie and I have family in the region and know it well, having spent many Christmas holidays there. It’s great to see the evolution of wine styles here and this Gerwurtz blend is aromatic and interesting without being confronting. It’s made in a traditional terracotta qwervi – very much in vogue right now (and also 8000 years ago). Good value and great for warmer weather.

VERMOUTH Saison – Victoria

There is great enjoyment in an afternoon aperitif over ice. Saison Vermouth out of Victoria has been my go-to over summer. It’s made by Embla chef Dan Verheul and flavours seem to vary depending on what he sources. I’ve loved both walnut and quince. This also makes a great gift.

RHUM AGRICOLE Clairin – Haiti

Pre Christmas I attended a tasting of Clairin from Haiti at Where’s Nick. These wild spirits are made by micro distilleries within people’s backyards, using local sugarcane. The flavour profiles vary so much between producers – from truffles to sweet pepper to ginger, to a saline quality. These are worth seeking out for rum and spirit lovers.

G&T CANS Poor Tom’s – Marrickville

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Poor Tom’s as I spend a lot of time in Marrickville. These G&T cans are great for single serves after work or to bring to the beach when there is actually sun. I always love a can.

NON ALC PS40 Soda – Sydney CBD

Michael Chiem from PS40 bar in Sydney CBD has always been a magician with flavours. He’s used native ingredients in his unique range of sodas. Always great to keep in the fridge!

BAIJIU Moutai – China

This is veering as far away from non alc as you can get… but I have worked a lot in China over the past 10 years and have grown an appreciation for a controversial spirit category – baijiu. Similar to Italian or Japanese food pairing, baijiu is best served alongside a Chinese banquet – Moutai is made the Guizhou province so food of that region or neighbouring Sichuan is always a good bet. For spirit enthusiasts, the flavour profile is so complex and unlike anything else you will try from western liquor. I strongly feel drinks allow people to come together and I have seen Moutai do this many times – for better and for worse.