ABC Sport Reporter Tony Armstrong’s Drink Destination Faves

Former AFL footballer turned ABC TV News Breakfast sport reporter Tony Armstrong moved to Melbourne a decade ago and hasn’t had any reason to look back. He talks to The Write Drop about where he loves to drink and dine in his hometown, Melbourne.

The 33-year-old hasn’t quite adapted to life in the limelight despite winning Most Popular Presenter at the 63rd TV WEEK Logie Awards in July this year, but he’s found a way to finally lean into the fame that’s come his way.

Armstrong lives in Melbourne’s inner north and can be usually found at his favourite Japanese restaurant in Carlton North or at The Night Cat on Johnston Street. He describes his choices as low-key, usually places he turns up with friends or when he wants a quick meal for one.

“I came to Melbourne to play footy with the Pies and haven’t left,” says Tony Armstrong.

“I live in the inner north near Princess Park and love it here. You’ll find me at Heart Attack and Vine on Lygon Street Brunswick – a great little bar, but if it’s a night out on the weekend I’ll be at the Night Cat,” he says.

He was in Europe a few months ago taking a long overdue vacation holiday. Armstrong went to a friend’s wedding, took in the architecture in Copenhagen and ate his way to happiness in Italy and London. He even had a meal with John Cleese in Mayfair – a pinch me moment he is still reeling from. “I love eating and a bit too much,” Armstrong says.

For someone who starts his week days with a 3.15am alarm, coffee is his first port of call. But given his favourite cafes aren’t open yet – he makes a poor instant coffee to kick start the adrenalin.

“I have thought about buying a coffee machine and making myself a good one to start the day when the cafes aren’t open, but I’d rather take an extra 15 minutes for a sleep in over the coffee in the morning,” he says.

“When I do get one, it’s always from Brunswick Food Store and Heart Attack and Vine, but we really are spoilt for choice in Melbourne,” he says.

For pho, he recommends Good Days. “A restaurant so close to my house you can drop punt the meal into my kitchen,” he says. For a fancy step up, he’s at the Carlton Wine Room for share plates and wine. But it’s the secret treasure of Sushi Ten on Rathdowne Street that is a reliable go-to for a quick and easy Japanese meal.

Weekends are usually spent meeting friends at a pub to watch the footy and chew the fat.

“I love the Empress Hotel in North Fitzroy, it’s a bit off Broadway compared to The Great Northern, but I like the front bar there too.  To be honest, any of the pubs in inner north are fantastic in Melbourne. My mates are normally at one of them on a Saturday and I go and enjoy them to watch the footy and talk a bit of crap,” Armstrong says.

Supporting local bars is also his forte – you’ll find Armstrong at Amarillo on Brunswick Street Fitzroy or Gerald’s Bar in North Carlton. “I am a stickler for a negroni cocktail,” he says.

But when it comes to meals at home, Armstrong is like to cook you a tomato based ragu pasta dish. “A ragu rigatoni with chili in it and a big bold glass of red wine. I sound like a wanker don’t I,” he laughs.

He taught himself how to cook at home while watching YouTube tutorials and travel show logs. “I also love making a lamb shoulder Sunday roast or Penang curry.  I taught myself how to cook during lockdown. I got interested in it when I was at the end of my footy career and tried to get better at the home side. Like a lot of people, I upped my game in lockdown because there was nothing else to do and I do love cooking for friends when I can.”


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