Arbory Location: Flinders Walk, CBD, Melbourne Contact: 03 8648 7644 Taking up residence in Finders Street Station’s disused Sandridge Line, Arbory bar and eatery boasts stunning views of Melbourne’s Yarra River, good booze and scrumptious bar food. The slick, 150m deck means getting a seat is (generally) not an issue, although Friday nights are known to draw large crowds. The delicious menu by Raúl Moreno Yagüe (ex-Vue de Monde) is wine-centric (think crispy pork belly and fried calamari), and there are some gorgeous rosés, pinot gris, Mornington Peninsula pale ales, Golden Axe ciders and Brooklyn lagers to keep all alcohol enthusiasts happy.
The Crux and Co Location: 35 Albert Road, South Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9820 1081 South Melbourne’s newest addition to the brunch rotation is a massive, 110-seater space with a killer menu and round the clock fresh pastries. It’s one of those places that, despite only opening a month ago, is already a hub of activity and still somewhere that is intimate enough to encourage visitors to sit for a while and enjoy the surroundings. Owner Kevin Li (who also brought us Lights in the Attic) and manager James Julian have designed the space to be somewhere that visitors can lounge and relax, without the pressure of being pushed out. That means light-filled spaces with wooden features and pot plants throughout, and service that focuses on making patrons feel like they’re at home.
Street Talk Espresso Location: 710 High Street, Armadale, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9509 9687 Dean Fourtzis has created a warm and inviting cafe with a simple ethos of quality coffee, excellent food and personable service. Hiding away from the main High Street drag in Armadale, the intimate venue focuses on delicious meals and snacks, often with Greek and Middle Eastern influences. Coffee is a focus here, with Dean roasting his own coffee for service in house. The 5th avenue house blend is available exclusively at Street Talk, while other batches are available for wholesale.
The Stables of Como Location: Corner Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra & Toorak, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9827 6886 Set amongst the lush surrounds of the heritage-listed Como House and gardens in South Yarra, The Stables of Como brings a surprisingly relaxed, country-style space to one of inner-city Melbourne’s poshest suburbs. The cafe itself occupies the old stables of the gardens; a light and airy, white-washed space that sprawls out into a plush green courtyard and manicured greens. Dogs are welcome (expect to see a few insta-famous pups on the weekend) and one should expect a wait – it seems like everyone is aware that this spot is a bit of bliss on a sunny afternoon.
East Ivy Location: 6 Burton Crescent, Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Melbourne Contact: 03 9499 8186 One of the East’s best cafes is (in, mind you, true Melbournian style) hiding in a street off a main road in a non-descript building in Ivanhoe. For those in the know, the cafe, East Ivy, brings all the finesse of its sister restaurant Lux Foundry to the fore, and then some. The all day menu is accessible as ever, aiming for broad appeal with a blend of Melbournian brekkie staples as well as a few unique touches. Coffee is by Proud Mary, teas by Larsen & Thompson (yes please), and the food is reliably good. All of the things one would expect from a crew who clearly know the brunch game back to front.
Meatball and Wine Bar Location: 135 Flinders Lane, CBD, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9654 7545 Most of you would be familiar with the Meatball and Wine Bar. Melbourne’s first artisan meatball restaurant, which launched in the CBD and has now expanded to three outlets across Melbourne, has quickly become renowned for its highly customisable meatball offering, which includes balls of the beef, chicken, pork, fish and vegetable varieties. Once you’ve picked your balls, ordering is a simple affair – add a hearty, creamy or light sauce and something for your balls to sit on (who can go past a good ol’ mash?) and voila, you’ve got yourself one lip-smacking meal.
Fitzrovia Location: 155 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC Contact: 03 9537 0001 It doesn’t feel quite right to call Fitzrovia a cafe. Yes, the St Kilda eatery serves stellar brunches and a well thought out dinner service, however the combination of unique, homely touches and luxe comfort food make the whole experience of dining at Fitzrovia more akin to being invited for dinner at a lavish house party, rather than within the walls of a restaurant itself. It’s a distinguishing feature, and a wonderful reminder that friendly service and atmosphere play as much a part in contributing to repeat business as does getting the menu right.
Laneway Greens Location: 242 Flinders Lane, CBD, Melbourne Contact: 03 9639 0619 We’re not usually ones to rave on about salad bars. Don’t get me wrong – E and myself eat pretty healthy 80% of the time (yes, we do have to actively combat the
damage positive effects that food writing has on our bodies), and the nature of our working hours means that we frequent salad bars such as Crisp and Famish’d two to three times a week. However, I can’t say that we’ve ever been head over heels in love with an eatery whose main offering is salad.
Enter Laneway Greens.
Nestled in Flinders Lane and Wedged in between the buzz of Swanston and Elizabeth Streets, this salad, smoothie and juice bar delivers haute greens, with a conscious commitment to feeding diners with thoughtful flavour pairings and seasonal ingredients. Each offering has been mindfully crafted, with items like the wombok chicken slaw a light take on the Thai chicken larb gai. Then there’s Korean-influenced chargrilled beef bowl, which comes with a healthy bed of cauliflower rice and lashings of kimchi.
Bowery to Williamsburg Midtown Location: 123 Hardware Street, CBD, Melbourne 3000 Contact: 03 9077 0162 We first visited Bowery to Williamsburg back when the original New York-themed cafe opened up in Melbourne’s graffiti-laden Hosier Lane, which is located near the Paris end of Melbourne’s CBD. Serving up an incredible list of sandwiches and bagels housing slow-cooked lamb shoulder, hot smoked salmon and organic chicken, we instantly fell in love with the hearty flavours of America’s finest. Since then, Bowery to Williamsburg has also opened up shop on the other side of the city in Hardware Street, offering the same, lip-smackingly-good fare as its parent restaurant.
Hunters’ Roots Location: 26 Katherine Place, Melbourne VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9629 9587 Hunters’ Roots is one of those places that is so easy to fall in love with – co-founders Jeff and Kerry Chew are an absolute delight, and have worked hard to create a unique space that focuses on fresh produce, seasonality and sustainability. Processed, pre-packaged items are an absolute no-no here – the duo takes pride in making most of the menu items in-house, with a range of lip-smacking healthy juices, smoothies and daily, super-food-packed salads doing the rounds. My sister, T is a repeat offender; the ‘Purple Rain’ is darn addictive (a life-changing blend of dragonfruit, local berries, banana, coconut yoghurt, coconut milk and camu camu), as is the green day.
Sardi Location: 111 Church Street, Hawthorn VIC 3122 Contact: 03 9818 6140 Sardi may be located away from the main strip of shops on Church Street, but you can’t miss it – the vibrantly coloured graffiti sign that adorns the brick wall beckons all in. And the food that comes out of this small cafe seems to be keeping patrons coming back for more – the space has well and truly become a staple port of call for many discerning locals.
Girl with the Gris Gris Location: Ding Dong Lounge, 18 Market Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9514 4577 Girl with the Gris Gris is a unique venue which capitalises on Melbourne’s love for live music and hearty food. The restaurant itself is nestled inside Market Lane’s vibrant Ding Dong Lounge bar, meaning that diners can enjoy live and eclectic local, national and international rock, hip-hop and electro music whilst tucking into local chef Chris Weysham’s modern take on New Orleans cuisine. That means filling serves of shrimp etouffee, spinach madeleine crab dip and grilled eggplant po boys alongside the tunes of artists like The Melvins, Silversun Pickups, The White Stripes, Plan B, The Kills, Peaches, Mike Patton, Ariel Pink, Death From Above 1979, Supersuckers and The Ting Tings, to name a few.
The Green is hidden through an arched door on the grounds of the St Columb’s Church. The high ceilings and warm tungsten light have a light and airy vibe with the cafe never feeling overcrowded. Anushka Chai Latte $4.5 Served in a hearty mug with honey on the side to add your sweetness to taste, this was the perfect drink for a Melbourne winter’s day.
Arbory Location: Flinders Walk, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9621 2260 “Slow down, stay awhile” is the mantra of Melbourne’s latest bar and eatery, with Arbory opening up on the banks of the Yarra. Located next to Flinders Street’s Platform 13, the new bar stretches 120 metres long and takes up the location of an abandoned train line which was first used by Australia’s steam railway. The product of a joint venture between HQ Group (the restauranteurs behind Coffee HQ) and Metro Trains, the light-filled, airy space boasts a large wooden deck and illuminated shipping containers designed by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects.
I am constantly astounded by the quality and diversity of food that is offered in Melbourne. Having recently returned from travelling and working overseas (where I had the pleasure of dining at quite a few Michelin-starred restaurants), I can comfortably say that Melbourne offers some of the best restaurants and cafes in the world, which, believe it or not, I much preferred over their Michelin-starred counterparts. This past month I have been very ‘busy’ re-acquainting my palette with Melbourne food. Here are a few favourites that I’d happily eat at (over and over) again: Hinoki Japanese Pantry Location: 279 Smith Street, Fitzroy, VIC 0065 Contact: 03 9417 4531 Fonda Mexican Location: 248 Swan Street, Richmond, VIC 3121 Contact: 03 9429 0085 Jinda Thai Location: 7 Ferguson St, Abbotsford, VIC 3067 Contact: 03 9419 5899
Green Press Location: Shop 7, 525 Little Collins St Melbourne, VIC 3000 Contact: 03 9973 8286 There’s something really special about Green Press. A visit to the little shopfront, tucked away between skyscrapers off Little Collins, can be described as more of a daily ritual and mindset than anything else – whether you’re in desperate need of a detox, a boost to the system, or just want to give your body that little bit more green lovin’, GP has got you covered. And while Green Press is perhaps best known for its range of vibrantly, cheekily-named pressed juices, the Green Press team have worked hard to make the offering much, much more than that – bowls of vegan bolognese fly off the shelves during the lunch hour, and the store also serves a tempting brekkie of acai bowls in the morning. On the day that we visit, there’s a constant stream of customers; from suits to gym junkies, people come back, and for good reason.
Mr Hendricks Location: 469 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, VIC 3103 Contact: (03) 9830-7579 Mr Hendricks has always had a soft spot in my books, and remains one of my favourite places to brunch in Melbourne – the fit out is divine (make sure you take a seat outdoors in the lovely decked courtyard out back), crisp and polished, and the brunch menu never fails to surprise. The coconut and tapioca pudding, topped with sticky pineapple, almonds and sultanas, was incredible – warm and comforting, it was rich yet delicate at the same time, and packed with such a smooth mix of flavours. As I was saying – divine!
Market Lane Coffee Location: 163 Commercial Rd South Yarra, VIC 3141 Contact: 03 9804 7434 The low down: a minimalist institution, Market Lane Coffee is tucked away at the back of the gorgeous Prahan Market. Locals can head down for a quick fix or to the giant’s other shop, located within Victoria Market. Long blacks are divine, lattes spot on. Always delivers. Hinoki Japanese Pantry Location: 279 Smith Street Fitzroy, VIC 03065 Contact: 03 9417 4531 Fantastic value, top notch quality sushi, and a Japanese grocery all bundled into one. We’re absolutely in love with this place – for $45 the nigiri platter is enough to satisfy two or three hungry bellies.
Here’s to a quick wrap-up of our team’s recent favourites. Smith St Alimentari Location: 302 Smith St, Collingwood, VIC 3066 Contact: 03 9416 1666 Housed in the former residence of Gorski & Jones, Smith St Alimentari is a cross between a local deli and bustling cafe. Whip up your own with the quality ingredients on display, take home one of the impressive pre-made meals (the quiches and lasagnes look sublime), or laze around in the beautiful cafe / restaurant space for breakfast or lunch. The egg white omelette is one of the better brunches we’ve had to date – packed with protein, dukkah, feta and pockets of smoked salmon. It’s a must order.
Shortstop Donuts Location: 12 Sutherland St, Melbourne, VIC 3000 Jimmy Grants Location: 113 St David St Fitzroy VIC 3065 Two things these places share in common: they’re fast, convenient, and bang-on delicious. Shortstop’s crullers are simply to die for (though expect the honey x sea salt variety to be quite, well, salty; it’s not for everyone). And though the cinnamon donut looks much less jam-packed than some of the other varieties, it’s a must!
Market Lane Bar Location: InterContinental Melbourne, The Rialto, 495 Collins Street Melbourne 3000 Contact: 03 8627 1400 We recently had the pleasure of celebrating International Coffee Day with Intercontinental Melbourne at The Rialto. The event took place at Intercontinental’s suave Market Lane Bar, with two expert mixologists providing a wonderful step-by-step demonstration of how to master the art of Stefano Manfredi’s signature coffee Espresso di Manfredi. I have to say, E and I had a wonderful time at Intercontinental Melbourne. The mixologists at Market Lane Bar made the cocktail-making process incredibly simple to follow, and we were fortunate enough to learn how to make two gorgeous cocktails (one using the traditional method, and the second with the addition of Intercontinental Melbourne’s spectacular honey, which comes onsite from hives located on the top of the building!).