A couple of weeks ago I spend a few days in Melbourne. I had never been there before, and I was so looking forward to not only going there and having some time away, but also going to some of the cafes and restaurants I have heard about for so long!
Thanks to Instagram and some lovely suggestions from readers of this blog, I had a nice list of places to try while I was there. I have compiled all the places I visited in this (rather lengthy!) blog post, and in a brief guide which can be downloaded here.
Now onto the food!
. . .
Our first proper meal in Melbourne was at Gazi on Exhibition St. Despite all the controversy around this restaurant lately, I had heard really good things about the food here. We were not disappointed and both nights we ate dinner here the restaurant was packed. So much so that on the second night we went there we were seated in an overflow area which we later realised was The Press Club. We actually enjoyed being sat here as it was quieter and calmer than the main restaurant.
At our first dinner here we ordered the Taramosalata with pita, prawn kataifi, the wood fire spit chicken with black garlic and labneh and chips with oregano, garlic oil and feta. We loved the Taramosalata so much that the second time we went we order it again (but with extra pita that time!). The prawn kataifi were two large prawns wrapped in kataifi pastry with almond, honey and Aleppo mayo. The combination was really tasty, with the sweetness of the honey balancing the subtle spiciness of the Aleppo mayo. We also ordered this again on our second visit!
The chicken with black garlic and labneh was nice, but honestly could have fed four people. There was so much meat on the plate it was almost overwhelming, but I’m glad we tried it as it’s not often we’d eat something cooked on a wood fire spit! The chips were delicious as I predicted. With both Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi having recipes in their books attempting to recreate these chips I knew they would be good! We also ordered these again the second time we went!
A couple of nights later when we returned to Gazi, we also tried the Saganaki which is fried Kefalofraviera cheese. It was really good, and something I had never tried before. We also ordered a dessert this time too, trying the Loukoumades, which are Greek halloumi donuts paired with lemon curd and spiced cream. They were delicious, even if I did eat too many of them!
For breakfast on our first full day in Melbourne we ate at Pope Joan on Collins St. This cafe was really close to where we were staying, and as we had an early start that day we decided to try somewhere close. I had the Boiled egg, bacon bits and soldiers and Mum had scrambled eggs on toast. My breakfast wasn’t too big, which was good as I was heading over to the bakery Beatrix not long after. It was a little hard to eat as it was all served in an egg holder, and it didn't feel like it was anything terribly special. While the location was convinient, I don’t think I would rush back for breakfast here. I would love to try lunch or dinner however, and if you are planning on visiting Pope Joan keep in mind it’s only open Monday to Friday.
After breakfast we quickly walked about five minutes to the CBD Lune Croissanterie, and waited in line to buy a couple of croissants. The line wasn’t long and moved quickly, and I ordered a traditional croissant and an almond croissant. Both were stunning and, the best we’ve ever had.
I then took a taxi to North Melbourne to meet my Insta friend Sally at Beatrix. I have been wanting to go to Beatrix for ages, and so many people suggested it as a must see when in Melbourne too, so I was really happy Sally was able to meet me there. The bakery is small, though on a weekday it didn’t feel busy and overcrowded. It really felt like Melbourne’s answer to the Sydney institution Flour and Stone. While the cakes they make are quite different to the offerings at Flour and Stone, the attention to detail, cosiness and small scale of the bakery made me feel like it was the best place to be. I had a slice of a pistachio and lemon cake, which I am hoping to try and recreate soon as it was so good. Sally had an apple pie cake, which looked amazing and she said it tasted really good! I also got a gingerbread to take away as well, which I very much enjoyed having later that evening.
After meeting with Sally I walked to Queen Victoria Markets, where I had been dying to go to the bookshop Books for Cooks for years. I discovered them via Instragram ages ago, and it has been top of my Melbourne to do list ever since. I spend a good 45 minutes looking around the shop, there is so much in there, a great mixture of new and second hand titles. I walked away with a copy of ‘Simple’ by Diana Henry, which has been on my wishlist for a while, Piri Piri Starfish by Tess Kiros (which I have to admit I’d never seen or heard of before!) and the 4th issue of Peddler magazine.
I then took a look around the markets and sighed at the amazing produce on offer, that I couldn't really buy as I had no access to a kitchen in Melbourne and I doubt any of it would survive the flight home! I was particularly envious of the stand selling all types of fresh eggs, even duck eggs which I am always looking out for. I then walked back to our hotel, made myself a cup of tea and enjoyed my almond croissant from Lune.
When Mum and I met up in the afternoon we went to a little French tea shop we had stumbled across on Collins St the day before. La Belle Miette, specialises in the French tea Mariage Frères, having the largest range of it in Australia. Mum and I loving that brand and having great memories of going there in Paris years ago, we knew this place was for us! La Belle Miette also sell gorgeous macarons and chocolates. We enjoyed a couple of macarons each, and Mum had the Mariage Frères Earl Grey Impérial while I tried a green tea called Vert Provence (which I liked so much I bought a tin of it). The shop assistant was super helpful and lovely at this shop, and Mum and I both enjoyed the tea and macarons after a long day of walking (for me) and working (for Mum). I also really loved that Taylor Swift’s new album Lover was playing while we were in the shop too. It’s funny sometimes when music is on that I really like, it makes me think I’m just meant to be there. The whole combination of the music, decor, beautiful tea and delicious macarons was just perfection. The whole atmosphere of the shop really made us feel like we were back in Europe, and again we loved it so much we visited again the next day.
We then walked around the city a little deciding where to have dinner. Quite a few places had been recommended, but the pasta bar Lello really stood out to me (thanks Sally!). We luckily got a table, and ordered the barbequed calamari with caper anchovy dressing to start. I love capers and anchovies so I really loved this dish. For mains we ordered pasta. Even though I was pretty set on ordering pasta before we arrived, even the waiter we had recommended it over the pizzas. I ordered the Ravioli Alla Norma which was absolutely delicious, and Mum ordered the Culurgiones which is a potato and mint filled Sardinian ravioli. I really enjoyed our dinner at Lello, and definitely want to go back again when I’m next in Melbourne.
The next morning we walked a couple of minutes to Cumulus Inc on Flinders Lane. While the lunch and dinner menu didn’t really grab me, when I heard they did breakfast I looked it up again and decided we had to go there. They had homemade crumpets and shakshuka on the menu, and in my mind any place that does either of those is a cafe worth visiting! As it was a Saturday morning it was quite busy, but the cafe is quite organised and well staffed so we got a seat at the bar fairly quickly. We both ordered the house made crumpets with whipped ricotta and rooftop honey, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. We also ordered two made to order Madeleines with lemon curd as well, just because they sounded so special. And they were! Apart from homemade, I’ve never had such a good madeleine, it really made the difference that it was freshly baked. They even topped ones I’ve had in Paris. We came back to Cumulus Inc on the day we left Melbourne for an early breakfast before heading to the airport. I ordered the shakshuka that time, which I liked (but maybe not as much as the shakshuka from Shuk in Sydney), but honestly nothing beats those crumpets!
After breakfast we walked around the CBD, stopping in at the lovely bookshop Hill of Content, wandering around Bourke St Mall and the surrounding arcades and laneways, walked around Flinders St Station and along the Yarra, then stopped for lunch at Hopetoun Tea Rooms. The highlights for me were stopping in at the chocolate shop Chocamama, the spice shop Gewürzhaus and magazine shop Mag Nation.
On our final full day in Melbourne we caught at taxi down to the South Melbourne Markets. The markets were bustling as it was a weekend, and Father’s Day. I had hoped to get something from Agathe Patisserie but the line was so long! I had heard about how good these markets were from Emmylou who I follow on Instagram, however the cafes I had heard about were really packed. There are other shops and cafes in the streets around the Markets, so we headed to one of those. We ate at Panette which was a lovely cafe, a great place for brunch as they had so many great options on their menu. I had the Pancakes with Caramelised Banana and they were so good.
After breakfast we headed back to to CBD and took a look around the old Treasury on Spring St, and walked around the gardens there too.
For lunch I had booked Mr Wolf in St Kilda. I had been wanting to go there for ages, and it really didn’t disappoint. We shared some calamari to start, then a Diavolo pizza (tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, olives, capers, chilli, oregano, basil) and a rocket salad. By this point of the weekend food coma was seriously starting to set in so a whole pizza each was out of the question! However since the pizza bases were really nice and thin, if you were hungry you could definitely have one to yourself. I would definitely come back to Mr Wolf as the pizza menu had some really great options on it, and it was quite a calm place to be.
After lunch we walked down to the main shops in St Kilda as I wanted to check out Piccolina Gelateria. I had seen this on Nigella Lawson’s Instagram feed earlier in the year, and thought if Nigella liked it enough to post about it, then we had to go there! St Kilda was super busy as there was a car show on, so Piccolina was quite packed. I got a scoop of White Chocolate Gelato and a scoop of Pistachio. Both were delicious and I honestly really wanted to go back for more, but my stomach just couldn’t handle more food by that point!
Thanks again to everyone who gave me suggestions for where to eat and go in Melbourne! I definitely have a list of places to visit next time as well!
For a short and sweet guide to my favourite places to eat in Melbourne, download my Melbourne Eats Guide here. Print it out or save it on your phone for your next trip!
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments where your favourite places to eat in Melbourne are!