So recently I decided to treat myself and take a whole week of annual leave; the first time I’ve taken so much annual leave since I officially began a full-time adult job June last year. I’ve taken a lazy day off here and there, usually for a foodie event that could not be missed, but I was craving the relaxation that would come with a week without routine, and for a chance to get away from the bustle of Sydney with my good woman Night Owl for a little while.
Our Melbourne trip was loosely planned – I had booked our flights and accomodation months ago while it was on special, and thanks to various food bloggers and friends I had accumulated a long list of places to visit. I organised them according to suburb, and was thrilled to discover that the majority of the breakfast recommendations lay scattered around the suburb of Fitzroy we were staying in for the week. Fitzroy is like the Sydney equivalent to Newtown/Redfern: a little grungy and edgy, full of laidback people dressed in hipster clothes, vintage shops on every street corner or two. We stayed at the Tyrian Serviced Apartments for our whole five nights.
I’m going to be fairly speedy through my account; not really lingering on the details at each establishment as we will be here all day if I did that!
DAY ONE – MONDAY
We were lucky enough to get an afternoon flight on special; there’s nothing I hate more than 6am flights! Touching down in Melbourne mid-afternoon on a sultry Monday, the heat was rather stifling. We were peckish after downing a Boost smoothie each at Sydney Airport but decided to go and check in at our apartment first before wandering leisurely down to the city fringe. I had visited Mamasita the last time I visited Melbourne, and was determined to re-visit and take Night Owl along. It’s a terribly popular joint, and so I thought if we arrived early it shouldn’t be too bad for a Monday.
We arrived shortly after 5.00pm and the establishment was already mostly full. Service was friendly and very professional, with waitstaff in training diligently following the seasoned pros around as they threaded their way through the tightly packed tables.
Star dish of the evening was the Ceviche – refreshing and zesty. The addition of the little sphere of coconut milk sorbet made the dish, and it wasn’t too overwhelming with the amount of spring onion pictured, funnily enough. The pork tacos were rather dry for my liking. And the corn – always get the corn when you’re here. Cheesy and crispy, so juicy. Make sure to squeeze lots of lime juice over and keep the toothpicks close at hand!
Level 1, 11 Collins St, CBD Melbourne VIC
(03) 9650 3821
We went for a long evening wander to aid in digesting our large dinner and got ourselves a little lost due to a compass mis-direction, but found our way back to Fitzroy. We decided to swing by the Black Pearl – a Melbourne bar which recently was awarded #8 place on the list of the World’s Best Bars; and best of all, it was around the block from where we were staying.
Night Owl didn’t like her first drink so much so I went up to the bar and ordered a second round: a Manhattan with rye for her, and an Old-Fashioned for me – with whatever whiskey or bourbon they recommended.
What came out was a cocktail made with a blend of two whiskys, which resulted in a beautiful Old Fashioned with caramel and toffee flavours but with also a nice subtle kick. The bartender, when he came out to serve the drinks, described the whiskys with a reverence akin to the religious when they talk about their Gods. Hands down the best Old-Fashioned I’ve ever had.
304 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy Melbourne VIC
(03) 9417 0455
DAY TWO – TUESDAY
Both of us woke up ravenous and ready for a proper Melbourne breakfast. With trusty Google Maps, we meandered down Brunswick Street to Hammer & Tong.
Night Owl proclaimed the coffee here is better than Coffee Alchemy – the best coffee in Sydney (and conveniently down the street from her). They use the same machine, and what comes out is a robustly strong, quite fruity smooth morning fix.
Service was a little slow even though the cafe was pretty much empty – it took me about 15-20 minutes to get someone to come over and take our food orders.
Breakfast ramen is an incredible idea – outstanding egg and concept, dashi was a bit too salty for me that early in the morning I think.
Hammer and Tong 412
Rear 412 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy, Melbourne VIC
(03) 9041 6033
Night Owl needed to do some study, so I wandered alone over to the Queen Victoria Markets, where I bought some stuffed olives, d’Affinois brie, crackers, chicken liver pate, and strawberries for some casual snacks back at the apartment, and found a small brioche baton as requested by my travel companion.
We were having dinner with another couple down for a holiday from Sydney, and Night Owl had made a booking at Tiamo, one of the many Italian restaurants located on Lygon Street.
I was in love with my tortellini and almost polished off the entire dish – carb and dairy heaven! I also loved the salad – the pears had been lightly cooked ’til they were very sweet, the prosciutto not too salty and the boccocini providing a lovely contrast of textures with its crunchy exterior and gooey innards.
303-305 Lygon Street
Carlton, Melbourne VIC
(03) 9347 5759
And dessert was had across the street at Brunetti’s – for a sweet’s lover, it is utter mayhem as soon as you step in here.
We were so stuffed after our carb-a-licious meal that the three of us settled for an ice cream each and the fourth had a salted caramel semi-freddo.
380 Lygon Street
Carlton, Melbourne VIC
(03) 9347 2801
Time for cocktails! We traipsed back down Lygon Street into the city centre on the search for Eau De Vie. Find it down the end of Malthouse Lane, the fancy door handle before you get to the self-serviced apartments on the right.
It’s about the same size as its Sydney counterpart, and for a Tuesday night it was surprisingly crowded and noisy, but light-hearted.
I greatly enjoyed my cocktails, particularly the Honey Butter Old Fashioned but it’s also on the menu in Sydney. I think I prefer the atmosphere of the Sydney establishment because it’s quieter and you can chat to the bartenders; who in turn are able to tailor a concoction for your tastes alone.
Eau de Vie
1 Malthouse Lane,
CBD Melbourne, VIC
0412 825 441
Since the night was still young, we headed over to a bar that Night Owl has been wanting to visit for a very long time after reading their mixology book: 1806.
The second round was ordered by Night Owl, who wanted to try and get us each a cocktail to suit our respective palates. The star of this round was the New Orleans Fizz (back left), which has cream added before shaking the living daylights out of it. We watched with amusement/embarrassment as the cocktail shaker was transferred from hand to hand between the bartenders as they shook as much air into the beverage as possible. What resulted was a beautifully frothy drink. Super-friendly staff, great drinks.
169 Exhibition Street
CBD Melbourne VIC
(03) 9663 7722
After a big dinner and dessert and four rounds of cocktails, it was time to call it a night!!
DAY THREE – WEDNESDAY
Night Owl and I woke up not feeling the freshest, but luckily I didn’t need to head out for breakfast – Night Owl was treating me. She made me a beautiful breakfast of brioche French toast with strawberries and yoghurt, arranged in a flower shape, served with some trusty Green’s maple-flavoured syrup.
It was a dreary Melbourne day after the two day heatwave, and so we went for a lazy wander around the city and caught the tram down to Prahan so that I could pick up a few things from Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio:
Sugar high much?? Night Owl was a bundle of nervous energy after demolishing the tube on the left. I also bought a few Explosive Raspberry Wheels (Darren Purchese’s take on a marshmallow wagon wheel) to take back to dear ones back in Sydney.
Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio
647 Chapel Street
South Yarra & Toorak
(03) 9827 7060
It was bitterly cold walking up the empty streets of Prahan so as soon as we devoured our sweets we jumped back on the tram back to the apartment, to balance out the sweets with an antipasti snack with my Queen Victoria Market finds.
We agreed that neither of us were particularly hungry, but we would go out for something light before retiring early as we were going to be driving out to the Yarra Valley the next morning.
Waking up at 7pm, we made our way to the Boilermaker House – run by the guys behind Eau De Vie. A Boilermaker is essentially a shot (whisky/bourbon) and a beer; what the “boilermakers” used to have. Night Owl and I had done a boilermaker pairing class the week prior and tasted probably the best beer of our lives – the Yenda Green Hop, to be paired with a Highland Park whisky and so small batch that there’s only 280 cases brewed. We were delighted to find it available at the bar, and got it on its own, along with a dozen oysters as it was $1 oyster night.
Service is a little funny – they greet you at the door and look at you expectantly, so you expect to be seated by them. Once you’re seated though, it didn’t appear to be table service so we walked up to the bar to find menus and walked up again to order. They also have a meat and cheese bar, with meat and cheese flights on special on certain nights of the week.
For $1 oysters, they were deliciously fresh. We also passed by a bakery on our way home and lured by the macarons on display in the window, I bought us a macaron each to have with tea when we returned to the apartment: a creme brulee for me and a salted caramel for the missus.
211 Lonsdale Street
0424 270 082
DAY FOUR – THURSDAY
Breakfast was a low key affair, with me making pancakes in our apartment for breakfast from a shake n’ mix bottle – no shame, it’s a holiday and who’s going to bother buying sugar and flour when you’re only going to use it once the whole time you’re there?!
We hired a car from Budget Car Rentals in Richmond and drove out of the city – the Yarra is only an hour’s drive out, and thankfully I missed having to do any weird hook turns and the like; although driving on the tram tracks was a little terrifying. Our first stop for the day was at De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant.
De Bortoli Winery and Restaurant
Yarra Valley, VIC
We did a smidgen of wine tasting and while Night Owl liked the reds the most, I was a fan of the prosecco and we bought a bottle of it. Food bloggers had told me that their cheese was amazing, as was the bread in the restaurant, however we didn’t have an esky with us and were not peckish enough for a sit-down lunch at that time. Next time, maybe! After a quick walk around the grounds to stretch our legs, we went onwards to the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery, where it was bustling with tourists. Take a handful of complimentary pastilles to enjoy while you wander around the huge store, which sells everything from chocolate tea to DIY brownie jars. There’s a cafe too, with their ice cream selection, and a window open to their chocolate room, where you can watch the pastry chefs at work; I do believe you can buy tickets for tours and talks.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery
35 Old Healesville Road
(03) 9730 2777
Beginning to feel peckish, we stopped at Innocent Bystander for lunch. I recognised the brand by the characteristic pink moscato they do in glass bottle four-packs – I’ve never tried it myself, but my old housemate loved the stuff. Night Owl and I shared a few things for our rest lunch:
Jamon goes surprisingly well with duck on baguette.
Innocent Bystander Winery
336 Maroondah Highway
Healesville, Melbourne VIC
(03) 5962 6111
I hadn’t had much to drink other than a sip or two of wine earlier as I was driving, but also to save myself for our next stop at Coldstream Brewery further down on the Maroondah Highway. Rather inconspicious looking from the highway, step inside and it’s furnished with warm polished timber and full of locals dropping in for a pot of their pear cider.
We tried a tasting paddle, both of us enjoying the crisp pale ale the most (although the pear cider was a close second for me), and so we had a pot each of the pale ale while sitting by the window and watching the highway traffic go by.
694 Maroondah Highway
(03) 9739 1794
Back into the city we went, managing to avoid the worst of the peak hour traffic and parking underneath our apartment. Night Owl was having dinner with a friend currently working in Melbourne and invited that I join them, but I opted for a solo night as I was craving something in particular.
I was craving a good gyro/yeeros/Greek kebab, and food bloggers had all been talking about Jimmy Grants – the Greek fast food chain opened by George Calombaris, hailing back to his Greek heritage. It’s Greek street food with a modern twist. I visited the Fitzroy shop – blink and you’ll miss it.
I had the Nonna Maria ($10) with chicken, mustard aioli, chips, onions and parsley wrapped up in warm pita bread. I guess I should have tried the lamb for a more authentic Greek experience – next time! The mustard aioli was to-die for, not too garlicky, a nice aroma of oregano, the onions nicely caramelised, and the chicken (breast and thigh) nice and tender.
I was dying to try the loukomades but would not have been able to fit it in – again, next time!
113 St David Street
Fitzroy Melbourne VIC
(03) 9416 0060
DAY FIVE – FRIDAY
I crashed out pretty early the night before, exhausted from all the driving done the day before. After returning the car to Richmond, I dropped back into Fitzroy where Night Owl met me at Breakfast Thieves, another place on my list.
They use local and organic ingredients, with coffee being a Haymaker Blend (sweet juicy orange with caramel and a cocoa finish).
Choosing breakfast here was honestly the hardest thing – so many things sounded amazing, particularly the French toast. But we were thrilled with our dishes – Night Owl proclaiming that her fritters were the best she had ever had, and I’m sure we’ll be back here the next time we’re in Melbourne. I can’t believe such beautifully plated breakfasts are under $20; Sydney would easily have it for $25.
Shop 1, 420 Gore Street
Fitzroy Melbourne VIC
(03) 9416 4884
Night Owl went off to do some shopping while I went back to the apartment to retire for a food coma. It was late afternoon by the time I roused, and we decided to have an early dinner somewhere nice for our last evening in Melbourne. I had read good reviews recently about a new South American/Peruvian restaurant in Carlton, and with Night Owl being half-Peruvian, she’s always keen on somewhere with authentic dishes.
Piqueos are small appetizers, the light first courses of a meal, and also was the name of the restaurant, located a short walk from us over in Carlton.
I had made a booking, which is advisable as over the course of our meal there was a steady steam of people coming in. We start the meal with a pisco sour each.
It was my first taste of beef heart and I was surprised to discover I didn’t mind it – it’s another muscle, after all. Here was a section of it; it tasted just like a medium rare piece of steak.
With the copious amounts of photos that I was taking it attracted the attention of our waiter who didn’t fail to tease me relentlessly. The kitchen caught wind of it, and so when it came to dessert, the chef himself came out to serve the desserts and to give us a complimentary flan on the house.
The desserts are small and carefully made, so get all three!
298 Rathdowne Street
Carlton North, Melbourne
(03) 9349 2777
DAY SIX – SATURDAY
It was with a sense of impending doom that we woke up and packed our bags for our 10am checkout – we couldn’t believe our holiday was coming to an end so quickly! After leaving our bags with reception, we traipsed around the corner to Industry Beans – the last Fitzroy cafe on my list. Interestingly it’s situated right beside a crossfit gym, and there was loud workout music blaring out from the open garage gym door.
With a short wait (it was a weekend, after all), we were seated at a high table and made our usual coffee orders:
I was absolutely in love with that truffle foam. Seriously, the breakfasts in Melbourne are plated so stylishly everywhere and ridiculously filling – you would never need to have lunch.
Shop 3, Corner Fitzroy and Rose Street
Fitzroy, Melbourne VIC
(03) 9417 1034
Of course the weather clears up on our last day here. We go for a wander down to the Queen Victoria Markets and further stuff ourselves with freshly made jam doughnuts (donuts?) from the doughnut truck, because fatties.
We then dive into a bookstore across the road – Cookbooks for Cooks I think it was called. I could have spent the whole day there easily.
Apprehensive about missing our flight, we headed back into Fitzroy and stopped by a cafe for a quick bite before we headed to Southern Cross to catch our SkyBus to the airport. We stopped by Stagger Lee’s, a cafe we had walked by earlier in the week and spotted our friends at.
Surely if we have a salad at the end of our gluttonous week it’s redeeming, riiiiight?
276 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy Melbourne VIC
(03) 9419 5564
If you’ve gotten to this point – congratulations for reading through my whole week of non-stop eats! I hope this provides you with some great places to check out next time you’re down in the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Melbourne. Melbourne is a favourite interstate destination of mine; not too expensive to fly down and get around, but you get the feeling that you’re in an entirely different country. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂 xx