After so many years of living in the city, it’s amazing to be able to stomp into the sea after a long day. (The frizz and spiders I could live without.) My god.
It’s time to return to Melbourne and all the places, services, and things that I grew to love and miss. Establishing Your Things, like your army of friends in a new city or your favorite parks, cafes, and grocery stores, takes a while.
It’s my opinion that I was wrong about everything for an entire year. Before Instagram, you had to read blogs or newspapers to stay in the loop. I would ask women that I didn’t know, ‘Where are you going for breakfast? Where can you find nice cushions? Flowers? Flowers? I cursed the people who didn’t give me what I wanted and got some really bad haircuts before I figured it out.
Melbourne is still a city where you have to know the hot spots. Otherwise, you’ll be walking around St Kilda and Southgate wondering:?
She is a city of exceptional quality. She is unique, beautiful, interesting, and filled with the best minds, food, design, and creativity in the world. Sydney and Melbourne are both amazing, but in different ways.
Melbourne went through a truly amazing experience last year. After months and months of lockdown, I feel an incredible bond with the city and its people. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever felt with a place. It’s a common refrain, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was bad. I have fond memories of Fitzroy Gardens and the MCG, which were packed with lockdown runners and two-person picnics. Families with bikes, scooters, and balls refused to give up a single minute of their hour of outdoor time. I also remember a heavy police force there every day. My kids would go mute when we were told to move on because we stopped to eat an apple or stomp around in the creek. But that will pass.
Locals supported each other with enthusiasm, and everyone led by kindness. From March to June, florists received a flood of deliveries as people across the country and state tried to cheer up each other. Compassion reigned supreme. It was comforting to me to see people rise in these strange and scary times. I was born in 1980 into a white middle-class Australian family. I have had the great fortune to live a comfortable and privileged life. The bushfires, Black Lives Matter, and COVID-19 have all woken up my conscience this year. I have never felt more connected and motivated to become a better person. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
Caution: My habits are my slaves. These recommendations are mostly based in Richmond, Fitzroy, and Melbourne city.
A caveat to this: My knowledge of Melbourne is not that of a native Melbourneite. This is one woman’s cherry-picking of the crap she likes.
Melbourne is a city where you can’t go wrong with a meal. I stay up to date but am usually tired, hungry, and short on memory by the time it’s time to make decisions.
Capitano is our favorite Melbourne restaurant. Perfectly executed, simple pasta and pizza. They also make a Peanut Butter Miso Old Fashioned. Do not overthink. Capitano is the place to go.
Their Vodka Rigatoni will be missed. Bar Liberty is their sister restaurant and is equally as good, especially for those who love great wines and cacio e pèpe (who doesn’t?) Mrs. Singh has some of the best, lightest, and subtest Indian food that I have ever eaten. Prawn Curry, Paneer Masala, and Butter Chicken are my recommendations. Tonka, Horn, please, and Tonka are both excellent. I love an efficient Melbourne institution minute steak and fries at France-Soir or the more relaxed Lillet-spritz version at Entrecote in South Yarra.
Flowerdrum has five stars for a good reason. Chinese that is always outstanding and classic and never fails. Ditto Nobu at Crown. DOC, Ladro, and Baby all make special pizza. Marion Wine Bar is the place you book when you want to impress your date in an accidental-no-big-deal way fashion: delicious food (roast chicken, fish, pasta) and a wine list that will appease even the most educated wine monster. Rosetta is also a good option. Poodle offers Melbourne’s only seafood platter. It’s Slick and fun. Supernormal (pan-Asian) and Kisume (Japanese) are a bit fancier/pricier but 100% guaranteed delicious. Attica is the next level and perfect for any special occasion. (Or, in lockdown, deliver lasagna! #PIVOT Also great for special events are Donovans or Stokehouse on St Kilda Way. You can also book out Pasta Club with a group of friends for a fun, tasty, loose evening.
There are many great wineries and restaurants on the Mornington Peninsula. My favorite meal at Jackalope is RARE HARE. It’s AMAZING FOOD. There are many delicious vegetarian options! Excellent wines and cocktails are also available. The view. All of it. Doot Doot Doot, their fine dining option is also outstanding. As a general rule, I find degustations to be a bit overwhelming. However, the vegan option was delicious, interesting, and innovative.
For special occasions, I recommend Dairy Flat Farm and The Lakehouse in Daylesford. And for a fun weekend away with my kids, we love to run through the lavender fields at Lavandula.
Marion is a master at making a simple vegetarian dish.
Gelato is a must in a city with so many Italians. Pidapipo is the best: it has all the extras that I love in Italy, like Nutella, cream, and hot sauce. Piccolina offers simple flavors, but very well. Lunem makes the best croissants in Australia.
In South Yarra, I like the Darling Cafe for its Instagram-worthy French Toast and Ned’s Baker. In Fitzroy, Archie’s All Day and Bentwood are both great breakfast options. Fitzroy has the best coffee I’ve ever had in Melbourne.
Laikon Deli, Rowena Milkbar, which was just a few doors away, and Pilar of Salt are all family favorites.
Top Paddock – remnants of the pancake. It is enough to feed me and two children. It is glorious.
As a cake monster, I have had the pleasure of tasting many cakes in Melbourne. Only a handful of cakes taste as good as they look. If I want to order a cake, I will go to Beatrix Bakes Mi, ss Trixie (she makes cakes and cookies), or Proof Bakehouse. I also like to call in advance from @tarts_anon, who specializes in tarts and does them extremely well. Burch & Purchese deserve special recognition for their high-art extravaganza.
The darker, smaller, and less ambiguous, the better. If I’m going to go to the trouble of getting a babysitter, I want the feeling that I can walk in, give the bartender some notes, and they will create a symphony. Siglo is also a great choice. It makes me feel as if I’m in Italy, with the rooftop view. Eau De Vie, Byrdi, and Bar Americano also have great drinks. A Margarita in Gilson is perfect on a sunny day.