When I started this blog I intended to revisit and recollect some of the amazing cities I’ve explored. More importantly I intended share with you some of the incredible life-altering foods I’ve tasted. Since a friend of mine is going to Melbourne in, oh 12 hours or so, I figured this was as good of a time as any to start my “Tasting the City” series. So here we go!
We arrived in Melbourne after 8 days of traveling via campervan (good ole’ Sheila) down the eastern coast of Australia. Melbourne would be the first big city in Australia we got to hang out in for a few days and really take a bite out of. (Puns always intended). I was extremely excited about Melbourne because I heard it was home to the best coffee in Australia. And it didn’t disappoint. We hit up at least 5 coffee shops but my absolute favorite was Monk Bodhi Dharma. This tiny brick building is tucked behind a grocery store with a menu that is small but mighty. First the coffee, which is made in-house, as you can see as soon as you walk in, is delicious. It is Australian style which is much more compact and bitter than elsewhere. We were delighted to see they offered pour-over coffee, a pretty rare thing to find in Australia. I ordered a cup of heaven on earth, otherwise known as Chai Tea which was steeped in milk for 5 minutes in front of me. I LOVE me some coffee, but sometimes a girl just needs a spicy, earthy chai latte. I tasted Bill’s coffee and it was fantastic. We ordered breakfast at Monks and to this day I drool every time I think about my banana bread french toast with just about everything delicious on top (including a caramel sauce). I mean… just… drool…
Bill ordered fried corn pancakes with a tomato salad. Not a bad choice either.
Fitzroy was my favorite neighborhood to explore during the day, specifically Gertrude Street. It had a San Franciscan vibe, like a cleaner version of the Haight, or more purposeful storefronts than the Mission. The shops and eateries seemed to go on forever, filled with locals looking to pick up a hipsteresque new shirt followed by a beer. There were a few brew pubs to choose from, but we ducked into Little Creatures with its huge dining hall and copious selection of seasonal beer.
One of my favorite shops was T2 Tea which offered a seemingly unlimited selection of teas. The store was so colorful and monochromatically organized with mugs and pots and tins. I asked the clerk if she had tried every tea yet, she just laughed.
Another must in Melbourne that’s not food related is taking some time to appreciate the street art. There is art absolutely everywhere and it is stunning. Fitzroy had huge displays as well as some kooky statues and benches. But the sheer volume on Caldonian Lane near downtown was a showstopper. Below are just a few of my favorites I saw. If you want more information you can find it here.
We hit up a few trendy places for lunch and were in a state of hunger that prevented me from taking photos. One, which is a great spot to grab a beer and a view of the city like no other is Ponyfish Island. This island bar/quick eats sits in the middle of the Yarra River as a floating island of sorts. You can watch boats cruise by and walk around an almost 360 degree view of the city from below. The other very trendy place we stopped in was Chin Chin. This Chinese-style restaurant was written up in just about every “cool places to eat” article I saw, so we just had to try it. It may be because we went for lunch and not dinner, or because there was so much hype, but I wasn’t as over-the-moon about this place as everyone else seemed to be. The food was a bit greasy and a bit garlicy and I knew there was some amazing actual Chinese food just a few blocks away.
Knowing there was some great Chinese food to be had, we headed to Chinatown for dinner one night. Flower Drum was on our list of “yes please” places to dine, but it was all booked for the night. We stepped across the street into Hutong Dumpling Bar, a three story, nice, Chinese restaurant where you can actually watch dumplings being made. Dumplings, and especially soup dumplings are definitely something I want to learn to make someday. Hopefully I’ll be taught by a lady like I saw, with dexterous fingers that moved at lightning speed. Her assistant couldn’t put the finished products in baskets fast enough! We obviously ordered a few kinds of dumplings that were as delicious as they looked.
They look like they belong in a scene from Disney’s Fantasia. Ballerina style dumplings…
Without a doubt my absolute favorite, favorite, FAVORITE meal was our dinner at Cumulus. I’d place this meal in the top 5 best meals I’ve had in my LIFE. Bill actually preferred another restaurant in Sydney which I’ll write about in another post. Either way, we loved this place so much that we went back in the morning for brunch! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here, but if you are in the area and in “need” of a nice night out I cannot recommend this place more. There is also an upstairs bar called Cumulus Up which I’m sure we would’ve gone to as well had we had another night. Enjoy…
Let me know if I missed any MUST-EATS in Melbourne for when I go back!
Australians (and Kiwis) order coffee like so:
- Long Black- cappachino-ish style with espresso and water. The coffee is ground like espresso therefore making it a bit tighter, bitter, and bold. It’s not as full bodied or fruity as a pourover coffee can be.
- Flat White- espresso and steamed milk. It’s kind of like a latte but without the art.
- Coffee- this doesn’t really exist. They’ll most likely just give you a Long Black, but if pourover is an option I dare you to try it.
Oh and I had some Meringue Pies which were basically as big as my head. They were the perfect beach treat!