“Maybe we could live here” Niall said as we strolled along Malvern’s high street before turning onto a gorgeous tree lined street.
It helped that the sun was shining and the house we were staying in resembled the sort of beautifully styled home you’d find in a design magazine.
Fast forward 24 hours.. it’s cold, windy and it is taking us ages to get anywhere. Hmmmm maybe not.
We do love Melbourne though- it’s home to amazing food, beer, coffee and art, as well as two of our favourite humans, my sister Holly and her partner in crime Tom. Here’s our two cents worth on each (not Holly and Tom, you’ll just have to take our word for them).
Le Bon Ton (Collingwood) – oh my goodness, the burgers here are amazing. Last time we were in Melbourne we devoured Le Bon Ton burgers at the end of a day spent bar and brewery-hopping, so we decided to pay another visit to make sure it wasn’t just our drunken taste buds talking. It wasn’t.
Tokyo Tina (Windsor) – this cool and casual restaurant serves up some delicious food, albeit not as traditionally Japanese as we were expecting given the Tokyo name. We ordered some gyoza, spicy chicken ramen and pork belly bao all of which were wonderful, especially when paired with sweet tunes and friendly, attentive staff.
Magic Mountain (CBD) – this saloon gives Chin Chin a run for its money, and that’s saying something! Don’t get me wrong, Chin Chin plates up some frickin’ amazing food, but if you don’t fancy lining up or want to make a reservation ahead of time, Magic Mountain is the better option.
Lucy liu (CBD) – located down a laneway (there had to be one) this restaurant is brimming with ambiance. We ordered a bunch of plates to share (the chicken ribs and crispy pork buns were standouts) but we made sure to leave room for dessert – think creme brulee and banana fritters!
** In writing this post, it has come to our attention that we are apparently suckers for an Asian restaurant with an alliterated title, and not just in Melbourne it seems (we’re looking at you Dainty Dowager).
Stomping Ground Brewery & Beer Hall (Collingwood) – a new favourite. Stomping Ground which recently opened just up (or is it down?) from Le Bon Ton provides a cool, family-friendly place to enjoy a cold beverage or three. This breastfeeding mama was particularly impressed with the option to buy a 100 ml serve of cider.
Moon Dog Craft Brewery (Abbotsford) – perhaps the antithesis of Stomping Ground, Moon Dog makes you feel as though you’re drinking out the back of a mates house. But the beer is good, so we’ll happily chill in a dingy shed on a sofa that looks like its been picked up during bulk rubbish. Be sure to try one of the small batch brews while you’re there.
Mountain Goat Brewery (Richmond) – could be described as a more upmarket version of Moon Dog. The beer here is delicious, it’s just a pity that being location in a residential area means it isn’t open at very convenient times.
Cookie (CBD) – if you need a break from shopping and art, Cookies offers a huge (and we mean huge, over 200!) selection of beers to work your way through. If its a nice day you can also escape the beer hall and enjoy your drink on one of the small balconies (or pop to the rooftop bar upstairs).
Let me prefice this with a disclaimer, I (Erica) don’t actually drink coffee, much to the dismay of Niall and my closest friends who have been trying to force it upon me for years now. So any reference to ‘good’ coffee is always Niall’s (or in this case also Holly’s) opinion. Ok now we’ve got that out of the way here are some places we enjoyed a good coffee (or hot chocolate) but bear in mind, Melbournians take their coffee making pretty seriously so its quite hard to come across a ‘bad’ coffee in this city.
Admiral Cheng Ho (Abbotsford) – a quaint corner joint that serves up your favourite caffeinated beverages as well as healthy breakfast options. If you’re south side they have a sister cafe called Monk Bodhi Dharma which is apparently just as delightful.
The Pour Kids (Malvern) – the only establishment in Malvern where the staff smiled.
Little Big Sugar Salt (Abbotsford) – is our favourite cafe in Melbourne, and apparently we’re not alone in thinking so. LBSS, as it is more affectionately known, is worth queuing for. And if you’re visiting on a weekend you can count on a line, but don’t worry you can get a coffee while you wait so its all good. The concept behind LBSS is a great one. As the name suggests the menu is presented as a food pyramid with meals placed according to how little or big they are and how salty or sweet. I went with the nice healthy choice of bircher muesli while Niall enjoyed a brioche breakfast burger. I admit, I had serious food envy! Since our visit LBSS have introduced something to literally solve all food envy problems called ‘Eggs with friends’ where they will bring out all sorts of tasters from the menu. Holly did it last weekend and said it was ridiculously amazing.
Street Art, Fitzroy – after starting the morning at Breakfast Thieves we decided to burn some calories by going on a self-guided walk through the streets of Fitzroy to spot some fantastic street art. Just type street art walk fitzroy for a couple of maps and locations.
The Art of Banksy, Federation Square (CBD) – but really more like Birrarung Marr. Coined as an ‘unauthorised’ exhibition of Banksy’s works (which we’re a bit skeptical of), The Art of Banksy was interesting to stroll through but didn’t really wow us. Not because the famous street artist’s pieces were underwhelming. On the contrary, they provide a wonderfully witty commentary on society. But rather because the exhibit didn’t really showcase anything new if you’re familiar with his work. $30 pp.
Melbourne’s Laneways (CBD) – I doubt there are many visitors to Melbourne who don’t visit the city’s famous laneways, like Hosier Lane and AC/DC lane. Always crowded, the laneways seem to have both permanent and ever-changing street art.
Collingwood Children’s Farm (Collingwood, obviously) – was a great spot for Little Miss to enjoy interacting with a few farm yard animals like pigs, chickens, horses, sheep and ducks. When we visited there was also a farmer’s market on, which runs on the second Saturday of every month (8 am – 1 pm, $2 entry).
Great Ocean Road – perhaps not as stunning as the Great Barrier Reef drive but beautiful all the same, the Great Ocean Road drive is a perfect way to spend a sunny day in Victoria. A word of advice, if you’re planning on checking out the 12 apostles, get out of bed earlier than we did. We only made it to the chilled beachside town of Lorne, where we enjoyed fish and chips on the beach before walking down some steep and slippery steps to check out Erskine Falls, a 30m waterfall which cascades down into a picturesque gully.
Melbourne Museum (Carlton) – set amongst the lovely Carlton Gardens, the Melbourne Museum is a great place to spend a couple of hours feeding the ol’ noggin with new information. $14 pp.
Yoga (everywhere) – every 5th shopfront in Melbourne is a yoga studio. Ok, not really, it just seems that way in some areas. I had been wanting to give Hip Hop yoga a try for ages, so Holly and I signed up for a class at Yoga 213 which has an absolutely beautiful studio in Richmond. Niall couldn’t be convinced to join us hehe. While I think I’ll stick to Vinyasa, Hip Hop yoga was a pretty cool way to boost the happy hormones. KX Yoga Studios in Malvern, while nowhere near as pretty as 213, offers a selection of Vinyasa classes to suit different levels.
Anyhoo, I’m sure we’ll be back to visit Aunty Holly and Uncle Tom soon enough. For those of you travelling with a baby, we found Anything Baby to be very reasonably priced and super helpful with a car seat and cot/linen. We’d also recommend 1300 Pick Up, who delivered us back to airport, and were also really well priced and friendly.
Not long til Little Miss gets her first passport stamp! Singapore and Vietnam here we come.