Melbourne Musts

“Do you know anywhere good to eat in Melbourne?”

This message has been popping up in my inbox more and more frequently over the last few years. Maybe it has something to do with millions of pictures of meals that consume my mobile memory, or the somewhat mad ramblings of my love-affair with the not so distant city, but I thought it about time that I officially share my list of musts for Melbourne.

Up until this point, with everyone I have shared the list I have done so with one condition attached: if you go anywhere new, add it to the list.

The same remains for you, whoever you may be. If you have a favourite place to dine or sip, shop or see, please share it with me.

To caffeinate //

Everyone knows Melbourne is no place for mochas, hazelnut lattes or things adorned with cream. It’s about coffee.

So you’ve got Dukes Coffee Roasters, Axil Flinders Lane, Brother Buba Budan, Market Lane and Patricia’s to start with. You get the idea? There are heaps.

Industry Beans is an institution, and also serves food that looks as good as it tastes. Kettle Black, Higher Ground, Top Paddock are all owned by the same people and trust me, those people know what they are doing. I’ve ordered the coconut-set chia from Kettle Black the last four times I’ve been, which is unusual for someone with the level of #FOMO I have, but it’s the only chia I’ve ever liked. It’s that good.

St Ali is an awesome space that makes you want to go home and expose the beams in your ceiling and strip the paint off your walls. It also has perfected the ‘green bowl’. And Proud Mary’s will always be special to me because of that time I was craving hot cakes and they happened to have a hot cake special on that day.

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To eat //

You can’t talk about dinner in Melbourne without dropping Chin Chin. I’ve never actually been though. It was too obvious for me. Instead I found Rice Paper Scissors, an Asian-tapas restaurant with no reservations and no regrets.

Still not sure what I did in a past-life to deserve it, but I was treated to a meal at Lûmé on one trip to Melbourne. A multi-sensory dining experience where the food looks more like artworks. Google ‘Pearl on the Ocean Floor’. Oh my god, I know right. How amazing is it.

If you’re looking for something quick and easy, you can’t go past Pellegrini’s. We did a quick google search before we went last time, which prepared us for the service, or lack there of. Unsure of whether we were meant to sit down or be seated, an understanding regular informed us it’s different every time, depending on the mood of the waiters. Lots of yelling, lots of attitude, no menus, and goddamn delicious pasta. Ask for the watermelon frappé when you go.

Oh and then there is Belleville, Gingerboy, Seamstress, and Easey’s – the most Melbourne of all meals; loaded burgers served in a graffiti-covered tram on top of a warehouse in Collingwood. It just tastes better that way.

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To drink //

Espresso by day, espresso martini by night. A lovely waiter once told me that the best bars in Melbourne are found either underground or on rooftops. These are my favourite stairways to find.

Berlin Bar is located, you guessed it, upstairs. Knock on the door and be met with the eyes of your waiter through a peep-hole, requesting the password to enter. Once you’re in, you have the choice between East and West, and with it the choice of capitalist opulence or communist austerity.

I walked past Eau de Vie three times on my first visit. Down a nondescript laneway furnished with overflowing bins and coats of graffiti. Not until a couple emerged from an unmarked door and jazz momentarily filled the air, did I believe I was in the right place. A prohibition-themed bar with a twelve page cocktail menu, and whiskeys in the hundreds, it’s a must. Simple as that.

If the best bars are found up high, then Rooftop Bar must be a good one. A local haunt for the hipsters, it’s got amazing views, cheap drinks and an open air cinema in summer. Plus, if you don’t make it up the seven stories it takes to get there, each one on the way is home to an equally cool venue – like Cookie, with it’s 600+ heavy wine list. Yeah. Not a typo.

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This is just a tasting plate of what Melbourne has to offer the senses. A tasting plate that over the years will undoubtedly turn into a banquet. So now back to the rules, because everyone knows I’m a stickler for rules; if you have a ‘Melbourne Must’ that isn’t on my list, drop it in the comments below.

E x

Messing around at Messina

Now before you say anything, yes I know I am breaking code with this post. It’s not travel. But those of you who know me could probably argue that to get me all the way to Darlinghurst on a cold, rainy night takes about as much planning as a overseas trip.

Plus, this experience seemed far too good not to write about.

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It was his birthday on Tuesday, and as a present I took him to the Gelato Messina Creative Department’s new degustation restaurant. There are eight seats per sitting, and seven courses, all paired with a complementing drink. Sounds good already, right?

Course One
We started with a Feijoa and Lemon Geranium Granita served in an ice bowl and drizzled with olive oil. What? Yum.
Course Two
Tarragon sherbet, lemonade fruit compote and finger lime gel, accompanied with a cold pressed pear and black cardamom juice. Now we’re talking.

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Course Three
Olive oil sorbet, confit fennel and crispy fennel with a black truffle sauce. This was served with a cold pressed roasted beetroot, rhubarb and pine tree oil juice. It was at this point that I started losing my mind. How the hell did they made ice cream taste savory?
Heston Blumenthal, eat your heart out.

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Course Four
Almond gelato, potato and brown butter cream, porcini crisps and caviar, served with an organic Ahinsa Estate Orange Peko Tea. This one felt like an interesting take on the classic steak and mash meal, but about a trillion times better. I think it was by this course that I worked out that the smile plastered across his face wasn’t going anywhere quickly.
*self high-five*

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Course Five
Goats milk yoghurt gelato, persimmon aged for three weeks and soaked in sake, inside a mannitol egg shell (alcohol sugar). Definitely the most theatrical of the courses, we got to smash open our eggs to reveal the most ridiculous #eggporn known to man.Willy Wonka, are you missing your golden goose?

This course was also paired with what we both decided was the best of the drinks. A cold pressed smoked red apple, mandarin zest and bayleaf juice.

Smoking seems to be the bee’s knees these days. Recently we’ve tried smoked avocado, smoked salt and now smoked red apple. It’s no surprise then that he has decided he wants a smoker, and I have decided I definitely want him to get a smoker. Shame he didn’t mention it before his birthday.

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Course Six
Honeycomb gelato made from infused bee’s wax, financier sponge, and crisp bee pollen honeycomb, accompanied by a bubbly house-made ginger beer. Disclaimer: no bees were harmed in the making of this dish. All collected from the same hive, the only thing not used was the actual bee.

It was sweet, just like my date, and this wasn’t even dessert.

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Course Seven
A tonka bean gelato, with vanilla mousse, coffee soil, and chocolate paper, served with a caramelised ameretto infused milk reduction. Yuuuuuuuuummmm. Thank god dark chocolate doesn’t trigger migraines, and I’m fully capable of consuming milk.*

*That was an in-joke, just in case you are confused.

All in all, it was an excellent night. Even though the food was of such high quality, the service was really relaxed and casual and they even invited you to walk around the kitchen in between service. Each course was served with more exciting utensils than the previous, and you got to keep the menu at the end of the night. Being the first night of the new menu, we were lucky enough to be treated to some petit fours at the end of the night – think candied eggplant with blackberry jam, soy sauce and siaoxing pepper, stracciatella cheese with olive oil and smoked salt, and flash frozen goats curd with lemon and licorice gel.

An unforgettable experience, and a high standard set for birthdays. No pressure, though.

Here’s hoping he had the most amazing night.
There is nothing better than seeing him smile.

Love,

E.

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@gelatomessina #messinacreativedepartment #messinadessertbar