Global Feast : Melbourne

Best of Melbourne
August 2012

Last month, I visited Australia for the first time. I travelled through Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Margaret River/Mumjumup in two weeks. It was a fantastic experience. All five cities had their own personality. Melbourne was not the prettiest big city but it was the funnest city of them all. It had lots of great restaurants, cafe and bars. I stayed there five days but it was too short. I tried as many spots as possible and these are some of my favorites.

Best Restaurant : Cumulus

Cumulus chef
Cumulus kitchen
making pate Cumulus charcuterie plate
Cumulus grain salad John Dory, artichokes barigoule and nettle

I absolutely enjoyed the meal at Cumulus more than anything in a long time. I have no hesitation in choosing Cumulus as my favorite place in Melbourne (and judging by the crowd, I am not alone). All the food I tried was creative yet uncomplicated - no unnecessary flavor or ingredients. Their signature cured meat plate was gorgeous and I could not stop eating. We were very lucky to be able to sit at the counter where we could overlook the kitchen. While we were eating, we could see the chef's preparing everything from paté to lamb.

Their cracked wheat and freekeh salad was probably the best grain salad I ever had. I make grain salad quite often but this one was unique with preserved lemon, almonds, and barberries. It was nutty and crunchy but very refreshing. I wish I could recreate this at home.

Then the fish dish (John Dory, artichokes barigoule and nettle) was very delicate and the combination with barigoule made with artichokes was excellent.

They don't take reservations so you will need to wait more than an hour if you go at peak time. But it is worth the wait.

45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
tel. +61 3 9650 1445


Best Bar Food : Josie Bones

Josie Bones is located just outside of downtown Melbourne in an area called Collingwood. My husband I visited there one day as a change of pace from the trendy and high-end culture in the city center to a more laid back and economical area. Because of the nearby University, they have many reasonable eateries there. There were many Italian/pizza places and coffee shops. We were not in the mood for pizza or coffee shop plate lunch or sandwich so we headed to a famous burger place. It was a little late for lunch but the place was packed and we could not find seats so we gave up and decided to go to the pub next door called Josie Bones.

Josie Bones Outside Josie Bones Door
Josie Bone inside
Josie Bone Naked rabbit mural

When you step into the pub, you will see the big mural of a skinned rabbit. The atmosphere is very contemporary but it's very inviting (unless, of course, you are a vegetarian).

They have more than 250 beers from all over the world and seasonal beers on tap. When we were there, many people ordered the beer on tap sampler.

Beer on tap sampler
Beer Pork belly

We had a slow cooked pork belly with pickled peach (AU $23) and awesome French fries with thyme and prociutto salt and chipotle aioli (AU$9). The pork was super tender with crispy skin. The pickled peach really compliments the fatty pork belly.

By the way, Josie Bones is owned by Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins who were featured on Master Chef Australia.

Josie Bones
98 Smith Street
Collingwood, VIC
tel. +61 03 9417 1878


Best Light Meal : Movida Next Door

Movida Next door
Movida Next Door interior

When you are traveling, sometimes you don't have luxury time for lunch. But I really do not like to get tasteless fast food. My favorite quick meal is tapas in Spain. You just go to the tapas bar and grab two or three little nibbles right away. It is super fast food but it is still tasty especially with a small glass of Spanish wine. Fortunately, there are more tapas restaurants everywhere now.

We wanted to try the Spanish restaurant called Movida one night but we never made it there so when we happened to be looking for a light lunch, we dropped by the small tapas place by the same owners called Movida Next Door.

Green beans Grilled prawn croquet

The grilled prawns with sun choke puree was really delicious. For tapas, I thought it was a little pricey (especially AU$ is so strong over US$) but I enjoyed them very much.

Movida Next Door
1 Hosier Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
tel. +61 3 9663 3038


Best Breakfast/Brunch : Hardware Societe

I actually picked this place for the cutiest cafe. I just really love the interior and details of this cafe. Hardware Societe got a super high score among the Aussies but unfortunately my dish was not that great to call it the best brunch but since atmosphere is also a very important part of the dining experience, this place really stood out. Besides, everybody seemed to be very happy with their food so I guess I picked the wrong dish.

Hardware Societe outside
Hardware Societe coffee station Hardware Societe shot from back
Hardware Societe bar
Hardware Societe's pretty wall paper and lighting
Hardware Societe Pantry Hardware Societe bread corner

I picked poached eggs with country pate, celeriac remoulade, beetroot relish on brioche bun. I don't think celeriac remoulade and beetroot relish went well with eggs. My husband ordered the special (polenta with poached egg, bratwurst and sauteed wild mushroom). The portion was too big, but everything tasted really good. It was great for cold and rainy day.

Hardware Societe menu Hardware Societe Soy Latte
Hardware Societe, poached eggs with country pate, celeriac remoulade, beetroot relish on brioche bun polenta with poached egg, bratwurst and sauteed wild mushroom

No matter what I said above, I really liked this place.

Hardware Societe
118-120 Hardware St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
tel. +61 3 9078 5992


Best Coffee : Brother Baba Budan

Brother Baba Budan door Brother Baba Budan inside
Brother Baba Budan inside from back
Brother Baba Budan, making latte art Brother Baba Budan
Brother Baba Budan, drip coffee Brother Baba Budan, soy latte

Brother Baba Budan
359 Little Bourke St
Melbourne 3000
Tel. +61 3 9606 0449


Best Market : Queen Victoria Market

Queen Victoria Market
Queen Victoria Market, inside
meat section fresh eggs
Meat section, selling kangaroo meat
seafood section
coffee vender bread vender
fresh baguettes Crostoli
cheese vender
cute dog at veggie stand vegetable section
Macadamia and butterscotch tart!

Queen Victoria Market
513 Elizabeth St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel. +61 03 9320 5822


Best Store : Books for Cooks

Books for Coooks outside
Books for Cooks inside
Books for Cooks room 1 Books for Cooks room 2
Vintage cook books at Books for Cooks

This cookbook store is so awesome. This is a dream for every cook enthusiast. They carry over 30,000 books on food and they also have vintages. I really could stay there a whole day.

Books for Cooks
233-235 Gertrude St
Fitzroy, VIC 3065
tel. +613 8415 1415


Other places we visited

There are many other places that we visited during our stay in Melbourne. They may not have won a prize on the list above, but they were all great.

Gills Diner
360 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

252 Swanston St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Cocktail lounge.
169 Exhibition St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Manchester Press
Great coffee, breakfast and brunch, lunch
8 Rankins Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000

HuTong Dumpling Bar
14-16 Market Ln
Melbourne, VIC 3000

15 Howey Place
Melbourne, VIC 3000