72 Hours in Melbourne
Every element to Melbourne says: we like to live — and eat — well. The minimalist aesthetic of third-wave coffee roasters. The buzz (and hype) of the darling restaurants of the moment, and the stories behind them. The flow of city parks and easy accessibility to coastline. Friendly people. Everywhere you turn, locals are doing life in a carefree, on-point way that feels at once hip, at once normal flow. The streets are lined with independent, artisan stores instead of mass-manufactured name brands and reasonable rents are allowing young start-up companies to thrive. Life, here, is indeed, quite lovely.
As one who enjoys understanding people and culture by what they eat, let’s explore the Melbourne dining landscape, beginning with quite possibly my most treasured café experience across the globe — Lune Croissanterie. From the moment you walk in, you’re consumed by the message: style & finesse.
The founder and master baker, Kate Reid, (now joined by her brother, Cam, whom she taught viennoiserie) gained her precision skills as an aerodynamicist for Formula One, then left to work in Paris under Christophe Vasseur of the acclaimed Du Pain et des Idées to learn the art of pastry. She and Christophe shared a passion for precision and pastry, and atypical to his policies, agreed to take on Kate as an apprentice. With LED lighting inspired by Star Wars, Lune is an experience in refreshing perfection of craft, yet it also has an all-consuming effect of stepping into a designer’s laboratory. Think if Acne or Vince were to create a pastry shop.
Next, Patricia Coffee is the place to be as a local. It has the feel of a place you want to be your neighborhood coffee perch, whether en route to the office, or an afternoon pick me up. Heck, it would even be a good spot to pick up a date! If you’re into the newspaper reading, espresso-sipping, smartly dressed types.
Cool fact: the owner (Adam) is there everyday alongside the baristas greeting regulars, sharing the founding story with those who inquire, and pulling the occasional shot. Always great to see the owner of a successful operation on-site full time.
Andrew McConnell, one of the leading restaurateurs of the city, has introduced some of the top concepts in the city, yet what I love about them is that each has a relaxed, locals feel. Among them, Supernormal was a favorite for the casual chic modern Chinese, Cumulus for the vibe though the food is equally on par. Marion is a breath of fresh air. While a wine bar with a killer list, it’s a place you can easily saunter into on a warm summer evening and find a place to perch at one of the bar-height tables or along the fully-mirrored wall for a more intimate conversation and small shared plate. McConnell’s take on the non-pretense attitude to dining out, “Food is not art. It’s dinner,” as the Broadsheet team reports, is what keeps diners returning.
Heading toward Carlton, The Town Mouse is king. An unassuming menu but a standout. The wine list will leave your taste buds remarking how, who? Astonishingly, delightfully surprised. We loved their take on a steak tartar — a large quenelle finished with crispy salt bush leaves — as well as the slow roasted cabbage they’ve had on the menu since opening.
We didn’t get a chance to visit their latest project, Embla, during our stay, but if it’s anything like its older sister, it will be worth a detour.
Uncommon. Everything about it is uncommon. The friendly service, the fresh juice program, the combinations of ingredients in healthy breakfast dishes. While a strong focus on clean, healthy eating, flavor isn’t compromised. I loved the smoothies and brekkie items — a perfect place if you’re the type who commences your day with avocado and eggs.
The Everleigh. Go here. Top notch cocktails.
Top Paddock, the shiny, hip newcomer from owners Nathan Toleman, Ben Clark, Diamond Rozakeas and Sam Slattery makes a mean chia pudding. I recommend ordering a flat white and positioning yourself either at the tall communal table across from the espresso bar, pictured below, or grabbing a 2-top outside along the lush landscaping.
Fancy a queue, a scene, yet some of the most authentic Italian cuisine being served up by a Greek transplant? Tipo OO is where to go. Minimal, bustling, delicious.
Where to stay:
While the boutique hotel scene is still dubiously small in Australia, we found a gem that should meet any urban traveler’s needs.
The Coppersmith opened in late 2015. While it skews masculine aesthetically, it’s interiors are clean, warm, crisp, and polished, complete with a rooftop bar for capturing the golden Aussie sunsets with a refreshing G&T.
Although crowded, the Isika Spa experience at the Crown Metropol is worth a visit, if only for the infinity pool and steam room.
Onsen Ma is worth a stop, too. Just depends how many bathing experiences you can fit in!
Further afield, Mornington Peninsula is worth a day trip if you plan to rent a car. We had a blast exploring some of the most gorgeous coastline and boutique wineries. If you’re interested in heading this way, send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll gladly share highlights!