Melbourne musings

We’ve just come back from a swift weekend jaunt to Melbourne, and again I feel my heart is torn.

Back when The Hungry One and I first met I was all cued to move down to this fair city do my Masters in learning how to talk and put sentences together.

My reasons were many; there were lovely people living in our southern sister, I wore more black back then and had always loved the food and coffee. But The Hungry One proved hard to shake- in a good way. So six years later we’re here in Sydney.

We’ve had some charming trips down south together; one to see a zombie version of Macbeth. We stayed in St Kilda at the Marque, loved the modern stylings but mourned the shower pressure. There have been others; a few which included meals at Vue de Monde and the financial equivalent of a tsunami, and another which took place courtesy of The Hungry One, some booze and some enthusiastic bidding on a trip at an Oxfam silent auction.

This time there was a birthday party to attend and some colourful restaurants to stalk, courtesy of an occasional paid gig I’m now doing for

There were also some more delightful places to discover; courtesy of our particularly hospitable tour guides.

My new favourite Melbourne haunts are now as follows:

A minor place.

After a 6 am flight, I was looking for a nondescript haunt on Albion street Brunswick, before realising that ‘a minor place’ wasn’t the description, but its name. In a suburban corner which is a little like Pleasantville with piercings, this cute as a button cafe has padded milkcrates for seats outside and some serious stuff on the menu. The Mumbler breakfast is worth ordering just for the dad joke potential alone. “I’ll have the mumbles” “The what? I couldn’t quite hear you”. If you can get past that initial entertainment you’ll be well pleased with a hephalump portion of poached eggs on toast with pesto, fetta, spinach and fresh tomato- a steal at $12.50 for those of us used to Sydney breakfast prices. Atomica coffee with pretty swirls, a large breakfast that combined potato (roesti) eggs (poached) and ham made The Hungry One very happy and there was enough room to spread out the paper and tut tut about Bettina Arndt.

Robbie’s Stein

Once a fish and chip shop, now a cute little haunt perfect for a languid lunch. Smack on Sydney Road, Brunswick (Melbourne’s longest continuous row of shops – I was told…) a local introduced us to this quiet refuge with its tall stools perfect for perching with a bottle or two of pink wine and picking at tasting platters which came stacked with goods from the garden and the sea. Far too easy to stay another hour, and order another bottle…


I’m not sure if it’s the Simpson’s episode or a nod to slight dyslexia, but I find it difficult to walk past these odes to ice cream perfection without trilling ‘Trampampoline!’. Willy Wonka iced confection fantasy-land is what we’re talking about. While there’s no salted caramel, there’s caramel pear, berry pavlova and in a moment of sheer divinity for The Hungry One; the discovery of their new flavour black forrest cake. The best thing about visiting from another city? A relatively small sense of shame when asking to try multiple flavours before buying.

Tre Bicchieri

If I could be a stretch of shops, there’s every chance I’d like to be the Rathdowne Street village. It’s tidy and neat, with trees that nearly meet. It’s flat and hospitable with a sensible variety of places that entice but don’t overwhelm. It’s charming. In the middle of all of this civility is a place we stumbled on, just by chance. Tre Bicchieri means ‘three glasses’ in Italian, but if we’d been there in the hours when it’s appropriate to be drinking from their bountiful wine list, I’m sure we would have had more. Instead we tottered in to this cosy enoteca/ cafe at breakfast and feeling a little dusty. Past the coffee beans and tinned Italian beans, panini’s, hot cross buns there are neighbours, dad’s and bambinos all bonding on a Sunday. The coffee was a New Zealand variety called ‘Supreme’ that The Hungry One immediately made friends with. Fruit toast, sliced as thick as a builder’s neck, chockers with dates and dried apricots came on a date with nutmeg kissed ricotta and a pool of honey. A prosciutto panino came smushed into submission with lightly melted asagio cheese. All in all, the perfect antidote to a large evening. We nearly stayed all day.

St Jude’s

In the middle of the seething mass of chaos that is Brunswick street on a Saturday night, we stumbled into a haven of civility. Part restaurant/ part wine bar/ part bottle shop, St Jude’s felt like it was plucked from the back of my brain in the ‘things I might love’ file and crafted just for me. Or maybe it was just that one of my oldest and dearest knows me too well, and had a hankering I might like it. So it was after a bottle of bubbles, sparkling conversation at St Jude’s, the patron saint of hopeless causes that the the age old question came forth;

How can one heart belong to two cities?
I think we need to head back.

  1. It’s not just you, trampolines will forever be ‘Tramampolines!’ (cried out with unrepentant glee!) to me.

    Perhaps you’ll just have be the foodie equivalent of Gertrude Stein: “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” ??

    BTW I had no luck tracking down your reviews on Your Restaurants. Post links for the technologically incompetent please?!

  2. Oh how you’ve reminded me of Berry pavlova – my fav. I miss.
    BUT did you go into the Mediterranean supermarket and walk all the way past all those tins to the meat and cheese section??
    I love the section on the right which looks still asleep from the 1970s.
    And I used to buy my coke from the Lebanese shop opposite.

  3. Missed the supermarket- DRAT- another reason to head back down. Hoping you and Steve and Nathan are well- we did the travel spreadsheet the other day- PROMISE tokyo is on there- just may have to be end of next year….(!)xxx tor

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