Monday, September 29, 2014

(almost) 4 days in Melbourne

It's amazing how short a 4 day trip to somewhere you love can feel. No matter how long I schedule for my visits to Melbourne I can never squish in everything I want to see...let alone everything I want to eat. I gave it my best shot though on this last trip...


As soon as I dropped my bags at my hotel I raced out to grab a late lunch at Mamasita.This is one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne and until Mr Moustache opened in Sydney it was the best Mexican I'd ever had in Australia. I always order a Tamarind Jarrito (I've never seen this on offer anywhere else), Mexican corn (oh Lord, its good! The cheese, the cheese!), soft shell tacos (fish is their best) and a bowl plantain chips (again with the cheese).

Mamasita on Urbanspoon


Bao's are the new of course I was desperate to try this place!  I heard about Wonderbao about a year ago and up until this trip they'd not been opening on weekends. It didn't really matter this time as I'd arrived in Melbourne on a Thursday...but for future weekend trips I'm glad I can pay them a visit on the weekend.

The cafe is a little hard to's at the back of a modern-looking building and faces out to a small laneway. The space is tiny, just a few bench seats inside but when I arrive for afternoon I manage to snaffle myself a seat. If I hadn't *just* had lunch at Mamasita I would've gone for a few things on the menu, but as it is I went with the suggestion of one of the staff and choose the braised pork belly gao bao. It's messy...but pretty darn tasty.

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Cat Cafe

Can I just say "squeeee"! Australia's very first cat cafe opened in Melbourne the week before my about epically perfect timing. And no, for all of your smart Alec's out there, they don't serve get to pay you money and spend an hour stalking cats to pat whilst interrupting their nap time. Fun.

The concept is pretty similar to the cat cafes we visited in Japan this year...though they aren't *quite* as strict with "the rules". We get to leave our shoes on for example and there's a distinct lack of hand sanitizer on every counter (though you should wash your hands in the loos before/after your patting session). The space is WAY bigger than anything we encountered in Japan too...this place had room after room with CATS! Wall to wall CATS (well about not quite wall to wall).  Just like Japan this is a fun and relaxing way to while away an hour (or more if you book for more time).  Unlike Japan the cats here are all rescue cats...unlike the cat cafes in Japan where most of the "staff" are pure bred. I like our model much better to be honest and all of the cats here seemed really happy with their new digs.

There's not much of a "cafe" to the Cat Cafe but there's a Japanese-esque vending machine downstairs and the staff with bring up a hot drink...or a cold sip on whilst you pat your cat of choice.

Cat Cafe Melbourne on Urbanspoon

Nama Nama

Cat patting really works up an appetite so I decided to check out Nama Nama for dinner - a casual Japanese udon joint owned by the people behind Izakaya Den.

It was the draw of Udon that made me really want to try this place, and whilst the Udon was good (though pricey) I'm not sure I'm in love with this place. I'm sad the Edamame were served cold -- like out of the fridge cold, the service was 'weird' (I was the only person in the place but had to keep getting up to ask the waitress if I could order) and the bowl the Udon was served in was so deep and awkward for a noob chopstick user (and even difficult when I switched over to a trusty fork). I wish they'd had a few more snack sized dishes to help paid out my Udon.

All of that aside I think this place is closing down soon and being reopened as something else...

Nama Nama on Urbanspoon

Queenies "Breakfast City tour"

The next morning I'd booked myself into a breakfast city tour run by Andrew Prior who was a contestant on Masterchef  (to quote Andrew "the season that noone watched" LOL). Andrew is a very vibrant personality and his vivaciousness and love of food come across as he leads us around Melbourne.

Our tour kicks off with breakfast at Pei Modern and I order the Eggs Benedict with an OJ on the side. I like starting off the tour with a gives us a chance to hear what the tour guide has to say and to meet our other tour-goers. The eggs-benny are really good...good yolk porn.

This tour doesn't take us "into" a lot of places for sampling like many other tours do, it's more like having a friend show you around town as they point out the tasty places they like to eat. It's perfect for me. I especially liked seeing where Melbourne's smallest bar is located...I wonder if I'd even try to get in given it can only accommodate about 10 people are any one time.

Pei Modern on Urbanspoon

Little Veggie Patch Co

Even though I've packed up my balcony garden I'm still really interested in urban gardens and love to take an opportunity to see community gardens whenever I can.  The Little Veggie Patch Co has a "pop-up patch" on a carpark rooftop behind Federation Square. I've heard that the patch is so popular that it's actually become a permanent fixture and houses plots of inner-city residents/workers plus a host of patches for restaurants. Super cool. I LOVE it!


During the food tour Andrew points out Supernormal to us - a new(ish) modern Asian restaurant located on Flinders Lane. As an aside is Flinders Lane the BEST street in Melbourne, or what? So many great places to eat PLUS my favorite fabric store is on this street too.

I wanted to try Supernormal as Andrew tells us that even though the menu is designed for sharing they are MORE than happy to make smaller portions if you're dining on your own (I was...I came to Melbourne on my own as Dave was gallivanting around Europe on a sporting trip). As soon as I sit down at the counter I'm told that anything I want to order can be made in a smaller portion...nice one Supernormal. After the yummy Lobster Roll at Devon I was keen to try this one -- good, but not *quite* as good as Devon. I also had a yummy (1/2 serve) crab salad and some pickles. Happy. I'd go back here in a heartbeat.

Supernormal on Urbanspoon


I decided to try Fonda for dinner as it was close to my hotel and you know, it's Mexican. Was it as good as Mamasita (if you're a Mamasita fan comparisons have to be made)?  Hmmm...truth be But it wasn't just wasn't Mamasita.

I'm not a fan of places where you have to go up to the counter to order, especially when you're dining on your own as it means you cannot leave anything on the table in case someone snaffles it. That aside, the food was good, it just wasn't Mamasita. The corn was good with just the right about of spice to give it a little heat and I loved my a jar.

Fonda on Urbanspoon

 Cumulus Inc

I went to Cumulus Inc a few times on my trip as it was so close to my hotel and they do really good coffee. The good thing about traveling alone is that you can usually nab a spare seat at the bar without much of a wait - which I do on both my visits. I had the most amazing baked eggs here for breakfast one morning - I think the addition of shankleesh cheese is what really made this dish amazing.

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

Jimmy Grants

I adored the grain salad I had at Jimmy Gr during my last Melbourne visit and there was NO way I was missing out on it this trip. I decided to check out the branch at the new Melbourne Emporium - very swish - and I am happy to report the grain salad was just as good as I remember. And, some happy news (if it's true) is that Jimmy Grants is going to be opening a branch in Parramatta. Seems quite random but if the rumour is tree I'm going to be one happy, grain salad eating, camper.

Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon


After an afternoon of wandering around the fabric shops at Fitzroy I found myself right in the vicinity of Huxtaburger. It would be rude not to pop in for a burger, right? I just love these burgers - soft bun, perhaps cooked and seasoned beef patties. If only Huxtaburger would move to Sydney too.

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon


On my second last day in Melbourne the BFF flew down with his cousin and we decided to go for a fancy dinner at Bistro Vue. I love French food and was really looking forward to this meal but it fell a bit flat for me. The layout of the restaurant just didn't feel very comfortable to me -- we were sort of sat in a corridor and the service felt a bit pushy given that we only had a 2 hour window to eat.

I liked the food that I ordered, steak tartare and a grilled lamb dish. My friends ordered some wonderful French mainstays - confit duck, french onion soup and steak with frittes. We didn't have time to enjoy dessert at BistroVue as we ran out of time...but not too worry, I'd probably eaten enough on this day anyway.

Bistro Vue on Urbanspoon

Bowrey to Williamsburg

Are you full yet? Luckily I still had room for one more delicious Melbourne breakfast at the NYC inspired Bowery to Williamsburg. My cornbeef hash with potatoes was delish and my piccolo latte was perfect. I just love how Melbourne has so many great cafes in the CBD that open all weekend...if only Sydney took a leaf out of Melbourne's book in this respect the city would be a much more fun (and tasty place) to hang out on a weekend.

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

The End xoxo

PS, oh, there may have been a cheeky Souva that I snuck in from Jimmy Grants after breakfast but let's just keep that between us, ok?


  1. wow I'm impressed at how many places you managed to visit in 4 days! makes me want to go to Melbourne and eat all the foods

  2. I think it might be easier to "see more/eat more" when you're on your own. I just kinda plodded from once place to the next - happy in my own little food bubble.

  3. Mel, I am continually impressed by your dedication and commitment to trying new places; wherever you happen to be! If I ever manage to get myself to Melbourne I will be referring back to your list. So much good food!

    I really love your first photo...such a big city shot.

    I also love that you got to see some of the Little Veggie Patch Co's work. I have just purchased their 3rd book and it is bright, entertaining and practical. If their books didn't inspire people to get growing, nothing would.

  4. Wow, what an intense amount of eating! I'm planning to go to the Cat Cafe the next time I'm in Melbourne - my dad wants to come along with me as well, and he's very excited by the prospect!

  5. Make sure you book for the cat cafe - the sessions are totally booked out and I think it'd be impossible to just "walk in" and get a spot. Have fun - I thought it was ACE!

  6. LOL. The best part of travel for me Jane is to explore new places to eat. Melbourne must be one of the best food places I've ever been too - so incredible and delicious!

    Little Veggie Patch was GREAT! You would LOVE it there!

  7. Wow that is an awesome amount of eating in 4 days :D Good stuff!
    I definitely have Huxtaburger on my list of places to try and the Cat cafe is adorable!

    Choc Chip Uru

  8. Ditto the last comment... sounds like a lot more than 4 days :)

  9. WOW! That's an incredible adventure you went to Miss Piggy. I'm so keen to go to the cat cafe. Great post!


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