Where we ate and drank in Melbourne

In September, we had an amazing time eating and drinking our way around Melbourne. Although I had a huge list, we only had a small amount of time but still managed to get through a good deal of them. Here’s some of the places that we ended up visiting.

Eating Places

  • Fancy Hanks (Level 1, 79 Bourke St) – If you’re craving some good American style BBQ with a wide variety of sauces and craft beer, then Fancy’s Hanks is for you.
  • Dehli Streets (22 Katherine Pl) – A cheap and cheerful restaurant tucked away in an alley but was full even on a Monday evening. A good mix of Indian food served in a Thali which gives you a good option to try several things at once.
  • Sezar (6 Melbourne Pl) – A more upmarket restaurnat serving Armenian food which is an interesting mix of dishes that remind me of a mix between Turkish and middle Eastern dishes. Try the feast, although make sure you leave some room for dessert! Bookings essential.
  • Bibim Fresh (9/108 Bourke St) – A cheap and cheerful Korean restaurant serving focused on serving Korean stone bowls with fresh ingredients and a slightly healthier twist on the dishes such as brown instead of white rice.
  • Maha (21 Bond St) – An underground Turkish restaurant that offers both ala carte and an amazing 4-6 course tasting adventure. This is definitely a bit more fine-dining and we noted a number of people coming here for birthdays because it was nice.
  • +39 Pizza (362 Little Bourke St) – A popular but tiny pizza place that offers huge pizzas. The pizza was good but I was disappointed that the foccacia was basically a pizza dough, not a proper foccacia one. Cheap and cheerful.
  • Frances’ Food and Coffee (1/245 Franklin St) – We stumbled across this place looking for breakfast when we were near the QVM. I’m glad we did with good coffee, great variety of cooked breakfasts, seats in the sun and friendly service – what more does one need?
  • Dex2rose Nitrogen Gelateria & Cafe (377-379 Little Bourke St) – Instagram-friendly creative dessert cafe based on ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.

Drinking Places

  • Fall from Grace (Hidden bar in State of Grace at 477 Collins St) – One of those speakeasy bars that is hidden behind a retracting bookcase that will make you fall in love with the atmosphere. Cocktails take a while to whip up, and ordering them at the counter is worth watching the amount of preparation. Rather darkly lit on the inside but lots of comfy lounge areas if you come early enough.
  • Berlin Bar (Upper floor – 16 Corrs Ln) – I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this place. The reviews made me think it could be really cheesy… but it was really well done! Sit in the East or the West side and enjoy the creative and German-inspired drinks, the fitting atomsphere and some of the great entertainment (black and white film and an in-house magician!) Cocktails weren’t cheap AUD20 but were worth it for something unique. Even better is that everyone must sit at a table, so it’s never too crowded (but there was a line so come early or book)
  • Madame Brussels (59 Bourke St) – Brightly decorated tennis lawns, pink chairs and camp decorations make this jovial bar a delight to drink at. Why order a single cocktail when you can order the cocktails by the pitcher to share! They have a nice terrace that even in winter was used because of the outdoor heating. Light finger food made available (the sausage rolls were amazing!)

Coffee Places

  • Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke St) – This tiny place was just down from hotel we stayed at and was a place I remember from the last trip I had in Melbourne. It’s not really a huge place with lots of tables but works for a couple.
  • Duke’s Coffee (247 Flinders Ln) – Some of the folk from my office showed me this coffee place. Proper hipster style, with a long stream of regulars and often a line out of the door. They also offer some amazing looking cakes and pastries to snack on as well.
  • Manchester Press (8 Rankins Ln) – We actually dropped in here for breakfast. It’s a larger airy place that apparently is really crowded on weekends (we went on a weekday). I wasn’t particularly impressed by the breakfast offerings – various bagels with different toppings but the coffee was good with lots of seating area in a large warehouse-like environment.

Belle Epoque

One of the restaurants I really wanted to visit in Malmö was Bastard. Unfortunately you need to book a week in advance to even think about getting a table. It really wasn’t going to work for the eight or ten of us who wanted to go. Fortunately someone else knew another great place to dine, called Belle Epoque.

With so many of us, it was definitely easier for the kitchen that we all ordered from the tasting menu. I arrived slightly earlier, but had a nice Swedish beer and chatted to the Australian(!) bartender and his swedish customers at the small bar set up outside. The restaurant turns into a bit of a drinking venue that was definitely popular with the locals later.

To start, they served us with two types of bread. A nice, standard white baguette loaf and crispy bread. They served it with yogurt balls (more like curd) that disappeared very quickly. Apparently very popular.

Our second dish was stunning. It was a Swedish cheese turned into a croquette with a crispy crumb that set on a bed of creamed cauliflower, herbs and barley. The cheese was a strong flavoured cheese, that melted slightly but still did very well to hold its shape.

Our next dish was a fillet of pike served with dill, wild garlic and taramasalata. As you can see from the picture (a terrible iPhone photo I know), the presentation was impeccable and the flavours intense and extremely delicious. The wild garlic, slightly steamed, or wilted still packed quite a lot of punch, the fish perfectly crisped on the outside yet remaining nice and flaky on the other side and the dill covering tiny cucumber balls on the side.

Our meat course main was just as stunning as the others. Here we have chunks of lamb, oh so tender and perfectly cooked sitting a top a broad bean mash and a toasted rice cake browned in butter. I really liked the way the roasted rice brought out a very different dimension and helped contrast the strong flavours of lamb. Fresh mint strewn throughout the bean mash and atop helped brighten the entire dish.

Finally we had alternating desserts at the table. The winning dish that I had was a filo pastry tart filled with chopped nuts, French anglaise and strawberry although the photo didn’t really turn out. The alternative was a goat’s cheese sorbet, rhubarb and nuts with a caramel sauce. I didn’t have a taste of it, but those who compared the two said the tart was definitely the winner. Either way, it was a fantastic effort and brilliant execution throughout the evening.

This restaurant definitely proved popular with locals with tables filling up even as we departed from our meal so much on the heavier side. I guess it’s a good drinking spot too with a DJ coming out a bit later.

Name: Belle Epoque
Address: Södra skolgatan 43, Malmö
Website: http://belle-epoque.se/

Drinking Spots in Chicago

We went drinking a number of times in Chicago and although I neglected to take any photos, I would definitely recommend the following places depending on what you want:

  • Sepia – A great place to drink some interesting cocktails. We went here just after having dinner at Avec for nightcap and heading home. The interior is decorated like the 20s, or sepia tones with a great bar decorated with books and photography equipment around the place. Comfy lounge chairs welcome you to fall back and enjoy your drinks
  • Sable – We had a two hour wait before our table was ready for Frontera Grill so we went for a couple of drinks beforehand to Sable. This bar has floor to ceiling glass windows to the street and high chaired tables lining a narrow corridor. I believe this is the pre-drinking spot before people head into the restaurant although you can order food in the bar area as well. A very nice bar although the atmosphere is slightly ruined by the TVs showing sports behind the bar. What is with that? A great selection of cocktails and didn’t get a chance to look at the food.
  • Elephant and Castle – As one would expect from a place like this, a British themed pub serving British foods like Fish and Chips, Chicken Pot Pie and Irish Stew alongside a broad range of British and European beers and ales. The London Pride I had was pretty good although it was strangely super cold to the point of being almost tasteless. I had to let it warm up a bit to get any sense of the flavour).

Hackesches Hof Theater Cafe

We dropped into this awesome cafe near the Hackescher Markt. Attached to a theatre, or what I’m guessing is a bigger theatre, this small cafe offers all sorts of drinks from the teas and coffees, through to beers and wines. From what I could tell of the menu, it also offers a small amount of food to eat like sandwiches and cakes though we just dropped in for a drink.

Hackesches Hof Theatre is warmed by an array of theatre lights hanging for the ceiling. Some people won’t like the heat although it really worked for me because of the cold outside. This cafe, like many others in Berlin, is full of characters with old movie and theatre posters hanging from all walls.

Name: Hackesches Hof Theatre
Found at: Rosenthaler Straße 40, 10178 Berlin, Germany
Website: www.hackesches-hoftheater.de

Drinking at the Gin Palace

I ended up here twice during my week in Melbourne, once for a pre-dinner drink and the other time to catch up with a good friend. You wouldn’t really know about this place unless you were looking for it, or unless a person introduced you to it. After all, it’s down a little side street and its doorway is still hidden from the street view. You might happen to catch its bright doorway if you look at the right time as you walk by.

Inside, the interior is made up of many different seating areas, all affording plenty of privacy from each other. Most of them were comfy old leather chairs, well worn or most likely bought like that. Either way, I liked the way that it fit well with the old fashioned, parlour style atmosphere. Drinks and food are table service, although it was pretty slow on both nights to the point where we went up to the bar to ask for our next round.

They had a cocktail menu although the bartenders were rightfully pretty aware of lots of different drinks and we ended up asking for something that had sloe gin and were recommended a Charlie Chaplin drink that went down a treat. Drinks start at around AU$16 from what I remember though worth every drop.

Name: Gin Palace
Found at: 10 Russell Place, Melbourne Victoria 3000, Australia
Website: http://ginpalace.com.au/

The Bowery in Brisbane

One of my favourite bars in Brisbane is The Bowery, located on the corner of Ann Street and The Bowery in the Fortitude Valley. It’s a deep and narrow cocktail bar with an open aired patio where you can enjoy the wonderful mix of drinks on offer.

The menu is extensive (in drinks that is), split into a number of sections making it easy for you to enjoy. Sections such as the sweet, sour or bitter sections have plenty of cocktails to choose from, or you can simply ask the staff for something special. The only downside to a place like this is that you will find yourself waiting if the bar is super full.

I didn’t find it too busy last Friday, although we went before dinner and it was probably quiet with people leaving Brisbane for the long weekend. Staff are helpful, entirely friendly and the atmosphere chilled and relaxed.

Name: The Bowery
Website: http://www.thebowery.com.au/
Address: 676 Ann St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006, Australia