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.

Barcelona Summer Trip

After getting back from Barcelona and Stiges for our annual trip, we ate at some pretty great places which I wanted to record for future purposes.

  • Montiel (C/ Flassaders 19, Born, 08003 Barcelona) – A great recommendation from Ajit that is tucked away in a small alley in the Born district of Barcelona. When we ate their, they focused on two different tasting menus, one focused on using traditional Spanish ingredients in a more modern way, and the other using higly seasonal ingredients prepared with traditional Spanish cooking techniques. Simple atmosphere, great service and good value even with the wine pairing.
  • Carpe Diem Lounge Club (CDLC) (Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta, 32, 08003 Barcelona) – Fancy atmosphere alongside Barcelona beach that attracts bankers, tourists and a number of other locals. Expensive prices, food is okay and ambience is okay depending on the weather. You can book private lounge beds inside, but we ate outside. I’d prefer other places before going back here, but for some that want to be seen, this might be a place to go.
  • Jaime Beriestain Cafe/Restaurant (Carrer de Pau Claris, 167, 08037 Barcelona) – Wonderful atmosphere in a design store with well executed food. Not particularly cheap but the food merges in a good combination of Spanish ingredients and modern cooking techniques. Friendly service and definitely more stylish clientele.
  • Nem (Carrer Illa de Cuba, 9, 08870, Sitges) – A tapas bar with asian-fusion tapas that is both extremely affordable where we ate at the second year in a row. Table booking in advance or go really early (19:00 or 19:30 by Spanish standards) to sit at the bar.
  • Beach House Sitges (Paseo Ribera 33, 08870 Sitges) – A popular esplanade-facing restaurant with a mixed menu of Asian/western creations and you often end up sharing tables with your neighbours. Lively but maybe a bit too popular for the hassle.
  • 33 Sitges (Carrer Major, 33, 08870 Sitges) – An Asian inspired menu in a beautifully decorated restaurant and friendly service.
  • Restaurante El Superpollo (Carrer de Sant Josep, 8, 08870 Sitges) – The Nando’s equivalent in Sitges, this cheap and cheerful take away or sit-down restaurant does spit-roasted chickens and sides efficiently and delivers with flavour.

Medcalf, Exmouth Market

I had read a lot of good things about Medcalf, a restaurant serving British foods on Exmouth Market, so when I was going to catch up with a couple of friends, I suggested we book a table there for dinner.

We met for a reasonably early dinner at 19:00 and the restaurant seemed reasonably busy for the rest of the night as people were shown to the bar whilst waiting for a table to come free. Service seemed pretty prompt all night without feeling rushed. Questions were answered, and our waiters the the point but still polite.

I felt like indulging in bit of Welsh rarebit or fancy cheese on toast. A generous portion accompanied by a bit of lambs lettuce, a nice touch to add a bit of green to an otherwise very brown dish.

One of my friends went for the steak and frites, apparently very nicely cooked and arriving presliced demonstrating their still-pink interior.

I opted for the artichoke and bean stew. I wasn’t quite sure what was going to arrive, but was pleasantly surprised by a filled, warming stew where the beans still held their shape and was full of flavour right the end.

Marc went for the classic fish and chips that looked pretty decent too.

I couldn’t resist the lure of an apple crumble with ice cream and although very good, would have preferred the apple to have a bit more texture in the dish – the apple seemingly overcooked where it was a bit too mushy for my taste, and the crumble a little bit too fine. The addition of some oats, or larger chunks would be better recommended. Still, it’s hard to beat a nice hot-cold combo.

Name: Medcalf Bar & Restaurant
Location: 40 Exmouth Market, London, Greater London EC1R 4QE
Website: http://www.medcalfbar.co.uk/

Felice Cafe, Rio de Janeiro

Another rainy day and a late afternoon hunger drove me to visit a place that looked welcoming not very far from where I was staying. They had a covered outdoor patio that made it even more appealing to enter when I really wanted to be on the beach and hoping for greater sunshine. Nevertheless, it was time for a late lunch and sat down to look at the menu.

They had an English menu, so I guess they must have a lot of tourists, or people from out of town. I could hear a couple of French ladies next to me catching up, although everyone else on the patio seemed to be locals, or at least, spoke a good amount of Portugese.

I ordered a mate tea whilst waiting, hoping for something that wasn’t so sweet, although they did bring a selection of sweeteners giving me the option of always adding sweetness to my desire. I find mate’s lack of sweetness, and strange bitterness quite tasty, although I know some people don’t like the taste.

Not having any steak yet, I decided to get the filet mignon that turned up perfectly pink on the inside. The chef had already well seasoned the meat (i.e. quite salty) and I did find the flesh a little bit more sinewy than I expected. Still very full of flavour, and served with a great salad, grilled mixed vegetables and a olive oil dressing with grilled garlic and smell flecks of chilli. Yum.

Also being a gelateria, I figured I should give dessert ago and I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed. They definitely know how to make ice cream here with it being very creamy and rich in flavour.

I also have to give them bonus points for offering free wifi to customers that allowed me to check email, read twitter whilst passing the time.

Name: Felice Cafe
Found at: Rua Gomes Carneiro, 30, Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro 22071-110, Brazil (Ipanema)
Website: http://www.felice.com.br/

Brazil Balada Mix, Rio de Janeiro

Balada Mix is one of those chain cafe restaurants that I am told you can find around Rio de Janeiro. Maybe even around Brazil. We went here for a client lunch and it was so nice just walking around in the warm sun.

My English sun-deprivation really showed since I was always looking for the chair under the sun whilst all my colleagues sought out those in the shade.

Balada Mix’s menu offered very typical Brazilian lunch time things – everything from salads, sandwiches, pastas and plenty of juices.

Overwhelmed by choice and with the translation help, I chose a refreshingly beautiful mint and pineapple juice. You can tell from the foam how freshly squeezed it was.

I figured I was going to try eat a bit healthier and went for a turkey sandwich. Classically matched by mozzarella, pesto and some other salads, there was a lot of cheese. Almost too much to the point where I was starting to pull out chunks because it is, frankly, too tasteless to really be eating other than melted, or in smaller bits for texture.

Still, the side salad that also arrived was very nice. Complete with soy beans and lightly dressed.

Name: Balada Mix
Found at: Various locations (this one was in an open air shopping centre in Barra)
Website: http://baladamixrestaurante.com.br/

Eating out in Vienna

Eis Greissler
Rotenturmstraße 14, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Nearest U-Bahn (Stephenplatz or Schwedenplatz)

You can tell that this ice cream outlet is really popular from the queues that form around it. The story behind this popular ice cream place is that all the ingredients are organic, and they avoid putting any chemicals or additives into their ice cream. The result is a creamy, rich textured ice cream that is simply delicious.

The ice cream store isn’t very big with a counter that is only suitable for serving two at a time and no seats or tables to sit down. Fortunately they are very good at serving people and the line moves on very quickly. You can definitely taste the quality from this place.

Reumannplatz 13 1100 Vienna, Austria
Nearest UBhan (Reumannplatz)

One of the big ice cream vendors that actually advertises on the U-Bahn, and from the interior is either very old styled, or is at least themed to be like that. It doesn’t seem to be only tourists there when I visit (probably a good sign) and there seems to be quite a number of locals as well.

They have a huge selection of ice cream, but taking the seat I opt for a sampler platter of the ice cream balls they are famous for. The original is a vanilla ice cream filled with an apricot jam (very much like the Sissi kugel chocolate balls you might find around town) and they had three other varieties including a “snowball” filled with raspberry and coated in fluffy white chocolate marshmallow-like coating, a “Tartufo” richer chocolate ball rolled in cocoa and filled with a filling that tasted like raspberry, and probably my favourite which was the “nuss (nut)” filled with a nice hazelnut ice cream inside a larger chocolate ice cream ball.

My mistake was figured that these balls were quite small – they didn’t even warn me and although very tempted to finish it off, it was simply too much for me. Yes, even with my sweet tooth.

Wollzeile 5, 1010 Wien, Austria ‎
Nearest U-Bahn (Stephenplatz or Schwedenplatz)

One of the most tourist-centric places but a place where the potato salad was so memorable I had to go back and try it again. I realised that the secret to their potato salad was actually a bit of sugar (I definitely noticed it) alongside their home made pumpkin-seed oil. The schnitzels here are over-sized, decent and worth just one trip.

If they have it, I would also recommend trying the clever “Mozartkülgen”, a clever spin on a traditional dumpling filled with a chocolate-marzipan filling and rolled in pistachio nuts.

Stand 510 Naschmarkt, 1060 Vienna, Austria
Nearest U-Bahn (Kettenbrückengasse)

I was lucky enough to have great weather, or at least, blue skies on the Saturday I spent in Vienna. Like many of the locals and tourists, I headed down to Naschmarkt to check out the antiques and the food markets down that street. One of the cafes that is perfect for people watching and do some great food is Neni.

I only stopped for a coffee and although service was a little slow, was perfect for the type of lazy wandering day that I wanted.

Cafe Savoy
Linke Wienzeile 36, 1060 Vienna, Austria
Nearest U-Bahn (Kettenbrückengasse)

Whilst you are at Naschmarkt and have time to spare and, a small hunger, head on down to Cafe Savoy. This gay-friendly cafe does a Sunday brunch spread and the interior is cosy, filled with strange antiques and one of the largest single glass mirrors I have ever seen. Apparently you will only find larger in the Palaces in Marseille. Impressive and a cool interior.

I stopped for the apple strudel, also another Viennese specialty that you can have either cold or warm here. Yum.

Kurrentgasse 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Nearest U-Bahn (Stephenplatz)

We went out to dinner with one of the conference attendees from Vienna to the heart of Vienna (around Stephenplatz) where they’re many of these traditional restaurants. We tried going to one place but was fully booked and ended up in Ofenloch, a slightly ritzier but still decently priced restaurant.

Strangely enough, and very unlike many other Viennese places, service was absolutely shining with waiters, waitresses all being extremely friendly and prompt if you ever needed anything like another beer, the menu or tap water.

Pretty good experience here. All the food is pretty high quality and many traditional dishes that you can choose from.

Coffee hot spots in Dublin

It seems like Dublin has any many coffee houses as they do pubs. The good news is that most of these seem to be pretty independent places (for the most part). You do see the occasional Starbucks, but you don’t see the typical Costa, Starbucks, Nero trio on every part with either a bit more of a local feel. Hunting down places that do good coffee seems like a mission I’m happy to take when trying a new city.

My favourites for the coffee turned out to be:

3FE – I dropped into here on the way to head out to Howth. It was positively buzzing with people sitting, chatting with a friend or people reading their kindle or messages on their phone. The coffee took a while to make with only a single barist and a backlog of coffee orders but it was pretty tasty. Found at 32/34 Lower Grand Canal Street, Dublin 2.

Coffee Angel – I tried to find the store quite close to the Custom House’ Quay to no avail, but stumbled across their smaller, tiny store around … those seemed to sell more of their hand-roasted beans and coffee equipment. They did a mean flat white that was nice to sit on their only bench outside in a ceramic cup. Found at various locations but I visited the one at 16A South Anne Street, Dublin 2

The Bald Barista – Named after Buzz Fendall, their bald barista (who I did not see), this place seemed more like the place you’d sit down to have a breakfast. Order at the bar, and then take your seat. The flat white here wasn’t as good as the others, but still drinkable. For me it had a bit too much milk, the milk was slightly too hot and yet somehow missed out on being the microfoam that a flat white really deserves. Found at 55 Aungier Street, Avalon House, Dublin 2.

Brunch at Farmer Browns

Dublin is full of cafes offering the full “Irish breakfast”, typically distinguished from the “Full English” breakfast by the present of white and black puddings. A culture of drinking leads to a culture of a late brunch and so Dublin offers plenty. As more people move towards the coffee-drinking culture Dublin has sprouted to match the expectation of a quality brunch place offering meals that go beyond the “plate that fixes the hangover”.

I went along to one of the newer ones, Farmer Brown’s located just near the newer Dockland part of the city. Nestled between a number of residential places, this cafe offered seating outside, a covered terrace and inside seating for all. Wanting some French Toast, it arrived with a hugely generous portion of bacon that had literally been cooked together where the strands of bacon seemed to infuse itself. So… much… bacon but very good. Unlike other places where you run out of bacon before you have finished the eggy-goodness-soaked bread, there was plenty of it to go around with each bite. Yum. Flat white wad admittedly disappointing with milk being both too hot and not foamed enough.

Other dishes looked good looking around at what other people ordered.

Other places I’d like to try next time include the Lennox Cafe (31 Lennox Street, Dublin 8) and Herbstreet (Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2) Another one worth trying is apparently Odessa (14 Dame Court, Dublin 2) although I’m loath to bother lining up for a place when there are so many other options.

Find Farmer Browns at 25A Bath Avenue, Dublin 4.

Milchglas, Hamburg

Our team has had a bit of trapsing around the area near our office, checking out coffee places for the a good coffee place. I suggested we visited Milchglas, a place that touts itself as a coffee and catering place. We walked in and there quite a few people in, eating lunch so I guess it must be okay.


There wasn’t really much room to sit, but that was fine since we either normally have a coffee standing up, or at least take away.

Mlichglas Interior

The cakes, muffins and brownies looked pretty tempting.

Mlichglas Muffins

But I managed to stop myself 🙂

MilchglasMilchglas Exterior

Name: Coffeeshop Milchglas
Found at: Alter Steinweg 11, 20459 Hamburg
Website: http://www.milchglas-catering.de/

Breakfasting at Caravan

It was a fairly rainy day that I met up with a colleague to talk breakfast about the new client I was going to join. We decided to meet somewhere close to my work, and decided on Caravan. It’s a great place that roasts its own coffee, has a great brunch offering on weekends and just a nice atmosphere all around.


Although tempted by lots of the different offerings on their menu, I started with a flat white whilst I waited for my colleague to arrive.


Well made – a perfect “heart” and all the things I look for in a well made flat white – not too hot, creamy milk foam, and a good combination, I probably could have gone for a second coffee.


Breakfast finally arrives – I went for the caramelised banana served atop a hearty bowl of porridge. The porridge was perfectly stodgy and there was plenty of banana caramel to go around without being too excessive – it was pretty sweet after all, but just enough for the entire bowl.


Name: Caravan Restaurant
Found at: Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QD
Website: http://caravanonexmouth.co.uk/