Proud Mary - 172 Oxford St Collingwood - This place is an institution these days. It's reputation has grown and it is extremely popular. The first thing we noticed when we got there was that it was extremely hard to find signage. If you know where you're going it's fine. Proud Mary isn't big - and you may well need to share a table - not a problem generally but be prepared. Mlady was still reeling from all the food from the night before so she started with the lighter fig and apricot toast that is served with butter and honey. She asked for the honey to be swapped with their home made jam. The two large slices that arrived packed with fruit were ample and the jam was tasty. Sir had the more substantial Avocado - described as served with baked ricotta, tomato salsa, seed and sprout toast. It was delicious, substantial, nicely presented and very fresh. A lovely start to any day. The coffee was great as well. It's easy to see why this place has become so popular.
Ca De Vin - Melbourne GPO Postal Lane Bourke St Mall Melbourne CBD - A narrow laneway with awnings covering it almost completely, candles everywhere, mysterious, enchanting - this is Ca De Vin. Most people don't even notice it's there - or only see the outside area in Bourke St Mall. Go inside - it's worth it. This place has atmosphere in bucket loads. We were only seeking a late morning coffee so we didn't get to try their food, but some of the pizzas that went past looked great. The coffee was good, arriving quickly. Service was friendly and efficient - water arriving on our table seconds after we sat down and orders quickly taken. We're very keen to go back here to try their food and to experience the atmosphere in the evening - it should be amazing!
Dumplings Plus - 269 Swanston St Melbourne CBD - Shopping in Melbourne CBD builds up an appetite because it's busy work - especially when the shopping expertise and resilience of Mlady is involved! We were hungry. Sir suggested a few places - basically anywhere near - he needed food! Mlady was more discerning and said she wanted dumplings so we ended up at Dumpling Plus as it was just around the corner. We ordered from the handmade Dumplings page - steamed vegetable dumplings (in a serving of 6), steamed prawn and chive dumplings (in a serving of 4) and steamed BBQ pork buns (Sirs influence and in a serving of 2). The verdict - the food came quickly, it was tasty and inexpensive. We'd go back again.
Laksa King - 6 Pin Oak St Flemington - This is by far the most popular Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne - and in reality the most popular Malaysian restaurant in Australia. It feeds a lot of people quickly and cheaply with huge servings of great food. We arrived exactly on time for our booking and were seated immediately. Off to a great start! We started with a special of the day - their home made dim sims. Mlady insisted on having them steamed and they arrived quickly with a hoi sin dipping sauce. Very tasty. Then the main meals - and as it's called Laksa King we felt we had to have laksa on our first visit. Mlady had the vegetable laksa and Sir had the king prawn laksa. Both servings were massive - really massive. We loved them both. Great flavours, plenty of goodies in each bowl. No wonder they are popular. We also had a serving of their roti too - just can't resist ordering this - everywhere! Our entire meal was huge, delicious and cheap. We left very full and very satisfied.
Sensory Lab - In the entrance to Davis Jones 297 Little Collins St Melbourne CBD - Sensory lab has a loyal following of coffee lovers. This place is pretty small and most seating is at one of several communal tables. That have a small range of food available too - but here it's all about the coffee. Mlady had a strong cappuccino while Sir was dying of thirst and had an organic lemonade. A brownie added some substance to the afternoon stop. Service was friendly and fast.
Grind In The City - 4 Centre Place Melbourne CBD -Grind in the City is a small place - but then almost every restaurant and cafe is small in Centre Place. We love this lane way though. It has a lot of charm and amazing atmosphere. Mlady had a muffin with omelette and greenery in it and Sir had a massive serving of spinach and egg borek. Prices here are extremely low - we ate for under $20 in total and that included our food and two large decent coffee's!
Portello Rosso - Warburton Lane Melbourne CBD - This is another busy place. Tapas is popular and they do it well here, along with larger dishes and several versions of paella. We had some complimentary wartm olives to start. Then we grabbed some Fritura De Calabacin Y Maiz - barbequed sweet corn and zucchini fritters served with mint and garlic yoghurt. Very tasty. Then we had Croquetas de Setas - mushroom and blue cheese croquettes with housemade cardamon relish. These were great. Then we had pimientos de piquillo - piquillo peppers stuffed with salted cod and potato and baked in romesco sauce. Again a good choice. Mlady had an empanada de wagyu - spiced beef wagyu emapanada with pinenuts and sage served over tomato and cardamon relish. This had nice pastry, tender meat and good flavours.Sir had panceta de cerdo - slow roasted crispy skin pork belly with extremely tender meat over an amazing almond and garlic puree. We then had a larger Pulpo a la GalLega - Galicia's signature dish of marinated sliced octopus over paprika dusted kipfler potato a julienne of fried chilli, Spanish onion and leek topped with garlic aioli. This was simply beautiful. Lastly we had Albondigas - pork and veal meatballs with hints of fennel and mint served with green peas and sofrito sauce. It was good but not our favourite dish of the night. We washed it all down with a litre of red sangria - training for our eating trip to Spain next year! Service from Thomas was excellent!
Nieuw Amsterdam - 106 Hardware St Melbourne CBD - This restaurant and bar is down near Hardware Societe and has some interesting food and drinks on offer. We called in for pre-dinner drinks and a nibble before heading off to our booking elsewhere and it was very pleasant. Mlady had a lovely rose and they actually got us to taste it first to see if it was something that she liked. Sir had a rum straight - it had been a busy day after all! We also grabbed a serving of sardines and toasted fingers which were very tasty and very good value as well. We were downstairs in the bar - the restaurant is upstairs and we'd certainly like to give it a go next time we're in town.
Piccolo Espresso - 20 Convention Centre Place South Wharf - Cosy take away place inside the DFO at South Wharf that sells coffee and plenty of cakes and macarons. We grabbed four macarons and some coffee's after a busy session of shopping - especially by Mlady. The macarons are quite big compared to many but still quite tasty as well. The coffee was good.
Chez Dre - 285 Coventry St South Melbourne - This place is a little hard to find as it's down an alley. It does have signage but it's not over the top so pay attention. It's a gem. Once you enter you realise that it's deceptively big stretching out quite a way and also having an outside area at the rear. The food is great. Mlady had toasted sourdough with rhubarb, strawberry and passionfruit jam. The toast was good, the jam was great and it also came with Pepe Sayer butter. Sir had salmon rillettes which came with beetroot relish, caperberries, poached eggs, beetroot crisps all on toasted sourdough. This was a killer breakfast - so tasty and so memorable! A couple of nice coffees made it all even better.
+39 Pizzeria - 362 Little Bourke St Melbourne CBD - This is a busy place - especially on a Friday or Saturday evening. We managed to snag a table at short notice and were seated down the back. We had some tasty olives to nibble for starters while we decided on our next courses. Mlady had the special tri-colour penne which was actually tri-colour topping on one colour penne. It has fresh tomatoes, fior di latte boconcini and basil leaves. Sir had pappardelle al porcini which was pasta with porcini mushrooms, parsley, white wine, butter and parmesan and a touch of truffle oil. A couple of glasses of sangiovese went perfectly. The food was excellent in good quantities and the service was fast and friendly. The place was busy but that's what happens when you are popular.
Creperie Le Triskel - 32 Hardware Lane Melbourne CBD - Who doesn't love a good creperie? This place is great. It's so popular and so small - probably a challenging combination - but they manage well. Mlady had a baguette - which was massive. Sir had a galette which again was massive and so tasty. Prices are extremely reasonable so you pay very little to eat a lot here - and it's excellent quality as well.
Brother Baba Budan - 359 Little Collins St Melbourne CBD - The thing you notice straight away at Brother Baba Budan is all the chairs hanging from the ceiling. There are literally 50 or more - which covers the whol;e ceiling as it's a small place. They may serve some food - we're not sure - but they do serve coffee and lots of it. Most is take away but there is a shared table at the front and a bench down the side. Surprise surprise we had coffee - and it was good. Strong - yes - but tasty. Service was quick and very friendly. So all good!
Bar Nacional - 727 Collins St Melbourne - Visited Bar Nacional with a group from work. I was certainly curious to see what this Pete Evan co-owned place was like. We had a set menu which turned out to be great. We received a series of starters, then we had to each order a main course to share and a dessert to also share. We ended up eating our mains and desserts separately rather than sharing. I had a lovely pork belly as a main and a great crema Catalan for dessert. I thought the food was excellent and they have a decent wine list as well. I'd certainly go back again.
Philhellene - 551 Mt Alexander Rd Moonee Ponds - Went here for a group function recently - and it was a big function so it was a full house there in fact. They handled it all very well and the food was great. There was plenty of it too and it just kept arriving. Very impressed with the quality and the quantity - and the prices were very reasonable as well.
The Grain Store - 517 Flinders Lane - Staying nearby and looking for a good breakfast place eventually lead me to The Grain Store. Mlady had been encouraging me to eat a bit healthier so I ordered the Toasted Granola Parfait which came with apple compote, kiwi salsa, mandarin, chia seed yoghurt and quinoa milk. It was impressive - tasting and looking great. A more than decent coffee topped off a lovely breakfast just perfectly.
Shanghai Street Dumpling - 342 Little Bourke St - Dropped in late one evening for a quick bite while in the city. The pork and prawn wonton in chilli oil with peanut and sesame butter sauce caught my eye. It was a large serving that came in 15 pieces and it was delicious (and so cheap as well). A side of homemade golden sesame seeded bacon and spring onion cakes was also substantial and tasty. The place isn't fancy but service is fast and the food is great.
Rockpool Bar and Grill - Southbank - Crown Casino - Popped in one evening for a quick drink and meal. The bar menu is quite interesting but the "famous" burger was something that's been on my wish list for a while. It's described as David Blackmore’s full blood Wagyu hamburger with bacon, gruyere cheese and zuni pickle. I was asked if medium was fine for the beef as that's the usual way it comes. This certainly suited me. For $24.00 I was expecting a pretty impressive burger - and it was! The meat was tender and juicy and the rest was delicious. It's not a burger that's overloaded. In fact it's fairly simple but what is there is quality. I loved it. I also added a serving of their onion rings with house-made ketchup for an extra $9.00 and a lovely red or two and the meal was complete. It was a decent sized serving too. Service was excellent as you would expect here. I'm certainly planning a return trip!
Gills Diner - rear of 360 Little Collins St, Melbourne CBD - Down a laneway and into a semi industrial looking space you will find the charming and awarded Gills Diner. It has a retro workshop feel to it with yellowed tiles on the walls and exposed ducting above. The well spaced tables have a workbench feel to them. For our group of seven we started with the Gills charcuterie selection which turned out to be impressive and extremely tasty. We also shared a selection of antipasti as well. Mains were ordered individually. My choice, and the choice of several others in our group, was spaghetti marinara which came with fresh seafood, chilli, parsley and oil. It was certainly a good marinara. The next most popular main was the special of the day - duck confit. I was lucky enough to taste it and it was beautifully cooked. Gills Diner has repeatedly been awarded one star and the food here certainly was very good. The service was also excellent and the ambiance is very unique and interesting.
The Lui Bar - Rialto Tower - Melbourne CBD - Wow. If you've been here (or to Vue de Monde) you'll know that this view from 55 floors up is magnificent. You need to ask downstairs to get the lift up here and then they send you up (as the lift doesn't have a button for level 55). Then a short stroll down a dimly lit corridor takes you into The Lui Bar with it's magical views out over Melbourne. The drinks aren't cheap but the quality and variety is great and the views just keep mesmerising everyone. We dropped by after dinner for a night cap of Pedro Ximinez and felt like we on top of the world. If you haven't experienced this place yet - it's certainly worth trying!
MoVida Aqui - Melbourne CBD - It's a little bit hard to find this surprisingly spacious restaurant - but it's well worth looking for. Having already sampled the delicacies of both MoVida and MoVida Next Door I was keen to continue the MoVida journey and to also see what may be new at this particular venue. MoVida Aqui is a long narrowish restaurant that is on the first floor of the NAB building at 500 Bourke St. It is predominantly an indoor venue although there is a smallish outdoor area. The menu, as with the rest of the MoVida group, is set out with cuca conservas (or tinned stuff), embutidos, tapas and raciones (or larger plates). I was in a group of four and we started with mejillones rias gallegas - tinned mussels in a tangy red sauce with sourdough. They were very tasty and we devoured them. Next was bocadillo de calamares - individual calamari sandwiches with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise. These were amazing and possibly my favourite dish of the night. Then we had costilla de cordero- lamb cutlets with pork and paprika pate. The meat was extremely tender but so rare that a few in our group felt they were undercooked. Nice flavours though and another good dish. The carrillera de buey - slowly braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez on cauliflower puree - was extremely tender and almost dissolved. The flavours were also rich and distinct. We had a pulpo (octopus) dish as well as a pork dish. We finished by sharing two servings of churros - or Spanish doughnuts that came with a rich drinking chocolate mixture that we all agreed wasn't that good which was a pity. MoVida Aqui was a great dining experience.
Izakaya Den - Melbourne CBD - This is a hard to find place. It's not brilliantly signposted and it's down a flight of stairs (as you'd expect from a den) and through a curtained doorway. You may perhaps pause to make sure you're going in the right doorway! It's a long narrow room with some lounge chairs along the right hand wall and then tables the rest of the way. There's a long bar/servery along the left wall that you can also sit at to eat. I was in town late and after a quick meal so I started with a glass of merlot (from quite a decent wine list) and the den fried chicken ($11.00) followed by grilled duck breast with pomegranate soy ($19.00). The chicken was amazing - so tender inside and nice and crisp on the outside. The sauce was nice and tangy as well and it was a generous serving for the price. The duck breast was delicately done with thin slices topped with slivers of baby corn and scattered pomegranate seeds surrounding it. Izakaya Den is popular. The food is great and the service matched this. It's a pleasant place. Even though it's hard to find - it's worth looking for Izakaya Den.
- De Mad Hatter - Docklands - This is a busy place at the bottom of Collins St that seems to attract a large coffee crowd but also plenty of people grabbing food as well. They have a wide range of food available ranging from plenty of cakes, slices and muffins through to some very tasty looking salads in the front counter. Service is fast and friendly. Only had coffee this time but will certsinly try the food another time as it looked appealing.
- Lorca - Centre Place Melbourne - If you've ever seen Diagon Alley from one of the Harry Potter films and wanted the same atmosphere - go here. Lovely bustling place - we had a delicious brunch. The scrambled eggs were great and they have good coffee too. Plenty of very interesting food options at this charming place - sit at the bench on a stool and look out over the laneway at life and people rushing by.