I forgot one thing though, quite a big thing to forget really, it was Christmas. If you are a restaurateur or own a cool bar in Melbourne it seems you shut up shop for a couple of weeks and fuck off out of the city.
Basically if you want to experience the Melbourne food scene don’t come at Christmas. Luckily though we had the barbecues, cold beers and the beaches to keep us occupied so all was not lost...
When it’s open though Melbourne is an easy city to fall in love with; it’s modern, cosmopolitan and feels very European. It’s laid back, has great transport links and walking around you get this sense of space and freedom that you just don’t get in other (busier) cities.
In short it felt like paradise after the constant scrum that is living and working in central London. Within a couple of days I’d bought some shorts, stopped wearing shoes altogether and started to really enjoy the slower pace of life.
What’s to love? The bar culture is spot on; whether you want cocktails after dark or to sit in the sun with a frosty beer you are spoiled for choice. There are tonnes of fantastic little haunts very central and a lunch time drink can very easily turn into a drunken sprint for the last train home…
I got sun burnt in the bar at the Roof Top Cinema which has great views of the city during the day and then turns into an awesome open air cinema at night. Though there wasn’t a film on when we went it was pretty cool just chilling in a deck chair on a roof chatting and listening to world go by down below us.
If you’ve had enough of the sun then you could do worse than the Little Creatures Dining Hall over in Fitzroy. This warehouse like space serves up fantastic beer; has a great atmosphere and unpretentious down to earth service so it’s the perfect spot to meet up with friends and while away a boozy afternoon.
For a fairly unique perspective of the city you need to check out Ponyfish Island! Hidden under a pedestrian footbridge in the middle of the Yarra this trendy little bar slash island is the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a pint and wish you never had to leave again.
What about the food I imagine none of you have asked by this point? If you want to squash my favourites into one day it’d be something like this…
Breakfast and we start at the Richmond Hill Café and Larder; it has a CHEESE ROOM but don’t get carried away because the menu is amazing as well. Breakfast Martini’s set the mood with a devilish mix of freshly squeezed Blood Orange and Vodka they are the perfect way to kick start the day.
The Baghdad Eggs were pretty lush but the get the Cheese on toast with Aubergine and Chilli pickle if you need a greasy but essentially delicious fix. Go with friends so you can order lots and share!
Lunch and we head to Chin Chin; this hipster joint, it pains me to use that term but it is, is packed even at lunch but worth the wait for a table. Simple but clever pan-asian food awaits and doesn’t let you down.
The Kingfish Sashimi was fresh and punchy if heavy on the lime, the crunchy small prawns (eaten whole) were brilliant but if it’s on get the twice cooked beef short rib with prik nam pla for sticky, spicy meaty heaven.
Supper time and we head over to St Kilda and more Asian themed food but this time Chinese and Golden Fields. Service here I found a little smug but the food is nothing short of amazing.
Get the fresh pickles; rustic pork dumplings with Chilli Vinegar; the shredded chicken with sesame paste, chilli oil and cold rice noodles then the lamb shoulder with toasted cumin and salted lemon. Wash it down with a bottle of the second cheapest bubbly on the menu and you shouldn’t be disappointed!
Melbourne is a big city and I would have loved to have seen more of the night life. It's so chilled out, friendly and it's warm in winter what more do you need to know?
The food I tried was of all of a really high standard but I think that in part was down to the great tips I got before I headed out so thank you to those that helped! You know who you are.
More photos on the facebook.