Saturday, 26 May 2018

Where to eat in Melbourne

This is my fourth trip to Australia and the first to Melbourne, known for its coffee culture and cool cafés. It does not matter whether you prefer to be close to nature along the Great Ocean Road, drink wine to your heart's content at the vineyards or shop 'til you drop. We need to take a break and refuel ourselves  tried and loved the ice-cream at both Dooley's Ice Cream and Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. If you are visiting Brighton Bathing Boxes and/or St Kilda Beach, drop by Claypots Seafood Bar that a travel companion found to be the best meal of our trip. Other than freshly-shucked plump oysters at Queen Victoria Market, there are also other lovely eats that I tried:

Brunetti started as a café in 1985 and was transformed into a Roman Pasticceria in 1991 after it was acquired. According to its website, there are five branches in Melbourne and one in Singapore. The menu was extensive with dazzling displays of pastries, desserts and gelato flavours. We started with two entrée  messy-eat bruschetta and addictive calamari, two handmade pasta and two drinks. Egg squid ink tagliatelle with crab meat was surprisingly delicious while my travel companion had no complaints about the black and white ravioli with prawns. Could neither rave about its coffee and apple strudel nor fault the award-winning cheesecake, chocolate cannolo and meringue lemon tart.

Cumulus Inc is a popular restaurant on Flinders Lane opened 7-11 since 2008. We visited for dinner on a weekday, ordering a few appetisers and main courses for sharing. Beef tartare with tarragon on crispy toast was delectable though I have had better ones. Marinated mushrooms with pickled garlic, saltbush and egg yolk was excellent  a perfect balance of taste and texture with every ingredients coming very well together. I also liked the calamari with radish, fried bread and 'Nduja dressing while a travel companion preferred the fresh snapper with clams, Jamón broth and herb oil. The rest voted for the braised 'til fork-tender short rib with spinach and oyster purée.

The Hardware Société, one of the cafés in Hardware Lane, was recommended by a local and has expanded to Paris. Visiting for late breakfast on a weekday, we were fortunate that there was one last table available  a round marble one with a porcelain crucible of brown sugar in the centre. Sitting on wooden chairs by the colourful butterfly wallpaper, I noticed how pretty its small plates were. The pork belly and fried eggs with bacon, apple cider chutney and rye bread was good though I did not like the caramelised leek and onion potato cakes that were served alongside. While the coffee and baked eggs were yummy, I was still surprised that a queue has formed by the time we left.

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