1. There’s a certain mystique around Hi Hou, a Japanese bar/restaurant on Flinders Lane. Make sure you have a booking, ring the doorbell at the unassuming entrance and wait patiently for the maître d’ who will whisk you up a flight of dimly lit stairs. Here you will find a beautifully designed bar with a cosy, romantic ambience. If you’re lucky, you can sit in the traditional style cushioned booths. The buckwheat crepes and seared tuna come highly recommended, as does the great range of warm and cold sake.
2. There’s not many locations so close to the city which are as picturesque as Abbotsford Convent and the Collingwood Children’s Farm. On a sunny day, take a picnic and graze beside the sheep and horses on the green pastures. Alternatively, head to the Farm Cafe, a quaint cafe on the fringe of the Children’s Farm. Initially starting as a coffee and pancake stall in 2005, it has transformed into an idyllic cafe, serving delicious, wholesome and sustainable food of a high quality.
3.Just a stone’s throw from Camberwell train station, Collective Espresso is the perfect pit-spot for a pre-work coffee or a caffeine injection post Camberwell market. The coffee is exceptional here – they use Five Senses Coffee as well as rotating a few single origins.
4. The Premises, a quaint pavement style cafe in the heart of leafy Kensington. The cafe is the most popular in the village for good reason – the food is great. Unfortunately for locals, it is hard to get a seat. You can enjoy creative takes on brunch classics like lemon cheesecake french toast and kenso eggs with beetroot slaw and tahini yoghurt.
5. Venture to the backstreets of Collingwood and follow the crowds to Proud Mary – a hip corner side cafe. Coffee is a true art here – you can’t help being impressed by the six-group custom-made Synesso espresso machine. And the brunch and lunch options are great too.
6. Bar Americano is the brainchild of Matt Bax, the cocktail bar extraordinaire behind former Der Raum in Richmond. Cool and sophisticated, this tiny bar has no real seats – so it’s standing and leaning room only. This only adds to the charm of this Italian style bar.
7. The latest addition to casual dining on Flinders Lane is Fonda Mexican. “Fonda” is used by Mexicans to describe a local house with an open kitchen in an atmosphere which is warm, familiar and relaxed. Fonda Burritos are made with freshly pressed tortillas, using the famous ‘Fonda Press’ which takes just 1.8 seconds to press your tortilla. Fonda has over 200 covers so, like other counterparts on Flinders Lane, you won’t have to wait for long.
8.Von Haus is one of Melbourne’s hidden treasures. It’s a tiny, rustic space with only 20 covers so expect to get cosy with your neighbours. The bar has a great wine list which is complemented by a small dinner menu, consisting of only a few specials scrawled on the blackboard.
9. If you’re a fan of creme brulees, you may want to follow the latest location of The Brûlée Cart - a mobile dessert van which travels to festivals and farmers markets around Melbourne. While there are rotating seasonal flavours every week, the classic French vanilla is a strong staple.
10.Jimmy Grants is a modern style souvlaki bar off Smith Street. Owned by George Calombari, this is old-fashioned Greek cooking at its best. Think succulent souvas, oregano and garlic seasoned fries and sweet treats from Burch and Purchese. I’m getting hungry just writing about it.
What have been your favourite foodie finds this week?