Neighbouring its big sister Toorak, leafy Armadale is famous for its antique stores, bridal boutiques and high fashion shops. But if you go beyond the expensive bridal shops, there is a progressive food scene emerging full of funky cafes, top notch coffee and cosy wine bars.
Here’s my guide for the best places to eat and drink in the area.
Where to get a caffeine fix
Locals flock to 8 Days Café on a daily basis to get their hands on one of their superb coffees. Why 8 days? They say it takes eight days for beans to go through the “degrassing” process from the time they come out of the roaster. From day one the beans to start to get better and generally peak at eight days. 8 Days Café pride themselves on using the highest quality beans from around the world and the best extraction techniques to provide the best coffee experience. Don’t miss their delicious all day menu too.
Another local favourite is Gardiner and Field on Union Street. This cosy café (converted from a milk bar) has a great atmosphere and service to match. They serve a mean coffee, and the brunch options are great too. Try the breakfast salad or the pumpkin with feta and poached eggs –it goes down a treat!
Where to get a quality brunch
Only a stone’s throw from Toorak Train Station, Mammoth Café is the newest kid on the block in Armadale. It’s a great looking cafe, light and airy throughout; the kind of cafe you could linger easily for a couple of hours soaking up the morning sunshine and enjoying a perfectly brewed Five Senses Coffee. On the menu there’s a grilled lychee and passionfruit chia pudding served with macadamia, hemp seed crumble and blood orange and a ridiculously devilish looking cherry lamington puffed pancake paired with cherry jam and dark chocolate ice-cream. Need I say more?
There’s a lot to love about Coin Laundry Cafe. This former laundry is now home to one of the hottest cafes in Armadale. Their menu showcases the best of seasonal and local produce. Expect brunch classics like Flip Shelton’s 5 grain porridge, sweet corn fritters and house made baked beans with marinated goat’s cheese. If you don’t have time to eat in, grab a takeway coffee on the way to work – it’s only just opposite Armadale train station. Trust me, the Allpress coffee doesn’t disappoint.
Just off the High Street main drag is a hidden gem called Le Petit Prince, inspired by the eponymous book by French author Antoine De St Exupery. The outdoor tables on the tree-lined street are the perfect spot to soak up some summer sunshine while enjoying one of their delicious coffees and great brunch dishes. Expect super friendly service and a fun, inventive menu. The egg and pork roll with kimchi and the poached egg and mushroom crepes come highly recommended. Coffee is by Coffee Supreme.
It may not have all the hip press of brunch hot spots like Mammoth Café but The Lovebird on the High Street is equally deserving of a brunch visit. They pride themselves in using the finest ingredients and produce from locally sourced suppliers. All jams, relishes and other condiments are made in-house, so you don’t need to worry about any nasty additives. Don’t forget to check our their retail pantry on your next visit, its chock-full of yummy goodies to take home.
Where to get a sweet treat
The guys at Cooper and Milla’s have a lot to answer for, for reducing locals to drool at one sight of their delicious sweet treats. Here you can expect a delicious range of sumptuous cakes, pies and freshly baked pastries. Healthy eaters are also taken off – with freshly made salads and sandwiches available. But be prepared to leave with half the shop!
Where to dine
Nestled in the heart of Armadale, Barca is a stylish restaurant with a focus on contemporary European food. The owners have a background in butchery which means they can source the best kind of meat around. The slow braised lamb is sensational – teamed with smoked eggplant, zucchini, chili and salsa verde. Don’t miss the prix fixe menu (2 courses for $49) which is quite good value for the area.
Venture across the road and you’ll find a great little pintxos bar called Lona, the brainchild of Charles and Edward Sedgley (behind Barca). Just look for the neon-pink sign – it’s impossible to miss!Here you can expect mouthwatering pintxos, cocktails, pink neon lights and a fun atmosphere. They also have an impressive 50-bottle wine list. If you’re a St Kilda local, they have also opened a sister venue in Acland Street.
Where to get a drink
Just opposite Toorak Station is Toorak Cellars, which doubles as a bottle shop and wine bar. They have a great selection of pours by the glass or you can just pop in to purchase your favourite bottle to take away. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a wine or two on a leisurely weekend and chat to the knowledgeable staff about the best drops on offer.
Another great wine shop in the area is the Tasting Table Wine Shop. The cosy bar/shop has a wide range of wines on offer as well as sharing plates laden with cheese and charcuterie. Their focus is on European and Australian wine from family run vineyards. They also have a great selection of whisky, craft beer and cider. Nothing goes into the store until the staff have tasted it first. Trust me, you’re in good hands here.