1. Barry in Northcote for its beautiful brunches. There’s no wonder this trendy cafe on Northcote High Street is constantly packed to the rafters. Expect contemporary takes on breakfast classics like coconut chia pudding, ricotta hotcakes with cacao mulberries and corn fritters with avocado and beetroot relish. Oh, did I mention they have Five Senses coffee?
2. George Calombaris’ hottest new opening in Kew – Mastic. Neighbouring Hellenic Republic on Cotham Road, Mastic is a cafe with a focus on whole unprocessed foods and clean-eating. You can expect goodies like acai bowls and cold pressed juices. You will be on track to a summer bikini body in no time!
3. There’s not many restaurants in Melbourne as charming as Bistro Vue. Upon entering, you are instantly captivated by the charming atmosphere and waiting staff. The classical French food here is superb, from the freshly shucked oysters to the taste bud tantalising tarte tatin. After a wine or two, you could trick your mind into thinking you are in Paris. A great spot to visit for a special occasion or romantic date.
4. Enjoy a drink and make a difference – this is the concept of Shebeen in Manchester Lane where 100% of their profits go to charity depending on your drink of choice. With an alternative, slightly bohemian vibe, it’s a perfect spot for some drinks with friends after work. If you’re lucky try to find one of their sunken tables in the back room complete with dozens of cushions you can cosy up to. Their cheese platter for $12 with lavosh, nuts and grapes is a steal.
5. Ascot Food Store for its beautiful brunches and lunches. The best surprise is their doughnuts where you can inject your own filling using one of their faux syringes. The fillings change daily and range from berry to creme anglaise with fresh truffle shavings. Any cafe who serves Proud Mary coffee is also a winner in my book.
6. Estelle in Northcote where diners can enjoy a five or eight course tasting menu with wines to match. Receiving a well deserved Chef’s Hat in The Age Good Food Guide in its first year, Scott Pickett’s first restaurant has certainly made a name for itself in Melbourne’s dining scene. Make sure you check out Scott Pickett’s first cookbook – ‘A Chef’s Story’ for some recipe inspiration.
7. One of the best things about working in Fitzroy is that there is always a new restaurant or cafe to discover around every corner. Martha Ray’s on Brunswick Street is a tiny chic cafe which offers exceptional gourmet produce. The sandwiches are delicious – especially the meatball baguette which uses learn, organic mean. It’s a serene spot to sit by the window with a coffee and watch the world go by. The menu may be short but it makes up for it in quality.
8. Operator 25 – one of Melbourne’s hottest coffee/brunch spots in the CBD which specialises in gluten-free and vegetarian cuisine. Dishes are on the inventive side with brunch treats including Coconut Sago with fresh berries, pineapple salsa $9 and mango foam and seasonal fruit salad in honey syrup served with acai yoghurt. There’s also all the usual suspects too and Code Black Coffee.
9. Lustre Bar for its delicious cocktails and desserts. The vibe is intimate and cosy with its eclectic furniture and vintage touches. In summer the balcony is a perfect spot to people watch over Flinders Lane. You won’t be disappointed by their expertly crafted cocktails.
10. Recipe of the Week: Nothing screams summer more than strawberries and cream. Check out my latest recipe for Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake.