Milk The Cow
157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda
This Fitzroy St late night fromagerie is the perfect winter treat. A meeting place for lovers of wine and cheese alike, the dimly lit space is decked out with intimate settings and a large tasting table at the back. Then there’s the cheese deck stocking over 100 cheeses, it’s an array of Australia’s finest.
On ordering the cheese & wine tasting flight, the staff (or cheesemongers) describe the “rollercoaster” you’re about to embark on. Matching up four nips of wine with a selection of specialty cheeses, as they say “cheese and wine go together like Romeo and Juliet.” You can even pick your own mix.
125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Inspired by the deep dinning halls of Bangkok, Chin Chin takes casual street-style Asian food and amps it up with style and zing. The emphasis is on share plate dining, and with such an expansive and imaginative menu you’ll want to do just that. You’ll find favourites like massaman curry and pad see ew on the menu but Chin Chin also allows you to be a bit adventurous with the likes of hot & sour duck liver salad, handmade crab & pork cakes with a salted duck egg or “scud city” jungle curry with wild boar. The large space is bursting with colour and vitality. It’s no wonder that it’s constantly packed to the brim. Oversized windows expose the outside cobbled lanes, and Asian pop art erupts from the walls behind the bar. The wine list is all-Australian supporting the local and artisan makers, while the cocktail list creatively adds an Asian twist to the well-loved classics.
380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Vegie Bar is so much more than your local vegetarian restaurant. Its fresh food- prepared in an open kitchen- uses organic and biodynamic ingredients and caters to various allergies. The menu, friendly staff and inventive, bric-a-brac design is a celebration of vegetarianism and it actually feels as though the place is jumping with joy. If you’re a firm meat-eater, these ‘beefy’ wholesome vegie options are sure to surprise you. The diverse menu spans ethnic curries to burgers and wraps filled with goodies like tofu, tempeh and lentils, and will have your mouth watering. The entrees of dim sims, mini spring rolls and siamese samosas are parcels of bite-sized bliss. To keep your body bouncing, opt for a dish with tantalizing sauces like spiced peanut, temari, tahini, mint and coriander or garlic and ginger.
There’s no denying that this large eating-house is fun and exciting. It keeps its patrons coming in a pack. During the evening the share tables create a loud and eclectic buzz. Be prepared for a wait, which can often be upwards of 30 minutes. An outdoor terrace and bar will help the time pass. Here you can enjoy a selection of international and organic beers (Asahi, Kronenberg, Mountain Goat), basic spirits or a specialty like Sangria or the refreshing Melon Tingle.
Once an ideal some 20 years ago to offer healthy options for the mind, body, and soul, the veggie patch on the corner has over the years flourished into a thriving garden.
On The Road: Healesville, Yarra Valley
The idyllic town of Healesville is the perfect escape from the grey wintery city. Driving through the tree-lined boulevard of the town centre there are little pops of colour from the sweet shop to the knick-knacks hung behind glass windows. The air is crisp, clean and the rolling hills are dotted with wineries, fruit farms and the galleries of local artists.
Surrounded by quaint old pubs and iconic shopfronts, Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander sits towards the end of the road in an open plan, lofty space that exudes a certain smooth finesse. A culmination of two very distinct labels, Giant Steps is the expression of single vineyards in the Yarra Valley whilst Innocent Bystander delivers rich fruit flavours sourced from an assortment of vineyards. Here, their philosophy is “great wine needs great food” and there’s no better place to get your foodie fix. With craft beers, a cheese room, artisan bakery and in-house coffee roasting, it’s a true feast for the senses. The menu features tapas, wood fire pizza and a fabulous selection of mains designed to match their wines.
After lunch be sure to stop in to Kitchen & Butcher for a selection of goodies for the ride home. A delicatessen, little baker and charcuterie, Kitchen & Butcher brings together the fine foods of the region.
Two Birds One Stone
12 Claremont St, South Yarra
Sleek and polished best describes Nathan Toleman’s latest venture, Two Birds One Stone. From the team that brought us Apte, Liar Liar and Three Bags Full, Two Birds One Stone sits nestled in the back streets of South Yarra bringing a burst of light and air to the otherwise concrete strip. The down to earth yet exciting menu features cod and potato fritters, twice cooked marmalade French toast and eggs anyway you like it, and as with everything else the food is crafted with absolute attention to detail. The coffee is Rwandan and roasted by Five Senses or occasionally, in Two Birds’ own back room, and is perfectly matched with a pick from the wide selection of pastries and cakes (including their famous cheesecake brownie!) Just what the neighbourhood has been craving, Two Birds One Stone will undoubtedly guarantee your return.
44 Chapel St, Windsor
On entering the dimly lit, narrow corridor that is Kid Boston, you’ll immediately notice the colourful display of bottles lining the bar. Here is everything owner Ryan Simpson needs for his inspired concoctions – so take a seat up close and watch as the magic unfolds. A splash of this, a twist of that, drinks are mixed with mastery and sophistication. Simpson’s friendly service includes a suggestion of drinks to suit your mood, be it the Earl Grey martini (tea infused with gin, lemon and egg whites), the Midnight Marauder (rum, seasonal berries and fresh espresso) or the Rhubarb Bitter (gin, lemoncello and a spoonful of mascarpone cheese). The list of sours and fixes, martinis and rocks is extensive as is the selection of wines, beers and spirits. And while the crowd unwinds to the smooth soundtrack of jazz and hip-hop, the spicy sweet aromas float from the open kitchen. You’ll want to try a couple of picks from the “small bites” menu that features spiced popcorn, pork chips and Boston nuts as well as share plates like citrus cured salmon, Buffalo wings and grilled chilli octopus.
Kid Boston takes the style and refinement of a classic wine-bar, than adds the pleasures that speak to our perpetual inner child and has us leaving in awe.
297 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Master Roaster Ross Quail knows a thing or two about coffee. Sourcing the world’s best beans and roasting them on state of the art equipment, the result is Sensory Lab (from St Ali) a house name when it comes to the city’s coffee destinations. Located on the ground floor of the David Jones Melbourne store, here you can try sensory tests with tasting notes, or just absorb yourself in the aromatic space. Serving up eight to ten different coffees daily, there is a cup to suit every taste. Features include an active takeaway window, marble-topped communal tables and the newest must-have coffee accessories. Experience absolute skill in the science of coffee at Sensory Lab.
1/11 Collins St, Melbourne
When it comes to Melbourne’s taquerias, Mamasita is the one to beat. With her brilliantly fresh and delicious flavours and line of suitors that on any day will be waiting out the door, she is the frontrunner, winning countless accolades that has all others fighting for their spot in the limelight. There’s no question as to why. This truly is authentic Mexican food at its best.
Seated on high stools overlooking the restaurant floor, men with twirled moustaches come and take our order. The place is frantic and it’s only the mid-afternoon. But the friendly staff remains nonchalant as they run us through an exciting menu of share plates. We start with the elotes, otherwise known as “street style” chargrilled corn – a Mamasita speciality. Next the huitlacoche quesadilla, tostaditas and tortilla chips with guacamole, salsa and a side of frijoles. The complimentary pico de gallo, Mexican salsa, is a zesty accompaniment and enhances the exceptional flavour combinations. We savor every mouthful.
Chingón Cantina y Taqueria
413 Swan St, Richmond
Tacos anyone? Chingón is the newest street food taqueria to hit the Melbourne Mexican scene. A simple menu of six different types of tacos as well as corn chips with fire-roasted salsa or guacamole, the eatery celebrates the traditional cooking styles south of the border. Hailing from North Mexico, brothers Will and Mick Balleau are the masterminds behind the project and have injected the space with a certain Aztec flair, blasphemy of religious symbolism and all round suavity.
The 100 per cent corn, soft shell tortillas are hand pressed onsite daily adding a rustic charm. They are then amply packed with your choice of roasted veggies, smoky pork with pineapple, charcoal steak, prawns, flame grilled fish or chicken. And at a reasonable $15 for three tacos it’s no wonder people are dubbing the place “the real deal”.
9 Yarra St, South Yarra
Hidden amongst the backstreets and office buildings of South Yarra, Outpost is a real gem. A progeny of the much-loved specialty coffee house, St Ali in South Melbourne, Outpost is sleek and stylish while retaining a classic charm. Walking past the central kitchen, bouncing with colour and movement, we come to a dinning room that fuses the industrial with provincial France. Light fittings are hung low, and shelves are polished then adorned with a selection of bottled drinks and shining utensils, all sitting on a floor of checkered tiles. Herbs are grown in glossy pots and the sunshine beams through the large glass windows.
Do not be deceived by the size of this trackside café, the menu is bursting with inventive flavour combinations while retaining the classics like eggs served any way, bircher and daily baguettes. Their seasonal espresso blend is full-bodied with a nutty accent and is perfectly combined with a pick from their exceptional selection of cakes and other sweet treats. Here, the emphasis is on the quality of the produce and when wrapped in such a beautifully unique package, Outpost is well worth a visit.