HOT: Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, cnr Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne

Agathe Patisserie 6 1024x811 HOT: Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, cnr Coventry and Cecil Streets, South MelbourneIf you walked into South Melbourne Market last week your nose will have detected the new aroma of fresh, buttery pastry in the aisles. That’s because Agathé Pâtisserie, a Parisian-inspired patisserie and croissanterie, has just opened a permanent kitchen and retail store in South Melbourne Market.

Agathé Kerr’s pastries have gained a cult following since she started a little Saturday market stall in Prahran Market last year. The Parisian gained her professional pastry chef qualification at the prestigious Ecole de Boulangerie et Patisserie de Paris and had been making all her wares in a pop up store/lab in Windsor.

The new double-sized stall is clean and white, with the exposed kitchen baking fresh items daily behind the tempting pastry counter.

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I ordered a classic pain au chocolat (with two luxurious sticks of chocolate inside), a brightly striped infused raspberry croissant, a classic escargot and almond croissant.

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All excellent quality, with a buttery crumb, subtle flavours and airy layers of pastry.

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There is one must-eat item on the menu. Agathé Pâtisserie’s famous cruffins ($7) are now piped to order with vanilla creme patisserie and topped with your choice of filling – on my visit, Nutella, salted caramel or peanut butter caramel.

Agathe Patisserie 1 1024x781 HOT: Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, cnr Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne

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For now Agathé Pâtisserie is focusing on their new premises and retail offering so there’s no wholesale orders to cafes. That means the only place to try these amazing pastries is at South Melbourne Market. Warning – on the first day of opening at South Melbourne EVERYTHING was sold out in 1 hour (9am!). So if you want to sample some of Melbourne’s best pastries you’ll have to set your alarm clock and get in early.


 

Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, corner of Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne 0403 222 573

Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm or until sold out.

HOT: Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

NGV Hermitage11 735x1024 HOT: Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Melbourne Winter Masterpieces have been bringing some fantastic international exhibitions to brighten Melbourne’s winters since 2004. This year the National Gallery of Victoria is hosting Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great, which features over 400 selected pieces from the collection of one of the world’s largest, oldest and most-visited museums in the world, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

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This exhibition has been described as the greatest exhibition the Hermitage  has undertaken abroad and it is part of their 250 anniversary celebrations. I got a sneak peek today at the media preview. Melbourne, you’re in for a treat!

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The works on show at the NGV include paintings from masters such as Velasquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian and Van Dyk to drawings, decorative arts, Catherine’s personal effects and paintings from the prized Walpole collection, all bought and collected by Catherine over 3 decades as a patron and innovator of the arts in the 18th century.

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It was through the collection of these works and Catherine the Great’s exceptional vision that the Hermitage was founded.

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While the big names will no doubt be the drawcards, my favourite moments in the whole exhibition included…

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Francesco Francia’s drawing of Sacrifice with Bacchus, with its lush textures and detail achieved with only brown ink and a pen….

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…the intense blue of the Sevres porcelain in the Cameo Service commissioned by Catherine and…

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…the detail in the mirror of the thirty-two piece Chinese toilet service which was a wedding gift to Catherine.

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The exhibition design is also notable, with lush hues, architectural details and antique furniture inspired by the grandeur of the Hermitage’s rooms.

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I particularly loved the parquetry flooring and the Chinese wallpaper, which covered even the electrical switches!

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Make time to watch the immersive video that transports you to wintery Russia and takes you inside the through the gallery.

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The exhibition is not just about admiring excellent pieces of Western Art. Mikhail Dedinkin, the Deputy Head of the Department of Western European Art at the State Hermitage Museum, described it best ‘The Hermitage helps people find their own history and contains some of the greatest examples of the genius of mankind. The collection spans all centuries, all countries and all countries under one roof.’

Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great is an opportunity to see but a part of the Hermitage’s grand collection right on our doorstep. Don’t miss it!


 

Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Friday 31 July – Sunday 8 November 2015  10am-5pm

Tickets on sale from ngv.vic.gov.au

Adult $26 | Concession $22.50 | Child $10 |

Family (2 adults, 3 children) $65

 

HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

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Truck Stop Deluxe is a new burger joint parked (pun intended) right in the centre of the Werribee.

It’s been created by three of Melbourne’s best-known burger pioneers –  Josh Lefers (Grand Trailer Park Taverna and Pawn & Co.), Dani Zeini (Dandenong Pavillion and Grand Trailer Park Taverna) and Jimmy Hurlston (Jimmy’s Burgers and Easey’s).

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This time, instead of trailers, the theme is trucks!

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The bright, brash and cheeky venue is inspired by an American truck stop diner and it’s sure to shake things up in a relatively quiet suburban restaurant strip.

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I was invited to the launch and got up close and personal with some excellent burgers and a lion’s share of Kinder Surprise milkshakes made with ice-cream, chocolate, Frangelico and Baileys. Oh my.

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The menu is all about fancy burgers, cocktails and alcohol-spiked milkshakes.

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About 70% of the menu from Grand Trailer Park Taverna is replicated here, with some fried chicken and breakfast brioche rolls on weekends and ice cream doughnuts thrown into the mix.

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While the food is fun it’s the interior that really gets the party started. Trucks have been built inside the restaurant…and you can sit in them if you like! Complete with fluffy dice!

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Up the back of the inside area are larger leather booths with big screens replicating the experience of sitting inside a truck cab watching the scenery go by. Out the back is a covered courtyard.

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Truck Stop Deluxe is bringing amazing burgers to the west from Wednesday 29 July. If you’re local, heading west or a truckie – don’t miss it!


 

Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee (03) 9741 4000

Wednesday to Sunday 11.30am until late

 HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

Dockyards7 1024x680 HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

Food truck parks are even a bigger trend than food trucks in Melbourne at the moment and Dockyard is the newest one that’s set up inside Seaworks in Williamstown.

Dockyard is open every Friday night 5-9pm in July with a rotating lineup of five food trucks, of which at least one is a dessert option.

While the food choices are small Dockyard has a couple of advantages over other food truck parks in Melbourne:

(a) indoors, with heaters!

(b) scenic panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline – watch the sunset and enjoy the Docklands winter fireworks at 7:30pm;

(c) boats to admire, including the Sea Shepherd;

(d) free parking on site and in surrounding streets….

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…and of course everyone loves the value-for-money food that food trucks provide, especially on can’t-be-bothered-to-cook Friday nights!

The set up is inside the Seaworks  sheds and they’ve done wonders to turn a cavernous industrial space into a place that’s cosy and welcoming.

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The trucks are parked in a semi-circle and the ‘forecourt’ set up with furniture and games, including a couch with a cosy fireplace and milk crates galore.

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On our visit we sampled food from ToastaPizza Wagon and Smokin’ Barry’s BBQ, had a play of foozball and generally soaked up the atmosphere of having an adventure under the cover of darkness.

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This Friday 31 July is Dockyard’s last opening for winter so go before it closes!


Dockyard Food Truck Fridays, Seaworks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra

Zumbo1 1024x694 HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12 14 Claremont St, South YarraSome days when I’m feeling blue, I thank god for Adriano Zumbo. His eponymous patisserie in South Yarra is a Willy Wonka riot of mirror, neon and cake and the long pastry cabinet never fails to lift my spirits.

When faced with so many fantastical desserts it’s hard to know where to start. But if you go on Tuesday I have a tip for you – for the foreseeable future you can buy one tart get one half price as part of ‘Two Tart Tuesday’.

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With that in mind I order the precisely swirled lemon meringue tart and the luxurious ‘Me So Nutty’ with gianduja caramel, milk chocolate gianduja soft ganache and topped with golden hazelnutsZumbo3 1024x755 HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12 14 Claremont St, South Yarra

I also can’t resist a ‘Zonut’ with flavours that change every week. So popular are Zumbo’s version of the croissant/donut hybrid that customers are limited to only four at a time.

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As I bite into one I can understand why! The outer crust is so crisp and light I create an explosion of pastry crumbs with every mouthful, and the filling is so smooth and rich with  a Mexican dark chocolate – whipped ganache with hints of cinnamon and chilli. The topping? More chocolate and marshmallows!

For other treats I have also been known to queue for Zumbo’s macarons (Zumbarons) on occasion and they are one of the best I’ve ever tried due to their consistency and precision in texture. There is also hand-crafted ice cream or savoury pies, sausage rolls and quiches.

There are a few small tables and chairs inside the bakery where you can enjoy your coffee and cake on the spot, though during busy period it can get crowded so it’s more of a takeaway place. Taking one of the distinctive orange boxes out on the street will bring a spring to your step, I promise!

Adriano Zumbo Patissier is a joyride for Melbourne sweet tooths and if you enjoy those treats make sure you visit Fancy Nance around the corner, Zumbo’s new high tea salon which turns afternoon tea on its head.

Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra 1800 858 611

Open 7 days 7am – 7pm

 HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12 14 Claremont St, South Yarra

HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

DSC06743 1024x680 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

The Green at St Columbs is a social enterprise cafe set amongst the unique church grounds and a stone church hall of St Columbs Anglican Church in Hawthorn.

The cafe is a project of Jesuit Social Services’ Ignite program. The program provides training, support and employment pathways to long term unemployed, young or old, through teaching them hospitality skills. The social enterprise also run small operations (without a full kitchen) at Hawthorn Library and Camberwell Library. On each table there is a bottle with a small scroll revealing the positive stories of some of the participants in the program.

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A lot of thought has gone into the operation, including in the sourcing of produce. Many ingredients are sourced from The Yard, Jesuit Social Services’ garden project nearby and raised garden beds on site also overflow with herbs and vegetables. To the extent possible items are made or grown on site, from the house baked ciabatta to the jams filling the doughnuts. Anything else has been sourced from local farmers and producers. They are committed to operating a closed loop system to manage their resources and to work towards a zero-waste operation.

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The charming two-room fitout has been designed by Brunswick’s ZWEI Interiors (of Code Black Coffee BrunswickCode Black Howard St and Wide Open Road fame) and the coffee beans similarly come from Code Black. A small gas fireplace and overhead heaters warm the high ceilings during winter and seating is in the form of long communal tables and smaller two-person tables.

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A stunning chandelier overlooks the coffee station.

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The seasonal menu has all day breakfast options – a roll call of bread, grains and eggs – and larger meals which are also available all day. So if you want you can have Nonna’s Lasagne for breakfast!

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I order ‘Morock the Kasbah’ a wholesome warm salad with generous chunks of slow cooked Moroccan lamb shoulder tossed with a mass of greenery, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and hummus ($16.80). It is so substantial that I almost bypass the cake cabinet…but it is so enticing.

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I decide on a fig and almond tart as the fig jam is made on premises. The tart is crumbly and moist, with a smear of not-to-sweet jam filling in the middle.

DSC06762 1024x701 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

The mission of Jesuit Social Services is to help work towards a just society. The Green at St Columbs is one way they aim to achieve that goal. The cafe is a welcoming place for people to come together and they’re welcoming of families, they source and use their produce in a way that cares for the natural environment and the training program enables people to realise their potential and to contribute to the community.

Visit The Green at St Columbs to enjoy great food, good coffee and a warm fuzzy feeling that you’re helping others.

The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn, 9819 0890

Tue-Sun 8-3pm

 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

HOT: Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra

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Two Birds One Stone is an award-winning cafe underneath an apartment block in South Yarra. It mirrors the same winning formula as the owners’ other establishments Top Paddock and The Kettle Black, with slick design and a creative menu presented with Instagram-worthy panache.

The lofty space is split into two – maybe the reason for the cafe’s name?  The coffee station serves Five Senses coffee includes a neat takeaway area and a stunning flower lit panelled wall.

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The other side is divided by high upholstered banquettes, though you can also choose between window-facing stools, a high communal table and the coveted partitioned round table booths which can be booked for tables of 4+ people on weekdays. The palette is blonde oak, grey concrete and greenery with distinctive stick lighting by the owners’ regular collaborator Christopher Boots.

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Both breakfast and lunch are served all day which means there’s no real reason to divide the menu – so for breakfast I try the rare yellow fin tuna with potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, aioli and crispy poached egg ($20). It’s a play on a classic Nicoise salad, with a trail of vibrant vegetables topped with generous slices of melting tuna and a lightly coated egg that’s still gooey inside. It’s healthy without being sanctimonious and head-turning pretty.

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In the breakfast menu there are a couple of sweet dishes which makes it hard to choose, but I’m intrigued by the passionfruit and yoghurt pannacotta – dessert as breakfast, why not? I’m expecting the usual upturned ramekin sized number but in fact the whole bowl is one big wobbly pannacotta, making it a bargain for $13.

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It reminds me of a giant sweet chawanmushi (steamed Japanese custard) and the silken texture is flawless underneath the lemongrass and saffron scented pineapple, fresh passionfruit and nut granola. I’m just sad that I’m so full that I can’t finish the dish.

There’s a reason that Two Birds One Stone is full constantly – the sophisticated menu and friendly service means that it’s a place worth travelling for.

Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont Street, South Yarra (03) 9827 1228

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 3:30 pm

Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 3:30 pm

 HOT: Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra

HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

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Giddyup Mule is Yarraville’s latest cafe opening. It’s part of the growing trend in serving healthy, raw, organic, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free food that’s permeating through Melbourne’s cafe scene -perhaps as a reaction to the opposing trend of burgers, fried chicken and doughnuts!

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Giddyup Mule takes over the space that used to be a more simple coffee bar at Art of Cycling, an indoor spin training studio. It’s a little hard to find as the doorway and signage is hidden behind a street umbrella, so just look out for the Art of Cycling sign.

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The two young owners and westie locals Magarethe and Jodie have built a new kitchen, store room and brought their own spin (pun intended) on the space, with a roaring wood heater, a paint job and a kicking (pun intended again) menu of interesting dishes.

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The drinks list includes Axil coffee, Mofo hot chocolate, silky Chai Walli chai made with milk (or soy) and honey, a range from Tea Tonic, juices, smoothies and kombucha on tap by Grateful Harvest.

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The kombucha is freshly brewed in Melbourne and the ginger and tumeric is tangy and fresh ($5). I’m told the orange is sweeter if you’re not familiar with the fermented taste of kombucha.

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I try the pulled pork cigars with apple and walnut salad and smoky sauce ($18.50). It’s a decadent dish with melting strips of pork rolled up in a fried parcel – can’t really go wrong! The crunchy apples and nuts provide a textural and flavour contrast to the meat.

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The bircher muesli is a wild palette of colourful elements and totally delicious, especially the coconut yoghurt which they infuse with acai and berries. It’s good value for money at $12 as you won’t be able to fit in much else afterwards.

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You can’t go past a cafe menu these days without seeing smashed avo and this version comes with house-marinated feta and smoked cherry tomatoes ($16.50). It’s a generous tumble of vibrant freshness and the kombucha vinaigrette adds an interesting tangy twist to an otherwise ubiquitous menu item.

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For dessert there is a selection of organic raw desserts by Torquay’s Life Seeeds. I am in love with raw desserts at the moment as it seems like a healthier way to indulge my sweet tooth. The salted caramel joy bar ($7.50) contains ‘Aztec superfoods’ but all you need to know is that it’s decadent and rich.

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Giddyup Mule is a fun, friendly and healthy addition to the inner west cafe scene. If you’re a bike rider / gym-goer it’s even more convenient, with Art of Cycling spin classes, DCPT personal training and group fitness and Western Velo Works bike repairs in the same building.

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Plus if you need an early caffeine hit they’re open 6:30am on weekdays!

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Giddyup Mule 177 Stephen St, Yarraville 0405 788 253

Mon – Fri 6.30am to 4om

Sat 7- 4pm

Sun 8-4pm

 HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville
 

HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is an Italian-style warehouse cafe in North Melbourne, hidden at the intersection of two cobblestone laneways.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 1 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a labour of love for Frank, one of the co-owners, despite being a pop up for only 12 months (at this stage) as it sits at the back of the building that’s slated to be turned into apartments.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 10 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Frank fitted out the warehouse kitchen, storage and dining space all himself and he’s passionate about the food at Saluminsti. It has an authentic honesty about it and it turns out that all of the recipes on the simple menu are from Frank’s family. He wanted to bring to diners the sort of food that he grew up with and he’s taken these traditional dishes and given them a modern twist. My Italian companion remarked on how many of the dishes she also remembered from her childhood.

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Currently the menu has three ciabatta options – a melt-in-the-mouth free range porchetta stuffed with artichoke paste, rocket and shaved pecorino ($12), a cotoletta just like nonna’s with a vincotto mayo, Italian coleslaw and provolone ($12) and a slightly spicy pork and fennel sausage with roasted peperonata and pecorino ($11).

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 5 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The ciabatta is quite remarkable – pillowy and soft and not so crusty it hurts your mouth. Frank wouldn’t divulge his secret supplier but did wax lyrical about the 36 hour proven dough and stone-baked bread.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 6 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The smallgoods hanging in the fridge are currently for show only – until they’re cooked they can’t be sold. It’s worth ordering the Salsiccia ciabatta just so you can try the pork and fennel sausage. Later the plan is to retail and wholesale the salumi and to run sausage-making and salami-making classes.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 4 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

We accompanied our sandwiches with a cup of patate fritte, crispy chips zhuzhed up with fresh herbs and reggiano ($5).

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 2 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The coffee is made with Italy’s favourite Lavazza and the cafetiere is a bargain – a traditional Neapolitan-style 2 cup with a syrupy crema on the bottom could easily satisfy 3 or 4 people and it comes with some sweet biscotti on the side for only $5.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 9 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Finally, try the sugar encrusted bomboloni, made fresh every day on site. These are Italian-style doughnuts so a bit denser than the standard American-style doughnut, but still very light.

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Both the Nutella and slightly citrus crema paticcera are delicious.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 8 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a small Italian gem hidden in North Melbourne, a place brimming with enthusiasm and passion while serving up some authentic, old school Italian goodness. Buon appetito!

Saluminsti, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne 0413 082 253

Tue-Sun 7:30am-4pm

 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 10 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Melbourne dumpling-lovers, start your engines. Din Tai Fung Melbourne has arrived.

This famous, and long-awaited, restaurant chain has taken up the whole of level 4 inside Emporium Melbourne. You can’t miss the entrance as there will be crowd of hungry people outside.
Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 9 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Inside the decor is a surprising combination of Scandi-chic with an Asian sensibility designed by Design Clarity.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 7 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

It’s not often you spot filament lights in Asian restaurants and they combine together with other ‘hipster-cafe’ features such as an abundance of blonde wood, a long retro blue banquette, curved lines and wall-hanging greenery.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 8 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Particularly Asian elements still creep in though – waiters wield bag stands to protect your handbags and shopping and coat covers for the back of your chair.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 6 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

You order by ticking off a paper menu with over a hundred items. Daunted, I call my (Chinese) mother to provide ordering advice (though there is a picture menu available to assist). She says ‘every visit to Din Tai Fung would not be complete without their famous xiao long bao’.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 1 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

These darling 18-times pleated soup dumplings (6 for $10.80) are made by an army of mask-clad chefs in the large kitchen and then carried in a sky-high tower of bamboo steamers to be distributed to expectant folk.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 2 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung’s XLB are superb. The weight of the piping hot broth, the thin pouch of dumpling skin, the the perfect balance of texture and flavour, all go towards making these some of the best xiao long bao you’ll find anywhere in the world. What’s amazing is the consistency of the product – I’ve had Din Tai Fung’s XLB in Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai and each time they send me into a food orgasm.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 3 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung are also famous for their noodles, and my mum suggested trying the braised beef noodle soup ($16.80). It’s a steaming bowl consisting of a fat wad of handmade noodles sitting underneath four slices of beef shank in a flavoursome broth. The pliable noodles are a highlight though the beef could be more tender.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 4 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Finally, I try one of their steamed buns ($3). The vegetarian bun comes so beautifully pleated I don’t want to touch it. I take a bite and discover the fluffiest of pillows with a loose mixture of shredded vegetables and mushrooms nestled inside.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 5 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung may be a global restaurant chain but it’s one that’s of consistently high quality and reasonably priced. It’s an exciting addition to Chinese dining in Melbourne and it was telling that on my visit 95% of the patrons were Asian, young and old. It’s safe to say they know a good dumpling when they eat it (and are willing to line up for it).

My final tip is to arrive 5-10 minutes before opening time. The kitchen is quick but each table still takes around 45 minutes to turn around. So if you miss the first tranche of the 230-odd seats you’ll have to hang around salivating over your paper menu until there’s room.

Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 9654 1876

Mon-Wed 11.30-2.30pm, 5.30-9pm

Thu-Fri 11.30-2.30pm, 5-10pm

Sat 11-3pm, 5-10pm

Sun 11-3pm, 5-9pm

 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne