HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 1 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

To stand out in Melbourne’s competitive dining out industry, you’ve really got to have a signature dish, something that gets Instagrammed to death. At Mjr Tom, Collingwood’s latest cafe/bar, that dish has got to be a banana hot dog.

Yes, you read right!

Before we get into this intriguing dish, a few things you should know about Mjr Tom. It’s an all-day eatery and bar that’s split into three areas for whatever mood you’re in.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 10 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

At the front is a small front area with the coffee station and simply framed seating nooks that give the space a Zen-like Japanese aesthetic.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 11 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

Head back and there’s a lofty area housing a central bar with seating plus inviting booths that are surprisingly sunny despite being eye-level with the apartment block that overlooks the narrow laneway.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 2 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

The booths are the best seats in the house, and the raw plywood, corrugated metal and greenery that adorn the space give it an outside-inside feel.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 4 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 3 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

Downstairs is the bluestone basement and private dining room, with a spanking new pool table and high stools and tables.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 9 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

The menu is eclectic, to say the least, with breakfast available 8am-3pm and lunch from 12pm. I count Asian, Latin, American and Italian influences –  then there’s that banana hot dog.

The dish is a roasted banana split into two and topped with bacon lardons, grated smoked scamorza, two banana-shaped garnishes cut from arepa, tomato marmalade.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 6 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

It’s a fun and tasty dish, albeit a bit gimmicky (and amusingly phallic). Ingredients like Brazil Nut get lost in amongst the heat from the green chili and coriander salsa and the riot of other flavours. The only reason I wouldn’t order it again is because it’s $17.50 for what is essentially one tricked up banana fritter and I was still hungry afterwards.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 8 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

If you’re after a breakfast classic with a twist then try the granola, which is also a more reasonable $12. It’s a chunky mixture of nuts, seeds and fresh berries surrounding a wobbly buffalo milk pannacotta and a slightly tart yoghurt sorbet. The texture of the pannacotta is perfect though I would have liked more flavour in it.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 7 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

Lunch options include fish tacos and beef-cheek empanadas and an Asian chicken burger. C’s Israeli pearl cous cous salad ($14.50) is chock full of cucmber, zucchini, mint, herbs and nuts with a ball of labne rolled in black sesame on the side. It’s fresh and light but unless you’re vegetarian you’ll need the chunks of bacalao (extra $4) for flavour and protein.

The coffee is imported from Italian roaster Romcaffe and was smooth and creamy. The chai, while beautifully presented in crockery that reminded me of volcanic rock, was too watery in both texture and flavour.

Mjr Tom 108 Smith Street Collingwood 5 HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

Mjr Tom in the daytime is a relaxing place to hang out and its global menu means that there’s plenty of choice. At night I imagine it’ll be a fun place to eat and drink, making it a great addition to the Smith Street scene.

Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood (03) 9419 8048

Daily 8am–1am

minilink HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

 

HOT: The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

The Grand Masters The Grand Hotel 333 Burnley St Richmond 1 HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

Melbourne has so many eateries opening week after week that it’s easy to get caught up in the fervour of chasing new dining experiences.

But we musn’t forget the stalwarts of the city’s dining scene, places like The Grand Hotel in Richmond that have been serving happy customers for more than twelve years in Burnley Street.

I confess that despite moving to Melbourne twelve years ago myself I have never ventured to The Grand until last week. I was invited to attend one of The Grand’s special monthly events, The Grand Masters dinner to celebrate the old guard of Melbourne restaurant scene for AFR’s Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants, the only peer voted restaurant list in Australia.

The Grand Masters The Grand Hotel 333 Burnley St Richmond 2 HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

Branco Cokesa, Alex Almatrah and Peter Watt  are three front of house staff that have worked in the hospitality business for over 40 years and together garnered over 165 (!) chef hats between them. While they served the diners in one of The Grand’s upstairs function rooms, they regaled us with anecdotes about ACDC, Billy Joel, Alan Bond and other celebrities, shared stories about their love for hospitality and the special place The Grand had in their hearts.

The Grand Masters The Grand Hotel 333 Burnley St Richmond 3 HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

The night highlighted the skill of The Grand’s co-head chefs, two young Italians in their late 20s with Michelin-starred resumes.

The Grand Masters The Grand Hotel 333 Burnley St Richmond 4 HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

First course was a Battuta di Tonno, a simple tuna tartare inspired by Olimpia Bortolotto’s dish served at Cafe Meni’s in St Kilda.

The Grand Masters The Grand Hotel 333 Burnley St Richmond 5 HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

The pasta course was a dish that Stephen Downes rated as one of the 100 things you must eat before you die – chef Valerio Nucci’s Vincisgrassi Lasagne. It’s a traditional dish from the Marche region of Italy and not one you’re likely to find on many restaurant menus. The secret ingredients? Pot roasted chuck steak slow-cooked with vegetables and herbs, chopped kidneys brains and liver and lashings of butter!

The Grand Masters The Grand Hotel 333 Burnley St Richmond 8 HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

The main course was a melting roast porchetta with baby carrots, beetroot and spinach inspired by Bill Marchetti’s Latin, THE place for the rich and famous to dine in the 80s and 90s.

The Grand Masters The Grand Hotel 333 Burnley St Richmond 7 HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

The finale was developed by the The Grand’s ‘Young Guns in the Kitchen’ a white chocolate semifreddo with caramelised rock melon. It’s not often you see melon on dessert menus these days and the refreshing sweetness was a perfect counterpoint for the richness of the previous savoury dishes.

The Grand is the kind of place that families visit over generations and it has consistently been awarded one hat since 2006.  It’s not flashy or cutting edge but serves authentic Italian food in a warm and inviting environment where you know you’ll be taken care of. Treasure it, Melbourne.

The Grand Masters Wednesday 20 May and Wednesday 27 May

The Como Room, The Grand, 333 Burnley Street, Richmond (03) 9429 2530

Mon – Sun 12pm till 11pm

Fri – Sat 12pm till 1am

minilink HOT:  The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 10 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

The layers of immigration that make Footscray such a fascinating place have now placed Small French Bar, a French fromagerie, charcuterie and cafe (and later wine bar) on the main street.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 6 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

It’s a small storefront set incongruously amongst the pho joints, wig shops and money exchange offices and you’ll just be able to spot it with the help of a little snail over the door.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 4 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

Stephane Armentano is a new Footscray local and comes to Melbourne via a successful tapas bar in Fremantle. The space inside the Royal Hotel redevelopment has been completely rebuilt by Stephane and his family and transformed into what he hopes will become a little community bar like those in most French villages.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 5 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

The sweetly humble space is a Gallic haven. French music plays gently in the background and the small menu is available throughout the day, every day.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 7 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

Start your day with a bargain $5 croissant and coffee or French hot chocolate.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 1 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

The croissants and pain au chocolat are wafer crisp on the outside and so very airy on the inside – and it turns out that they have been made with French butter and other French ingredients and come direct from France (par-baked), along with the baguettes.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 3 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

Stephane simply couldn’t find the consistency in quality in any products here so for the moment you can enjoy these treats as if you were in the streets of Paris.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 2 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

For a main meal try the home made duck confit ($18), a moist maryland of duck with meat that falls off the bone and served with creamy potatoes dauphinois and steamed green beans. It’s an authentic brasserie meal which will warm your cockles in winter. You may see confit duck legs for sale in the near future, along with the  existing selection of French cheeses and charcuterie.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 8 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

To end don’t miss the house made chocolate fondant. The weight of the vanilla ice cream helps the melting chocolate centre flow out from the shell and it’s a luxurious treat for only $8.

Small French Bar Shop 3 154 Barkly St Footscray 9 HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

At the moment opening hours are still in testing mode as Small French Bar is a one-man operation. Generally you can expect the cafe to be open from 10-4pm every day, sometimes opening earlier, sometimes closing later. The liquor license will hopefully come through in a few months so there will be an authentic wine bar in Footscray!

Small French Bar is a lovely neighbourhood addition and Stephane has obviously put his heart and soul into this venture so go support him!

Starting next Tuesday there will also be a regular French conversation class. From June 2 meet at Small French Bar  7pm till 9pm for charcuterie, cheese plate and a tete-a-tete. Limited tickets available, ring Stefan 0402952078.

Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray 0402952078

Open 7 days 10am-5pm

HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 17 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House: Tromarama for Kids is NGV International’s newest children’s gallery exhibition which isn’t just child’s play. Indonesian contemporary art collective Tromarama (Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans and Ruddy Hatumena), have truly built a house of fun for young and old alike!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 1 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 9 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

The fantastical space features five fully furnished rooms – a kitchen, dining room, courtyard, bedroom and bathroom. The whole house comes to life and there are lots of unexpected surprises to explore.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 5 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 7 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Start off in the bathroom and very comfy pillow-lined bedroom, where you can learn to make simple stop motion animation movies.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 4 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Just take some toys from the bathtub, find a backdrop you like, use the touch screens to take photos  and off you go!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 6 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Move into the lush garden with the flower wall which reminded me of the Raf Simons’ extravagant first collection for Christian Dior. Pity the flowers aren’t real!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 10 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

In the garden you’ll find that pink flamingos talk and cheeky garden gnomes chat back with your voice!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 11 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

The kitchen is the most restful space, with stacks of ceramic crockery (thankfully stuck together and to the benches) and it shows a delightful animation of dancing plates and cups.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 2 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

The highlight of the interactive experiences has got to be the disco dance floor. Look up and you’ll see a complete dining room setting, which means you’re dancing on the ceiling!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 12 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Like Darren Sylvester’s dance floor for the Melbourne Now exhibition this room will definitely be a drawcard.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 13 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House: Tromarama for Kids is a must-see on your next to visit the gallery and it will be sure to delight and surprise kids and adults alike. Come out and play!

Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Saturday 23 May – Sunday 18 Oct

Open 10am–5pm

Closed Tuesday

Free entry

HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 8 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Brunswick Street Fitzroy is saturated with eateries, but it’s only till recently that it’s gotten its own wine and cheese bar. Bienvenue Shifty Chevre!

The French-themed cheese haven opened late last year but only recently got its liquor licence. The licence means it can now serve cheese with its natural partner, wine, and they have started opening evenings. I was invited to sample their dinner menu.

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 3 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Shifty Chevre has been opened by three young friends who decided to build a bar entirely based around cheese and make it the key ingredient to everything on the menu. The front counter displays a rotating selection of around 25 local and imported cheese, with the best-selling being brie. They also stock crackers, pastes, and cheese accessories (who knew a Jesus Grater existed?)

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 2 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

What they’ve built is a country-chic eatery in what used to be a clothing store. The natural tones, dim lighting, comfy couches and cute courtyard are an extension of your favourite friend’s home.

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 6 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

In summer you can order a cheese takeaway box and take it for a picnic at nearby Edinburgh Gardens. But personally I think the winter is the more perfect time to visit Shifty Chevre because everything on the menu is based cheese that’s been baked, grilled or melted (there’s no stove in the small kitchen).

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 4 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

They even have a raclette on the menu, an item I haven’t eaten since visiting the French Alps. If you love cheese then this a must-try dish! Melt the oozy cheese over charcuterie, potatoes and bread and you’ll be set for the night.

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 5 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

The tartiflette, another Savoie dish I haven’t seen in a while, comes bubbling out of its ramekin. This comforting combination of baked potato, onion and bacon dish with melted French cheese will warm you from the inside out.

Sadly I didn’t have room for dessert but I’m told the tiramisu is excellent. Other sweet options include a cheesecake and pannacotta.

Just one last mention of the stunning bathrooms. It’s one of the few times I’ve taken my camera to the loo because this changing room transformed into goat mural/fernery has to be seen to be believed!

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 7 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Shifty Chevre will be the stuff of my (cheese) dreams this winter. Who am I to dis a brie?

Shifty Chevre 375 Brunswick St Fitzroy 1 HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 0423 694 763

Wed    12pm – 11pm

Thu – Fri 12pm – late

Sat        9am – late

Sun       9am – 11pm

minilink HOT: Shifty Chevre, 375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 2 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is a handsome cafe hidden in a laneway – behind a laneway – next to a servo in Carlton.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 3 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

While the entrance to the former horse stables is small (and positively teeny tiny when they only open the bolthole in wet weather) once you get inside it’s like the Tardis.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 11 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 8 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

 A busy coffee bar greets you, then you walk back a bit further and the ceilings suddenly rise, cathedral-like.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 4 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

The lofty space is so amazingly bright that it’s hard to believe that there are no windows. The skylights that form the ceiling diffuse the light so beautifully across the wood and copper decor that even on a gloomy rainy winter’s day inside the cafe it feels like a spring day.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 5 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

 I take a seat at the banquette and I’m immediately enamoured of the greenery frothing over the custom-made metal wall planters. They were designed by Glasshaus in Richmond and are irrigated using a narrow pipe and drip system harnessing water from the roof.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 1 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

As the name suggest The Vertue of the Coffee Drink is a shrine to coffee. The unusual name comes from a promotional handbill from 1652 s advertising the first coffee house in London and the benefits of the brew.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 10 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

There’s a glossy roaster on site, a temperature controlled glass cabinet displaying various beans and coffee paraphernalia lined up along the wooden stairwell that leads up to nowhere.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 12 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

But if you’re a non-coffee drinker (like me) then there’s still a tea by Chamellia ($4.50), Mork Hot Chocolate ($4-5) and the Mad as a Hatter Chai with soy ($6) which comes in a hand beaten copper vessel.  They’re also licensed.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 6 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

And then there’s the food. Oh my. A series of all -day breakfast dishes that you’re unlikely to find on every second menu around town – plus I like the fact that their lunch menu starts at 10:30am!

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 7 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

After some dithering between the scotch egg and chickpea chips I decide on the latter ($18). It’s an artistic array of charred zucchini, preserved pops of cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan and two poached eggs, plus some unexpectedly fluffy sticks of deep-fried mashed chickpea. Even if you’re not vegetarian this is a dish worth trying.

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink 8 Raffa Place Carlton 9 HOT: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton

From the ‘something sweet’ section I try the warmed spiced fruit loaf ($14). It’s a hearty serve of almost cake-like fruit bread toasted into wedges and served with a hemisphere of poached peach, vanilla gelato and an amaretti crumble.

I feel like I want to keep The Vertue of the Coffee Drink a secret hideout just for me . But this oasis from bustling Lygon Street is so fabulous in every way – decor, service, food, drinks – that I just have to share. Enjoy!

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton  (03) 8060 6987

Mon-Fri 7am-4pm

Sat-SuN 7.30am-4pm

 

HOT: Bibelot, 285 – 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 2 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot is a dessert boutique, artisnal paitisserie and gelateria that’s just opened in South Melbourne thanks to the creative team behind Chez Dre.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 11 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot is located next door to its sister cafe, with entry from Coventry Street. From the plain glass outside it’s hard to imagine all the amazing sweet things but once you step inside the room expands out into a Alice in Wonderland/Willy Wonka fantasy of chocolate, cake and ice cream.

I was invited to the preview night and returned on Mother’s Day of my own accord to try their high tea.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 21 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

It’s hard to know where to start. On the right there’s a whole wall of artfully presented chocolate bars, packages of enrobed fruit and nuts, buttery biscuits, preserves and coffee and teas.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 22 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

On the left is the gelati station, with a changing rotation of house made gelati and sorbets housed in pozzetti tubs – plus TWO chocolate taps.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 4 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

I highly recommend the pistachio gelati, which is creamy, flavoursome and studded with real nuts.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 5 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Top it with some dark chocolate sauce that crackles as soon as it hits the cold and you’re onto a winner.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Head along the patisserie for delicate and beautifully presented jewels of cake, rows of pastel coloured macarons and hand made chocolates.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 6 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 3 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 7 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 1 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 9 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 20 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 10 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

At the back of the store is the ‘high tea salon’ though you’re welcome to sit for a drink and a cake there as well. The plush emerald velvet banquettes and armchairs and matching greenery give it an opulent yet inviting air. If there’s no space left in the salon then you can still enjoy your treats on the outside tables or standing by the narrow bench, European style.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 12 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot’s Mother’s Day high tea offering was a test run for their future high teas, which will start Thursday to Sunday from June. For $95 (kids under 7 are free) I received a platter of gourmet savory treats with a bread basket filled to the brim, a mixture of French and Australian cheeses, Istra charcuterie and Mt Zero olive tapenade.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 13 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Next up was a pretty strawberry pot au creme then a quick roll into a platter of petits gâteaux (miniature versions of what’s available in the cake cabinet) and curiously flat miniature scones.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 15 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 16 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 17 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 18 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

To end, two handcrafted bonbons plus throughout there was tea, coffee and a glass of champagne.

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 19 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

I was bowled over by the quantity and quality of the food – but at $95 I thought it was expensive compared to other high teas around town which are equally fancy. Other than the price my only other misgiving is that high tea at Bibelot is not a quiet, restful experience as the salon is at the back of the busy shop.

Bibelot brings the sensibility of a French patisserie to South Melbourne and it’s my new favourite destination for all things sweet. Judging by the roaring trade on Mother’s Day, it may already a favourite for other Melbourne sweet tooths (teeth?).

Bibelot 285 Coventry St South Melbourne 8 HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Bibelot, 285 – 287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

Open 7 days, 10am – Late

minilink HOT: Bibelot, 285	– 287 Coventry St, South Melbourne

HOT: Est. 1906, 81 Charles St, Seddon

Est. 1906 81 Charles St Seddon 5 HOT: Est. 1906, 81 Charles St, Seddon

Seddon Village is ever-changing from sleepy suburban strip to hip hangout. This week we said goodbye Seddon video store, hello industrial chic cafe Est. 1906.

The large space has been transformed into a funky daytime venue (liquor licence and night trading coming later) which also happens to be one of the most family-friendly spaces I’ve visited in a while.

Est. 1906 81 Charles St Seddon 6 HOT: Est. 1906, 81 Charles St, Seddon

The front dining room is huge, with white exposed brick, a black pressed metal ceiling and pops of yellow in the furniture and the crockery. For those who want some privacy there’s a glass-in room facing Charles Street which is separated by a sliding door. If you don’t have kids this is a great place to hide away!

Around the right where there’s another room with more tables and one side that looks out onto the courtyard. This is the least appealing of all the dining areas but it does ok with an awkward space.

Est. 1906 81 Charles St Seddon HOT: Est. 1906, 81 Charles St, Seddon

The courtyard is where Est.1906 really comes into its own. It’s spacious and sunny, with sea blue beanbags upon lush fake grass plus child-friendly elements such as a sandpit and toys.

On Monday to Friday the breakfast menu starts at 7am-11:30am, with a rather inconvenient 30 minute gap before the lunch menu starts at 12pm. On weekends the breakfast menu is available all day until 4pm.

The breakfast menu is a fairly run-of-the-mill list of cafe standards and in fact the lunch menu looks much more exciting with items such as barramundi and confit duck featuring.

Est. 1906 81 Charles St Seddon 4 HOT: Est. 1906, 81 Charles St, Seddon

As far as smashed avo goes ‘The Avo’ is pretty good, with generous lashings of avocado with cherry tomatoes, marinated feta, slices of cold smoked salmon and two perfectly poached eggs. It’s comforting and pretty without being thrilling – and probably a few dollars more than I’d expect to pay at $20.

Est. 1906 81 Charles St Seddon 3 HOT: Est. 1906, 81 Charles St, Seddon

The banana bread is a hunk of gently spiced cake with segments of poached pear, a passionfruit half and a dousing of overly sweet honey cinnamon yoghurt. The banana bread is delicious without all the accoutrements and I think solid value at $12.

On our weekend visit Est. 1906 was full by 10am so I recommend an early trip. The space is large but there are not enough wait staff when the place is at capacity so the timing can be a bit off – our food came before our coffees and as the place got busier the wait got longer. Our dirty plates were not cleared for a long time. Hopefully these small blips will be ironed out once they settle into their new digs a bit more.

Est. 1906, 81 Charles St Seddon (03) 9689 1906

Monday to Friday 7am – 4pm

Saturday & Sunday 8am – 4pm

minilink HOT: Est. 1906, 81 Charles St, Seddon

HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

Humble Patisserie 4 HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

Humble Patisserie is a sweet little cake shop and bakery in Hawthorn. While the store is humble in size (there are only a few tables and chairs tucked inside and on the pavement), the cake, pastry and  confectionery spread certainly is not.

Humble Patisserie 3 HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

I love the super-cute fit out, with Orla Kiely wallpaper behind the counter and riotously up the ceiling and a large storybook rabbit wielding a baguette and wallpaper matching scarf.

Humble Patisserie 2 HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

It’s the kind of place where it’s impossible to choose just one thing to eat. Everything is baked fresh daily on site. They are justly famous of their pastries, especially the almond croissant, and their homage to classic Australian biscuits and sweets such as the Wagon Wheel and coconut ice.

Humble Patisserie 1 HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

If you have to whittle down your choices, I highly recommend the Kingston and one of their mini tarlets, a buttery biscuity crumb filled with creamy lemon curd or a rich peanut butter and chocolate ganache.

Humble Patisserie 140 Auburn Road Hawthorn HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

Humble Patisserie wholesale to a few other cafes in town but I suggest you make a trip to visit this nostalgic little bakery for a sweet treat and a coffee using Axil beans.

Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn (03) 9818 2463

Mon to Sun 8am – 4pm

minilink HOT: Humble Patisserie, 140 Auburn Road, Hawthorn

HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 10 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

The thumbs-up emoji signage for Naughty Boy gives an indication of the tongue-in-cheek flavour of this Carlton North cafe.

The space that used to be Residential Kitchen has been turned into a fun daytime venue by the former owners of Mama Bear in Flemington. The vibe is casual, quirky with a hint of hipster.

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 5 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

The lofty, light-filled industrial space is presided over by a naughty boy mural by street artist Michael Fikaris of Blender Studios.

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 4 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

The opposing wall has been gashed open to expose bricks and hidey holes with bits of pressed metal. I also love the light blue pressed metal adorning the coffee station and the stylish light fillings – filament lights wrapped around a wooden log and suspended underneath plastic milk crates.

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 6 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

The all-day breakfast menu features on-trend ingredients mixed in with cafe standards and includes  some naughty and not-so-naughty options.

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 3 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

I go with the grilled haloumi salad with a generous spread of juicy local figs, leaves and herbs and some small broad bean felafels ($18.50). I don’t tend to get that excited by salad but this was superb – I think the combination of salty cheese and sweet pomegranate molasses was the reason.

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 2 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

My friend tried the sweet corn with jalapeno fritters with smashed avocado and tomato salsa, grilled chorizo and eggs ($18.50). She liked the fact that the fritters were chunky and hearty but didn’t seem to excited by her breakfast otherwise. I did notice that the eggs had been perfectly poached, tick.

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 7 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

I follow up my meal with something more naughty – a stack of ricotta hotcakes ($14.90). Three generous rounds of fluffy pancakes, stacked and topped with spiced berries, a ball of lemon and saffron curd that’s almost like ice cream and an artful squirt of burnt maple syrup.

Naughty Boy Cafe 499 Lygon Street Carlton North 1 HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North

Coffee is from Allpress and the hot chocolate is from Pana Chocolate. I don’t love the latter – it’s a bit too watery and overly sweet for my liking.

Naughty Boy gives life to a very quiet part of Lygon Street and I liked the food, service and decor. If it’s your local, you’re lucky!

Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North (03) 9041 7870

Monday to Friday 7.30am – 4.00pm

Saturday & Sunday 8.00am – 4.00pm

minilink HOT: Naughty Boy Cafe, 499 Lygon Street, Carlton North