HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne


Following Beatrix on social media has been terrible for my self-control and my waistline. This tiny North Melbourne cafe regularly posts a mouth-watering list of the day’s specials, from the ciabattas to their famous cakes and biscuits. Many a time my newsfeed has convinced me to veer towards North Melbourne in search of a sweet fix.

Beatrix is housed in a former 1890s butcher’s shop and is strictly for locals or knowledgeable folk – there’s no obvious sign and the part of North Melbourne where it’s located is very quiet.


The squeezy space has bench seating for about five people and a total of three tables inside, with a smattering of pavement tables under the trees of Queensberry Street. 


Inside the space is dominated by an array of hanging vintage egg-beaters (beat-rix, get it?) and a cake cabinet to die for.


Owner Nat Paull makes everything from scratch, daily, from the tiny kitchen out the back using a single fire-engine red Kitchenaid mixer.


The choice is overwhelming but first I must turn my attention to lunch. 


There are two regular ciabatta fillings on the blackboard menu and then two specials which rotate regularly. On my visit I ordered a Warialda Beef pastrami with dill and Nicola potato salad and carrot crisps with caraway salt. Since I was planning on eating cake I thought I’d better opt for a small ($14). Good decision as the small was still enormous! A surprisingly soft bun from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse in Ascot Vale, piled high with full-flavoured and fresh ingredients. 

Time for cake. Beatrix focuses on old-fashioned items, the sort of cream-filled beauties you find at CWA stalls. The Strawberry Shag ($8.50) was layers of buttery sponge, cream and preserved strawberries covered in buttercream and coconut shaving. 


I had to try another one so ordered a slice of red velvet cake (the last piece left at 1pm!). A soft red velvet sponge with a classic cream cheese frosting, not too sweet, and garnished with miniature maltesers.


Beatrix is a sweet cafe serving excellent sandwiches and cakes which are worth travelling for. Just don’t take too many people at once and leave some cake for me!

Beatrix, 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne (03) 9090 7301

Tue to Sat 9:00 am – 4:00 pm 

Beatrix on Urbanspoon

HOT: Mr Nice Guy’s BakeShop, 151 Union Rd, Ascot Vale

Mr Nice Guy’s BakeShop in Ascot Vale an awesome organic vegan bakery for non-vegans. The magic that they create with their baked goods without the use of eggs, milk, butter or cream has to be tried to be believed.

mr nice guy

The quirky, retro-tastic cafe has seating along the window and one side of the wall, while the other length of the room is a looong cake cabinet. Breathe in the aromas of cinnamon and cake-baking and settle down for a sweets session.

mr nice guy

mr nice guy

For lunch there are a few savoury options – a savoury scroll and bagels filled with vegan ingredients. I tried the ‘chickpea tuna’ bagel which believe it or not really did taste like tuna, although the texture wasn’t as easily replicable. It was a pretty tasty sandwich, despite being squished down to a hard pancake with the over-enthusiastic use of the sandwich press.

mr nice guy

But really the main reason you go to Mr Nice Guy is to eat sweets. To be precise, you’ve got to try one of their fluffy chocolate, vanilla or cinnamon based cupcakes in out-there flavours such as ‘Zombie Brains’ and ‘Beetlejuice’ ($4.50). Followed by one of their large sticky scrolls in traditional cinnamon or coffee or the PB&J with lashings of chunky peanut butter folded inside the swirls and a dab of strawberry jam on top ($4.50). Maybe even go for one of their chocolate-infused Polish babkas ($4.50).

mr nice guy

It’s all good. Most importantly, the texture of the cakes is incredible and you could easily fool a non-vegan with these treats.

Mr Nice Guy will have you exclaiming ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter!’ as you scoff into their cupcakes, doughnuts, slices, brownies and cakes. They cater for lots of different dietary requirements, from kosher to soy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free, fructose-free and low gi! It’s so hard to choose from just one visit that you will just have to keep returning, and returning.

mr nice guy

Mr Nice Guy’s BakeShop, 151 Union Rd, Ascot Vale 0416 848 610

Mon to Fri: 9am – 6pm

Sat + Sun: 9am – 5pm

Mister Nice Guy's Bakeshop on Urbanspoon

HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

sweet evelyn

Sweet Evelyn is a Brunswick cafe and micro bakery which is as sweet as its name (apparently named after the owners’ daughter).

sweet evelyn

All the baked goods are made fresh on site every day, from the large range of cupcakes to the brownies, cookies and savouries – only the bread and croissants are brought in from Dench Bakery. They only use free range eggs and where possible, organic ingredients. They also serve up a simple all day breakfast and lunch menu with most items under $15 – a bargain in brunch-mad Brunswick. Coffee is from Reverence and in fact you can find their cakes at Reverence cafe in Ascot Vale.

The cafe is spacious and there’s a back courtyard for warmer days. Though a bit of fake grass to soften the look and feel of the bare concrete would be appreciated.

sweet evelyn

Three of us stopped by for afternoon tea and indulged in a white chocolate raspberry cupcake, a caramel popcorn cupcake, a dotty chocolate biscuit bigger than a toddler’s head and a slice of gluten free beetroot chocolate cake. I know – that’s more serves of cake than people at the table! That’s how irresistible everything was on the counter.

sweet evelyn

sweet evelyn

The cupcake base was a little dense but still quite moist (the caramel cupcake had caramel inside as well), while the buttercream frosting was marshmallow light. The chocolate cake was a decadent, muddy mixture with a chocolate avocado mousse and a sprinkling of pistachios. It’s worthwhile licking every crumb off the plate as it’s relatively guilt-free because it contains veges!

sweet evelyn

The combination of delicious home made treats, super-friendly service and play time opportunities if you have kids in tow, I will definitely be heading back to Sweet Evelyn.  Next time I’m going to try the brioche doughnuts!

Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick 0432 189 744

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 7:30am- 4pm

Tuesday: Closed

Friday, Saturday: 7:30 – 6pm

Sweet Evelyn on Urbanspoon

HOT: Alice Nivens, Shop 13 Port Phillip Arcade, 228 Flinders Ln, Melbourne

Alice Nivens, Shop 13 Port Phillip Arcade, 228 Flinders Ln, Melbourne (1)

Who doesn’t love Christmas and storybook characters?

Well, next Thursday 25 July, Alice in Wonderland themed CBD cafe Alice Nivens is holding a special ‘Christmas in July’ day of sweets, treats and other festivities.

The bolthole cafe is hidden in a rather ugly flourescent-lit arcade between Flinders Street/Flinders Lane and you’ll recognise it by the ski chalet style take away windows, the Queen of Hearts black and white floor tiling and the large mural interpretation of Alice in Wonderland by Melbourne illustrator Sam Octigan (who was apparently too shy to sign his name to this work before making it big in New York).

There are a lot of rabbit motifs in the cafe – in honour of the the Lewis Carroll white rabbit but also because the owner Janet was born in the Year of the Rabbit!

Alice Nivens, Shop 13 Port Phillip Arcade, 228 Flinders Ln, Melbourne (3)

Having said that, the space is currently decked out in festive decorations and fairy lights for Christmas in July. It’s a very cute experience.

Alice Nivens, Shop 13 Port Phillip Arcade, 228 Flinders Ln, Melbourne (2)

They serve a small breakfast menu, freshly made sandwiches at lunch but their speciality is a daily selection of sweet treats. In fact, they have a ‘cake cage’ spilling with all sorts of gorgeous goodies – and if you follow their Twitter stream prepare to drool. Some of it is Alice themed – a white chocolate and raspberry White Rabbit Cake or a chocolate flourless Queen of Hearts cake decorated with red hearts – and at the moment there’s a whole Christmas theme happening as well.

Alice Nivens, Shop 13 Port Phillip Arcade, 228 Flinders Ln, Melbourne (4)

I tried their ‘Australian Christmas’ fruit pavlova ($6.50), a crispy meringue shell receptacle for fluffy cream and sliced fruit, with a drizzle of passionfruit coulis.

Alice Nivens is a lovely little pitstop if you’re down near the Federation Square/Flinders Street end of the city. Down the rabbit hole you go!

Alice Nivens, Port Phillip Arcade, Shop 13, 228 Flinders Street

Mon to Fri 7:30 am – 4:00 pm

HOT: Cupcake Central, Level 2 Melbourne Central Dining Hall, cnr Swanston and Latrobe Sts, Melbourne

What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow?

Sheryl Thai used to be an IT consultant. Then during the GFC two years ago, she was told that she no longer had a job. Not one to cry into her keyboard, Sheryl decided that it was time to fulfil her dream of owning a cupcake store, inspired by the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York City.

She started her business online but as demand outstripped supply she opened her first store in Glenferrie Road Hawthorn. Cupcake Central at Melbourne Central is her second store and my, is it pretty.

The branding has been designed by Matt of The Anatomy, who was also responsible for the branding of St Ali. The cute-retro-down-to-earth styling has been done by the talented Claire Laritt-Evans who also styled Market Lane Coffee. Best of all, the kitchen contains the kind of quality ingredients I choose for my own pantry – Callebaut chocolate, Madagascan vanilla – as well as some dream kitchen items like vintage filing boxes! Old-fashioned scales! Pastel SMEG fridge!

I was invited with other food bloggers to attend a cupcake making workshop where we got to make vanilla, red velvet and chocolate cupcakes, play with fondant and learn the art of frosting. I pride myself on being a bit of a baker (I did get a Kitchenaid stand mixer instead of an engagement ring) but even I learnt a few things.

Firstly, in order to get perfectly shaped cupcakes, use an ice-cream scoop to pour your mixture into the patty tins. Genius!

Secondly, after experimenting with different colours of fondant and different cutters, I never want to eat fondant icing again – it’s just like sugar playdough.

Thirdly, frosting a cupcake perfectly using a piping tip is harder than you’d think. Here are my shamefully woeful creations compared to the professional standard you’ll get at Cupcake Central.

Cupcake Central has a constantly rotating menu of cupcake flavours depending on the day of the week and cupcakes are baked fresh every day (apparently some of the mass produced cupcakes are baked 2 days before and iced – boo). I’m a fan of the chilli chocolate and chocolate hazelnut, while my friend said that the red velvet was the best she’d ever had. Give them a try and you be the judge :–)

Cupcake Central, Level 2 Melbourne Central Dining Hall, cnr Swanston and Latrobe Sts, Melbourne

Mon – Thurs 10:00am – 6:30pm, Fri 10:00am – 9:00pm Sat – Sun 10:00am – 6:00pm

Cupcake Central on Urbanspoon