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

HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

Le Jolie 438 Gaffney St Pascoe Vale 10 HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

Get your waffle on with Le Jolie, a French cafe hidden in a small shopping strip in Pascoe Vale.

Those in the (waffle) know may have heard of Waffle Jolie, wholesalers of Belgian style waffles that sold out time and time again at Flour Market Fitzroy. Le Jolie is the permanent retail operation for the Waffle Jolie crew.

Before you say anything…yes, it’s not spelled the grammatically correct way ‘La Jolie’ but is Le Jolie because it’s an extension of Le (Waffle) Jolie.

Le Jolie 438 Gaffney St Pascoe Vale 9 HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

Le Jolie serves breakfast and lunch with a French twist. Prep starts at 4:30am and all the items are made on site, with exception of the buttery flaky croissants which are bought in par-baked then baked every morning. The simple menu includes sweet and savoury tarts, tartines and daily lunch specials such as casserole and quiche.

Le Jolie 438 Gaffney St Pascoe Vale 8 HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

The setting is just very charming. Inside is warm and cosy with dark timber floors, a nook of leather couches and a fireplace.

On a sunny day head out the back (past the small doorway to the hairdressing salon) and settle into the bucolic courtyard, with its lush canopy of vine leaves, a babbling fish pond with goldfish and wooden pallets turned green wall.

Le Jolie 438 Gaffney St Pascoe Vale 3 HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

I tried the Croque Monsieur with a rich bechamel sauce made with roasted garlic and fresh herbs from the garden pots ($13). It’s served with a rather limp leaf salad which could be made more interesting.

Le Jolie 438 Gaffney St Pascoe Vale 6 HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

Make sure you leave for waffles – in fact, order them when you order your main meal. On our visit all the waffles had sold out by midday and we were lucky to get the last one because we’d ordered it with our lunch.

The waffles are made with a secret recipe of 10 ingredients and are Belgian style, meaning they have a lovely caramelised sugar crust and are denser than American waffles. Le Jolie’s waffles are almost biscuity in flavour and texture and not so dense that you couldn’t maybe fit in two…I also recommend not drowning your waffle in too many toppings – the simple house-made chocolate sauce is enough, or even plain to really appreciate the texture and flavour.

Le Jolie 438 Gaffney St Pascoe Vale 2 HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

For other sweets I also highly recommend the pistachio croissant, a croissant slathered in pistachio paste inside and out and studded with raspberries and almond flakes.

And don’t miss their French hot chocolate ($4.50) which is a frothy whisked couverture concoction rather than a thick, gooey, Italian-style hot chocolate.

Le Jolie 438 Gaffney St Pascoe Vale 11 HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

Coffee is from the award-winning Melbourne microroaster Bambaleros and Le Jolie serves the No 6 blend.

Le Jolie is a lovely neighbourhood cafe which hits all the right notes in terms of food, setting and ambiance. The husband-and-wife owners work in the kitchen and on the floor and it’s obvious that they really care about their customers. The waffles alone are worth a visit!

Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale (03) 93799886

Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 7.00 am – 3.30 pm

Sat-Sun 8.00 pm-3 pm  

Closed Wed        
minilink HOT: Le Jolie, 438 Gaffney St, Pascoe Vale

The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne – Mother’s Day Sunday 10 May 2015

Afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor 111 Spring St Melbourne 7 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015
Sunday 10 May is Mother’s Day and Melbourne’s restaurants and cafes will be busy organising special events for the day. Here’s a round-up of high teas in Melbourne and surrounds, some of which are special events just for Mother’s Day.

Melbourne High Tea Reviews

Over the years I’ve reviewed a lot of afternoon tea locations – some great, some not so great. Here are the ones which are open for Mother’s Day.

DSC04960v1 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

Langham Melbourne – one of my favourites in Melbourne for the quality of the food and the ambience. The closest to the ‘London afternoon tea’ experience I think, minus the all-you-can-eat ribbon sandwiches!

Intercontinental – For coffee lovers rather than tea sippers.

Cinema Nova – watch a film and enjoy high tea.

Jam and Cream – this little cafe with a pink vintage caravan is as cute as it comes as a setting for afternoon tea.

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 7 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

LuxBite – The Tea Set for Two gives you a little taste of the decadence available at this South Yarra dessert patisserie.

Bursaria at Abbotsford Convent – High Tea in the lovely surrounds of Abbotsford Convent.

The Tea Salon – Do some shopping at Emporium then relax with a high tea accompanied by tea, sparkling or champagne.

The Hotel Windsor – Enjoy this iconic building by indulging in freshly baked scones are served with jam and cream and exquisite pastries sit above delicate finger sandwiches.

DSC02865 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

Westin Melbourne – a highlight for the pastry lover.

The Waiting Room – decadent sweets, sorbet, scones, sandwiches and hot savouries at Crown Towers.

Collins Kitchen at Grand Hyatt Melbourne – sub-par pastries and a bun-fight at the buffet. Not relaxing.

Sofitel Melbourne – pretty average with rock hard scones.

Other High Tea in Melbourne and surrounds

CBD/ DOCKLANDS

Marriot Melbourne Hotel Cnr Exhibition and Lonsdale St, Melbourne. Child (under 12yrs): $28, Teen (12-18yrs): $49, Adult: $65. Bookings: Book online or call 03 9660 1176

28 Skybar Lounge at Crown Melbourne $85 per adult $50 per child. Bookings 9292 5777.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms 282 Collins St, Melbourne. $50. Bookings: www.hopetountearooms.com.au/reservations 48 hours notice required.

Wonderland Spiegeltent 120 Pearl River Rd, Harbour Town Docklands. Cost: Child $35, Adults $39.50. Bookings: Telephone 03 9602 1311

Vue de Monde  525 Collins St, Melbourne. $250 person. Bookings: (03) 9691 38888

Hotel Lindrum26 Flinders St Melbourne. $55 per person including a glass of sparkling wine. Bookings:  03 9668 1111.

Om Nom at Adelphi Hotel 187 Flinders Lane Melbourne. $65 per person. Bookings: (03) 8080 8827

Stamford Plaza Hotel 111 Little Collins Street. Cost: $69 per adult $34.50 per child 4-12 years. Bookings: +61-3 9659 1000

Myer Mural Hall  Lvl 6, 314-336 Bourke Street. Cost: $70 per person, children under 3 free. Bookings: +61 03 9661 1546

Hazelbark Patisserie at Blue Diamond 15/123 Queen Street. $50 per person. Bookings Hazelbarkpatisserie@gmail.com.

Afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor 111 Spring St Melbourne 1 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

NORTH

Mamor’s Chocolate 153 Johnston St, Collingwood. $75 per person.

Melbourne Zoo Elliot Ave Parkville $65 adults $30 children. Bookings (03) 9285 9440.

EAST

Beau Monde International 934 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East. Child (4-12yrs): $35, Adult: $70. Bookings: 03 9660 1176

Mossgreen Tea Rooms 926 High St Armadale. $52 per person or $68 with champagne. Bookings: Call 03 9508 8850 or email tearooms@mossgreen.com.au

SOUTH / SOUTH-EAST / BAYSIDE

The Vincent 111 Victoria Ave, Albert Park. Child: $25, Adult: $65. Bookings:  Call (03) 9682 6444 or click here to reserve your table.

Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra. $45 per head or $60 per head with a glass of sparkling. Bookings: Call 9804 7485

WEST

Cocktails and Canvas Puckle Lane, Moonee Ponds. $82.50 high tea ‘Sip & Paint’.

The Tea Salon Shop 2041 Level 2 Emporium Melbourne 295 Lonsdale St Melbourne 5 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

MELBOURNE SURROUNDS

Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel 42 Melba Highway, Yering. $60 per person. Bookings: Call 03 9237 3333 or email functions@chateauyering.com.au

Marybrooke Manor 10 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke. Adults: $40 Children $17.50. Bookings: Call (03) 9755 2755

High Tea at Yarra Valley Lodge 2 Heritage Avenue, Chirnside Park. Cost: $45 per adult and $27.50 per child (3-12 years). Bookings: Call 9760 3355 or email dining_atbella@yarravalleylodge.com

Coombe Restaurant 673-675 Maroondah Highway Coldstream. $55 per person. Bookings (03) 9739 0173

HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Brighton Schoolhouse HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Bayside locals are lucky to have Brighton Schoolhouse on their doorstep. It sits in the most stunning Downtown Abbey-esque surroundings, with manicured lawns and a round turning circle next to the church (though the New Street high street frontage is less picturesque).

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 6 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

The heritage listed stone building was built in 1842 and was an original schoolhouse. The decor retains the cathedral vaults and some monastic boarding school dining-room elements such as the long communal tables and round light fittings.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 10 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Old school chairs and desks still abound and there’s even some school lockers in one corner, but don’t worry you won’t feel like you’re back in Year 5 – they’ve been hipster-fied with greenery, a long banquette, high stools and some fun murals.

The all day breakfast and lunch menu focuses healthy, seasonal and sustainable dishes all named with eye-rolling schoolhouse puns.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 12 540x358 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

I order Ja’mie: Private School Girl’s Heirloom Tomatoes ($18.50). I am astonished by the size of the dish – there are probably a dozen tomatoes atop two slices of crusty olive bread slathered with avocado puree, a few dabs of ricotta and basil pesto and a perfectly poached egg wobbling to one side. I love the addition of popped grains to add textural crunch to an otherwise simple dish.

I also try Screech’s Saved by the Bell Pancakes ($18.50). It’s a pretty dish with two fat raspberry studded buttermilk pancakes, a huge ball of white chocolate ice cream, a hairdo of pistachio fairy floss and again I love the maple and ginger crumble for the crunch.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 8 398x540 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

 

Brighton Schoolhouse source their Schoolhouse-only seasonal espresso blend from St Ali and they use premium fresh milk from St David Dairy so I’d expect the end product to be good.

What Brighton Schoolhouse does really well is cater for children. There’s easy pram access, high chairs, change facilities, a short children’s menu with colouring-in, a chalkboard, toys and even a fenced playground.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 5 540x339 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 14 540x427 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

I really enjoyed my delicious and relaxed breakfast at Brighton Schoolhouse and was a bit surprised that it wasn’t busier on a weekend morning – maybe the bad weather? The menu is quite inventive, with twists on the standard-issue cafe offerings. Most dishes nudge close to the $20 mark but the serving sizes are huge and could easily be shared.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton (03) 9593 3129

Mon – Fri: 7:30am-4pm

Sat – Sun: 7:30am-4:30pm

minilink HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 4 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

If you enjoyed going on Easter egg hunts as a child then going on a gourmet chocolate tour has got to be the next best thing when you’re an adult!

For the last 20 years Chocoholics have run daily chocolate walking tours through Melbourne’s CBD, winding through laneways and arcades to find the artisan chocolatiers for which Melbourne is famous. I was invited to attend one of their tours, the signature ‘Bittersweet chocolate tour’ which included tastings of milk and dark chocolate at five different chocolate stores.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 21 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

The tour started off with a brief spiel by our personable guide about the origins of chocolate and the process of growing, harvesting and processing cacao. We were given some raw cocoa beans and cocoa nibs to try and then the real business of chocolate tasting began.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 19 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

First stop was Cacao Lab, a chocolatier opened by Frenchman Laurent Meric  designed to look like a new age laboratory.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 16 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

At Cacao Lab we were treated to a decorated milk chocolate with a nut ganache and a small shot of their intense hot chocolates, silently churning behind the counter.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 5 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 8 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

The bright colours and beautiful packaging of Cacao Lab lured me to purchase a half-dozen carton of their Belgian chocolate eggs. I also snapped one of their hot cross buns, recently crowned one of the best hot cross buns in Melbourne.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 11 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

Second stop was Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar, an American company with a few stores in New York, one in Dubai and one in Melbourne’s Emporium since October 2014. The store is very large, with lovely ironwork walls and a pastel and chocolate palette.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 14 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 12 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

The company is American but all the product is made in Melbourne and I noticed that they were selling Ingrid Tufts’ ceramicware as well.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 17 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

The recipes have been tweaked where necessary to accommodate Australian palates and some of the super-sweet American flavours haven’t made it on the menu. They use Callebaut chocolate and the aim of the founder, Alison Nelson, is to introduce American (and Australian) audiences to European style chocolate at a mid-range price.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 20 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

We tried some of their iced chocolates with a small slice of red velvet brownie, a cake-like morsel rather than a dense, gooey slab that I usually equate the American style brownies. Then we had a tasting of a very sweet peanut butter and jelly milk chocolate and a lavender milk chocolate.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 9 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

I also purchased a chocolate dipped Oreo (kind of like a Tim Tam actually) and my favourite, one of their selection of Asian flavoured chocolates, the bamboo macadamia jasmine dark log.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 25 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

Our third stop was Koko Black, a European style chocolatier which is credited with inspiring Melbourne’s love affair with high quality couverture chocolate over a decade ago.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 2 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 7 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

We watched the chocolatier in action by the window and then tried a strawberry milk chocolate and a silky drop of raspberry ganache inside a dark chocolate cup. Extremely rich without being cloying and so smooth on the tongue.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 13 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

The fourth stop was Haigh’s, an Adelaide-based chocolatier which is celebrating it’s 100th birthday this year.

When I first moved to Melbourne I was a bit bemused about how everyone raved about their chocolate frogs, which I thought were ok but not the sort of amazing quality I’d experienced in Europe. While their tour tastings were very generous – a dark chocolate palette, a milk chocolate palette and cinnamon and merlot chocolate – I’m still not a Haigh’s fan.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 18 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

Our final stop was Ganache, my favourite chocolatier in Melbourne. While I like the ambience of Koko Black’s flagship store in Royal Arcade, particularly the big cushy lounge chairs upstairs overlooking the passing crowd in the historic arcade, I think the quality of the product at Ganache is second to none. I have attended a masterclass at their South Yarra chocolate kitchen and seen how their work is done, so I am fully confident in the quality control of their product.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 15 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

At Ganache we were offered a hot drink and a full slice of one of their signature cakes, the hazelnut fan slice. I was desperately chocolated-out at that point but could not let such a beautiful cake go to waste.

Chocoholics Chocolate Tour 22 HOT: Chocoholics chocolate walking tour, Melbourne

I had a wonderfully decadent afternoon with Chocoholics and I think that $49 is a very good price for the tour. A lot of ground is covered in the 2.5 hours, there’s a good selection of specialty chocolatiers to try and compare and you’ll certainly not leave hungry.

With several tastings at every stop there is a lot of chocolate to eat in one continuous sitting, so my tip is to skip lunch, drink a lot of water and bring a plastic bag/box to store away some of the tastings – they’ll be appreciated more later.

Note that one of the benefits of buying chocolate via the tour was that we received a discount at every chocolatier (other than Koko Black) which meant an extra excuse to indulge later!

TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

Lady Melville 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West 1 540x359 TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

Lady Melville is a cutie patootie family-run cafe in a rather dour strip of Brunswick West.

The venue is rather deceptive, as the sunny front room leads out into long, narrow and split-level establishment. Starting at the back there’s a rear entrance via Bakers Parade which leads into a sunny courtyard.

Lady Melville 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West 6 TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

On the fake grass under the stairs they’ve set up not just one but two toy kitchens which will keep kids amused for ages.

Lady Melville 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West 4 TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

Go up the steep stairs and there’s a sheltered deck, the toilets, a tiny kitchen, then a cosy room with a fireplace and succulents nesting in decorative teapots.

Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

My favourite space was the sunny front room where coffee machine churns out Lady Melville’s house blend from Zest. The only drawback of the front room is that the teeny tiny tables are wall-mounted, which means they’re squishy and awkward if you’re trying to fit your bottom, your bag, food, drinks and cutlery.

Lady Melville 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West 8 540x359 TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

The all day breakfast and lunch menu covers all the usual bases, with lots for gluten-lovers including a delectable selection of pastries in the cabinet from Noisette.

I tried the salmon smorrebord (Danish open sandwich) with a few slices of smoked salmon, a dill cream cheese spread, radish, cucumber and capers, a bargain at $10. I wish that it came on the traditional dark rye bread instead of sourdough, but a small quibble.

Lady Melville 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West 10 540x391 TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

The kids menu actually contains something that I’d eat – a ham and cheese toasty stuffed with oozy cheese and good quality Istra ham ($8).

Lady Melville 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West 7 540x377 TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

I also tried the apple and macadamia French toast jaffle ($16.50), an extravagant affair with a spiced apple and currant mixture pressed between two slices of eggy bread. The French toast was bookended by a scoop of burnt fig gelato from Miinot Gelato and a generous dollop of marscapone. Everything was fairy-dusted with a sweet nut crumble, fresh berries and lashings of Canadian maple syrup. You can add bacon to the dish but why spoil the sweetness I say?

Lady Melville 227 Melville Rd Brunswick West 3 540x375 TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

Lady Melville is a fantastic café in Brunswick West that just happens to be extremely kid-friendly as well. The owners are parents and have thought of everything, without compromising on the high standard of food that discerning Melbourne café-goers expect.

Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West (03) 8395 4027

Tue – Fri: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sat – Sun: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

minilink TOT: Lady Melville Cafe and Courtyard, 227 Melville Rd, Brunswick West

HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

Code Black Howard Street 119 Howard St North Melbourne 1 HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

Code Black Coffee is a cafe and specialty coffee roaster in Brunswick who have opened up a second outpost in Howard Street North Melbourne.

Like the original location the Code Black Howard Street roasts its own coffee but the roasting machine is really more for decorative purposes as most of the coffee is still roasted in Brunswick.

Code Black Howard Street 119 Howard St North Melbourne 2 HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

The new cafe is a gorgeous light-filled warehouse conversion by  ZWEI Interiors Architecture, The bricks have been painted white punctuated by lacquered green steel beams and blonde wood abounds. I particularly love the slatted staircase.

Code Black Howard Street 119 Howard St North Melbourne 3 HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

Seating encircles the barista station and open kitchen and a mezzanine level upstairs, though I’d avoid the awkward mini tables at the banquette unless you’re up for holding yoga side twists during your meal.

The food menu has a similar quirkiness as the Brunswick menu and takes inspiration from the fact that the space used to be an old car garage. I’ve explored some of the options over several visits.

Code Black Howard Street 119 Howard St North Melbourne 4 HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

Black beans with jalapeno cornbread ($12) was a punchy dish of spiced beans, a fried egg and a spongy, cake-like slice of cornbread. I opted for a side of pork belly ($4), a thick cut of belly cooked a little too dry for my liking. Overall I would have liked to up the ante on the chilli – just felt like a dash of hot sauce would have really enhanced the flavours.

Code Black Howard Street 119 Howard St North Melbourne 6 HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

For something lighter the seared tuna salad is ah-mazing ($17). Super-fresh slices of herb-crusted rare tuna with a wholesome mount of cucumber, snow pea tendrils and bok choy plus grains of millet and chia for crunch.

Code Black Howard Street 119 Howard St North Melbourne 5 HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

If you have a sweet tooth I recommend the apple salted caramel hotcakes ($14). Ricotta makes the hotcakes very light and inside you’ll find shreds of apple. It’s served with salted caramel sauce, crunchy candied pecans and slices of freeze dried apple.

Code Black Howard Street is a extension, not a duplication of Code Black Coffee in Brunswick. I actually prefer its lighter, brighter interior to the original location, while the food and coffee as just as spot on.

Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

Mon-Sun 7am-5pm

minilink HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 4 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

Hooray! Good pizza arrives in Barkly Street West Footscray thanks to Ovest (which means ‘west’ in Italian but also unfortunately clashes with the name of the Footscray Hospital cafeteria and a vaginal cream!).

Ovest is a project of passionate westies Alex Rogers of Seddon’s Sourdough Kitchen, and Ben Sisley, the former head chef at St Kilda pizzeria Mr Wolf.

The modernist building used to house the ANZ bank and Serbian social club and now it contains a shiny Spanish stone-deck electric oven that churns out delicious pizzas six days a week.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 2 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

The menu includes entrees of mostly fried things (saganaki, calamari, fritters) plus sizzling garlic prawns and buffalo mozzarella served with bresaola and figs. The mains include a tuna nicoise salad, lasagna, cannelloni and daily roast pulled from the same pizza oven.

Pizzas are the name of the game here, with fourteen to choose from (gluten free bases are an extra $1). They are large do I recommend one between two.

I particularly like their margherita, which is fragrant with fresh basil and melted buffalo mozzarella ($17.50), as well as the prawn pizza with a bianco base (ie olive oil, no passata) generously topped with cubes of zucchini, chilli, mint, ricotta and fior de latte ($21).

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 1 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

We’ve tried the pizzas both eat in and takeaway and can highly recommend them. The bases are crisp rather than chewy so whether you like it depends on your personal preference – but the toppings are excellent, full of flavour and colour. The first time we tried the pizzas we did think that they contained too much residual oil but this has not been the case on subsequent visits.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 3 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

For dessert we shared a rich dark chocolate mousse ($10) and vanilla flecked yoghurt panna cotta in a glass with mango jelly ($10). Both were pretty good without being amazing so if you’re too full from pizza then give them a miss.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 7 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

We visited on the third day of opening and found the service a bit chaotic (incorrect reservation, slow to serve, missing cutlery) but hopefully those glitches have been smoothed over now. Also note that the industrial space of metal and timber floors can get very loud and I think a few softening touches in the decor would help with the noise levels. It was half full on our visit and already too loud for easy conversation.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 6 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

Ovest is a great local pizzeria for an easy dinner with family and friends and as a fussy pizza eater I think it makes the best pizzas in the inner west that I’ve tried so far.

Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray (03) 9687 7766

Tue-Sun 5pm-late

minilink HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

 

HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Sir Charles 121 johnston st Fitzroy HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Sir Charles Fitzroy is the latest venture by the folks behind Axil Coffee Roasters and built on the site of the the former Beans and Bagels. Having been a customer at the previous establishment I am in awe of the transformation.

Sir Charles 121 Johnston St Fitzroy 2 HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Goodbye dated, dimly lit cafe, hello to light, blonde wood, pastel accents and copper stools.

Sir Charles 121 Johnston St Fitzroy 4 HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Oooh those copper stools. I just couldn’t stop taking photos of them! I have no idea how comfortable they are to perch on but they look amazing. Their brushed glossiness brings a sophisticated warmth to the high ceilings and expansive space which could otherwise come across as cold and cavernous.

Sir Charles 121 Johnston St Fitzroy 6 HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy

The daytime menu has an Asian flavour to it and I tried the BBQ pork belly with tonkatsu sauce, spring onion and fried egg roti ($17). Judging by the constant flow of this dish from the kitchen to diners I suspect this is one of their most popular items.

Sir Charles 121 Johnston St Fitzroy 5 HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy

The pork was a melting slab of meat and fat and the crunchy bean sprouts and chilli helped cut through the richness. The fried egg was done perfectly so that the yolk was still runny on a gentle prod.

Sir Charles 121 Johnston St Fitzroy 3 HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy

I also tried the vegan toasted coconut crepe ($13.50). While I wasn’t expecting a French-style egg crepe I think they should specifically describe it as a glutinous rice flour crepe because not everyone enjoys its chewy, slippery texture. I, for one, love it, so I was very happy with the dish. I particularly enjoyed the slight hint of sweetness from the coconut and the pile of fresh fruit salad and butterscotch sauce.

The rest of the menu is just as exciting and the friendly service and gorgeous decor will mean that it becomes a regular on the Fitzroy cafe circuit.

Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy 03 9415 7077

Mon to Wed 7am–4pm

Thu to Sat 7am–10pm

Sun 7am–4pm

minilink HOT: Sir Charles, 121 Johnston St, Fitzroy