HOT: Proper & Son, Shop 13-14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

Proper Son Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market 322 Coventry Street South Melbourne 7 HOT: Proper & Son, Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

Proper & Son is a handsome new market deli and cafe within South Melbourne Market.

The space brings a bit of the country to the city, with modern white subway tiles offset by a provincial-style patterned wallpaper cleverly disguising chickens, pigs and cows.

Proper Son Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market 322 Coventry Street South Melbourne 8 HOT: Proper & Son, Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

The stylish cafe seats around 35 people max and at around 10am on Sunday there was a short lineup before a table become available. Once we sat down everything was brought us promptly.

All the food is made on site (breakfast until 11:30am, lunch from 11:30am) and the owner Eugene Lavery is also behind the stove. A owner-chef tends to bode well for the quality of an eatery, as he/she will really care about what comes out of the kitchen and how the service is managed.

Given Proper & Son’s location it has the privilege of being able to change the menu weekly depending on what’s in season and what’s available within the market. So you can be assured that all the produce is as fresh as fresh can be.

As we were visiting on Mother’s Day we tried their special ‘Proper High Tea’ menu where we received a hot beverage and a selection of sweet and savoury treats for $20.

Proper Son Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market 322 Coventry Street South Melbourne 3 HOT: Proper & Son, Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

Half the fun was discovering what was presented on the wooden platters – a fat brioche bun with smoked salmon and dill, a slice of  creamy pumpkin frittata, a rosy coconut cupcake and some sort of fudgy chocolate brownie. The only disappointment was the flat disc of a scone, though it was served with some delicious house made preserves and cream.

Proper Son Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market 322 Coventry Street South Melbourne 2 HOT: Proper & Son, Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

The creamy coffee was made with Toby’s Estate beans and my hot chocolate was by Mork Chocolate.

In addition we ordered the buttermilk hotcakes, a substantial dish of three fluffy pancake rounds heaped with fresh fruit, pecans and a huge ball of lemon curd ($13.50). A peek at our neighbours indicated that serving sizes seemed to be in on the generous side overall.

Proper Son Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market 322 Coventry Street South Melbourne 5 HOT: Proper & Son, Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

For lunch Proper & Son turns into a carvery, with roast meat rolls made to order and a selection of four fresh salads. I’ve heard lots of raves about their ‘Market Roast Roll’ made with free range roast chicken with a sage, onion and cranberry stuffing or corned wagyu brisket with pickles, cabbage and mustard.

Proper & Son is an exciting addition to an otherwise lacklustre food court in South Melbourne Market and you could visit it weekly without eating the same thing twice. It’s a great place to stop with before or after your shopping.

Proper & Son, Shop 13-14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne, 9699 7057

Wed, Sat-Sun 7:30am to 4pm

Fri 7:30am to 5pm

minilink HOT: Proper & Son, Shop 13 14 South Melbourne Market, 322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne

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: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 1 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (Saturday 28 February – Sunday 15 March) is kind of like my idealised version of Christmas (lots of eating without the present traumas) which makes the Artisan Bakery & Bar the ultimate Christmas Village, a place to celebrate some festival cheer.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 2 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 3 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 6 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Every day until Sunday 15 March, from 7:30am to late, head down to Queensbridge Square on Southbank to sample delicious bread-based wares from Peter Rowland as well as a rotating calendar of local and international bakers producing their most famous baked goods, including Éric Kayser (Maison Kayser, Paris) and Justin Gellatly (co-founder of London’s Bread Ahead).

DSC09924 521x820 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

I ‘accidentally’ inhaled one of Justin Gellatly ‘s famous doughnuts for breakfast and oh my god…I have to say it was one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. Spongy, fluffy and dripping with salted caramel cream with a shard of crumbling honeycomb on top.

DSC09926 820x545 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Apparently guest baker’s products have been selling out every day by 10am so I’ve diarised Éric Kayser‘s visit (Tuesday 10 March and Wednesday 11 March) in the hope that he’ll turn out some of his famous eclairs.

I was also invited by Peter Rowland sample some of Artisan Bakery & Bar’s mostly Victorian menu.

We started off with little pots of Irrewarra Sourdough’s granola, some fluffy and tart Victorian yoghurt and homemade fresh fruit compote.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 9 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Then the carb-loading began, with wooden boards containing a selection of Irrewarra Sourdough and Woodfrog Bakery’s bread, Mount Zero olives, Milawa cheese, Mytleford butter and picles and condiments by Peter Rowland ($20 each).

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 8 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Then a selection of tartines ($14) – basically fancy open-toasted. Nothing better than melted cheese on bread! Our selection included double smoked leg ham, heirloom tomatoes, pickled red onions and chutney…

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 12 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

…sauteed mushrooms and onion jam…

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 7 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

….pulled beef, corn relish and pickled gherkins.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 10 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

To end was Tivoli Road Bakery’s out of this world fruit loaf – a light fruit-studded bread almost akin to Christmas cake – plus a selection of Milawa cheeses plus Tivoli Road’s famous salted caramel and lemon curd doughnuts.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 15 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank
The Artisan Bakery & Bar is not just a place to eat and imbibe – there are workshop classes running onsite too, including free Little Foodies baking classes for children. Spaces for adult and kids classes are limited and bookings essential.

DSC09946 820x546 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

7 days a week 7:30am-late until Sunday 15 March

HOT: Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

Hard Pressed 76 Wellington Pde East Melbourne HOT: Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

Did you know wikipedia has a listing of sandwich names from around the world? Head down to ‘C’ and you’ll find the Cuban. It’s the best-seller at Hard Pressed, a daytime cafe in East Melbourne nestled in small strip of shops near Hoddle Street.

 The split level cafe is bright and welcoming, with dangling bulbs, concrete blocks creating intimate spaces and a back mural of a (Cuban?) jungle. It’s bustling with locals on a weekend morning – couples, joggers, young families, retirees.

Hard Pressed 76 Wellington Pde East Melbourne 3 HOT: Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

Hard Pressed specialise in French Press coffee and Latino inspired sandwiches – but in fact they also serve cold drip and pour over coffees plus the menu is not all sandwiches.

Hard Pressed 76 Wellington Pde East Melbourne 2 HOT: Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

Nevertheless even though it’s only 9am I head straight to the main game. Hard Pressed’s version of the Cuban sandwich ‘El Cubano’ gathers large slabs of charred 12 hour braised pork neck with just a touch of citrus, a slather of dijon mustard, bubbly Swiss cheese and a sliced pickle, all nestled between two pillowy grilled buns.

It’s juicy and full of flavour and I intersperse every bite with a forkful of salad comprising charred corn kernels, pickled vegetables and smashed avo ($8). Either the promised lime dressing was missing or there just wasn’t much of it as the flavours would have been enhanced with more zing. Nevertheless the salad was a light, crunchy counterpoint to the intensity of the pork roll.

Hard Pressed 76 Wellington Pde East Melbourne 4 HOT: Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

My stomach is well full by now but in the interests of research I proceed to a second course of breakfast. Unless you count the granola and the cake cabinet, the only sweet option on the menu is a caramelised banana crepe with lime and dulce de leche ($13). Oh go on, twist my rubber arm!

Hard Pressed 76 Wellington Pde East Melbourne 1 HOT: Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

A large crepe is folded over chunks of melting caramelised banana with a large nugget of dulce de leche on top and a drizzle of honey syrup on the side. The waitress instructs me to squeeze the fresh lime juice all over the pancake cut through the sweetness.

 The crepe is perfect – slightly stretchy on the inside and crispy on the edges. I am sparing with the rich dulce de leche as the bananas and syrup are already very sweet.

I enjoyed my breakfast at Hard Pressed and given East Melbourne’s paucity of good cafes it’s a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. Their menu is limited but they aim to do a few things really well rather than be a jack-of-all-trades.  If you’re craving variety there are seven sandwiches to choose from, which means you could have a different one every day!

Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne  +61 3 94174414

Mon-Sun 7am-4pm

minilink HOT: Hard Pressed, 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne

HOT: 5 and Dime Bagel, 16 Katherine Place, Melbourne

5 and Dime Bagel 16 Katherine Place Melbourne 2 HOT: 5 and Dime Bagel, 16 Katherine Place, Melbourne

5 and Dime Bagel’s New York style boiled bagels have been gaining a loyal following from farmer’s market shoppers for the past two years.

 While you can still buy 5 and Dime Bagel at Flemington and Gasworks farmers markets, they have opened a permanent store in Katherine Place, near the King St end of Flinders Lane. They are one of half a dozen new, small, food enterprises that will hopefully turn that rather dead area of the CBD into a vibrant culinary destination. 

I love 5 and Dime Bagel for their chewy but not too dense texture and slightly crunchy crust. They are hand rolled, boiled and baked fresh every day on site and then distributed to other outlets as well as tumbled into wooden trays in their new premises. 

5 and Dime Bagel 16 Katherine Place Melbourne 1 HOT: 5 and Dime Bagel, 16 Katherine Place, Melbourne

The small cafe is reminiscent of an old-school American diner. Not the ones with kitschy, brightly coloured decor but the sort of subdued neighbourhood hangouts I can imagine found in tumbleweed Midwestern towns. When I walked in I was immediately reminded of the film The Last Picture Show. 

5 and Dime Bagel 16 Katherine Place Melbourne 4 HOT: 5 and Dime Bagel, 16 Katherine Place, Melbourne

The cafe offers bagels with a rotating selection of flavoured cream cheese (schmears) and fillings, all made in house. You can buy bagels to take away ($2 or 6 for $11) or sit down for a simple bagel sandwich and an espresso or filtered Promised Land Coffee. 

5 and Dime Bagel 16 Katherine Place Melbourne 3 HOT: 5 and Dime Bagel, 16 Katherine Place, Melbourne

My tip is to go for the dill bagel. The dill bagel has no added salt, which is unbelievable as it is so full of flavour. Combined with their house cured salmon/trout and cream cheese combo and it’s one heavenly sandwich.

They are purists with their bagels too. It is usual for bagels to be toasted in other cafes but here they don’t toast them because the bagels are so fresh. They bake constantly, throughout the day, so even if you arrive at the end of the lunch hour the bagels are still fresh.

 I can’t get on a plane to New York so 5 and Dime Bagel is the closest I’ll get to having a New York breakfast. And now you don’t have to wait for the weekend for your bagel fix!

5 and Dime Bagel, 16 Katherine Place, Melbourne

Monday to Friday 7:00 am to 3:00 pm

minilink HOT: 5 and Dime Bagel, 16 Katherine Place, Melbourne

HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

Beatrix 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne 1 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.

 Beatrix 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne 3 HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

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. 

Beatrix 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne 4 HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

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

Beatrix 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne 2 HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

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

Beatrix 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne 6 HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

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

Beatrix 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne 5 HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

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. 

Beatrix 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne 7 HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

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 688 Queensberry St North Melbourne HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

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 

minilink HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne

HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

Woven 175B Stephen St Yarraville 5 HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

Woven is a small cafe at the bottom of a newish warehouse conversion in Yarraville.

Woven 175B Stephen St Yarraville 6 HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

It feels like Collingwood without the high prices and cooler-than-thou attitude. They have fitted out the compact space with wood, brick, polished concrete and exposed beams, in keeping with its formerly industrial heritage. There are a few outdoor seats with umbrellas too.

Woven 175B Stephen St Yarraville 2 HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

The menu is small but interesting. I choose the tofu and kale gratin with a lemon, herb and toasted nut crust ($14) which sounded smugly healthy and an apt pitstop for those visiting Art of Cycling next door. I enjoyed the umami flavours of the gratin but found the texture a bit dry overall. I think a gooey poached egg on top would balance out all that crunchiness better.

Woven 175B Stephen St Yarraville 3 HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

RM decided on the Dr Marty’s Crumpets with honeyed mascarpone, pear and toasted walnuts ($13). I didn’t have a chance to try the crumpets as RM ate them too fast – so I suppose they were good! He informed me that the crumpets were toasted just right such that the wet ingredients didn’t make them soggy and the flavour combination wasn’t too sweet despite first appearances.

Woven 175B Stephen St Yarraville 1 HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

From 10am you can start digging into the lunch menu – salads ($14-$16), a ‘bang up burger’ with chips ($18.50) and sandwiches ($10). The kids menu was one of the cheapest I’ve seen in a while at $5.50 per item.

Woven is a small, neat space on a quiet residential street which will cater to the locals well. The menu is about $3-4 less than I’d expect for the quality of the food and coffee comes from specialty roaster Code Black Coffee in Brunswick.

Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville 

Every day 7am – 4pm

minilink HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

HOT: The Deli Counter, 211-213 Queen Street, Melbourne

The Deli Counter 211 213 Queen Street Melbourne 1 HOT: The Deli Counter, 211 213 Queen Street, Melbourne

Weekday cafe The Deli Counter is the place to get a healthy, tasty lunch in the legal and financial centre of the CBD.

The Deli Counter 211 213 Queen Street Melbourne 4 HOT: The Deli Counter, 211 213 Queen Street, Melbourne

The Deli Counter sets itself apart from the pre-packed sandwiches that abound in that part of town. The kitchen specialises in the owners’ recipes of Israeli food with some general Mediterranean influences and everything is made fresh daily, on site. You can even draw up a chair and watch the kitchen preparations while you wait for your meal or climb upstairs to the view of Queen Street’s treeline.

The Deli Counter 211 213 Queen Street Melbourne 2 HOT: The Deli Counter, 211 213 Queen Street, Melbourne

For lunch I ordered from..um..the deli counter…the ‘seenya’ a traditional Israeli moussaka, plus a selection of the overwhelming choice of fresh salads on display ($16.50).

The Deli Counter 211 213 Queen Street Melbourne 3 HOT: The Deli Counter, 211 213 Queen Street, Melbourne

The moussaka was layers of minced beef and spiced eggplant and I particularly liked the substitution of the nutty tahini for the traditional bechamel. I’m not even sure what salads were on my plate as I just asked for a bit of everything! It was a roasted veg and grain melange.

The Deli Counter 211 213 Queen Street Melbourne 5 HOT: The Deli Counter, 211 213 Queen Street, Melbourne

Their wholemeal pitas are famous and so I decide to try a vegan version with charred cauliflower, cucumber, parsley and pickles, slathered with tahini ($11). The pocket was huge and so stuffed to the gills that after a time the package became unwieldy and soggy to eat and hold. I hate to think what all that escaping tahini would be doing to the pinstriped suits! About half the amount of sauce and I think the balance would be better. Just be warned that it’s also incredibly filling.

The service was friendly and when the lunch time rush had died a bit the owners were keen to find out what I thought of my lunch (I told them about the disintegrating pita disaster). They then proceeded to scoop up the remainder of their salads into a takeaway container for my kids! That’s hospitable for you.

The Deli Counter is a charming, colourful eatery in a somewhat drab part of Queen Street which serves nourishing, well-priced food. Good for your body, good for your brain, good for your wallet.

The Deli Counter, 211-213 Queen Street, Melbourne 9642 1213

Mon – Fri 7am – 5pm

minilink HOT: The Deli Counter, 211 213 Queen Street, Melbourne

HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 4 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford
From little things, big things grow….So the story goes with Dr Morse, a cafe/restaurant in Abbotsford that started out as a coffee window (dubbed Jr Morse) by Victoria Park station. It has now expanded into a spacious interior overlooked by an original 1930s mural advertising ‘Dr Morse’s Indian Root Pills’ and a secluded beer garden.

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 1 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 2 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

The main kitchen opens for an early lunch late into night. In the daytime the one page menu is split into sandwiches, salads, meals and sweets.

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 3 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 9 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

On our lunchtime visit we ordered some fried chicken with slaw ($16) and an organic quinoa, avocado, pistachio, pomegranate, corn and egg Salad salad ($14) in an attempt at health.

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 6 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

The fried chicken was generous portions of crunchy, juicy chicken with a hint of Asian influence thanks to the accompanying salad of iceberg and coriander and mango chutney. (Note that it’s been removed from the new Spring menu – a tragedy!).

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 5 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

The colourful salad was really fun texturally, with lots of popping going on thanks to the corn and pomegranate seeds and crunchy quinoa.The egg was perfectly poached to just runny on the inside. A really filling dish on its own so I suggest sharing it and trying something else as well.

Deciding to throw healthiness out the window we opted for both choices on the dessert menu! The favourite was the squishy chocolate brioche pudding in a pool of salted caramel and creme fraiche ice cream ($12), a rich combination of gooey flavours heightened by the cool silkiness of the ice cream.

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 7 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

The cheesecake with lemon curd and rhubarb was more of a deconstructed affair, with a hemisphere of creamy cheese with a hint of tang, a swirl of lemon curd and cubes of pink rhubarb ($11).

Dr Morse 274 Johnston St Abbotsford 8 HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford

Dr Morse is a great addition to Abbotsford on a part of Johnston Street where there’s not much choice in terms of good quality eating options. The food is fun and tasty and the service is friendly, making the place a great local hangout.

Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford 9416 1005

Coffee/food window – Mon–Fri 7am–4pm, Sat–Sun 8am–4pm

Main kitchen/bar – Sun–Wed 11.30am–11pm, Thu-Sat 11.30am–1am

minilink HOT: Dr Morse, 274 Johnston St, Abbotsford
 

HOT: Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne

Station Street Trading Company 166 Station St Port Melbourne 2 HOT: Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne

In a pretty pocket of Port Melbourne, on leafy Station Street, you’ll find Station Street Trading Company.

Station Street Trading Company 166 Station St Port Melbourne 3 HOT: Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne

It’s a snug corner cafe run by the owners of Armadale’s Coin Laundry. The space isn’t huge either inside or out, so when the weather’s nice take advantage of the provided rugs and wicker hampers with made to order picnics so that you can enjoy your meal al fresco at Smith Reserve across the way, with the 109 light rail dinging past at regular intervals.

Station Street Trading Company 166 Station St Port Melbourne 5 HOT: Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne

The cafe menu is short and sweet and the raspberry doughnut immediately caught my eye. It’s actually a round of egg-fried brioche cut into the shape of a doughnut, with a pile of macerated raspberries and mascarpone spilling out from the hidey-hole ($15). It’s delicious and decadent but not really filling so we go revised the savoury side of the menu.

Station Street Trading Company 166 Station St Port Melbourne 4 HOT: Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne

The sweet-corn and herb fritters with tomato and avocado salsa comes lined up in a pretty row, with a perfectly oozy poached egg crowning the platter. The fritters are fluffy, not stodgy and the super-fresh tomatoes gives a healthy and fragrant touch to the plate.

Station Street Trading Company 166 Station St Port Melbourne 1 HOT: Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne

As our brunch was starting to move into midday we ordered a lunchtime salad of honey roasted pumpkin and quinoa salad with some Morrocan spiced lamb. This dish was an example of how beautiful ingredients cooked simply can make an amazing dish. The meat was fork tender and mixed with fat slabs of sweet pumpkin and a cornucopia of dried fruits, almonds, herbs and a dab of preserved lemon labneh. It was the highlight of our meal.

Station Street Trading Company is an example that size isn’t everything. From a tiny kitchen they produce delicious, polished food to a relatively cafe-less part of Port Melbourne. The coffee is by Allpress, the sweet treats is by Lune Croissanterie (incidentally run by one of the owner’s sisters) and it’s been awarded 3  stars in 2014’s Good Food Under $30.. The locals must be grateful!

Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne 9646 6663

Mon – Fri: 7:30 am – 3:00 pm

Sat – Sun: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

 
minilink HOT: Station Street Trading Company, 166 Station St, Port Melbourne