HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

Persillade 150 Wellington Parade East Melbourne 1 HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

Despite its proximity to the CBD, Richmond, Fitzroy and Collingwood, East Melbourne is a bit of a never-never land when it comes to dining out. Persillade will challenge your preconceptions about skipping past East Melbourne when looking for good food.

Persillade 150 Wellington Parade East Melbourne 3 HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

Housed underneath an apartment building, this smart bistro and cave a manger (wine shop with food) offers all day dining, 7 days a week. Their wine bar provenance is emphasised by the empty wine bottles acting as pendant lights over the high communal table. The overall look is streamlined and neat while being comfortable.

Persillade 150 Wellington Parade East Melbourne 6 HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

I’ve tried Persillade‘s breakfast and lunch dishes  to great satisfaction and peeking at the dinner menu I’m pretty certain that the same high quality would be maintained.

Persillade 150 Wellington Parade East Melbourne 4 HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

The daytime menu is split into breakfast and lunch but you can in fact order a lunch dish at breakfast and vice versa. Ostensibly French in focus, I don’t see much of a French influence on the menu, but no matter. I’m very happy with my crispy round of jasmine rice hash, chunks of smoked trout, tangy kimchi and softly yielding 63 degree egg ($18).

Persillade 150 Wellington Parade East Melbourne 2 HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

From the lunch menu I try the bbq lamb ribs, sweet bell peppers with a fresh and zesty corn salsa and a slice of sweet spongy corn bread ($26). The ribs come in a hunk drizzled with a barbecue sauce that’s full of smoke and fire and not sweet at all (my pet hate with barbecue sauce). There’s also a puddle of creamy garlic aioli to smooth out the spiciness, while the salsa lends lightness to an otherwise heavy combination of ingredients. The balance is just masterful.

Persillade 150 Wellington Parade East Melbourne 5 HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne

For dessert I try the lemon posset, a rainbow fruit salad and biscuit crumbs ($14). It is creamy, light and cooling but I’m not wowed by it. My savoury dishes have set such a high standard that it’s hard to beat.

Persillade is the perfect neighbourhood eatery, with a clever and interesting menu all day and friendly staff who will welcome munchkins with a kids menu. But even if you’re not a resident of East Melbourne its a cafe/restaurant that’s worth the travel.

Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne (03) 9078 4056

Mon 7am–4pm

Tues to Fri 7am–10pm

Sat 8am–10pm

Sun 8am–3pm

minilink HOT: Persillade, 150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne




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: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 10 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

For an inner city suburb, I think that East Melbourne is strangely devoid of good eateries.

Maybe because it’s sandwiched by the abundance of excellent choices in Fitzroy/Collingwood, Richmond and the CBD but my impression of the area is that it’s filled with very wealthy people who like to dine at home in the leafy quietness of their neighbourhood.

For those who live and work in East Melbourne and would prefer not to travel outside of it to eat well, I think that GG will be a welcome addition. I was invited to sample their menu and everything I tried was of full of flavour using squeaky fresh ingredients and beautifully presented. It’s simple yet classy food done really, really well.

GG is housed underneath the apartment building at 150 Clarendon Street which used to be part of the Mercy Hospital. When I first click-clacked my way through the bistro/bar space on one side and wine store/bottle shop on the other side, I wondered how they would fill the vast, shiny space reminiscent of a five-star hotel lobby. The restaurant is not in an entertainment or shopping strip and is surrounded by office buildings and hospitals – there’s not much foot traffic around and the dark tinted windows means you’re unlikely to stumble across it.

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 8 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

And then I realised – GG is really close to the MCG and Fitzroy Gardens. Which means you can now enjoy a fantastic meal before or after the football (you can make bookings, yay!), thus avoiding the need to eat anything stewing in a bain marie, or cater your garden wedding in an sophisticated indoors space.

And if you’re lucky enough to live in 150 Clarendon Street there’s a private entrance for residents into GG plus the restaurant is floating the idea of taking room service up to the apartments. Genius!

The menu is Euro-focused, with a choice of small, medium and large dishes (which can be shared) plus salads, pasta and pizza from the wood-fired oven.

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 11 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

The highlight of the kitchen is a rotisserie which turns out a daily selection of roasted meats and seafood. The rotisserie is powered by coal with a hint of redgum wood smoke which lends the meat a particular flavour.

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 2 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

Our lunch started with a selection of their small dishes – plump fried green olives lounging in some gremolata mayo ($6.90), fancy pants chicken nuggets in the form of deboned crumbed chicken wings with a smokey almond vinaigrette ($9.90) and fat crunchy arancini filled with oozy mozzarella and parmesan with the platter dotted with peas and the clever addition of toasted sunflower seeds($6.90).

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 9 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

Each of the dishes were faultless and the variations on bites with crusty, fried textures means that they would all pair perfectly with a beer at the bar. Which by the way is a beautiful, shiny centrepiece of the dining area – doesn’t its extravagance remind you of Renoir’s painting ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergere‘?

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 7 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

From the medium plates we tried silky slices of smoked ocean trout dressed with paper-thin slices of cucumber, apple and sesame wafers ($24.90).

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 5 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

If you like raw or smoked fish this is a standout example of how delicious something so simple can be – the fish was extremely fresh, fatty on the tongue and so sweet that it almost suggested that it’d been cured with sugar.

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 3 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

Vegetarians can try the haloumi charred on the grill pan and offset with the mild sourness of the courgette pickle and a hint of mint ($16.90). Actually, it’s such an accomplished combination of simple flavours that meat-eaters might enjoy it too!

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 4 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

From the large dishes we tried the fish of the day, in this case a perfectly pan-seared piece of Tasmanian salmon with a creamy fennel puree, a hunk of caramelised baby fennel and bisque sauce.

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 12 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

The highlight of the mains was definitely the rotisserie chicken, with the fragrant shreds of charred yet juicy meat accompanied by calorie-laden duck fat potatoes,  a crisp shaved cabbage salad to cut through the fat and the Renaissance still life of a tomato salad.

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 6 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

The chicken was as good as the excellent rotisserie meat I’ve had frequently at Kew’s St Katherine’s and no wonder – chef Paul Dunlop was formerly head chef at St Katherine’s.

GG 150 Clarendon St East Melbourne 1 HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

Dessert was again beautifully presented – we had a chef’s selection of berry soup with an elderflower foam, a cornetto filled with blood orange curd, a crema catalana/brulee and a miniature lemon cake with a thyme meringue. Like the rest of the menu the sweets demonstrated a sophisticated hand, though it wasn’t of the same wow standard the savoury dishes as I found the pastry a bit chalky and the foamy/soupy combination not very appealing.

Regardless of what the result is at the nearby ‘G, GG is a winner and its food is an exciting alternative to a soggy footy pie. Pop down for their weekday lunch special of shared small and medium plates followed by rotisserie meat and salad, excellent value for $19.50 per person. I’d also return to try their house made pastas and wood-fired pizzas – given the high standard of the food I tried I have high hopes for the rest of GG‘s menu.

GG, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne +61 3 8415 0411

Mon-Fri 11am – late

Sat-Sun 7am -late (breakfast 7am – 11am)


View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

minilink HOT: GG Restaurant & Bar, 150 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

HOT: World’s Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

DSC06917 376x540 HOT: Worlds Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

Today marks the beginning of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013 – my equivalent of Christmas!

From 1 March to 17 March Melbourne and regional Victoria will be focusing on all things gastronomical – from coffee to potatoes to cactus to pastries. World renowned chefs will be arriving to the city to talk and cook at the same time that restaurants, wineries and producers will be celebrating all things local.

DSC06923 301x540 HOT: Worlds Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

DSC06931 540x376 HOT: Worlds Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

Thanks to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival I was invited to celebrate the start of the festival with a seat at the annual World’s Longest Lunch. On a perfect autumn afternoon I joined another 1230 people for lunch at a 500 metre long table set out under the shade of tree-lined Fitzroy Gardens.

DSC06921 540x375 HOT: Worlds Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

The entree by Stephanie Alexander was a turkey ‘prosciutto’ with slices of sweet figs, a rectangle of watermelon pickle and fior de burrata, accompanied by La Madre bread rolls dipped in Mt Zero olive oil. I loved the round of creamy, oozy cheese and the tang of the pickle, though discovered that turkey is a less flavoursome substitute for pork when made into a prosciutto!  The dish was matched with a 2010 Yering Station Village Chardonnay.

DSC06935 540x356 HOT: Worlds Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

The main course, also by Stephanie Alexander, was a saffron marinated roasted lamb rump with farro, spinach and mint and slow-cooked sweet peppers, matched with 2010 Yering Station Village Shiraz Viognier. Looking down the line it seemed that the plating was a little inconsistent – I received a large portion of pink-centred lamb while my neighbour got the greyish, well done end of the rump and a much smaller serving. I guess when you’re catering to so many people some inconsistency should be expected – I’m just glad I got the better version of the dish! Everyone agreed that the farro needed more seasoning (though I loved the popping texture of the grains) and the peppers and tomatoes added some lovely sweetness and colour to the dish.

DSC06940 540x345 HOT: Worlds Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

My favourite course was the dessert by Maggie Beer. It was a beautiful-looking plate – a wobbly baked verjuice custard crowned with glace cumquats, a sprinkle of sweet crunchy granola and candied peel. I could easily have eaten another serving of it! The dish’s peach tones were colour-matched by the bubbly pink NV Yarrabank Creme de Cuvee.

DSC06942 540x360 HOT: Worlds Longest Lunch, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Fitzroy Gardens, Clarendon St, East Melbourne

While the World’s Longest Lunch was a one-off event, you can check out what else is happening at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival by browsing the program at http://www.melbournefoodandwine.com.au/. And steel yourself for lots of posts coming up from the festival in the next two weeks!

NOT: Kiwi Fish and Chips, Tribeca Apartments, 412- 442 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne

P1000426 v1 NOT: Kiwi Fish and Chips, Tribeca Apartments, 412  442 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne

I’d heard much positive feedback about Kiwi Fush and Chups – mainly about the quality of their produce and the fact they fried in relatively healthy canola oil. I’m certainly willing to pay more for ‘posh’ fish and chips if it’s good.

On a rainy Saturday, RM and I were in the mood for a night in so decided to give the takeaway a go. On offer was a variety of fish and seafood, battered or fried, burgers and a selection of sides from fries to salads. The menu was nothing ground-breaking but it seemed to satisfy the customers, ranging from families heading to the football to young professionals living in the nearby apartments. Service was quick and friendly and we carted our paper-wrapped goods home, salivating all the way.

P1000430v1 NOT: Kiwi Fish and Chips, Tribeca Apartments, 412  442 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne

Now  I’m no expert on fish and chips but I’m pretty sure the idea is to have a fillet of fish where you don’t have to pick out the bones. The batter was light and not overly oily, but every mouthful of RM’s battered King George whiting ($7.80) contained a jarring shard of bone, making for an overall fiddly and unpleasant experience.

P1000428v1 NOT: Kiwi Fish and Chips, Tribeca Apartments, 412  442 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne

In a concession to health I had a piece of grilled snapper ($9.80). Either the fish was overcooked, had been frozen and defrosted, or both, but it was rubbery in texture and not indicating the freshness I expect from my fish.

The positive aspects – the potato wedges ($5) were fleshy and well seasoned and the home-made tartare sauce zinged with capers ($2.50). But we’re talking about a fish and chip shop here, not a wedges and sauce shop – and for me Kiwi Fish and Chips just didn’t get the key elements right.

    Kiwi Fish and Chips, Tribeca Apartments, 412- 442 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne +61 3 9417 5494

minilink NOT: Kiwi Fish and Chips, Tribeca Apartments, 412  442 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne