I could write a novel on top-class establishments to eat and drink in Melbourne.
New York (my other spiritual home) has them in abundance but Melbourne provides an instant, more digestible slice.
But in the interests of our modern-day attention spans, I will hit you with a handful of venues that can slot nicely into a 2 day trip.
Day 1 – Breakfast/Brunch
So nondescript from the outside you will almost miss it. Sat off a side street surrounded by graffiti make sure you get here before the weekend morning rush.
Deceptively narrow we sat at the back of the restaurant at the glass-walled table bar seats looking directly onto the impressive graffiti artwork on the side of the historic fire fighters union building.
The most creative breakfasts I have ever had in Melbourne arrived. My chilli eggs with avocado on thick quality bread were crafted with obvious love.
But the real fireworks came with Carolina’s indulgent Buttermilk Pancakes. If Picasso made breakfast, this would be it. The artwork was topped off with popping candy and my unborn child was soon dancing in his mother’s womb.
Day 1 – Dinner
Set back just metres from the lively, table-lined hustle of Chapel Street’s bars and eateries, Saigon Sally waits patiently.
The parallel cobbled side street is crossed with washing lines hung with brightly painted running shoes.
Inside the huge square bar provides ample space on the perimeter to eat and drink the hundred-off spirits that hang on a raised, hooked and lightened rack above the staff like an oversized chandelier.
Depending on where you sit the walls are adorned with green subway style tiles or in our case a sweeping painting artwork that split up the partially exposed wall and onto the ceiling above.
Bowled over by the interior design, the food packed just as hard a punch. Fresh noodle salads laced with chilli and braised pork belly with sticky black caramel were the heroes of this feast.
Day 2 – Breakfast/Brunch
It is no coincidence Melbourne has embraced the New York staple of late brunches that can conveniently merge into afternoon drinks.
Despite being here for breakfast the shelf of obscure bottled ales, lagers and beers grabbed my attention like a colourful modern art installation.
Light, bright interiors are matched with oak counters and tables, encased in whitewashed rock.
As for the food, Carolina’s smashed avocado on toast mixed with soft cheese, chives and lime was powerfully fresh. The crispy bacon side order topped it off like a boss.
Day 2 – Dinner
Classic, minimal styling are the name of the game at Ladro, bucking the trend of the more traditional, ornate or sometimes stereotypical Italian restaurants, chequered table cloths et al.
Simple lighting and relaxed atmosphere mean even after a day at the tennis turning up here in shorts does not raise an eyebrow.
Go back to basics and devoir one of their stone-baked pizza options. Cut your own slices with their complimentary cutter and try the “Badabing” and the Salami.
No grease, no thick stringy cheese, no pools of tomato sauce. Just how real pizza should be.