An Insider’s Guide To Melbourne
Photograph courtesy of Mr. Miyagi
Where to eat, drink, run, watch sport and get groomed in the Australian city.
Melbourne, Australia. An eclectic city that is full of life and full of culture; buzzing with friendly vibes that galvanize you to join in and become one of the locals. Thanks to its excellent infrastructure, relative safety and fantastic educational resources (among other factors), it’s been named the world’s “Most Liveable City” by the Economist Intelligence Unit for a staggering six years in a row. Which makes it somewhat less than surprising that it’s also a rather good location for familiarizing yourself with the latest trends in food, style, health and leisure.
Compared to other major cities around the world, Melbourne is relatively small. However, it’s still easy to get lost in the big smoke of it all and miss out on the hidden gems only true Melbournians will know about. And so we’ve put together the below list – a curated selection of the best things to do, see and eat in Melbourne. Don’t hop on the plane without it.
THE BEST BRUNCH
Patch Café. Photograph by Mr Henry Boles. Courtesy of Patch Cafe
Brunch is a veritable pastime for Melbournians – in fact, many locals will claim their city pioneered the concept. Consequently, in this department, the city offers a variety of different cuisines and inspiration from all over the globe. Among the most interesting is Patch Cafe, a paleo-inspired hot spot which foregoes the sometimes greasy brunch fare in favour of health-conscious dishes such as sweet potato and salmon cakes, cauliflower toast and breakfast veggie burgers with “avodaise” and cashew feta, as well as modified takes on all your favourite recipes. If that all sounds a bit LA, be reassured by the fact that you can order a “caveman steak” to go on the side of anything.
Try this: the showstopper, which consists of pumpkin, banana and coconut-flour waffles served with paleo ice cream, crumble and seasonal fruit.
THE BEST COCKTAIL BAR
The rooftop Siglo Bar. Photograph by Ms Tess Kelly. Courtesy of Siglo Bar
Hip rooftop bar Siglo might look like a French brasserie, but it’s got a friendly all-week buzz that’s characteristic of Melbourne’s charm, as well as a spectacular view over St Patrick’s Cathedral and Parliament house. Its cocktail menu, overseen by bar manager Mr Rene Schaeffer, is constantly changing (this September, the focus is on barrel-aged concoctions made with Carpano Antica Formula, a red Italian vermouth) and boasts ingredients you won’t find anywhere else, such as house-made bitters and syrups. The open-air bar also has in-house humidor for those who enjoy a cigar or two.
Try this: a Siglo classic, available all year round, the Rusty Nail cocktail is a mix of Drambuie and scotch whisky with a lemon twist.
THE BEST DINNER
Left: Nori Taco. Right: the bar at Mr. Miyagi. Photographs courtesy of Mr. Miyagi
Located on the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s famous Chapel Street, Mr. Miyagi offers delicious, finger-licking fusion food that mixes classic Japanese dishes with American and Western influences – think wagyu bolognaise with ramen gnocchi, prawn hot dogs and tuna tataki pizza – and serves it up with its tongue firmly in cheek. Great for a date or just a friendly dinner out on the town, it’s marvellous eatery, but also boasts an exceptional cocktail bar. Best to arrive early as it is a first-come, first-served affair.
Try this: The Nori taco and Miyagi fried chicken – both show-stopping examples of the non-sequitur fusion cuisine that Mr Miyagi is all about.
THE BEST WORKOUT
The Tan Track. Photograph by Ms Josie Withers/Tourism Victoria
The Tan Track
If you’re the type that likes to exercise on holiday, the Tan – a picturesque 3.8km track around King’s Domain and the Botanic Gardens – is a must do when visiting Melbourne. Perfect for walking or jogging, with or without company, it offers plenty of shady greenery and along one stretch, a great view across the Yarra river.
Try this: Reward yourself for all the exertion with brunch (yes, again) at neighbouring café Two Birds One Stone in South Yarra – the brioche French toast with macadamia nut praline is particularly good.
THE BEST DAY OUT
MCG stadium. Photograph by Ms Emily Godfrey/Tourism Victoria
The Melbourne Cricket Ground
Australian Rules Football (otherwise known as the Australian Football League) is the iconic sport that IS Australia (not rugby, in case you were wondering), and the the game most Melbournians love to watch (and fiercely follow) the most. The best time to go to a game is during finals season in September where the two best teams from the earlier stages will play off in front of more than 100,000 spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). If you want the best view, get a seat on level two. But note that level one has the best atmosphere.
THE BEST HAIRCUT
Left: the Morris Motley Salon. Photograph by Mr Hayden Cattach, courtesy of Morris Motley. Right: Mr Rob Mason styling Mr Nick Wooster. Photograph by Ms Sophie Lewis, courtesy of Morris Motley
Men’s salon Morris Motley is not only a pleasant looking space, housed as it is in a minimalist, warehouse-style building, but a good place to come to get a proper haircut. Owner Mr Rob Mason is particularly keen on analysing each customer’s facial structure in his 60-minute appointments, meaning that you’re likely to walk out with a style that suits you, rather than some random thing plucked out of a magazine. His range of in-house hair products is rather nice, too.
Try this: booking in advance, possibly even before you arrive in Melbourne. Unfortunately the waiting list is on the long side.