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There’s a lot I’ll miss about Melbourne. Out of all the places I’ve lived it has to be my favourite.
I’ll miss Melbourne’s public art …
laneways and alleyways …
Victoria Markets …
and it’s love of a good festival or a street protest.
So I thought I would take a moment to recount some of my favourite Melbourne haunts.
Minotaur was literally just around the corner for me and I had a weekly ritually of popping in every Thursday to check out the new comics and graphic novels that came in that week. I’m a sucker for pop culture and would love nothing better than browsing through their great array of books, toys, action figures and DVD’s.
A bit further down the block is Mag Nation – a one stop shop for every magazine imaginable. I use to buy my Wired, Creative Screenwriting and Sci Fi Now mag’s here. It’s equally great for a coffee and wi-fi. In traditional Melbourne fashion they’re very welcoming and actually encourage people to browse, sit and read to their heart’s content.
This was one of my absolutely favourite places to eat out. Up the Paris end of Collins Street it has a great cozy atmosphere with a real traditional Italian sensibility. They have a great wine list, which is worth the visit alone. On a Friday TJ and I use to pop in after work, have a drink at the bar while we waited for a table and then debrief about the week over some fresh pasta.
A book lover’s haunt if ever there was one. Like any good bookstore it’s downstairs and right in the night of the city off Swanston Street. Reader’s Feast is another one of my favourite placse to browse on a rainy Melbourne Sunday afternoon. Warm and friendly they’ll order in any book you need and membership is well worth it for the discount vouchers.
I use to love having pouched eggs on ham, cheese and tomato for breakfast here and chicken bliss focaccia for lunch; usually with a long macchiato or blood orange juice. The menu doesn’t change very much but that’s because it’s pretty damn perfect the way it is. If you really want to treat yourself, have their lemon tart with a hot chocolate.
Tj and I had our farewell Melbourne drinks here, which is along the River Walk beneath Fed Square and St Kilda Road Bridge. The menu consists of a handful of things, most of which is done on the BBQ, but the real reason to go here is to relax by the river with a beer. Mind you it’s best to go during one of Melbourne’s warmer months. The story I’ve heard about Riverland is that the owner took out the lease on the boat sheds that Riverland is based in years ago, before Federation Square was built, for next to nothing. And then when the time was right, and after paying a pittance in rent, he open Riverland on what is now prime real estate below the huge tourist hub that is Fed Square.
Dumplings, Sushi & Teriyaki Don
Aside from China Town there are plenty of little Sushi bars, Dumpling houses and cheap Asian joints to be found everywhere in the city. Across the road from where we lived was an Oriental Tea House which we use to call our dinning room because we loved eating out there. If you do go to an there make sure you save room for their custard buns – served hot and fresh nothing beats them. The best Teriyaki Don I found was in Richmond at Mr Sushi on Bridge Road. As for Sushi almost anywhere in Melbourne is good for Sushi. Now that I’m in London I realise how lucky we were to have all this at our finger tips and for next to nothing.
Like Ladro pizza in Collingwood, Tazio serve a perfect thin crust pizza. Fairly new to Melbourne, it’s already proven very popular with the after work crowd. I use to love going there after the movies at Kino Dendy. One of the last times I was there, I turned up late mid week with a group of mates and they still took us in, fed us and happily waited until we were the last to leave. They couldn’t have been nicer and for that I can’t talk them up enough.
Pastry is one of my true weaknesses. I can’t resist a good chocolate almond croissant. Nothing beats real French pastry from France (I’ve been to Paris to check) but Laurent comes pretty close. It’s a bit costly but worth it from a treat on a Sunday morning when you feel like something decadent.
This is one of the best places in Melbourne to get steak. Head chef Adrian Richardson has a real passion for his restaurant and it’s infectious. Every time we’ve been there he’s always remembered us and come over to say hello. The staff are some of the best I’ve seen; friendly and quick without being stuffy or overbearing. One time Adrian took us for a tour of his meat locker/cold room – a much better experience than it sounds. He explained how he knew where all his meat came from and showed us all the different cuts that were being cured, hung and aged. La Luna is the place that taught me to appreciate a good rare steak and when it comes to steak, I haven’t found better in Melbourne.
There’s not many places you can get fresh Bagels in Melbourne so I was very excited to find Glick’s, which specialises in it. When I was writing from home I would pop over to Glick’s in the morning and pick up some fresh bagels for breakfast or lunch. They have several shops in and around Melbourne and are well worth the visit.
I don’t think this is part of the Dendy family anymore but it’s still a great cinema. It’s a lovely art-house cinema where you can get premium choc-tops and a glass of wine with your movie. I’ve seen some great small films here along with some real pretension rubbish but the experience has always been same; excellent.
This was my regular gym and a damn good one. It’s a fully fledged gym with every machine you could need; plenty of bikes, cross-trainers and walkers. It has a great friendly un-intimidating vibe. I’ll miss my yoga teacher, Astrid, who would put me through my paces every Monday night plus Ray and the rest of the staff who were always on hand to help out when I didn’t know what I was doing.
Like any city, Melbourne has a great array of buskers. You can find them working the crowds in Bourke St Mall or the late night punters on a Friday and Saturday night.
It’s hard leaving somewhere you love but I’m looking forward to discovering a whole new bunch of favourite haunts here in London. If you know of any, let me know.