One Day, Three Courses!
It’s not easy to get to know a major city in a day, but it is possible to whet the appetite with just a little taste of the wares. Melbourne is home to an incredible selection of cafes, restaurants, bars and public spaces, but with just one day to spare you should aim to graze and keep moving, lest you waste even a second.
Take a tram into the inner city suburb of Carlton, home of quaint Victorian terraces and entire blocks of Italian delis and restaurants, and make your way to Seven Seeds. This cleverly converted warehouse space is famous city-wide for its divine coffee which they roast on-site, and the food is spectacular to boot. Try the highly indulgent Brioche French toast, or the house-smoked salmon with poached eggs.
Wander back towards the city for just a couple of blocks until you stumble upon the Queen Victoria Market, unmissable in its dominant position on the edge of the city. A large number of the stalls pursue the tourist dollar, but it’s not all trinkets. Often you’ll find quality buskers tucked between the open stalls and the produce market to the rear, and if you follow your nose, a veritable treasure trove of deli displays and smallgoods await. For Melbourne foodies, this is a sacred place.
The Yarra River severs the CBD from the suburbs at the eastern edge, and runs inland from Port Melbourne. From Flinders Lane you can begin to explore much of what it has to offer including Federation Square, the promenade stretching from Southgate to Crown Casino, and the walking tracks on each side of the river bank. Cross the bridge at Flinders Street Station and take advantage of the brilliant outlook in each direction, then wander through the arts precinct that encompasses the Arts Centre, including Hamer Hall, and the National Gallery.
From here you have easy access to Southgate, a large restaurant and café hub punctuated with specialty shops and boutiques, designed to draw in the prime views of the river and the city backdrop that are very much enhanced by Flinders Street Station’s rich, earthy hues and ye olde world architecture. This is the perfect spot for some lunch – a selection of indoor and outdoor eateries, a bustling crowd that never overwhelms, and potentially some terrific music and entertainment within earshot. Bear Brass is a good bet with a selection of tasting plates to choose from.
It’s time to cross the bridge again and explore one of Melbourne’s more controversial public spaces. Federation Square (or “Fed Square” to the locals) initially became the subject of much heated opinion in its infancy, largely owing to its unorthodox design and its dominance over the landscape. These days, it seems, the multi-purpose space invokes a sense of pride in city-dwellers, who declare its vision purposeful and vibrant. The studios, galleries and exhibitions attract large crowds every day, and the open courtyards with the big screen televisions quickly fill with sports fans before a big game is broadcast.
The city is a wonderful reflection of how Melburnians like to enjoy life, but it’s not until you step back a little that you begin to understand what the lifestyle entails. Take the 112 tram to Brunswick Street for a late afternoon stroll among Fitzroy’s creative set. Here you’ll find and endless parade of boutique stores, stylish bars and consistently good coffee. Brunswick Street manages to stay unpretentious for the most part, with locals warmly welcoming anyone laid-back enough to contribute to the easy going vibe.
Dinner will be the day’s most difficult choice, with not only the exceptional offerings of Brunswick Street at hand, but the neighbouring Smith and Gertrude streets also lending themselves to an unforgettable dining experience. Gertrude Street’s Cutler & Co ticks all the right boxes and will leave an extremely pleasant taste in your mouth. Mixing fine dining with industrial simplicity is not an easy balance, but head chef Andrew McConnell does it with ease.
Wash that exquisite meal down with a cocktail at nearby Southpaw bar, a spacious establishment that manages to feel appropriately intimate through well-selected décor and a thoughtful layout. With attentive staff, great music and an expansive drinks menu that includes microbrewery beer, you’ll feel more than at home. And with that, you can sign off knowing you’ll be back to Melbourne at your earliest opportunity, and ready to explore all of those places you regretfully passed this time around. To get you out of Melbourne to wherever your heart desires, take a look at the current Europcar car hire deals.
Top image credit: Bernhard Richter / Shutterstock.com