This is a post for visiting foodies in the Melbourne CBD for a short spell. It allows for a small sampling of each menu over multiple stops, with in-between walking to exercise away the calories and re-stimulate the palate.
Starting the day with coffee is a must in Melbourne. Most cafes worth their salt are able to produce a decent brew and at A Little Bird Told Me, the coffee is more than decent. The café is small and pretty in pale blue and white. Specialty coffees from Seven Seeds beans are available and so are delectable sweets from Matt Forbes. Coffees here are floral, light and sweet.
Roti telur bawang – egg and onions $7
After sipping yourself awake, cross 2 blocks downtown towards Mamak for some hearty breakfast, Malaysian-style. Hailing from Sydney where queues form on a daily basis, Melbourne’s Mamak is no different. Offering Malaysian dishes, this popular joint serves up one of my must-have-kopitiam drinks in true authentic manner. Teh Tarik is pulled tea, frothy and tannic, just the way I like it. It is strong but lightened with milk and sugar, a perfect accompaniment for roti prata. This is our version of croissant, served crisp and warm and moreishly flakey. Choose from plain, or egg and/or onion-filled, and enjoy with complimentary fish curry and sambal. Some even like theirs with just sugar. Mamak’s egg and onion prata is stuffed generously with ingredients but, alas, could use more crisping up on the hot plate.
There are a myriad of options for a cheap and delicious lunch. Head towards the market side of Elizabeth Street and take your pick from Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Japanese and Korean. Explore the Queen Victoria Market but don’t fill up on the free cheeses in the deli section because your tummy wants pancakes for a mid-arvo tea.
The Pancake Parlour is a long-running Australian family-owned business that originated from Melbourne. There are 2 franchises in the city, with one underground Bourke Street Mall, complete with a giant chess set and figure-distorting mirrors, and the other on the ticketbox level of Melbourne Central. The Pancake Parlour does what it’s famous for extremely well and totally lovely. The buttermilk pancakes are fluffy and not too dense, with the house-made vanilla ice cream creamy and sweet. Order the short stack for one greedy individual or to share amongst the weight-conscious. I highly recommend getting a pot of organic maple syrup as well. It is luscious and rich with real maple flavour and it is liquid gold.
Now that your tummy is satisfied and it’s almost dinner time, why not have something light? The Meatball and Wine Bar caters for those in need of a proper feed or a tasty snack. There are salads, cured meats and cheeses, sliders and of course meatballs. There are beef, pork, chicken and fish meatballs and vegetarians will be pleased to know they aren’t forgotten as vegetarian balls are on offer as well. I recently tried the pork balls in little brioche sliders, they are juicy and well-seasoned with a touch of fennel.
Complete the evening with a nightcap from Chuckle Park. This drinking hole is hidden off the beaten track, which is what Melbourne’s all about. You’ll know when you see it though, with the flickering terranium lights beckoning you in for a spiked hot chocolate. Hug a warm mug of creamy chocolate, with just a dash of Chambord raspberry liqueur to offset the richness and add a fruity touch.
Ok, I admit it. The visits in this post were not done in one day. However, they would work as a single outing and, as this foodie knows well from interstate and overseas travels, there is nothing like a short visit to a different city to inspire cramming of all things edible in a compressed time and space.
A Little Bird Told Me
29 Little La Trobe Street
366 Lonsdale Street
+61 3 9670 3137
The Pancake Parlour
283-297 Bourke Street
Bourke Street Mall
+61 3 9654 1893
The Pancake Parlour
Level 3, Melbourne Central
Cnr La Trobe St and Swanton St
+61 3 9654 3117
322 Little Collins Street
+61 3 9654 5594