An Insider’s Guide to Melbourne: The Good Food Edition

hightea3edited
Every city in Australia has its own unique character. That’s easy to say, but it’s hard to actually describe, until you get the opportunity to visit for a little while.

Having lived in Melbourne for the last four years, I can safely say that it is a city full of hidden treasure troves, mysterious laneways, fantastic gastronomical experiences and more.

Trams

Melbourne is one of two cities where trams still run. Some tram lines date back to the 1800s, and most cities have done away with them as they expanded and adopted new technologies. But both Melbourne and Sydney decided to buck the trend and kept the rustic tram system.

Tram tickets are available at every 7-eleven store, or from the Metshop at the Melbourne Town Hall on the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets.

There are different tickets to suit different travel requirements. For instance, if you are in Melbourne for a week and will be travelling around extensively by public transport, you should purchase a Weekly ticket, which will entitle you to unlimited tram, bus, and train rides for the whole week. If you only intend to explore Melbourne by public transport for a day, get a Daily ticket. The folks at the Metshop will be more than happy to assist you according to your needs.

Now you’ve got your tram ticket, you’re all ready to go around experiencing some of the region’s best food!

Some have the perception that food choices in Australia are limited to fish and chips, pasta, pizza, burgers and steak. But they can't be any more wrong.

If you are a coffee aficionado, you will be glad to know that Melbourne is home to some of the world’s best coffees places. Most cafes either roast their own beans or obtain their beans from the roasters they personally deemed best.

One of the best things about Melbourne is also discovering hidden gems. Thus, I present to you… Switchboard Café.
switchboard1-edited

Located next to the switchboard of Mechantile Building on 220 Collins Street (at the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets, opposite the Melbourne Town Hall), one would hardly notice the existence of this hole-in-the-wall. Their premise was probably a storeroom once upon a time, but I’m glad it’s now put to better use.

The menu is not extensive, but they are good at what they do. Coffees are obviously the order of the day – I recommend their lattes. Their version of the Café Latte stands out as the coffee is exceptionally smooth, with a hint of nuttiness before it is all washed down with well-steamed, creamy milk, leaving you wanting for more.

They do sandwiches too. My favourite is the one with salami, sundried tomatoes, baby spinach, and boconccini cheese. When toasted, the cheese melts gloriously, spreading across the entire sandwich, making for an extremely satisfying (albeit rather sinful) breakfast.

Although most people take their coffees and sandwiches away, Switchboard does offer a small but cosy seating area.

switchboard2-edited

If you thought coffees in Singapore were good, wait till you try Switchboard.

Switchboard Café

220 Collins Street 
Foyer,
Mechantile Building
Melbourne VIC 3000

Open Mon to Fri 7am - 4pm

Ah, macarons. Those elusive little pastries that are so delicate, but oh-so-difficult to recreate at home.

While the delicate dessert was believed to be made popular by Parisian bakery Laduree, Melbourne has a store dedicated to the art of the precious macaron too.

La Belle Miette is run by two macaron enthusiasts Maylynn and Hugh, who have pored over famed French patissiere Pierre Hermes’ books, and mastered the art of the macaron in France.

Together the duo have tirelessly worked on these delicate pastries for hours on end, before deciding to share their beautiful little goodies with Melbourne through La Belle Miette, which means “beautiful small thing” in French.
lbm1-edited

The outfit's macarons are baked fresh every day with the best available ingredients. Hence, it is no surprise they turn out the way every macaron should be: With slightly crispy yet yielding shells, complete with light and airy ganache.

Ask me which flavours to try and I’ll tell you to buy one of every flavour. But if you are really on such a tight budget, go for the salted caramel and raspberry flavours. The raspberry has such a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Bite into it at first and you get a subtle hint of raspberry; continue nibbling and you’ll find a delightful raspberry jam centre. The salted caramel is made from the best salt in France.

For just AUD4 extra, you can get a beautiful gift box for your macarons. These boxes are super similar to the ones from Laduree in France, and are wonderful keepsakes for just about anything.

lbm2-edited

Best of all, La Belle Miette is located in the Melbourne CBD. Just one more reason to treat yourself after work!

La Belle Miette

30 Hardware Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Open Mon to Fri 10am - 6pm (or until sold out), and Sat 10am - 3pm

A trip to Australia would not be complete without Fish and Chips!

For the complete fish and chips experience, head down to Clamms Fast Fish at St Kilda, and soak up the sun and sea as you tuck into your meal. Note: In winter, sit in the comfort and warmth of Clamms’ while devouring your fish and chips instead.

clamms1

Clamms is known for its unpretentious fish and chips. In its display window, you could get a glimpse of the day’s catch, before making your choice once inside.

clamms2

Clamms prides itself by using only cold-filtered rice bran oil – with a high smoke point and almost tasteless – perfect for preserving the freshness of the seafood without compromising on taste.

clamms3

The batter is light and crispy, almost like tempura. It also doesn’t turn soggy easily. No matter how long you take to finish the giant piece of fish, it stays crisp just for you.

clamms4

If you are after a healthier option, they offer grilled fish as well. The friendly guys behind the counter will advise you on which fish is best for frying and which are best for grilling, so you’ll get the best fish of the day.

clamms5

Clamms also serve fresh oysters. Fresh oysters so tender, sweet and succulent, they are irresistible. Plus, these only set us back by AUD18 for a dozen, making it one of the best indulgences.

If the weather permits, ask to take your fish and chips away in a paper bag and enjoy your meal by the sea, which is a 200m walk away. Do beware of wandering seagulls who will be extremely keen to steal your food from you though!

Clamms Fast Fish
142 Acland Street
St Kilda, VIC 3182
Open Daily, 9am-9pm

Where A Girl Goes is the brainchild of Cristina Re, who first started out with a stationery brand before expanded the range to include scrapbooking materials now stocked in over 1000 stores in Australia and New Zealand. Thankfully, the entrepreneurial lady knew girls would want more, and Where A Girl Goes was born.

hightea1

Romantic and girly, it looks like an English tearoom without being too fussy or proper. One could dress up or dress down for a meal at the restaurant, depending on occasion.

hightea2

Where A Girl Goes is also a lifestyle store, chock-full of beautiful paper, stationery, and household products. Each product is carefully chosen, and one is sure to be easily distracted and tempted by the beauty of the range.

hightea3

Their Gourmet High Tea is a mix of sweet and savoury treats, served on a three-tier platter. The topmost tier was filled with mini cupcakes, macarons, and handcrafted chocolates.

Next up, warm scones was served with clotted cream and raspberry jam, a quintessential part of any high tea.

hightea4

Finally, on the bottommost tier was an assortment of sandwiches: Chicken, smoked salmon, and cucumber to fill the rumbling tummies.

hightea5

Also included in the Gourmet High Tea are two hot drinks. There are various organic loose leaf teas one can choose from, as well as espresso coffee and a Belgian hot chocolate.

While the food at Where A Girl Goes is not spectacular by any standard, the experience is different to a typical high tea served at a prestigious hotel. Girls need not worry about being silly and having a jolly good time, especially with everything on display. Phototaking will be incessant, especially with such beautiful adornments all around the room. Service is prompt and friendly too.

Where A Girl Goes stands out too, as they offer scrapbooking workshops in conjunction with high teas. For AUD75, you can arrange to have tea with a group of friends while learning to make beautiful crafts.

Lastly, if you are looking to do some shopping for an upcoming wedding, Cristina Re’s Wedding Range might just be what you are looking for. Beautiful stationery is her specialty, and just like her store, her creations are equally stunning.

From embossed envelopes to wax seals, you’ll leave the store inspired even if you leave empty-handed.

Where A Girl Goes

Corner Langridge & Oxford Streets
Collingwood Victoria Australia 3066
Open Tues-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat 9.30am-4pm, Sun 10.30-4pm

Enjoyed the article? Share it with others.

comments powered by Disqus
Joomla! Open Graph tags