We were well overdue for a trip to Melbourne. The last time we ventured to Melbourne was when we wanted to eat at the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld. Dunkeld is a picturesque town at the southern end of the Grampians National Park in Victoria. That was six years ago.
Off to Melbourne we went, stayed overnight at the Parkroyal Hotel so we can pick up our hire car at the airport to drive to Dunkeld. It is between three and four hours drive depending on which route you take. The drive is lovely, through Victorian towns and the picturesque Victorian countryside.
Since it was so long ago, our memories are a bit scarce. However, I can tell you that we had accommodation across the road from the Royal Mail Hotel. Simple cottages yet more than comfortable for an overnight stay after a multi-course meal. At that time, the population was not more than 400 permanent residents.
On this occasion, we arrived in Dunkeld in the afternoon. We checked into our accommodation and set off to make ourselves comfortable across the road at the Royal Mail Hotel’s front bar. It was cold. They had a roaring fire going so we ordered some drinks and sat back to digest the scenery and our location. The Grampians were a stone’s throw away….or it seems it were and we marveled at the grandeur or our location.
Before we knew it, our dinner time was upon us. We thoroughly enjoyed our sumptuous multi-course degustation meal at the helm of the talented chef. Our chef at this time was not Dan Hunter, which we’d discovered had just handed over the reins to pursue his next culinary venture, however, the meal we’d all enjoyed was thoroughly worth the travel for.
After our sumptuous meal, we ventured back to our loggings to chew the fat over a couple of refreshing ales as we enjoyed the rest of our evening before we turned in for the night. It was an Victorian experience we would reminisce for years to come and look forward to enjoy again.
Next morning, we drove to Melbourne to enjoy what this city had to offer. We stayed inner city. For the couple of nights in Melbourne town, we enjoyed its pubs, eateries, shopping, the footy and even a night in pampering in our luxurious hotel room at the Sofitel. We’d discovered nearby eateries that would inspire dishes we would later serve our friends for years following.
Fast forward six years later to our next venture. We arrived mid morning. Our whole purpose this time was to visit friends and family who’d relocated. This time it wasn’t really to seek out eateries we’d read about and on our “to eat list” but to spend quality time with our friends and families.
Our friends picked us up from the airport and were eager to show us their new home in the western suburbs. The western suburbs in Melbourne is opposite to Perth’s western suburbs but Newport and Williamstown seems to us like idyllic locations with offerings of nice places to eat, drink and hang out. We thoroughly enjoyed the waterside scenery and the wholesome food, beverages and people in these locations….each to their own, right?
We stayed at the Novotel Central Hotel in Little Londsdale Street. This was another idyllic location. To see, eat, drink and hang out, within a few paces and not far of a stroll away to Hardware lane. On this occasion, our first night (we’ve been up since 3:00am), we decided to eat at our hotel steak restaurant Pretty Boy. We received lovely service, a couple of pre-dinner cocktails, a lovely steak meal washed down with a couple of glasses of red. If budget suffices, we absolutely recommend the Kobe steak. We finished our meals with a couple of limoncellos before a nightcap at the bar on level one. It was a pretty good first day in Melbourne.
Our next eating adventure was at Taxi Kitchen, above Transport at Federation Square. This place was recommended by the friends we met whilst on our Rockford cruise. This place did not disappoint our culinary desires. Being shared plates of various sizes, we indulged on Cloudy Bay oysters, barramundi dumplings, Wagyu dumplings, seared scallops, pork belly, duck & mushroom dumplings, Moreton Bay bug tempura (accompanied by the most delectable yuzu & roasted seed mayo), roasted cauliflower, eye fillet and lamb shoulder. Need I say that you should definitely put this place on your Melbourne hit list?! Not to mention the views, atmosphere and service to boot! It was a most enjoyable few hours spent in a place enjoying all they had to offer.
That evening, we met friends to watch sport at the legendary establishment, The Young and Jackson Pub. When the game finished, we ventured to the Oriental Tea House on Little Collins for some yum cha which some of our friends had not experienced before. As you would imagine, we devoured an array of dumplings and other Chinese dishes. Fat and happy, we waddled ourselves back to the hotel bar to finish our night with some tasty beverages before calling it a night.
The next morning, our research indicated that a short walk away on Brick Lane offered one of the best breakfasts in town. When you’re hungry and you had to wait 20 minutes to sit down, the best breakfast in town was a little less attractive, so we ventured to an unmarked barn door that sounded like there was a bit of life going on the other side of the door. Upon opening the barn door, we discovered a hive of breakfast festivity and sat down to a stomach warming breakfast.
When it’s footy season, unless you are not a footy fan, you can’t visit Melbourne without going to a game at the “G”. I’ve never been to a game at the MCG. May I state the obvious; it is footy season so it is bound to be cold and quite possibly wet on game day. And both it was. We were under cover so when the weather came in, we were covered but be warned, when its cold, it is bitterly cold. The G was great, that day, it put on a great game, even if our team didn’t win. Then it was a walk in the rain (which was very inconvenient to say the least) to the tram into the city in search of a warm watering hole.
After we dried off and enjoyed a couple of beverages we set off to hunt for our next eating adventure. Those that know Melbourne, know that there are plenty of food offerings. If you want to go to some of the more popular ones, even on a Sunday evening, without a booking, or if you they did not do bookings, you would be hard pressed to walk in and be ushered to a table. So, we settled into a tapas place in an alley on Collins Street. An array of tapas dishes were enjoyed and like the night before, off we went to our hotel’s level one bar to finish our night with some tasty beverages. What a life….think we can get too used to this.
The next morning, we ventured to Hardware Lane to seek breakfast before we had to leave for the airport. We were a bit stoked to discover Ten Square Café, which served brunch like dishes as well as your usual bacon and eggs. We thoroughly enjoyed a dish of Boston baked beans with ham hock & ricotta with pesto and a green bowl filled with steamed greens, quinoa, almonds and grilled chicken.
As you can gather, Melbourne and its laneways are filled with eating surprises and offerings of food and beverages. It just depends what you feel like at the time. If you can book, we highly suggest you do, especially if you are only in town for a short period of time and you don’t want to miss out on the taste sensations you have been looking forward to. Taxi Kitchen was definitely a highlight which we hope to venture back again to.
On an end note, we did discuss hopeful plans that Melbourne should be visited at least once a year, every year. Especially as a base, to experience the other regions that surround this wonderful place. And selfishly, we would go back to the amazing eating establishments we’d ventured to previously. Time and stomach space is definitely to short!!