You have to take the time to get to know Melbourne. Melbourne is that guy you go on a date with where you drink beautiful cocktails and he enjoys a craft beer. You both like food and appreciate culture; you get on really well and have a lot in common. He’s kind and he’s well travelled, but you’re just not sure if you fancy him. But you go out with him again anyway. And he keeps surprising you. Suddenly you’re six dates in and in awe of just how great this guy is, falling for him seemingly out of the blue.
Melbourne isn’t in your face, it’s pretty laid back about all the things it has on offer: amazing food, cool bars, the best coffee in the world (probably), European inspired laneways, chilled out beaches, cool hipster suburbs, art, music, comedy, festivals – Melbourne has everything going on, it just doesn’t shout about it much. Apart from the coffee. They are really keen for you to know about their elite coffee status. Take the time to get to know Melbourne properly and you will reap the awards and still have a huge list of things you want to do and places you want to eat as you board the plane home.
The two things I love most in this world (bar actual, real life people) are travel and food. Preferably combined – I enjoy eating in different parts of the world more than anything. When I book a trip – ok, even when I merely think about booking a trip – I spend hours researching the local cuisine, …
Once upon a time, an English girl met an Aussie girl in the jungle of Northern Sulawesi in Indonesia. They were surrounded by tall trees, volcanoes and the sea; cockroaches and snakes; gibbons and crocodiles and a couple of sun bears too. The evenings were dull. Nothing really happens in the jungle at night for humans. The never ending boredom in the middle of nowhere was dispelled drinking beer and sharing stories, even if they were the only two people in the vicinity to partake. In the middle of nowhere this potty mouthed Londoner and this wild haired veterinary Sydneysider became fast friends.
This friendship was born out of large Bintangs and late night cheese toasties, and has continued through the years with food as a constant thread between us, even when I once accidentally made my friend sit through a BBQ full of every type of meat going with my family, not realising she had gone veggie since the last time I’d seen her and she was too polite to tell my dad after he raved about the meat his mate the butcher had provided for the occasion.
Jess comes from a beautiful part of the world, the Northern beaches of Sydney, and as much as I love Sydney city, I really love escaping up the coast a little and staying with my friend. Not least because I love my friend made in the most unlikely of places, but because going to Avalon means a trip to one of my favourite restaurants in Australia that she introduced me to – The Boathouse.
The Boathouse originated in Palm Beach, otherwise known as home to Home and Away, but luckily for Sydneysiders, they have new outposts edged around the city, at Balmoral in Mosman and Shelley Beach in Manly. The whole dining experience here is everything it should be in Australia – al fresco, by the water, fresh food (plenty of it healthy) and good, cold wine. It just feels Australian.
There is plenty of seafood, and I can personally vouch for the high standard of battered fish and thick cut chips they serve up here, as well as a beautiful fish pie. In fact the chips are amazing and deserve a proper mention; seriously crispy but fluffy on the inside, and plenty of them. Salads are colourful and plentiful, scarlet beads of pomegranate seeds adding a brilliant crunch; the bucket of prawns a popular choice and the burgers not amiss either. The wine list isn’t overwhelming in size, but all expertly picked and naturally, predominantly Australian.
Whilst I haven’t had the pleasure of a Boathouse breakfast, the menu includes all the usual suspects, with avo on toast with poached eggs, bacon and egg rolls, french toast, bircher muesli and the very Australian healthy breakfast of a veggie bowl with eggs, avo, smoked salmon, brown rice, chilli and greens. The coffee is very good too, cappuccinos and the like beautifully presented with a smattering of chocolate shaped in their signature anchor logo. There’s also a deli of delicious fresh produce, and there are rustic tin vases of beautiful blooms you can purchase too.
There are many restaurants in Australia that make me wish I could pop over for a weekend, just eat and drink and catch up with the many friends who have made the move, but The Boathouse is up there among the ones I miss most.
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Rice Papr Scrs stood firmly at the number one spot of Tripadvisor’s Melbourne Restaurants for months, usurped only when Heston’s The Fat Duck swung by briefly for a residency in the Australia’s foodie city. It’s somehow fitting that this was my last meal out in Melbourne after living there for three months, though if I still lived there this would definitely be a regular haunt of mine.
Vietnamese food has become pretty popular in London in the last couple of years or so, with a tonne of pho places popping up all over the city and not just on Kingsland Road. But we are well behind Australia, who with a large Vietnamese population have been familiar with the South East Asian cuisine for a long time now. Rice Papr Scrs focuses on food you use your hands to eat, so this is one Vietnamese restaurant where you won’t find a bowl of pho in sight – instead, order a bunch of small plates to share (or not, as the case may be, they’re good enough to not want to), and messily tuck in to some of Melbourne’s best food.
The bahn bao – steamed buns with pork belly, hoisin sauce and cucumber – were absolutely delicious and I would happily pop into Rice Papr Scrs at lunch to grab a few of these on their own. Having taken advantage of the 5 dishes for $55 deal, we also ate Mekong whiskey marinated lamb ribs in a sticky sauce, Thai (so I guess RPS isn’t exclusively Vietnamese) fried chicken marinated in galangal, chilli and coriander, as well as a spicy chicken salad and beautiful soft shell crab banh mi. Everything was great, and 5 dishes to share between two was enough to fill up even the greediest expat foodies in Melbourne.
These two expats from England have a slight penchant for espresso martinis, and it turns out that Rice Papr Scrs do one of the most delicious you could wish for. Each of the three ingredients would be advised against by your doctor, which is probably why they are so good: vodka, espresso and condensed milk, the latter of which is a staple in Vietnamese coffee culture. Shaken up and served over ice, they were fucking sublime and you should follow our lead and have at least three.
In keeping with all those hipster restaurants with a truck load of buzz about them, there are no dinner reservations at Rice Papr Scrs. Get there early or expect to wait – and you could be waiting a long while. Luckily for the foodies of Melbourne, they do take lunch bookings, and have recently opened a second location in Brunswick Street in the unarguably awesome Fitzroy, so your chances to find out what the fuss is all about have doubled.
Sometimes a normal day just requires some filth. Should you happen to be in Melbourne when the urge for something dirty hits you, take a stroll over to the East side of the CBD to Grand Trailer Park Taverna, home of huge dirty burgers named after fictional characters and hard shakes that sound so good …
You know when people just ‘stumble’ upon some “amazing little shop selling I swear to God the world’s most incredible pastries, served with free flowing champagne by unicorns” and you’re left looking down at the McDonald’s wrapper left over from your breakfast, which wasn’t even an Egg McMuffin because as IF you ever make it …