The start of spring brings fresh new growth to Melbourne, not just in seasonal produce but, in new cafes and restaurants, too. Here’s the freshest crop of new sprouts, and some new and exciting places to visit for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Melbourne.
Dumbo – 11 Argyle Street, West Footscray
Originally a neighbourhood milk bar, the location for new cafe, Dumbo, has been left abandoned and rundown for 20 years. Now up and thriving after a number of lengthy renovations, it’s all day breakfast and lunch options offer a fresh take on milk bar classics. Stick to the familiar croissant with grandma ham, tomatoes and sharp cheddar, or go for the Instagrammable and drool-worthy ricotta doughnuts with caramelised banana, vanilla, cocoa custard and poached rhubarb.
Bodega Underground – 51 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Mexican meets Taiwanese in this sultry and slightly quirky underground bar. With over 80 varieties of agave-based spirits—we’re talking tequila, mezcal, and a bunch of other ones we can’t pronounce—don’t come here if you were planning on a quiet night drinking G & T’s. Street food truck Ghost Kitchen is serving up a bizarre (and awesome) fusion of Taiwanese and Mexican, with items such as dumpling tacos (yep, you read right! What the?) Make sure you get your siesta in before visiting Bodega Underground, as drinks run until 3am, and you can order those dumpling tacos up until 2:30 am on weekends!
If you love Chin Chin, Kong and Hawker Hall—and let’s face it, if you don’t, you can go ahead and move to Sydney—then you’ll love new restaurant by Chef Golfy (Peevasut Laovanich), who’s worked in all three. Spring and Summer has just opened up in St Kilda, with Thai inspired food and a little hint of Japanese and Korean flavours, too. The sharing style menu is seasonally focussed, and packed full of vibrant tastes. Try the deep fried barramundi with sweet and sour nam-jim, or the sirloin beef jungle curry. As for drinks, we’re undecided (which probably means we’ll end up ordering both). Grandma’s Vacation with Hendricks, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur and cucumber, or the Jungle Bird, with white run, Campari, pineapple juice and lime. Yep, you guessed it, we’ll have both thanks.
Splashed with royal blue, the trendy new eatery on High Street, Prahran was inspired by Kate Middleton. Colour scheme aside, the food is very much fit for a royal, with inventive and decadent menu items such as coffee waffles with strawberries, truffle honey and vanilla ice cream. If you’re popping by for lunch (although it is an all day menu), don’t go past the duck leg with potato fondant, celeriac remoulade, watercress, nasturtium and sour cherry jus. Side note, be prepared to line up before perching your royally hungry bottom.
Is it brunch, lunch, or dinner? It’s hard to tell from looking at the menu, which meal you’ll be sitting down to at Small Axe, especially when the cocktail list contradicts the 4pm daily closing time. But put away your confusion, and you’ll find yourself intrigued by the excitingly modern and flavourful offering at this new cafe in Brunswick. Warm chestnut rice pudding with figs, prunes, almonds and fennel pollen (with optional espresso shot) is perfect for those who like a sweet start to the day. For those who know their carbs from their calories (and love both), the breakfast pasta is a sure winner, with macaruni, guanciale, peas, mint, salted ricotta and a slow cooked egg. There’s nothing to stop you having a Negroni to boot, which definitely sounds like our kinda fast-breaking.