Last week I mentioned that many consider Melbourne to be the culinary capital of Australia, and if you’ve seen my Twitter feed or recent Flickr photos, you’ve already figured out that I love food.
While I’m no foodie, and I am definitely on a budget traveler’s meal plan, I do appreciate being in a city that boasts so many opportunities for a good meal.
Since I can’t afford to live it up big, I want to share some of the tasty “cheap” eats that have caught my attention in the last two weeks. And no doubt that all of the weight I lost in week one will inch back on after the way I’ve been living in week two and three O:-)
Let’s start with the sweet:
Breadtop serves beautiful cakes, pastries, breads, and biscuits, and their displays immediately caught my attention when I walked through the food court of the QV shopping centre. I’m usually happy to look and not buy, but when a friend offered to buy me some pastries, who was I to refuse?
The Cupcake Family looks just like The Cupcake Bakery in Sydney. Both have enough buttercream icing on their cakes for a couple of people, so I opted for a mini cupcake and still could only manage half of the frosting. But how can you resist this: “Mini-coffee crunch: Coffee lovers, this one is for you! Coffee cupcake with crunchy walnut and coffee buttercream. Garnished with a chocolate coated coffee bean and crushed walnut.”
The Lindt Cafe topped my list as soon as I learned about it at the Lindt Chocolate Masterclass. I dragged James there yesterday (you should have seen him kicking and screaming), and he opted for a hot chocolate while I tried a scoop of black forest ice cream. The hot chocolate tasted like creamy foam (but not chocolate) and the ice cream just tasted cold. Both of us were left underwhelmed, but I’m eager to give it another shot when I’m back in Sydney. I enjoy the Excellence bars so much — surely my next trip will be fantastic, right?!
Moving on to the healthy and/or organic:
Organic2Go is tucked away (and nearly hidden) at the corner of Elizabeth St and La Trobe St. They have organic (obviously) coffee, gluten free items, and a variety of salads and wraps. After walking by several days, I finally stopped in for lunch — Feta, Roast Pumpkin & Chickpea Salad (feta, chickpeas, roast butternut pumpkin, baby spinach, pesto & capsicum). Yum!
The Soup Place (or is it “In A Rush”?) caught my eye on day one, and I chose a soup and salad combo for lunch: Spicy Moroccan Soup and Pumpkin & Ricotta Salad. I’ve also tried the Vegie & Lentil soup and just a few of their others include Tomato & Basil, Pumpkin, Lobster Bisque, Spanish Chorizo & Bean, and Greek Fish.
The not so healthy but oh-so-tasty:
My first non-cafe/quick meal of the entire trip was at Stalactites, a restaurant in the Greek precinct, with James. We shared the “good-not-great” spanakopita for an appetizer and for dinner I chose the lamb and chicken souvlaki…one of the few things that wouldn’t break the piggy bank! Don’t ask me how I managed to eat most of it, but I did.
The one place that I’ve gone and would repeat (and oh look, I did!) is Camy Shanghai Dumpling, located on a side street in Chinatown. I’d heard that it was a place listed in few guidebooks but that many Melburnians know and love it. I never have dumplings at home, and my first trip there with Dan and Paul was *heavenly* as we feasted on friend prawn and chicken, fried beef, and steamed veggie dumplings. The pumpkin cakes for dessert were perhaps the best part…imagine the best parts of the greatest donut, funnel cake, and custard you’ve ever had focused in one tiny circular bite-sized disc of joy. That’s a pumpkin cake. And I wanted more pumpkin cakes so badly that I twisted James’ arm and convinced him to join me. He fell in love with them too
Lord of the Fries came as a big surprise, as I saw the sign across the street and figured it would be a greasy, nasty mess. Instead, James introduced me to the vegetarian menu (yes, the burgers are actually veggie patties), and after a late-evening snack of chips, cheese, and gravy (hold the cheese, but man, where have fries and gravy been all my life?!), I decide to return for lunch for the Spicy Burger. The chilli mayo and jalapenos offered a nice kick, and the bread was super soft — but the bun was so large and thick I couldn’t taste the burger. I’d go again, but the veggie burger at Boylan Heights just can’t be touched!
Sadly I couldn’t cover all the places I wanted to go, even in two weeks! That just means I’ll have to return to Melbourne to check out the rest:
Lentil As Anything, a vegetarian restaurant where there are no prices and no bills — you pay what you feel your meal was worth in an anonymous box!
Klik Cafe — just around the corner from the hostel with a sign saying “voted best muffins”…we shall see!
Basement Cafe — just a few doors down from Klik with a cool layout.
Bimbo Deluxe — who doesn’t want to give $4 pizza at least one shot?
Pancake Parlour — walking past a place with “pancake” in the name is enough to make me stop and do a double take!
Max Brenner Chocolate had a crowd every time I walked by…a must-visit cafe if the full tables speak for themselves.
I’m sure there are heaps more places I need to explore and taste…after all, this is Melbourne, and I’m on a budget.
And while it may seem that all I did in Melbourne was eat, I did plenty more than that. Check out an upcoming post on things to see and experience in the Melbourne CBD and beyond!
Featured image by xb3 on Flickr, via Creative Commons