A luxurious escape to many good things raw, organic, and somewhat vegetarian, Combi has no trouble attracting visitors. As welcoming as sunshine, this island hideaway is a few minutes from the Elwood canal.
Cocktail-esque and exotically dressed, you’ll find it hard to resist smoothies like “velvet cacao”, “mango shack”, and “liquid passion”. Almond milk is also available in chocolate, espresso, and chai options.
Adding to a multitude of sensory pleasures, a raw pizza, chia seed ‘parfait’, and raw organic zucchini spaghetti are also on the menu.
On this suburban oasis, fresh, raw, organic treats are so tasty it’s a delight to eat what’s good for you. As the menu items are raw, most will manage only a couple of items per visit, so be prepared take away.
Shop 1 / 140 Ormond Road, Elwood, Melbourne, VIC 3184
I have a soft spot for El Chino. Cute and kitsch, it’s a Mexican cafe but also a bakery! A party of two worlds, customers can indulge in a slow-cooked pulled pork taco and an almond croissant in one visit. Food envy and FOMO vibes, be gone!
Over brunch and lunch, the menu offers a range of ‘just-enough’ and ‘manly’ meals. Nachos, tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and tostadas are available in drooling options such as slow-cooked pork, pan-fried prawns, and even sunny-side up eggs with avo and beans … Traditional horchata, mexican hot chocolate, and granita are also on offer. Bakery items to eat in or take away include a changing selection of home-tasting dense breads, doughnuts, and pastries.
The staff are also the loveliest, in a soft and open Northcote-kind-of-way. Good times indeed, in Fitzroy North.
214 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy, VIC 3068
Since moving to Melbourne, it’s taken me a while to find good Japanese food. Aka Siro is perfectly Japanese – from the clean, wooden interiors, to the gentle, decorous service, to the sticky, swollen grains of rice.
Menu-wise, there is an array of options, most of which are teishoku dishes (set meals). I ordered the chan-chan-yaki: grilled salmon with vegetables in a sort of broth, served with rice. It tasted deliciously nourishing, home cooked, and full of fresh, quality ingredients. And there was enough to feed two to three.
My lunch date ordered the higawari, three dishes in one, and also highly recommended it.
Other menu items include traditional and fusion flavours such as: kara-age, pan-fried pork belly with Korean pickles, soba salad, scotch fillet steak, and fried tofu.
Aka Siro is a gorgeous find and I look forward to trying the rest of the menu items!
106 Cambridge Street, Collingwood, VIC 3066
Liquid nitrogen. Picnicing in a shop window. Bad-ass signage. The folk at N2 seem to know how to grab attention, but I think there’s more to this new kid than just smoke ‘n mirrors.
My first order at N2 was the Black Lava Salted Caramel – silky smooth and topped with black salt. My second was the TEAramisu: a “mild tea custard gelato with earl grey and marsala soaked sponge folded through, topped with an earl grey royale whipped mascarpone”. And both were more than enough for one.
Depending on the time, day, or just plain bad luck, you may have to queue for your N2 treats. But if you’re going to eat gelato anywhere in Melbourne, N2 is definitely worth the wait.
329 Brunswick Street, Melbourne, VIC 3065
Every now and then I need a bush or a beach fix. A tree or a sea top-up.
Recently, a kind soul introduced me to the Yarra Valley. As expected, there was mountains, there was trees, and there was food.
On that note, our tour included Healesville’s Innocent Bystander. The space is stunning and provides plenty of indoor activities to keep you busy on a rainy day: wine and cheese tasting counters, an artisan bakery, and a full restaurant menu.
Because it was a particularly stormy day, we had already eaten well into the Yarra. So on this occasion, we were in just for dessert. I ordered the flourless chocolate cake and, portion to price, it was of Vegie Bar standards. The cake itself was an indulgence in chocolate – I am a chocolate overeater but I was completely beaten by this slice of cake. Even after sharing it around, I had to leave a few bites behind!
I loved meeting the Yarra and will be keen to stay in touch.
336 Maroondah Hwy, Healesville, VIC 3777
Bathing in goat’s milk, commuting to school by chopper, sailing on a yacht with an ensuite for every bedroom … I can only describe my first experience at The Hardware Societe as ‘luxury-for-breakfast.’ Perched at a marble table by the laneway, my first meal at this café was brioche with rosé-scented pear, dulce de leche, and pistachio praline. Fit for a queen.
Recently, friends visited over an extended weekend and The Hardware Societe immediately sprang to mind. This time, we dined amidst the café’s fine white walls and beautiful teacup montage. Our orders included oatmeal with poached pears and macademia crumble and bircher with berries and macademia crumble.
We were thoroughly satisfied with our meals, but did look on with envy at Emma’s decision: the two-in-one skillet scrambled eggs with chorizo and filled baguette, served on a wooden board.
With its restaurant decorum, The Hardware Societe is definitely a special treat. On most occasions, you’ll have to queue for a table, even on weekdays; menu items cost slightly more than similar meals in other “cafes” (but well worth the extra dollars); and most importantly, every bite of your meal will be an experience to remember.
120 Hardware St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
As the name suggests, Longrain is an Asian fusion restaurant. Thai, and Southern Chinese, specifically.
Following tradition, the restaurant features a long communual table, intended for ‘banquet-style’ eating (ie. large dishes shared amongst large groups). However, we arrived for dinner as an intimate party of two and were content to share amongst ourselves!
The menu features a mouth-watering range of tempting options. These include ingredients such as: smoked trout, banana blossom, Ora king salmon, green papaya, caramelised coconut, slow cooked duck, eggnet, caramelised pork hock … the list goes on.
Here’s what we settled on:
Caramelised pork, prawn, peanuts, and sour pineapple (entrée)
Duck, banana blossom, roasted eschalot relish, and Changmai sausage
Slow cooked yellow curry of Bultarra saltbush lamb with kipfler potatoes
I particularly enjoyed the sticky-preserved texture of the pork entrée and I’d definitely order the lamb again, just for the buttery, creamy kipfler potatoes. An array of exotic ‘fusion’ cocktails and other alcoholic beverages are also available to accompany your meal. And if you can’t wait until dinner, these can be ordered as pre-dinner drinks in the lounge as you wait to be seated. Longrain has venues in both Sydney and Melbourne and I was as happy with my experience, if not more so than my visits to other popular Asian-fusion establishments. Price and quality is comparable, the only difference being Longrain provides a formal setting, appropriate for a special night out. Reservations are taken only for Friday lunches and group bookings for dinner are generally limited. (We chose to arrive promptly at 6pm to avoid the evening queue).
44 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
85 Commonwealth Street,
Surry Hills, NSW 2010