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
Of course my dad’s are the best, but while in Melbourne I’ve been following local Hot Cross Bun news. On Tuesday, The Age voted Tivoli Road Bakery as Melbourne’s number one hot cross bun baker for 2014. I promptly decided to make a field trip, only to find they had sold out – by 9am that morning!
I was advised to phone in advance to place a reservation. So this morning, I finally got to sample these winning buns. My verdict? Tastes quite a lot like “home” actually, dense sourdough buns, with enough fruit, orange peel, and spice.
Tivoli Road will be open over the Easter weekend for hot cross bun purchasing. (Pre-ordering, is of course advised). Their baked goods are also available at Fairfield Farmers Market, Abbotsford Convent Slowfood Market, and the Flour Market.
3 Tivoli Rd, South Yarra, VIC 3141
Zumbo has finally arrived in Melbourne! In South Yarra specifically. In the past, Zumbo’s gateaux, tartes, and Zumbarons have been a Sydney highlight for me: flavour-forward, stunning, and affordable.
Arriving a few days after the grand opening, I was greeted by a queue – which snaked out the door. (Note: it was also late on a Saturday morning). Surrounded by electric pink and silver interiors and flanked by candy floss couches I waited patiently for 30 minutes for a Melbourne taste of Zumbo.
As with the Sydney store, the stock was stunning. I did miss the individual mini displays showcasing Zumbo’s fancy fare, which always made queuing in Sydney a little more cheerful. However, I’m pleased just to have Zumbo stock in Melbourne – available seven days a week, 7am-7pm “or until sold out”.
12-14 Claremont Street, South Yarra, Melbourne, VIC 3141
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