G’day + welcome to Home Base, the very first in Querencia’s city guide series. I’m often asked for travel recs and figured there’s no better place to start than our home away from home, Melbourne. In no particular order, here are some edible + quaffable things we’ll miss the very most. ☾
food + drink
LUNE CROISSANTERIE is a must for the croissant-crazed & sweet toothed alike. Hailed by the NYT as the world’s best; I’m not gonna argue. The original (stunningly futuristic space vibes) outpost with a bigger menu is in Fitzroy and well worth the pilgrimage, with a newer CBD location. An ex F1 aerodynamicist, co-owner Kate Reid quit her job to dedicate her life to “the creation, complexity and ultimate enjoyment of a croissant.” All you really need to know: it’s the ultimate in pastry porn.
119 rose st // fitzroy
shop 16, 161 collins st // melbourne
instagram image credits: @lunecroissanterie / @eugenekhooyr / @thirdflooronmoor / @kristofferpaulsen / @lunecroissanterie
On the 55th floor of the Rialto building, LUI BAR offers the most impressive views of Melbourne. Expect well-made cocktails with hand-carved ice and local flavors + ingredients (with a price tag to match the view). Pro tips: It’s swanky and there’s a dress code. There’s live jazz on Sunday afternoons from 3 p.m.; go while it’s still under the radar. Even the bathrooms have an unforgettable view.
Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street // melbourne
instagram image credits: @missmookxx / all others @vuedemonde
SOUTH MELBOURNE MARKET will always, always have a spot our hearts because we lived just across the street. Biased or not, there are countless reasons to visit the city’s oldest continuing market: local fruit + veg, pasture-raised eggs and meats; SO:ME space; cheap, just-shucked and perfectly-chilled oysters; fresh pasta; plant babies + incredible native flowers; health food shops; merveilleux pastries; coffee served with a smile; enormous pans of paella. It’s a more hectic vibe an hour or two before closing on Sunday, but you’ll be rewarded with deep discounts. Remember to BYOB…bag, that is.
- Coffee: Clement (see below) // stall 89
- French pastries: Agathé Patisserie (see bottom of page) // stall 63-64
- Oysters, uni + sushi: Aptus Seafood // stall 25
- Bakery: St George’s Bakery // stall 42
- Health + wellness: Moses & Co // stall 26
- Grass-fed housemade butter, gluten-free products: Field, Barns & Co // stall 2
- Organic + biodynamic free-range meat: Hagen’s Organic Butcher // stall 1-2
- Free-range eggs: Babe’s Eggs // stall 165
- Organic produce: South Melbourne Market Organics // stall 51
- Floral: Azalea // stall 49
- Plant babies: PJ Plants // stall 158
- Orchids: Emerald Hill Nursery & Florist // stall 182
the corner of coventry + cecil streets // south melbourne
open wednesdays, fridays, saturdays + sundays
image credits: @southmelbournemarket / @azalea_florist / south melbourne market / @agathepatisserie / @nicksaengvanich
Melbs is known as the coffee capital of the world for good reason. Our favorite spot for magics + long blacks, CLEMENT COFFEE deserves a shoutout all its own for also being the friendliest crew around. Featuring St. Ali beans, several nondairy options (including Oatly!), and Doughboys Doughnuts on Sundays. While you’re waiting, say hey to our plant baby in the little gold pot.
south melbourne market // cecil street side
instagram image credit / @clementcoffee
ST. ALI. A total legend; it’s one of my first real Melbourne memories. What else is there to say? Rumored to have invented the magic, my drink of choice and Melbourne’s signature coffee style that’s little-known outside the city. The food is damn good, too. Don’t miss the pancakes if they’re on the menu.
12-18 south yarra place // south melbourne
instagram image credits / @st_ali
Our absolute favorite for pretty much everything – food, cocktails, wine, fermented beverages, vintage spirits – BAR LIBERTY was also the spot for our last dinner in Melbourne. I could go on and on but fortunately their description says it best: an alcohol-focused bar with delicious food in a comfortable setting accompanied by honest hospitality.
Food-wise, don’t miss the: wholemeal sourdough flatbread, mussel dip with potato crisp, salt + pepper vegetables, and bourbon + sea salt chocolate for dessert. With Nick Tesar at the helm you’re in for a treat bevvy-wise. Look for: the sour grapes cocktail, anything made with MARIONETTE liqueurs, a flight of Empirical Spirit Co., or opt for the bourbon out of a car shot.
Bar Liberty’s more casual little sister, DRINKWELL, is also a solid bet and it’s just behind the restaurant. A perfect spot for whiling away those long summer nights (but mind the falling passionfruit, hey?).
234 johnston street // fitzroy
reservations recommended for bar liberty (but not essential)
instagram image credits / all @bar.liberty except second image x @benngooi
This year’s birthday dinner at CUTLER & CO was stellar from start to finish. It was my first time dining at a higher-end place since discovering my food intolerances (wheat, dairy, egg and cashews) and I was nervous. People with dietaries wind up getting extra special treatment, one of the staff said when we arrived, winking at me. It was true; I was spoiled absolutely rotten and they even had a special dessert prepared. The cocktails were terrific and the food superb, with genuinely warm + welcoming service. We’ll never again have duck as good as this and I’m perfectly okay with that. In the same family as Meatsmith, Cumulus and Supernormal, Cutler & Co is arguably the sexiest restaurant in the city.
55-57 gertrude street // fitzroy
closed mondays. reservations essential
instagram image credits / @cutlerandco
We only wish we’d discovered IDES sooner; it’s a beautifully-done slice of Australian food + drink. A worthwhile splurge that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and they cater to dietaries like a dream.
92 smith street // collingwood
closed mondays. reservations essential
instagram image credits / all @idesmelbourne except fourth image x @man.of.style
And then there’s BRAE. Technically a 90-minute drive from Melbourne but it’s included here anyway because I get to make the rules. Our favorite restaurant in Australia has no shortage of accolades including three Good Food hats and a #44 ranking in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. You’ll have to plan well in advance to score a reservation, so plan an entire weekender around it and thank me later. If there’s availability go all out and book in for lunch, then stay in a guest suite on the gorgeous property (be sure to add dinner, too). It’s pure, immersive decadence.
You can’t help but marvel at the creativity of Dan Hunter + team. Expect things that don’t make sense on paper – oyster ice cream! – and genius beverage pairings (a brilliant non-alcoholic option is on offer, too). Guests are encouraged to roam the working organic farm in an effort to reconnect visitors to their food and the place it comes from. You’ll leave with a newfound respect for nature and seasonality; the very ethos Brae is built on. For our second visit they started catering to my dietaries a week before our arrival. ‘Nuff said.
4285 cape otway road // birregurra
reservations essential + accepted up to 3 months in advance
instagram image credits / @braerestaurant
Other stellar food + drink options
EAU DE VIE // a truly hidden-away speakeasy with a penchant for theatrics, pre-prohibition style. Exxy (Aussie for “expensive”) drinks but fun + unique.
COOKIE // located in the historic Curtin House building, go for tasty cocktails + killer Asian food. Go for a spot on the balcony overlooking the hustling city if the weather suits.
QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET // affectionately known as “Queen Vic” or “Vic Market,” the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere has served the people of Melbourne for 140+ years. While there’s tons to explore, do not miss the hot jam doughnuts from the American Doughnut Kitchen trailer. Caveat: they’ll ruin all other donuts for you.
AGATHE PATISSERIE // think swoon-worthy French pastries that rival Lune but with a shorter queue. After more than a year of rigorous R&D, our personal faves: ham + cheese puff, sour cherry + pistachio danish, madeleines, pain au chocolat, and the matcha croissant. With two locations to choose from, try going on a Wednesday or Friday if you’re headed to South Melbourne and after a more manageable wait.
BELLOTA WINE BAR // go for the charcuterie + wine, stay for pretty much everything else. It’s the sister business of Prince Wine Store, Australia’s leading indie wine shop, located right next door. If he’s there, say hi to Jim for us and chat him up about all things wine.
PARK STREET PASTA // don’t miss the excellent house-made pastas (especially the agnolotti) — and there’s a gluten-free pasta, too.
LENNY // on repeat for brunch in Albert Park with clearly-marked dietaries on the menu. If the weather’s nice, walk off your meal along Port Melbourne Beach.
MAGNUM + QUEENS WINE // a jewel box of a wine, beer and craft spirits shop in the heart of South Melbourne. Pop by for anything from funky Australian wines to sake and everything in-between. Or hang out at the M+Q bar with the friendly but well-versed staff and make an afternoon of it. The monthly Queens Club subscription offers a carefully-curated selection from owner + sommelier Virginia Selleck.
ORLANDO MARZO // okay okay, this is a person, but the cocktail genius (his wattleseed negroni at Lûme forever changed my mind on negronis) is set to launch something pretty special in Melbourne later this year. ‘Til then, keep up with the World Class Bartender of the Year on Instagram.
2 replies on “home base // melbourne pt. 1”
Wow. You could and should write for Food and Wine magazine!!! Such a trip down memory lane. Loved it!
Ha, thanks! Maybe one day – I’d definitely love to 😉