Bowery to Williamsburg

I’m definitely guilty of sticking to my favourite inner ‘burbs when it comes to cafes and restaurants. As time wears on, however, and friends begin to disperse further across the city and beyond – there’s just no denying that the CBD is usually the most convenient place to meet and enjoy a meal together. So, I’ve recently begun to make a more determined effort in exploring the eateries of Melbourne’s CBD. I’ve found it takes a little planning ahead and often a lot of patience, but the CBD is coming up with some seriously excellent goods. Bowery to Williamsburg is one such discovery (a ‘discovery’ in a strictly personal fashion; this place has been buzzing along the gastronomical grapevine for months!)

Bowery to Williamsburg is hidden away on cobbled Oliver Lane just off Flinders Street, and is inspired by the great city of New York. I first visited for breakfast with foodie friend Hannah – and liked it so much I returned the very next day with another friend! The atmosphere is cool and casual, and the New York deli-style theme is fun and delicious without treading anywhere near novelty. Jewish influence abounds in menu items like Lox Latkes, Shakshouka Eggs, Challah French Toast and 5 & Dime Bagels. The range of sandwich creations available for lunch are also a great option for gluten-free diners – at a $1 supplement, my friend Suze (second visit!) was thrilled to report it was some of the best gluten-free bread she’d had.

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The hot beverages arrive in crumpled ceramic mugs and a little American chocolate treat to accompany  – Hannah and I each received a Hershey’s Kiss with our chai lattes. I’ll admit it was the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate I ordered on my second visit, however, that stole my heart. It has just a perfect hint of peanut buttery flavour midst dark chocolate and comes with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to boot. Yum!

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Bowery to Williamsburg offer a generous selection of sweet breakfasts – something Hannah and I were very excited to find! With rotating breakfast specials every weekend, we also had the extra sweet options of Challah French toast with rosewater, mint, fresh strawberries and housemade vanilla labne, and Malted milk waffle with bourbon glazed banana and vanilla ice-cream. We ended up going with the cereals on menu though – Hannah had the granola with rhubarb, raspberries and vanilla labne whilst I had the steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and pecan praline ($12 each). These dishes are served in gorgeous enamel saucepans with little jars of milk, which I couldn’t help but love. The blueberries and pecan praline gave my deliciously creamy oatmeal a simple, lovely taste and I was scraping the bottom of my bowl in minutes.

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My second visit called for lunch. Bowery to Williamsburg’s sandwiches are truly NYC – with options like the classic ‘Reuben’ (corned beef brisket with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese), Pastrami, and Pickled herring (all sandwiches $12.50). Delicious-looking sides like mac and cheese, potato salad and pomegranate tabbouleh (all with served with pretzels and a pickle!) serve as tasty little add-ons for $4. I’m a sucker for anything with haloumi – so had the breaded eggplant with haloumi, roasted peppers and preserved lemon hummus, which is served on pita bread. The sandwiches are seriously a hit – we had a funny little shared moment with the group sitting next to us consisting mostly of repeated “Wow!”s and “Who knew sandwiches could be so good?!”

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So yes, Bowery to Williamsburg is a big win in my CBD exploration. With an excellent location near Flinders Street Station plus tasty, interesting and varied menu options and a bright, casual atmosphere – this place definitely ticks the box for future friendly catch-ups. Plus, I need to return and try some of the American-style cakes and sweets – there’s a piece of S’mores slice waiting with my name on it!

Bowery to Williamsburg | 16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Open | Mon – Fri : 7.30am – 3:00pm, Sat – Sun : 8.30am – 3:00pm
No bookings. Cash only.

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

Parkville Store

I am fiercely fond of Parkville, where I set up camp in April of this year. Despite having been a past Parkvillian during my early university years, I don’t think I quite appreciated what a stunning suburb it really is. Having since dwelled in a mishmash of postcodes across Melbourne, north and south, I can safely say that this little elm-lined pocket is my favourite. I love exploring and trying new places to eat, but there’s something so lovely and comforting about having a good ‘local’.

Parkville is certainly no great trek from delicious fare at some amazing cafes and restaurants of the inner north – but admittedly is scant of much within moseying distance. I’m talking serious moseying here – the kind that you barely muster after hunger pains have finally forced you out of bed late on a Saturday morning (I’ll ‘fess up now to the occasional early Saturday afternoon). And so it was with great excitement that Mat and I recently discovered our very own ‘local’ – the Parkville Store.

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Located on Morrah Street off Royal Parade, Parkville Store lies neatly tucked away in what may just be the quaintest and quietest part of all Parkville. If it hadn’t been for a quest Mat and I were on to find somewhere close by that sold Jam Lady Jams – absolutely divine jams handmade in the Yarra Valley  – we may honestly have never found it! The cafe’s online presence is seriously minimal at the moment – without even an Urbanspoon listing (I quickly rectified that!), we were reluctant in believing it actually existed. But our thirst for a good Rasperry Grappa preserve spurred us on, and thank the Brunch Gods it did.

Parkville Store really strikes a genuine balance between modern and retro cosy. Sleek wood benches blend with formica-topped tables and vinyl chairs, and you’re as like to find old-school cinnamon sugar and butter as smashed avocado on your toast. There’s a small, friendly staff (Mat and I are determined to edge in as first-name basis regulars as soon as possible) and the atmosphere is warm and relaxed. And of course – the food is pretty damned great.

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Pheonix Chai latte // Porridge with rhubarb and ginger, coconut and ginger crumble and Parkville honey

I’ll admit, I knew it would be love from the moment I first glanced the menu to order my usual chai latte: they served Phoenix Chai. My absolute favourite! It’s made from syrup but it’s wonderfully potent and gingery, just the way I like chai. To find it on offer at Parkville Store was obviously a stroke of destiny. For coffee lovers, Melbourne specialty coffee roasters’ Padre Coffee is the house brew.

The menu features delicious, simple dishes that embrace local produce like Parkville Honey, Jam Lady Jams, Istra Smallgoods, Mt. Zero Olives, Myrtleford Butter Factory and Meredith Dairy. In a nod to its beginnings as a grocery store in the late 1800s, the walls are lined with shelves and fridges from which customers can purchase the fresh produce and pantry goods used in the cafe’s own kitchen. There’s also a beautiful old jewellery cabinet displaying a selection of tasty pastries and a delightful range of lollies dear to any Aussie childhood!

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Parkville Store honestly feels like the sort of place more people should be talking about. Perhaps that’s part of the charm, though – that the owners aren’t at all bothered with attracting the zealous crowds of Melbourne brunchers, or half-hour long wait lines milling on the pavement outside. It’s everything a ‘local’ should be: focused on its locals. Customers and suppliers alike, Parkville Store makes them the star of the show.

And with regulars like this guy, why wouldn’t you?

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Parkville Store | 52 Morrah St, Parkville, VIC, 3052
http://theparkvillestore.com/
Open | Tue – Sat : 7.30am – 5.00pm

Parkville Store on Urbanspoon

Sweet Brunchings

I am, by all definitions of the term, a huge sweet tooth. I mean – I’m pretty damn fond of food in general, but sweet things? Now that is where I really shine. The mention of a dessert menu makes me weak at the knees. Scarcely a day goes by without at least one small morsel of chocolate. My past lives have included work at both a chocolate cafe and boutique candy store. I battled in a nationwide campaign as the poster girl for Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake. Seriously!

So when it comes to brunch – that gorgeous, sacred meal of late-rising breakfast-lovers – I skip straight to the sweet stuff.

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French toasted gingerbread sandwich with vanilla cream cheese and roasted plums : Code Black Coffee (no longer on menu) // Ricotta and rose stuffed crepes with fresh berries, saffron-lemon syrup and hazelnut praline : East Elevation

In a city besotted with breakfast, the sweet side sure packs a punch. I love that after skimming over the vast and varied egg dishes (sadly, not my thing!), and lingering somewhat over remaining savoury dishes, I’m not simply left with a token plate of pancakes. There are beautiful porridges and granolas, and wonderful odd imaginings like the French toasted gingerbread sandwich from Code Black Coffee, above. Even my boyfriend, Mat, who is normally more partial to the pulled porks and black puddings of the brunch world, quite often has the envious moment over my pickings.

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Cinnamon waffles with pomegranate molasses, vanilla bean custard, agave and house almond dukkah : Stovetop // Summer fruit salad with melon, stone fruit, chia, mint, sesame snaps and vanilla yoghurt : Auction Rooms

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Coconut crusted French toast with espresso mascarpone : Lux Foundry // Vanilla and honey porridge (rolled oats & organic quinoa) served with crushed walnut : Breakfast Thieves

It does mean I’m terribly predictable; Mat usually knows exactly what I’ll be ordering before I’ve even made up my mind. But it’s a pattern that works, and the cafes of Melbourne have revealed some truly amazing dishes in the process. A growing favourite at the moment is Twenty & Six Espresso. A cosy little place in North Melbourne with a fantastic courtyard we’re excited to get some use of as the weather warms, we always get beautiful service and the menu features dishes that are absolute creations unto themselves. French toast is always a big pull for me, and the Aphrodite (below) on the current seasonal menu is to die for. The poached quince, lemon curd and goats’ cheese ice-cream balance so outrageously well!

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Poached quince and lemon curd brioche french toast, goats’ cheese ice-cream, pistachios and freeze-dried berries : Twenty & Six Espresso // Balinese black sticky rice with mango and coconut milk : Twenty & Six Espresso (no longer on menu)

I would love to hear any recommendations on sweet brunch dishes and destinations of Melbourne! I’ll be sure to share my future discoveries here. And if you are so inclined, check out my Instagram (which turned out to be a rather handy brunch retrospective!) – where all my sugary shenanigans tend to pop up first!

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