First things first - it's pronounced Melbin. (sigh... Aussies have no use for the letter R.) (except for Australian pirates)
Second things second - I maaaay have mentioned this once or twice, but Melbourne has quickly become one of my favorite cities in the world. Basically, it's Brooklyn on the other side of the planet. While the similarities are pretty striking (awesome shopping, interesting graffiti, cool bars, industrial areas, hipstery gentlemen, scary homeless people), they really stand out in a couple of areas. Stop me if you've heard this, but Melbourne is RIDICULOUS at coffee and food. No, don't stop me because I won't stop.
Melbourne's cafe culture puts ours to shame. There is an awesome cafe on approximately every block. These are legit cafes - no run in, get your coffee, run out sort of spot (we've got those in spades in Brooklyn). These are the type of places where you sit, you read, you sip. There is no massive rush. And the coffee itself is just out of this world. Ron will even drink coffee in Australia & he won't touch it most other places. Seriously - it makes ours taste like watered down dirt. Yum.
The food scene is what surprises me the most. As I mentioned in my first Melbourne food post here (in 2012), New Yorkers are known to be a somewhat snobby with their palate. We've got GREAT food in Brooklyn & Manhattan and most other places really can't compete. Melbourne does. It's become a laid-back haven for amazing world-class chefs who don't have to deal with the pretentiousness of Paris, Tokyo, or ahem, New York.
OK - so here's some photographic proof and recs! Keep in mind I could go on and on (especially with cafes), but this is a great little sampling:
- Cafe - Martha Ray's. Definitely a little off the beaten path, but the coffee is to die for and their small menu is perfect. Most cafes have an avocado breakfast option. Get that.
- Pizza - 400 Gradi. This place entered a competition in Italy for Best Pizza in the WORLD. It WON. A place in Australia? Really?! YES REALLY. The margarita pizza really was something special - the mozzarella is rich, so soft, & almost buttery. The crust? Completely golden and zero burn spots on the bottom. The sauce allowed the tomatoes to shine and wasn't overly garlicky, salty, or sweet. Just perfect. You have to go. The other bites were also great (rice balls & meatballs in particular).
- Lunch spot - Brunswick Street Alimentari. Super fresh salads and sandwiches. It also doubles as a little market - which is one of my favorite things on earth (when places have two or more uses).
- Cafe - Atomica Coffee. That avocado thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah - get that. So fresh and so green green.
- Date spot - Hell of the North. Not super fancy by any means, but a great little date place. We had the lamb, duck pot au feu, gnocci au français, & a green salad. All plates were small, so it was perfect for trying multiple bites. All really delicious.
- Dinner - Rice Queen. After almost getting kicked out due to Ron's shrimp allergy (seriously, they said they wouldn't serve us), we finally convinced them to let us stay and eat things sans shrimpies. Glad we did - they do thai fusion right. Spare ribs were tender and perfect. Korean fried chicken was super tasty. Thai green curry was pretty standard, but was by no means boring. Way to go, Rice Queen. Thanks for letting us dine at your fine establishment.
Oh! We also met a pup named Henry when Ron got a straight razor shave. He was awesome.