There’s something about the return of summer that will never get old. It’s not like it’s a surprise – we know it’s coming all year round. But when that first real day of summer arrives (and you know it when it happens), it’s like a switch has been flipped. Suddenly we’re sprawling in the park, pressing cold beers against our cheeks, leaving work early and taking weekend trips down the coast while the hot leather of the car seat burns the backs of our legs.

With the return of the balmy weather we’re eating out more – and we’re getting a weird sense of déjà-vu. We’ve noticed that some of Melbourne’s most successful restaurateurs are not just expanding, but actually replicating their brand across the city. We’re all for getting our favourite brand of burgers, meatballs or coffee wherever we want it, but, as Leanne Clancey investigates, at what point does it cross into ‘jumped shark’ territory?

Speaking of heading out, Michael Harden performs a post-mortem on Melbourne’s stagnated bar culture; looking into the current licensing laws that are stifling the energetic nightlife scene we were once known for, and offers a plan on how it can still be resurrected to its former splendour.

While our nightlife may be struggling, our cafes are still booming. So much so that they’ve started throwing out the seats to make room for more of us. Our editorial director, Caroline Clements, finds some Melbourne cafes that are making the most of their small spaces with standing-room only service.

Joseph Ho descends underground to find out what lies beneath the Melbourne Museum. The bulk of the Museum’s treasures live under the surface in the little-known basement storage facilities, which are home to 16.5 million items and specimens – a trove of history is hidden just beneath our feet.

Tim Grey gets stuck into American barbeque, and Leanne Clancey takes a closer look at one of our most commonly used yet overlooked ingredients – salt. Once a commodity worth more than gold, salt is complex, diverse, and can do so much more for your dish than the old Saxa shaker.

We hope you enjoy the issue, and that you'll read it somewhere with a chilled drink in hand and the sun on your back. Have a great summer – we’ll be doing the same.