It’s only a short drive from the centre of Melbourne, but the City of Bayside has an identity all of its own. For long-time local and Hamptons Bakery co-owner Ben Avramides, it’s the tight-knit community spirit that stands out.
“They talk about the ‘bayside bubble’,” he says. “Our first cafe was in 2009, so some of the babies we were celebrating with our regulars now are teenagers and they’re coming in. Bayside’s really good like that… everybody knows each other.”
The area features a string of waterfront suburbs, all thriving with things to eat, drink and do. Both Brighton and Hampton are known for their family-friendly nature, but in recent years, the suburbs have lit up with spots to eat and drink at any time of the day. Whether you’re looking to become a new local in the beachside suburbs or just visiting to take advantage of the food scene, Avramides has given us a personal tour of the spots that make the bayside lifestyle so appealing.
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Breakfast and lunch
They ought to put a latte on the City of Bayside’s coat of arms, such is the density of quality cafe options. The Hamptons Bakery, co-owned by Avramides and Simon Winfield, is a local breakfast haunt for a reason. “We make all our own bread and viennoiserie, which is unique for a cafe like that,” says Avramides. “And I reckon our poached eggs are as good as any. I’m going to say it’s all in the wrist action.”
For lunch, he suggests heading ever so slightly outside of the Bayside council area to Frank’s in Cheltenham to try a cult classic. “[Owner Harry Butler] has got a pretty famous chicken sandwich, which just can’t leave the menu: it’s chicken, beetroot relish, toasted multigrain – it’s fantastic.”
Avramides is all about shopping locally, particularly at grocer Devolas of Brighton. “It’s been there for 20 years, flowers out the front, little espresso machine next door,” he says. “It’s just a beautiful little grocery store – very local, very seasonal, some nice olive oils and herbs and spices if you find yourself short.”
For young families like his, hitting the strip means a non-negotiable stop at Brighton’s frozen yoghurt outpost Yo-Chi. “The kids go wild for it,” he says. “You’ve got frozen yoghurt and then an open display of sweets, fruits, granola, chocolate nibs and little mochi balls and the kids get to put all their toppings on their frozen yoghurt, and then they sell it to you by weight.”
The area promotes an active lifestyle and activities can be as simple and rewarding as a stroll along the water. “The walk from Green Point down to Hampton Life Saving Club is a bit of a show stopper,” says Avramides. “Really beautiful beach, well protected down on the sand, clean water, easy to jump in on a hot day.” And, if you’re really pumping those legs, the walk continues down to the Sandringham Yacht Club.
Dinner and drinks
Bayside suburbs used to turn in once the sun went down. That’s definitely not the case these days. “It went from absolutely nothing, spoiled for choice for cafes or really old-school bistros, and then in the last five or six years it’s boomed,” he says.
At dinner time, Avramides has a couple of go-to options in Brighton, but it depends on who’s coming with him. “Aromi is quite modern Italian, Cucina is more pizzas and pastas and good for the kids,” he says. “When it’s an early dinner with the kids it’s Cucina and when it’s something for the adults we go over to Aromi, they do a great job.”
For the area’s best cocktails, Avramides heads to Beaumaris’s glitzy gold-and-granite Le Bar Supper Club. “It would hold its own sitting up there in Collins Street… but it’s down here in Bayside,” he says.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Ray White.