Friday night. Saturday morning. Saturday midday. Saturday night. And so on.
If you count up all the meal opportunities over the weekend (not including the clever in-between ones, such as second breakfast), that adds up to seven.
So, to help you to maximise your brief, sweet weekend, here are seven new places to eat and drink in Melbourne.
Go hard or go home.
When you leave Uncommon., you might feel a bit strange: full of energy, focused, light and satisfied. The new Windsor cafe by Will Newton and Alexandra Luk is dedicated to healthy, unprocessed, whole-foods, but doesn’t whack you over the head with it. It only opened in mid-December, but it’s already pumping on weekends.
Middle St Coffee & Food
Just a couple suburbs north of Coburg is Hadfield. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the CBD. If you’re not from the area, don’t dismiss it. It’s home to Simon and Kirsty Polkinghorne’s food store and cafe, and is serving some of Melbourne’s best breakfasts. Simon, the chef, was apprenticed to Teage Ezard, and has cooked for Jacques Reymond and George Calombaris. So he knows what he’s doing.
Try and get along for Sunday lunch, too, when it serves an unreal $25 special, which is usually a roast in winter and a barbeque in summer.
The first thing you should know – there’s an open rooftop dining area. We know that’s where we want to be on the 33-degree afternoon this Sunday. The slick, double-storey newcomer to Hawthorn’s Burwood Road offers a fun Vietnamese-inspired menu that includes a selection of wallet-friendly $8 lunches alongside a list of share plates, good for bigger groups. We suspect the Viet Express cocktail will prove popular – a boozy take on a Vietnamese coffee with vanilla-infused vodka, sake, cold-drip coffee and white-chocolate hazelnut foam.
It’s barely a month old, but we’re already in love with Embla. It’s just sexy. And it’s run by The Town Mouse team, which is a big tick. Sit at the dark wooden bar, where you’ll feel the heat from the wood-fired oven in the open kitchen in front of you. The menu is brief, confident. A few great wines (with a leaning towards natural), a collection of bar snacks and a couple larger plates scrawled on a blackboard. Tick, tick, tick.
The new one from the team behind Port Melbourne’s Mr Lawrence. Owner Ashley Richey has stuck to the same area for this new venture, but shifted cuisines. While Mr Lawrence has a North African influence, Tenpin is a return to his first love: South East Asian. It’s a share-plate situation here, so with a group you could work your way through most of the menu, which includes a crispy-skinned pork belly and a punchy duck larb with chilli, mint and lime. The menu aside, one of the biggest draws here is the stunning view over the ocean. Head straight for the balcony on a balmy night.
Lady Nelson's Wine + Kitchen
We were sad to say goodbye to Kid Boston, one of Windsor’s best cocktail bars. But change ain’t all bad. What we got in its place is Lady Nelson, a wine bar that’s insanely dedicated to wines by the glass. While most wine bars might do up to 12, Lady Nelson offers around 40 by the glass. It’s a little overwhelming, but owners Kat and Rick Nelson are on hand to help.
And how could we leave out the bar of the moment? The little Fitzroy bar that made news around world – and scored a tweet from Jason Alexander himself. The bar, from owners of Laundry Bar further down Johnston Street, has been pretty packed since all the media attention, so expect to be shoulder-to-shoulder. Underneath the George Costanza theme, it’s a pretty simple bar – basic beers and toasties (with names such as The Hand Model and Art Vandelay). But it’s good fun – and the perfect place to make use of your repertoire of Seinfeld quotes. And to try your hand at the actual Frogger machine, now installed and ready to go.
With contributions from Anna Webster, Sofia Levin, Tim Grey and Nick Connellan.