Melbourne Cafés that take Weekend Bookings
The aim of this article is simple: to compile a list of cafés in Melbourne that take breakfast bookings on weekends, and that don’t suck.
The cafés on this list – lord bless them all – are the answer to the recurring problem of not being able to find a seat at a café to enjoy your weekend brunch, which then leads to running around Melbourne in search of a table, which in turn makes you hungry, which consequently causes anger and agitation, which ultimately breaks up families and friendship groups.
Although I love the Melbourne café scene in all its diverse glory, this blog post is blatantly giving those who don’t take weekend bookings the finger, while alerting you to those that take the hassle out of Saturday and Sunday brunch by allowing reservations. Take note of this list, it could just save your marriage. To earn a spot on the list a café has to be:
- Decent, but not necessarily trendy
- Open on at least one weekend day
- Free from qualifiers, such as “bookings for six people or more” or “bookings from midday”
Cafés with maximum booking numbers (eg. "no more than 10”) have been included to let the little guys score a mention.
If I have missed a café that takes breakfast bookings on weekends in Melbourne that's worthy of this list, please email me at email@example.com, tweet me at @fi_bird or let me know on the Poppet’s Window Facebook page.
The Grain Store || 517 Flinders Ln. Melbourne, 9972 6993
The Grain Store feels like a provincial-inspired trophy kitchen with its polished marble tables and bench tops framed by flawless timber. Service is spot on, with waitstaff well informed about the locally grown and harvested food. Breakfast, served until 3pm on weekends, is a little bit fancy: you won’t find muesli, but you will encounter toast müsli parfait with chia seed yoghurt, quince and quinoa milk. Brioche comes toasted with spiced nashi pear, buffalo mozzarella, candied walnuts and basil. Eggs are poached then fried, served with orange cured salmon, truffle crème fraîche, smoked eggplant and crostini. Order a ST. ALi or Axil coffee to accompany your freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, served with a glass of full cream milk for dipping.
Fitzrovia || 155 Fitzroy St. St. Kilda, 9537 0001
Fitzrovia overlooks Albert Park and resembles an airy conservatory. It’s well worth booking a table outside on a sunny day. Ingredients are sourced locally, which explains why everything is so damn delicious. Fitzrovia makes it their duty to source produce within 100 kilometres of Melbourne, from Bacchus Marsh and South Gippsland to Port Phillip and Caulfield. It’s sustainable. It’s seasonal. And it’s sensational. Breakfast is served until 3pm. Try the sweet potato and caramelized onion fritters with poached eggs, thyme-roasted field mushrooms, snow pea shoots, grilled saganaki and truffled salsa verde. For the sweet tooths (teeth?), the crème brûlée French toast with banana, whipped mascarpone, toasted pecans, grilled Istra bacon and vanilla verjus syrup has your name all over it.
Gramercy Bistro || 162 Commercial Rd. Prahran, 9098 1155
Brekkie here has an addictive American twist. The breakfast hash of kipfler potatoes, pastrami, herbs, paprika and poached eggs is a delicious mess, while avocado arrives on rye bread with fresh tomato and the addition of smoked salmon. There are also NY bagels and huevos rancheros fried eggs with spicy beans, guacamole and tortilla bread, but I always blur the breakfast/lunch line by ordering the unbeatable Rueben sandwich with house-made pastrami. The cheeseburger and mixed meat hero sandwich are also great options. Top it off with a Bloody Mary... it is the weekend, after all.
Miss Jackson Café || 2/19 Grey Street St. Kilda, 9534 8415
Once upon a time Miss Jackson Café was a storage room for a Greek restaurant. Today, it’s a St. Kilda hot spot. Friendly staff, consistent coffee and a menu with all the favourites make it hard to go past this local gem, a stone’s throw away from iconic Acland Street. Try the potato and leek hash with minted peas, smoked trout and a poached egg, or the light and tasty breakfast crumble with poached fruit, berries, pistachio granola and yoghurt. If the walnut brownie is available when you visit, make sure you save room for it after breakfast.
Old Barber Shop Café || 251 Church St Richmond, 9421 6463
The Old Barber Shop Café is one of those cafés you are hesitant to share with your friends. You’ll spot it easily thanks to the sun umbrellas and wooden decking out the front – most probably swarming with regulars who come for the Genovese coffee. Stepping inside the endearing Victorian building instantly makes you feel at home. The Croque Madame is a knockout, as is the New York deli corned beef bagel with tangy mustard pickle and potato crisps. For health nuts, there’s granola with acai berry, or a breakfast salad with tomatoes, olives and avocado.
Gypsey & Musquito || 382 Bridge Rd. Richmond, 9939 9314
Each dish at Gypsey and Musquito is made with true-blue Aussie ingredients. Whether you choose a side of Wallaby or Crocodile sausage, a dish with Tasmanian salmon, or smoked Paper Bark oil and bush tomato chutney, Gypsey and Musquito gives you a reason to feel patriotic. The display cabinet is loaded with a selection of sandwiches and savoury tarts; pies, patties and sausage rolls; native forest croquettes and a selection of gourmet salads with locally sourced ingredients. As for the sweets, check out the oversized lamingtons, lemon meringue pies and homemade muffins nestling in their baking trays.
Bayte || 56 Johnston St. Collingwood, 9415 8818
Anyone who reads Poppet’s Window knows how I feel about Bayte. It’s one of my favourite cafés in Melbourne and I’m devastated that I no longer live within walking distance. You won’t find the ubiquitous smashed avocado with feta or corn fritters here. Instead, the dishes are bona fide Lebanese brekkies with more than just a pinch of the Middle East. Skip specialty beans and sip a freshly brewed Lebanese coffee, poured from a long-handled pot called a ‘rakweh’. Try the Beyd bil Zaatar: perfectly poached eggs coated in the herby Middle Eastern spice mixture matched with homemade dip, paired with pumpkin kibbeh (a slab made from pumpkin, onion, a rice staple called burghul and spices) and served with warm flatbread. The breakfast mezze is also fantastic, but make sure you’re hungry.
Red Door Corner Store || 70 Mitchell St. Northcote, 9489 8040
Red Door Corner Store is all about the comforts of home: smiling service, freshly ground coffee, and reliable food. The focus is on wholesome, organic produce and the owners love for cooking is palatable in both the atmosphere and the menu. Smaller favourites include homemade fruit bread with house-churned espresso butter and the coconut crumpets with creamed Rooftop Honey, berry jam and Myrtleford butter. But if you’ve worked up an appetite, go for the creamed corn with avocado, spinach, tortilla, poached eggs and smoked paprika oil, or Tom Cooper’s smoked salmon on homemade rosti with horseradish crème, poached eggs, and snow pea tendrils.
Crabapple Kitchen || 659 Glenferrie Rd. Hawthorn, 9078 5492
If you’ve been lucky enough to travel to the French or Italian countryside, chances are you’ve been blown away by the food. Chef Greg Feck (ex Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder), who has worked with everyone from Jamie Oliver to Stephanie Alexander, was so inspired by the quality of his overseas dining experience that he opened Crabapple Kitchen as a tribute to his travels. For a simple and flavoursome breakfast, add a poached egg to the avocado on olive toast with Meredith Dairy soft feta, lemon, chilli, mint and avocado oil. For something different, there’s the incredibly moresome ‘Jum & Bender Sarnie’ with H.P sauce, aioli, crisp bacon and rocket, united in a melt-in-the-mouth sesame brioche bun.
Replete Providore || 302 Barkers Rd. Hawthorn, 9818 4448
I have a soft spot for Replete. It's just around the corner from where I went to school, so I have many fond memories eating breakfast here with my family and snacking on award-winning brownies with girlfriends. Set in a charming Edwardian building, this corner café is part food store part familiar home. Favourite dishes include crushed pea and haloumi fritters with smoked salmon, chilli jam and a poached egg, as well as the classic smashed avocado with Danish feta, poached egg, basil, mint and chilli, served on dark rye. There’s also a kids’ menu to boot, and if you’re feeling lazy, the take-home meals are a great option for later on.
Lil Boy Blue || 309 High St. Kew, 9853 5003
Owner Josh Clarke’s two young kiddies were the inspiration behind the name of this café, which instantly made me like it. It’s the go-to for Kew locals who are starved for breakfast spots compared to, say, Fitzroy. It’s all about the little touches here: decorative felt lights, vintage-inspired artwork (including the adorable toilet door signs), deep blue water glasses and — of course — a brass horn. Wonders such as pikelets with poached pear, cinnamon ice cream and pistachio praline are served for breakfast, alongside the more savoury poached crumbed eggs with a trio of mushrooms, soldiers, salsa verde, pickled capsicum and goat’s curd.
Percy's Aeroplane || 96 Denmark St. Kew, 9939 7642
There’s nothing up in the air about Percy’s Aeroplane, except perhaps the bright yellow model aircraft suspended above the front door. This café churns out fantastic coffee and backs it up with a cosy atmosphere. The first thing you’ll see is the canary yellow Ruggero coffee machine. The rest of the room is an assortment of polished concrete, raw brick and wooden finishes. Percy’s breakfast menu stays true to the K.I.S.S rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Food is presented beautifully and uses seasonal ingredients. If they still do it, the Pilot’s Breakfast is enormous as promised, with fried eggs, bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, spinach and grilled tomato.
Le Flâneur || 5 Church St Hawthorn, 9853 8587
Le Flâneur is a relatively undiscovered gem. French poet Charles Baudelaire is the inspiration behind the café, and pages from his books line the feature wall. Coffee varies from house blend and Proud Mary to single origin and siphon. A birch tree, complete with birdhouse, protrudes through the middle of a communal table, while portraits of animals in suits hang in a cluster on the wall behind it. For unbelievable value, try the continental breakfast: a mini croissant, boiled egg, poached fruit and bircher muesli. Bon appétit.
Depot de Pain Hawthorn || 616 Glenferrie Rd. Hawthorn, 8803 7898
If you’ve been to Europe, you will be familiar with the sleek, modern cafés and patisseries. If you haven’t, fear not, you can head to Depot de Pain and enjoy the next best thing. Aside from offering a mean breakfast (The generous omelettes are to die for, as are the crépes), you can pick up your baguettes and sandwich loaves here for lunch. But if you know what’s good for you (or perhaps if you ignore what’s bad for you) the glass cabinet of pastries, tarts, éclairs and Mille Feuilles will come home with you in a paper bag. Should you really want to to spoil yourself or someone else, there’s a traîteur as well that sells everything from canned truffles and gourmet cheese to stunning jam and French mustard.
Café Blac || 707 Glenferrie Rd Hawthorn, 9818 8965
Few realise that this unassuming Glenferrie Road café has been under new ownership for over a year now. The breakfast menu has all the favourites, which are cooked with fresh ingredients and kept simple without being dull. Order the Blac Smash of poached eggs with avocado and feta, homemade pesto on sourdough, crisp bacon, thyme-roasted Swiss mushrooms and a generous kransky sausage. Specials – such as dukkah-rolled poached eggs on spicy green lentil fritters with avocado, mint yoghurt and bacon – are also worth checking out. Head upstairs to the one-of-a-kind reading room, where the ceiling is obscured by an ocean of open books.
Muharam Courtyard Café || 97 Burwood Rd. Hawthorn, 9818 7722
Near the corner of Burwood Road and Power Street in Hawthorn is a quaint café where bicycle wheels hang on the exposed brick wall and cheerful customers sit at wooden tables on bright yellow chairs. It’s called Muharam Courtyard Café and of course, there’s a lovely courtyard out the back. Blueberry pancakes with mascarpone, maple and toasted hazelnuts will keep little ones (and big ones) happy, while at $16, the classic big breakfast is a steal. Try the wild mushroom stew with roquette, goats' feta and homemade tomato relish for something different.