Monday, October 27, 2014

New Cafes and Restaurants in Melbourne

13 Brand New Melbourne Eateries That Haven’t Been Written About Anywhere

It's tough being a blogger. You're up against hundreds of others. You have to balance posts about cheery local brunch spots with extravagant banquets put on by PR companies. Plus you are generally in the shadow of publications such as Broadsheet, TimeOut and Epicure, which always have their fingers on the pulse of Melbourne's throbbing food scene (apologies if that was a bit visual). Every now and then, you beat them all. You have a little win and sit back smugly. Today I'm not just having one little win, but 13. Today I'm sharing 13 brand new cafes and restaurants in Melbourne that are yet to be written about. Go nuts, you ambulance chasers, you.

1. Village Cantina | 30 Ballarat St, Yarraville | (03) 9689 8000 
Opening just last week, Village Cantina is bringing tacos back in Yarraville. The decor is uncomplicated but effective, with the vibrant logo printed above the kitchen window and the usual Mexican artwork and knickknacks scattered around the place. The small courtyard is all set for summer, and the menu keeps things simple with tostaditas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos. 

source: Village Cantina Facebook, credit: Maguri Photography

Village Cantina on Urbanspoon 

2. All Blue Espresso | 187 Through Rd, Camberwell | (03) 8394 3968 
This humble little café in Camberwell serves up 5senses coffee and all the brunch favourites. Dishes like French toast, smashed avocado and bircher muesli are prettily presented, while bonus points are awarded for service with a smile. 

All Blue Espresso on Urbanspoon 

3. Harry Hall |115 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern | (03) 9509 2708 
Back in the 1930s, Harry Hall was a moneylender operating out of what is now Harry Hall restaurant and wine bar. There’s an open fire (and a courtyard on the way), as well as rooms available for private functions. Food-wise they do everything themselves, from smoking meat to stuffing sausages. The wine menu is also a bit different, listing an Australian or New Zealand wine beside a similar varietal from another part of the world. 

Harry Hall on Urbanspoon 

4. Brother Nancy | 182 Essex Street, Footscray | 0439 318 820 
Don't be fooled by the size of this tiny, minimalist cafe, the menu packs a punch thanks to its French chef out the back. Restaurant-quality dishes such as the chicken and quinoa salad, or perhaps the steak tartare, arrive artfully arranged. Brother Nancy is quietly scoring Footscray extra points in the competitive world of Melbourne dining. 

Brother Nancy on Urbanspoon

5. The Colonel's Son | 299 Beach Road, Black Rock | (03) 9589 0481 
This Black Rock local is all about freshness and flavour. Make a beeline for the glass cabinet on the green and white-tiled counter filled with enticing sweet treats like rosewater meringues and peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. They’re open for breakfast and lunch seven days, serving everything from waffles through to linguini.

Colonel's Son on Urbanspoon

6. The Ambrosiary | 70 Portman Street, Oakleigh | (03) 9568 4490 
Ambrosia, the food of the gods, is said to make those who eat it immortal. That's not necessarily the case at The Ambrosiary, part grocer part café, but there's certainly a health focus. There are also plenty of higher-end boutique brands with loads of organic, gluten free and lactose free products. Stop in for a house pretzel and a Four Rascals coffee, then take home some Spanish Jamón Ibérico or an Almdudler alpine herb soft drink.

Ambrosiary on Urbanspoon

7. Tipo 00 | 361 Little Bourke St, Melbourne | (03) 9942 3946 
Named after the high-quality flour used in making pasta, Tipo 00 is a new pasta bar in the CBD worth a visit. The dedicated kitchen team make squid ink linguini, pappardelle and more out the back, while knowledgable waitstaff are more than happy to suggest some vino to match. 

Tipo 00 on Urbanspoon

8. Woven | 175b Stephen St, Yarraville | (03) 9973 5926 
The devil is in the detail: homemade almond milk, juices cold-pressed daily, Rooftop Honey on quinoa bircher and crumpets from Dr. Marty's, just to name a few. Then there's the tofu and kale gratin for the vegos, super grain salads for the healthy, and burgers for the wise. Woven has all bases covered in a converted warehouse to boot. 

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon 

9. Hard Pressed | 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne | (03) 9417 4441 
Finally, a decent café in East Melbourne. The area, which was previously dry until Persillade opened at the end of last year, now has a French Press coffee and Latino-inspired sandwich shop to add to the mix. Those who have never had a Cuban sandwich should do so here, quick smart. 

Hard Pressed on Urbanspoon 

10. Mr. Willis | cnr Hampton and Willis Street Hampton
Hampton locals rejoice! Mr. Willis has set up shop in your 'hood, bringing with him a canary-yellow coffee machine and a display cabinet that will make your eyes pop. Make yourself comforable on the stylish cushions or grab some caffiene to go. Just make sure you keep an eye on the kids, there may or may not be lolly jars on the counter. 

source: Mr. Willis Facebook, credit: Caprice Photography

Mr Willis on Urbanspoon 

11. El Habanero | 342 Clarendon St, South Melbourne | (03) 9645 8148 
Forget the fact that these guys have ripped off Meatballs & Wine Bar's logo for a second, because their authentic Mexican is supposedly top notch. Sure, there are tacos and tortas galore, but it's the warm service that's leaving its mark on the neighbourhood. Dig into fresh and colourful tortillas, then finish with avocado ice cream. 

El Habanero on Urbanspoon 

12. Pg. 2 | 207 Swan St, Richmond | (03) 9043 6823 
Walking into this café feels like you’re entering someone's living room. Personal touches are rife, from summery flower arrangements and glass lolly jars to cushions made by the owner’s mum. Pg. 2 also supports local artists, so expect the wall candy to rotate. There's a sizeable courtyard out back, complete with red leather armchairs. Pop in for some sweet potato pancakes, or perhaps jerk chicken is more your thing? 

Pg.2 on Urbanspoon 

13. The Grounds at St. Columbs | 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn | (03) 9819 0890 
If you want to get away from trendy cafes with queues of hipsters snaking down the street, head to The Grounds at St. Columbs. This beautiful café is located within the grounds of a church, complete with sunny courtyard and veggie patch. For now they’re only open for coffee during the week, but brunch will be in full swing early November. 

The Grounds at St Columbs on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh well done! I love the sound of Tipo 00 and Woven looks worth venturing for ��

    1. I'm a sucker for all things Italian, so I can see Tipo 00 becoming regular for me!

  2. As someone who has worked in the media for four decades, almost all of it in print of various kinds, I respectfully disagree very much with your statement that blogs are "generally in the shadow of publications such as Broadsheet, TimeOut and Epicure, which always have their fingers on the pulse of Melbourne's throbbing food scene".

    Though I'm sure they'd be very happy for folks in general to go on thinking that! Truth is, it's no longer a pyramid of the lowly bloggers and Urbanspoon "diners" at the bottom and the "foodie elite" media at the top.

    So many eating places and people end up in those organs as a result of initial blog coverage.

    Who has their fingers on the pulse?

    We do!

    Moreover, blogging has given me riches in terms of immediacy, interaction with traders (and immediate impact on them) and interaction with my readers that I NEVER attained working for the big rags.

    1. Hey Kenny,

      Thanks for the insightful comment!

      I think it's all relative. The top bloggers aren't "in the shadow" of such publications, but the top blogs only make up a very small percentage of all the food blogs out there, and it's my opinion that the majority of them are in fact in the shadow of both top blogs and publications.

      As someone who both runs a successful blog and writes for the aforementioned publications, I can tell you with confidence that articles printed in major newspapers get a larger reaction than blog posts and are more widely read. I also find the same intimacy both in publications and blogging - I regularly get emails after an article goes to print where traders are so incredibly grateful, or readers are pleased that light has been shed on a certain area. That being said, yes, the media landscape is changing.

      If bloggers are just starting out, I believe the key is to have a niche. There are so many blogs that it has become essential to have a point of difference. Sticking to a cuisine, or area (like you!) is the way to go these days. There is certainly something to be said for becoming specialised.



    2. Good points there!

      Just a couple more points from me ...

      At least a couple of times in recent years, writers for The Age have come out and - very candidly but somewhat foolishly IMO! - openly admitted they "hit the blogs" when researching a story.

      Writers of all sorts - not just food but also sport and the like - regularly monitor blogs for story ideas. And why wouldn't they? Active bloggers have their fingers on the pulses of their specialties in a way that many office-bound journalists are no longer able to do.

      And I certainly don't ever hear my readers referring to my blog as in any way wanting when compared to the, um. "official" publications. There's a small army of them who rely on my blog others to guide their eating happiness. They use blogs on a regular and avid basis in a way that is simply not possible with the regular press. As well, many of them have become invested in the ongoing story of my blog, my son and I so it has become a family of sorts. A growing number of them have become friends.

      Again, this a level of intimacy and warmth that I never got in my metro press days.

      I was as saddened to see the Age close down three of its food guides - it put people I know out of work. But even if it was economically unavoidable, I feel it was revealing that the three guides shut down were those that may have been of ongoing use to regular folks, ordinary people. The one left standing has all sorts of merit and a tradition to go with it, but it's also the one that overwhelmingly features restaurants that fall into "special occasion" territory for most people.

      This, it seems to me, is something like painting themselves into a corner.

      Disclosure: I continue to make my dough in the print press. But these days it's a sub-editor for community/suburban newspapers. With our coverage of VCAT, council stuff, fairs and festivals, fundraisers, community sport and history, the papers I now work for actually mirror and overlap with the interests of my blog. We matter to people in a really earthy way. We are making (some) money. Like a lot of people in the media, I think it is the future.

      The metro media across Australia, by contrast, seems a giddy circus of footy, celebs, reality TV and click bait in which the efforts of hard-working, serious and sincere journalists to maintain touch with their communities comes across as too little, too late.

      Mind you, I can say that - I will never work for them again. And they'll never want me to!

      Sofia, thanks for letting me rave - interesting subject, eh?

    3. Anytime Kenny, your raves make it all the more interesting :)

      The internet is a hungry and interesting beast!

  3. Strolled in here on a busy Saturday night and was very happy with the dinner. This is now one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Portions at Boston restaurants are good and reasonable for the price offered. Definitely worth a try.

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