Sunday, 16 January 2011

An introduction to Melbourne cafe culture

Degrave Street, Melbourne
Convoluted, mysterious MELBOURNE, the ‘cultural capital’ of Australia, does not enjoy a reputation as celebrated as that of its sister, Sydney, despite its attributes as ‘one of the world’s most liveable cities.’ Set somewhat further back from its harbour than Sydney, Melbourne’s charms lie instead in its winding laneways, cleverly concealed interior arcades and stairways into the sky which, if you have the audacity to explore, will reward you with intricate, historical boutiques, cosy, hidden cafes and towering cathedrals of consumption- otherwise known as DFO. 

Although Melbourne frequently experiences four seasons in one day, forcing you to keep your wits about you and an umbrella safely stowed somewhere upon your person, the city’s split personality means that whether you arrive in June or December there is always something going on. Subtly lit, warren-like cafes tucked around a corner offering hearty soups, mulled wine and muffins in winter swiftly transform into luminous, airy spaces in which to enjoy homemade lemonade and escape the 40o summer heat. 

You are utterly spoilt for choice for food in Melbourne, whether you’re after a hearty meal (around $15) or the endemic coffee and cake (around $5). Particularly exquisite breakfasts are offered on Sydney Road in Brunswick in one of its many character-full cafes; try Greens, Mule or Kaleidoscope. Then, for a quick lunch in the city centre, Degrave St is a must with a plethora of cafes to choose from and the legendary Little Cupcakes store. For a treat, head to Acland St (St Kilda) for floor to ceiling window displays of cakes and pastries. In the evening, Lygon St is the place to be; with tussles between Italian proprietors resulting in ridiculously great value deals. However, for a vegetarian option, head to the Vegie Bar on Brunswick St, Fitzroy, which serves scrumptious dishes in a buzzing atmosphere. 

As some of my friends are soon to venture to the other side of the world on their post-uni travels I thought now was as good a time as any to start including cafe reviews from my six months spent in Melbourne in 2008. Keep checking back for future posts. Oh, and if you’re travelling on a budget, check out The Graduate Traveller blog – great for travel tips on a budget.

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