Posts Tagged ‘melbourne’

Melbourne Blogger Drinks, looking back.

Melbourne Blogger Drinks. Sista Bella. 4pm. Well, 4pm actually ended up being closer to 5 due to them “restocking the bar” A few people made their way over to Section 8 to start precedings, they let us in, they served me sangria and I only spilled a bit on my pants. The turnout was great, a few people from the last meetup and a few new faces. I apologise if I’ve missed anyone, but leave a comment and I’ll put you on the list.

As the crowd dwindled, we left Sista Bella, and made our way up to the Lincoln Hotel for some food and, though I don’t think we actually needed it, more wine. The venison was great and the fact that they sell wine in sizes larger than a glass and smaller than a bottle is genius. I wish more places did it, in fact every place should do it.

I took a couple of photos, though probably not as many as I should have.

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Melbourne Blogger and Tweeter Drinks – 12th September – Sister Bella

That’s right, it is on again. If you blog or tweet about anything in and around Melbourne then you are invited to come and join us for a quiet drink or 3 at Sister Bella on the 12th September. It doesn’t matter if you write about food, wine, op shopping, fashion, art, craft, design, jewellery, your suburb, startups, business or anything else, everyone is welcome.

The proceedings will get started at 4pm and continue on until everyone leaves or we decide to move the proceedings somewhere else (can anyone say Shanghai Dumpling?) If last time is anything to go by it will definitely just be casual chats with the opportunity to meet some interesting people that you might know or like to say hi to.

If you think you are going to come, please leave a comment so that we have an idea of numbers and can forewarn the bar.


Venue: Sister Bella
Address: Snider Lane (off Drewery Lane)
Time: 4pm
Date: 12th September

Mr Wilkinson, Lygon St, East Brunswick

Before a recent concert at the East Brunswick club we walked over the road for a quick beverage at Mr Wilkinson, the not so recently opened, super-cool Lygon St bar. Our visit was short, just a quick beer and a glass of wine from their well established wine list. As is more and more the case, the wine list is a great showcase for Victorian wine and I certainly wish we could have spent more time sampling the entries.

Sadly, the problem was the temperature of the bar itself. It was freezing. The heating was being provided by a couple of small 4 bar oil heaters, and 1 overhead airconditioner blowing warm air near the end of the bar. The bar was reasonably full, but each group was huddling for warmth around their heaters and as all the seats at the front were taken, we sat in the small indoor area past the toilets. There was no heating and we were forced to cuddle up to each other for warmth.

We didn’t however let this little problem enjoying the bar for what it was. The interior is amazing, described to intricate detaul at the Design Files. However, their photos are taken in full light and don’t quite show it in all its night time glory. The long hallway and back area are filled with amazing shadows cast by candles, green and red lights which sets the mood and makes for a really interesting setting. I’ll let the results of the impromptu photo shoot speak for themselves.

This is one of Melbourne’s suburban gems and would have been much better had the designer taken heating into account. I suppose I’ll be back in the summer.

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Double Happiness, Chinatown

Double Happiness is the quintessential Melbourne bar. Small, out of the way and quirky, this is the sort of place that you would walk past without batting an eye lid, but just try that asian inspired door at the top end of Chinatown and you are in for a surprise.

Propaganda at Double HappinessPresided over by a statuette of chairman Mao and state sponsored propaganda, the space consists of an open arrangement of low couches and the obligatory stools at the bar. Forget about boothes and intimate tables for 2, this open community style arrangement forces you into conversing with your fellow drinkers or provides for a jovial place for a larger group. Even the toilets take the community feel with 1 door between seat and smoking area, unisex toilets and one old laundry sink for your hands.

The asian theme permeates throughout the establishment, the cocktail list consists of contemporary cocktails with asian herbs and flavours. Coriander and ginger, lychee and cardamom mixed deliciously in a combination of smashes, sidecars and martinis. Apart from the strange question of  “How would you like your manhattan, sweet, dry or perfect?” the barman constructed a perfectly balanced cocktail with a perfect dose of sweet vermouth, the requested matuselum 12 year old and a healthy dose of maraschino juice (in the absence of liqueur) topped of with 2 cherries.

Subsequent visits have been met by nothing short of happiness from the barstaff to experiment. Reza (sp?) is the man that always seems to be there and most recently was happy to concoct a libation involving a secret Double Happiness recipe spice syrup, coriander, rye whiskey and vermouth which resulted in a very eastern style mint julep. Dangerously easy to suck down, but perhaps not quite ballsy enough. This collaborative effort with yours truly is what sets this bar apart and seems to be a regular occurence.

It seems that the personalised service isn’t restricted to me alone. Behind the bar there are a number of lockers, storing regular customer’s specially ordered bottles of this and that. I’m told they can and will get just about anything and keep it there just for you when you stumble in late at night for a rare single-malt tipple.

Everything about this bar is friendly, the staff don’t necessarily have the orthodox customer service manner yet it is friendly and welcoming. Their attitude is great, capping off what isn’t necessarily the most popular or trendiest bar in Melbourne. It is more like an old favourite, a comfortable place to go for a late night drink on your own or with friends. A place to sip on a great drink that’s not out of your price range but still made with all the care you deserve. Perhaps this is the communist way.

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Hidden Restaurants in Melbourne, Australia

A recent article in the New York Times talks about the recent phenomenon of hidden restaurants in Berlin. These are often small underground restaurants that are either invite only or not advertised, hidden through unmarked doors and courtyards. Often people whisper about the existence of speakeasy bars in Melbourne which I can’t confirm or deny, although a good majority of our bars aren’t particularly conspicuos. Aside from these pseudo hidden venues, we do however have one “hidden restaurant” that I know of. This belongs to the Global Gobbler. He cooks themed meals for random people who have discovered him through his website. I haven’t been to one of the meals, but I’m told he does a great job and a good time is all but guaranteed.

Does anyone know of any other hidden restaurants in Australia?

Update: A Hidden Pizza Restaurant in Fitzroy is opening next week. How underground it actually is remains to be seen.

The Sugar in Melbourne Coffee Shops

I have a gripe for the vast majority of Melbourne Cafes. Why oh why do you insist on me spoiling your beautiful coffee with an inferior sugar product? I’m the guy that when asked has 1 raw sugar in his takeaway latte. Yes, raw. It isn’t that I don’t like my coffee bitter, in fact sometimes it’s a long black, with a raw sugar. I love the extra layer of slightly caramel flavour that that 1 teaspoon adds to the coffee.


Coffee Crystals: The kind of coffee that should be in all cafes

Melbourne is a city which loves coffee. The people drink it in boatloads, the general quality of the coffee is great and you can buy it everywhere. Even my cornershop has a espresso machine, yet nearly every place offers me nothing but pre-measured white sugar. It seems strange to me that not only is raw sugar cheaper but it’s also tastier than it’s bleached cousin yet businesses insist on selling it.

So, my tip to the coffee shops. Fuck the sachets and give me a good old fashioned sugar-bowl or dispenser and a great coffee. In the long run you and I will both reap the benefits.

Church St, Cremorne

7 Grams Cafe Past the last shops in the Swan St shopping precinct and before the hustle and bustle of Prahran, between the italian tile warehouses and one-off designer furniture shops, in the shadow of the Bryant & May match factory and in the heart of the textile companies that make Richmond famous. Church Street is the unlikely host of an inoordinate number of cafe’s and coffee shops. It is a section of road that you would pass through on the rickety old 78 tram and not even think of getting off for your much needed hangover cure.

To the casual passerby these cafes seem to be near nothing and have no reason for existance but it is the ultra-hip fashion executives, designers and furniture salesmen that they service. Lunch time during the week is hectic as they rush in, grab a double shot, decaf, soy latte or perhaps a salmon baguette and then rush on their way. Or perhaps they might sit down at one of the crammed tables on the street and talk about the latest fads in swedish bathrooms

Pearl Cafe This assortment of coffee shops seems to do a great job of catering to these businesses but they don’t seem to be too sure of whether they are cafes or not. 7 grams, is a contradiction, home of the world barista champion it has copies of “The Gourmet Barista” (or some equally pretentious coffee magazine) for sale at one end of the counter and a bain-maree of death full of dim sims and potato scallops at the other. The fine-dining Enoteca and Pearl Restaurant lower their colours for lunch, offering cheap specials supposedly to get the more wealthy lunch crowd in the door. JE Cafe seems more intent on advertising itself as a catering service than servicing its own customers. Amsterdam Cafe seems less confused about its identity but has a limited menu on weekends, which noone knows what it contains. Perhaps the only cafe that truly knows what it wants to be is the fusion inspired Black Pearl but their breakfast finishes at 10 and it is usually packed and the service suffers.

At night the cafes shut, and the quality of Enoteca and Pearl create an interesting juxtaposition with the daytime chaos. Enoteca’s menu turns from a cheap lunch menu to a classic italian restaurant, amazing oysters, quail risottos and pastas with prices to match. Further down the street Pearl restaurant (sister of the aforementioned cafe) serves up a genuinely interesting menu with a combination of indian, thai, vietnamese and chinese flavours as if serving as a halfway house between Prahran and Richmond.

Don’t let the confusion bother you, this corner of Melbourne is wonderful in a strange way, great coffee, good food and great personalities are capped off perfectly with the fine-dining class that Enoteca and Pearl bring. All of this is tucked away from the crowds and surrounded by interesting shops to entertain between coffees. Next time you are in the area, drop in, you might not quite understand, but you will enjoy.

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