It’s Melbourne’s answer to the Seine, and for as little as $23, you can take in all the sights the city has to offer in the luxury of somebody else’s boat. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying Melbourne’s Yarra River is an icon of its own. And a necessary one at that. Its greatest task to date? Dividing Melbourne’s two sides; the north and the south. The south runs from the city to the bay, encompassing suburbs such as South Melbourne, South yarra, Toorak, St. Kilda and Port Melbourne. The crème de la crème. Depending on who’s asking. For they may be part of one city, but they are two entirely different worlds. And this means entirely different crowds and entirely different restaurants. Whether you’re from the south and want to brunch on only the best of the best (in your active wear of course) or you’re from the north and are feeling adventurous, here are the south side’s best and finest:
Photo from @toppadock Instagram.
A south favourite for many years (and from the team behind Kettle Black), Top Paddock is everything a café should be. Good food, good vibes, and goooood coffee. So good in fact, that many a south-sider will often be caught lining the neighbouring streets on a Saturday morning in hopes of securing a table (and Instagram pic). While initially becoming famous for their hotcakes (which is reason enough to visit Top Paddock alone), Top Paddock has proved they are more than a one-trick wonder over the years, with a constantly evolving menu and the ability to pull a crowd on any given weekend. They may have been in the game for a few years now, but Top Paddock will always remain queen of the south sides best and finest.
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Top Paddock chorizo with bacon, Adelaide green tomatoes, poached eggs and relish on toast. Because it’s already assumed you know to try the hotcakes.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 658 Church Street Richmond VIC 3121
PH: 9429 4332
THE STABLES OF COMO
Photo from @thestablesofcomo Instagram.
Immersed in one of Melbourne’s most beautiful gardens, The Stables of Como is where the country meets the city. Despite being only minutes away from one of Melbourne’s busiest roads and suburbs, The Stables of Como is a secluded escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Which is just as relaxing as it sounds. Housed at the back of the historic Como House, the café is relaxed yet charming, as you are invited to partake in ‘high tea’(complete with ‘guys tea’ and kids tea’ which is nothing short of impressive-and cute) or dine on their all-day, French inspired, menu (think roasted vegetable baguettes with pesto dressing or the ‘croque jockey’, a mouth-watering blend of ham, caramelized onion, cheese and mustard béchamel’). Bon appetite!
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Roasted barra, crushed saffron potatoes, zucchinis and squashes from the garden. The perfect winter warmer.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 9827 6886
PH: 9827 6886
DUNDAS AND FAUSSETT
Photo from @dundasandfaussett Instagram.
A recent addition to South Melbourne, Dundas and Fausset is everything one needs in a café and more. The menu has a slight Asian twist (think prawn laska in a mild coconut curry soup or stir-fry with vermicelli noodles), and caters to everyone (think acai bowls, smashed avo with chilli and BLT’s), so the only problem you’ll find yourself facing, is deciding on just one dish (the struggle is real). With a spacious outdoor seating area, often frequented by dogs (and their owners), it’s the perfect summer spot to sit, people watch, and make a furry friend or two.
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Grilled broccolini with avocado, poached eggs, saganaki cheese and toasted almonds with toast. The saganaki cheese speaks for itself.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 111 Dundas Pl, Albert Park VIC 3206
PH: 9645 51
Photo from @pentaelsternwick Instagram.
For a newcomer, Penta Elsternwick ticks all the boxes. From the guys behind Legacy Camberwell and Tinker Northcote, and with an impressive menu selection and a beautifully designed modern space, Penta was always destined to be a success. It’s healthy eating- but with a twist. From the ‘nourish salad’, a colourful, flavoursome, ‘rainbow’ bowl complete with sweet corn, pomegranate, sweet potato and hummus (just to name a few) to the ‘nutella panna cotta’, with a nut butter, strawberries and torched marshmallows, there is something for everyone. Or- if you’re feeling particularly adventurous (and hungry)- por que no los dos?
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: For the sweet tooth, we’d recommend the aforementioned Nutella panna cotta. For those craving something savory, the ‘okonomiyaki’, cabbage, kale and carrot Japanese fritters with spring onion, pickled ginger, and a poached egg.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 28 Riddell Parade, Elsternwick VIC 3185
PH: 9523 0716
Photo from @kitty.burns Instagram.
Located along the Abbotsford stretch of the Yarra River, Kitty Burns is named after the famous and iconic ‘skipping girl’ sign, only a stone’s throw away. The legacy of the two little girls that loved to skip can now be remembered through the name Kitty Burns. But that’s not all this Nordic-style café is known for. The spacious all-day eatery is a minimalist’s dream. With timber ‘picket fence’ walls, ceiling lights, and a lush array of plants, you might find you need a minute just to take it all in. The extensive menu is equally impressive, ranging from the necessary classics, smashed avo and eggs benedict, to their ‘ho chi minh kitty’, polenta-dusted crab, pancake, Asian herb salad, coconut foam with wasabi and chilli (not one for the faint-hearted), to a juice bar and range of take-away raw vegan treats. North or South of the river, Kitty Burns is sure to become a fast favorite.
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Lobster Brioche roll with vinegar taro chips. A foodies dream.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 24 Acacia Place, Abbotsford VIC 3067
PH: 9427 0164
I’m sorry Miss Frank, I am for realll.
The spotlight has been on Camberwell over the past few years, first with the opening of My Other Brother, and then with the announcement of Miss Frank – an instant game changer for locals. And with a simple, sleek, elegant warehouse design, a rotating selection of single origin coffees and a constantly evolving menu, it’s not hard to see why. It’s the perfect spot for locals to enjoy an afternoon coffee and cake and even more so for visitors from the other side of the yarra, after a successful morning at the Camberwell markets. Ah, bliss.
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Up your brunch game with broccoli, pine nut and parmesan fritters w/smoked chutney, goats cheese, egg and crushed hazelnuts.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 200 Through Rd, Camberwell VIC 3124
PH: 9078 5351
Photo by: Natalee Erceg.
Smak food house is the café South Yarra never knew it was missing. And following its arrival, brunch in this popular suburb has not been the same since. Smak revolutionalised ‘clean eating’, offering a serving of healthy food options to local gym-goers, fitness fanatics, and yoga yogis- with a twist. Their motto? Simple, healthy good. Name after the Swedish word for ‘taste’, they love simplicity (which is apparent in their philosophy, food, and design) and they ‘give a large damn about taste’. The constantly rotating menu- while offering your standard ‘super salad’ and ‘greens, nuts and seeds’- is not afraid to present its own play on popular food trends. Think vegan buttermilk ricotta hotcakes or waffled rosti Benedict with orange braised ham hock and a thyme sweet potato waffled rosti. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: vegan buttermilk ricotta hotcakes w/ spiced miso ice cream, candid popcorn and peanut butter caramel hot sauce. I think this speaks for itself.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 6 Daly St, South Yarra VIC 3141
PH: 03 8560 2146
Photo from @chezdrecafe Instagram.
What was once a humble abandoned warehouse is now one of Melbourne’s worst-kept secrets; Chez Dre. Serving an array of French-inspired sweet and savory desserts and with freshly baked bread and pastries, it’s not uncommon to see a long line of locals on a weekend morning, waiting patiently (or not-so-patiently) for a croissant or pan au chocolait on their way to the South Melbourne markets. Adored by South Melbournians (ask any local and they’ll immediately listChez Dre as one of their favourites) you’ll have to get in early to catch this worm (or croissant).
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Roast duck crepe. Spiced roast duck with a panko crumbed egg, ailoi and a side salad. Oui, oui, oui!
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 285-287 Coventry St, South Melbourne VIC 3205
PH: 9690 2688
CRUX AND CO
Photo from @thecruxandco Instagram.
Another South Melbourne big gun, the Crux and Co opened mid-2016 opposite one of it’s biggest lunch time competitors; The Kettle Black. However, much to no surprise, the Crux and Co has proved to Kettle Black and many other neighbouring cafes, it is a force to be reckoned with. Their driving principal? The belief that life is all about balance. Korean influenced savory dishes balance out a rich array of baked-on-site pastries and sweets available at the counter. Think lemon meringue tarts and teriyaki tofu and grilled chicken tenders with witlof, tomato aand sesame dressing. There really is something for everyone at the Crux and Co.
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: Smoked salmon tossed through scrambled eggs with broad beans, and a tobiko & siracha mayonnaise served on squid ink toast. Squid ink toast? Yes, you read that right. Or the cherry and Nutella waffles with house-made caramel peanut mousse, cherries and vanilla bean ice cream. Because waffles. And Nutella.
WHERE TO FIND THEM:
PH: 9820 1081
Photo by: Natalee Erceg.
First, Tall Timber opened up in Prahran and after a quiet opening caused a brunch frenzy (similar to a media frenzy except the public goes wild over breaky boards and smashed avo) for months afterward. Then, came Left Field. It’s slightly younger, slightly cooler, sister café, that gave many South residents reasons to venture further out – all the way to Carnegie. The menu – similar to Tall Timber’s (and with a slight Middle Eastern vibe) has something for everyone, from the sweet tooth (donut sliders) to the health nut ( one roast cauliflower and kale super salad please), to the meat lovers (braised Moroccan lam shoulder anyone?). And with a courtyard out back, a spacious dining area and an array of outdoor seating options, they can literally cater to everyone.
YOU HAVE TO TRY THE: The cookies and cream donut sliders w smashed Oreos, salted caramel, bananas, honeycomb, figs, and pistachios. Because where else could you possibly order cookies and cream donut sliders w smashed Oreos, salted caramel, bananas, honeycomb, figs, and pistachios?
WHERE TO FIND THEM: 358 Koornang Rd, Carnegie VIC 3163
PH: 9578 2043
Words by: Natalee Erceg.