Winter in Melbourne, it can be bitterly cold. Even if the sun peeks through the clouds, you’re likely to experience icy gusts whipping your cheeks. I spent the weekend in the city with gal pals and as expected, the weather wasn’t kind. Low temps, ominous clouds, sideways rain and howling winds – heck it even hailed on our first day.
The weather may have been sad and gloomy but there’s one thing Melbourne does really well and that just happens to be my favourite meal of the day – brunch. A delightfully long and relaxed mid-morning meal is my holiday essential. These three finds were my highlight of our wintry weekend.
1. Auction Rooms is a converted warehouse in North Melbourne, just a short walk from the famous Queen Vic Markets. The façade seems unchanged since it operated as an auction house but step inside and the old building contains an eclectic mix of timber panels, whitewashed bricks, iron beams and long thin lights dangling overhead, with tables in front and high benches with stools behind the counter area. There’s also a sunny back room and if you’re into coffee you’ll appreciate the coffee roaster and speciality mixes.
I ordered the chilaquiles (chee-lah-kee-lehs) – toasted corn tortillas with salsa roja, cheese curd, black beans (sans egg) and sautéed mushrooms. This is my ideal breakfast: a warm, filling dish, packed with flavour and a bit of zing. As the corn chips had been soaking up the sauce, I quite liked that they were a little soft (not soggy) while still retaining some crunch.
On the side I had crunchy potato and kale röstis with sweet onion jam (nothing beats Ma’s onion jam, of course) and because it was a Friday and most people were at work I washed it all down with a couple of glasses of prosecco. What better way is there to celebrate a holiday than bubbles for breakfast?!
We finished off by sharing two fantastic doughnuts baked and supplied by Tivoli Road Bakery – lemon meringue pie and banana caramel. Ooof, they were GOOD.
2. Two Birds One Stone is a bustling cafe in South Yarra, close to Melbourne’s shopping mecca Chapel Street. Inside it’s light and airy with a high ceiling, white subway tiles on the wall, a long wooden communal table in the middle of the dining area with booths alongside for groups, decorated with fresh flowers. It’s also next door to Adriano Zumbo’s Melbourne patisserie which would be very tempting for those with a sweet tooth.
The menu says no menu changes are allowed (I usually swap out egg for something else) so I went with the smashed avocado and feta with capers, tomato, radish, shallots and dill on seeded toast. The combination of feta and avocado make it quite creamy and filling. This is the kind of dish I would love in summer as it’s so fresh and light. The hot chocolate was pretty good too, it’s always a bonus getting a marshmallow to dunk into your hot drink.
Although I enjoyed my dish I had a bit of envy when I tasted the house made crumpets with rhubarb jam, mascarpone and candied macadamias. Note to self: get that next time.
3. Cumulus Inc is a super busy spot on Flinders Lane which is no surprise as it has featured in The Age Good Food Guide each year from 2010 to 2014. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and a separate wine bar upstairs) the lively restaurant only takes bookings for groups of 7-14 guests so getting a table for a small group is either by chance or if you’re willing to wait. Thankfully weekend breakfast orders are turned over pretty quickly and even though we arrived early, we only had to wait a few minutes for a table near the open kitchen.
After a creamy hot chocolate, I had the generous serve of chunky mushrooms cooked in butter and sherry vinegar, piled high on a thin slice of toast and topped with grated parmesan. On the list for my next visit are the pretty made-to-order madeleines filled with lemon curd.
Share the love friends, where are your favourite brunch eats in Melbourne?