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Food

Best Melbourne Breakfasts 2019

Melbourne's best breakfasts are to be found both in the suburbs and in the CBD. Melbourne is known for it's strong breakfast culture and here are our selections for best Melbourne breakfasts.

Higher Ground - CBD

Higher Ground is next level and has already reached iconic status - if you are taking out of towners to Melbourne you would do well taking them to Higher Ground for sheer "wow" factor. You can put this foodie experience up as a fine example of a Melbourne cafe. Higher Ground is the perfect venue for a catch up, solo dining at the counter, or for an iconic function. The vibe draws on Ace Hotel (which we plan to visit soon) in USA and Soho House in London. After the day menu attention turns to the night menu - with shared dishes a feature. Melbourne cafe culture at it's best in terms of vibe (leafy element, high ceilings, multi level and spacious), curated menu and the quality of coffee (important in Melbourne). 

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Curated dining experience with menu consistently "on trend".

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Middle South East - South Yarra

Middle South East is a bright spark on busy Chapel St. For "creatives" and office workers nearby modern Middle South East is the perfect place to connect, and is also worth a trip across town. We discovered Middle South east is cafe by day but also springs into life at night; so it's a versatile destination and hub for the community. We found staff engaging and they aim to please. Corn fritters are a must order, with poached eggs, smashed avocado, goat's cheese and smoked salmon. A popular dish is the Middle South Eggs with Middle Eastern sauce, Persian feta, fresh chilli, sujok sausage, zataar bread and poached eggs. The sauce is compelling and you can mop up the oozy goodness with the bread. Sausage is also tasty and the dish has some "kick" with the chilli. A warm and embracing Middle Eastern style brunch dish. Two examples from a menu that stands out for range and diversity and "interesting" breakfast options.

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Smoothies are also a highlight at Middle South East.

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Darling St Espresso - Moonee Ponds

Darling St Espresso is a darling cafe in Moonee Ponds with a certain level of sophistication. Gone are the days of basic cafe offerings in this city; menus now read like each dish is a well thought out work of art and taste cacophony. A modern fit out and large courtyard inspires. Food is fresh and seasonal and the menu has imagination. Bring on the tube and the Miso cured salmon, okonomiyaki pancake, tempura poached egg, ponzo dressing. This is a dream on a plate. The fritters (image Darling St Espresso Insta) are some of the best in Melbourne. A great example of a modern Melbourne cafe and the rising standard of cafes in the burbs.

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Archie's All Day - Fitzroy

Archie's All Day is a compelling all day open until late cafe with a relaxed fresh vibe, where a DJ will serve up tunes as well as your food and coffee. "Refreshing" would be an appropriate word for Archie's All Day, as a meeting place and hub for a catch up, where you can escape the stress of city life. So many dishes to recommend but we can never go past the Juicy Lucy which features wagyu burger stuffed with jalapeno spiked Monterrey Jack cheese, mustard, ketchup, pickles, iceberg, burger bun and add some bacon. A side of fries is a must. Healthy options are also available from the excellent menu. It's a cafe that caters for all and sundry and the kind of cafe that draws you in and you want to return to.

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Operator 25 - CBD

Operator 25 is a revelation cafe set in a former telephone exchange located in the legal district in the Melbourne CBD. The place is pumping with interesting dining spaces full of patrons, featuring an intergenerational crowd. The World Loves Melbourne decided to visit this cafe in a heritage building having heard rave reviews. We were not disappointed.

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Operator 25 has made an effort with its fit out with exposed brick walls, quality furniture, funky blackboard and top class artwork throughout...  The World Loves Melbourne enjoys a cafe with a decent drinks list, including a local favourite pale ale... In summer heat they delivered with their own spiritzer - Operator's Spritzer - cold drip coffee, maple syrup, lemon, poached pear, mint, tonic water and sweet micro herbs.

Hello Operator! The young crowd imbibed the delights of Operator 25 on stolls and high tables...

The menu was compelling, with extra class in options that are not the usual Melbourne brunch fare. On recommendation we chose what proved to be one of the dishes of the year - Sweet corn fritters, fried duck egg, tomato salad, goats curd, and herb oil. Spectacular presentation and spectacular taste. Ticking all the boxes, this dish provided generous portion of fritters and the fritters themselves were fresh and moist and full of flavour. 

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Says the website -

"Set in a heritage listed Melbourne building, with a modern rustic ambience, Operator25 cafe serves breakfast, lunch and everything in between, daily.

Conveniently located on the Melbourne CBD fringe within minutes of the leafy Flagstaff Gardens, there is something for everyone  at Operator25.

We also cater for vegetarians, gluten-free, have a kid friendly menu, and serve specialty coffee using the finest beans from Melbourne’s own Code Black Coffee Roasters."

Operator 25 is an exceptional cafe in the Melbourne CBD, with strong points across the board and prices affordable. Fun and finesse. Highly recommended.


Seven Seeds - Carlton

Seven Seeds is credited as being a highly influential coffee powerhouse that has shaped the coffee culture of Melbourne over many years. The World Loves Melbourne believes Seven Seeds is better than ever and continues to shine its love and significant influence on the cafe and coffee scene. 

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Seven Seeds is one of those Melbourne institutions we can take for granted. Walk along a nondescript street in Carlton that appears quiet and sleepy. Then stumble upon a packed house of uber coffee lovers at an unspectacular entrance almost devoid of signage (apart from a painted name on the wall).

Seven Seeds is a super passionate roastery and cafe. The lab here indicates the seriousness and passion for all things coffee. Seven Seeds never stands still but moves on ever evolving. The quality of coffee here shows no hint of dropping off, unlike some others that have diminished over the years. The coffee menu features Seven Seeds roasted coffee of course!  We visited Seven Seeds with friends from Canada (also a great coffee culture) to show them Melbourne's finest. 

A converted warehouse, Seven Seeds features large amounts of exposed brick, tiles, concrete floor, mounted bikes, and the large windows allow plenty of natural light. They even led the way in cafe fit outs with many since copying the Seven Seeds look. With universities nearby Seven Seeds attracts its fair share of students. It's an eclectic mix here of the young and fashionable.

The menu at Seven Seeds has never been more exciting (and all day breakfast baby). The World Loves Melbourne believes the standard of food matches the peerless standard of coffee. Check out  The Elvis french toast stuffed w/ banana caramel, whipped peanut butter and shards of candied bacon. Decadent and spot on. Have to love the candied bacon (tell yourself the acidity of the coffee cuts through all this dude food)...

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Would you think of Seven Seeds in the hunt for Melbourne's best burgers? Well they should be. Several of us ordered the burger and all raved. Juicy with quality patty, right amount of salad, and curly fries to die for...

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No to mention Eggs benedict on English muffins with prosciutto, hollandaise and rocket...

Then its down to serious pour over coffee. My first coffee was the entree. The Panama Pour Over just explodes with flavour across your palate. Served with tasting notes like a fine wine. One of the best coffee experiences of my life - and there's been many thousand...

Seven Seeds has close ties with its growers and sources the best coffee. We note Seven Seeds has been inducted into the Herald Sun Coffee Hall of Fame. Shine on Seven Seeds, keep evolving and leading the way...


 
Altair Restaurant - Warrandyte (breakfast on weekends)

Altair Restaurant is a beacon in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne with its fine dining, charming location and clever use of indigenous ingredients. Nestled in the leafy suburb of Warrandyte, Altair serves up some of Melbourne's best breakfast dishes on weekends. A traditional breakfast is available but Altair bursts into innovation with dishes like the  Black pudding is a must order breakfast dish for those that love this type of rustic food.

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Or check out the Build your own breakfast option.  The house smoked salmon is exceptional.

 Here you will find unique sophisticated breakfast offerings that excite. Get on it - a short drive from the city into the eastern suburbs.

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Little Sunflower - Elwood

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Healthy breakfast? Little Sunflower has quickly gained a loyal following for healthier eating; with this sexy new cafe the result of months of planning and experience of its owners Grant Waters and Angie Robertson. Says Angie, "Our focus is on providing the whole food, naturally."

In a review by The Herald Sun they were described as "#fitspo without the fanfare" and "Your health kick need not be boring. Here's proof nutrient dense does not mean flavour devoid."

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The menu is filled with breakfast highlights; the black rice pudding is warm, served with your choice of milk, topped with bee pollen, strawberries, banana, caramelised buckinis, toasted coconut  flakes. It is gluten free, dairy free and a delicious way to start the day!  The toasted granola has a superfood kick with goji berries and golden berries, nuts and seeds, topped with kefir - a fermented milk for a happy tummy! This is a granola dish with a superfood boost. 

The toasted granola is popular but there's also a standout raw granola. Little Sunflower serves up raw granola which takes 3 days to make! Says Angie, "First we activate the buckwheat & sprout it. Its then mixed with other activated nuts and seeds & dehydrated. Sweetening the granola is carried out with medjool dates and fruit only.  Soaking increases the nutrient value along with breaking down the problematic compounds that help enhance their digestibility. This dish is gluten free and dairy free."

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Almost famous at Little Sunflower are the healthy pancakes; another breakfast highlight. Customers are loving the Lemon, turmeric & quinoa pancakes, mascarpone, organic maple syrup. Not only does it taste great but is art on a plate.Lemon and turmeric pancakes are made with quinoa flour so they're gluten free. The pancakes also feature Pepe Saya mascarpone and organic maple syrup. Everything is well thought out and the little touches are in place.  Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory with anti-oxidant properties, while lemon supports the immune system and aids digestion. Not exactly guilt free but a bit of nutritional value for the pleasure.  

The Breakfast salad packs a nutritional punch with greens of watercress & spinach, ancient grains of freekeh and puffed amaranth, chia seeds and nuts in the dukkah, free range chemical free bacon pieces and topped with a poached organic free range egg.  Chia, banana, coconut pudding, brazil nuts, cacao nibs is a great example of how chia can be the hero in a dish but complemented with a range of compelling tastes and textures.

The Sweet potato roesti dish is vegetarian, dairy free & gluten free. Roasted field mushroom, raw kale, sweet potato roesti is cooked in coconut oil. Tomato kasoundi, a rich spicy, aromatic tomato relish is a delightful accompaniment. A healthy filling breakfast.

Breakfast is served all day! For lunch you can imbibe Nutrient packed bowls of delicious vibrant vegetables - raw and cooked, legumes, grains, seeds, shoots, with the option of adding a protein. Or maybe a hot Pumpkin & chickpea coconut curry, forbidden black rice, kale, natural yoghurt, seeds, chia poppadums. Or indeed choose a baguette or nutritious soup of the day served with sourdough.


One Plus Piece Cafe - Balwyn

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Breakfast in the eastern suburbs? Balwyn? One Plus Piece has been gaining kudos in the east with locals imbibing stunning breakfast dishes in Balwyn with an all day menu. The World Loves Melbourne considers One Plus Piece to be one of the standout brunch destinations in Melbourne. Tired of same old same old? For those who may feel many Melbourne breakfasts are similar, One Plus Piece delivers on delicious and interesting breakfast/brunch options.

Talented chef Cain serves up some delicious spicy dishes in th emix. How about Chilli scrambled egg on brioche bun with avocado, bacon and herbs? Creamy egg with a hit of chilli is rewarding, along with quality bacon and fresh avocado. A lightly toasted brioche bun sets off the dish. 

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How about roti for breakfast with eggs? One of our favourite breakfast dishes in Melbourne right now is the Mr Franky; Two fried eggs, roti roll with tasty cheese and smoked ham, topped with smashed avocado, sour cream, drizzled with organic tomato relish served with tomato salsa. Perfectly cooked roti is a highlight, and the advent of the eggs combining with the cream and salsa, is epic. Not to mention the combination of cheese and ham. The perfect breakfast dish, that bloggers have been raving about.

One Plus Piece has become a popular cafe in Balwyn for its innovation and tasty dishes, fun Japanese anime theme, and known for its generous portions. 

Cain is a talented chef who loves to innovate...

Pulled Pork for breakfast? How about rather pulled beef? Sanji's egg benedict: 12-hour braised pulled beef, poached eggs, house made hollandaise sauce. Bloggers have been raving about this dish. Pulled beef? Often we find pulled pork in many Melbourne dishes but pulled beef is awesome with poached eggs - a twist on Eggs Benedict. So rewarding.

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Coffee here is high quality 5 Senses with skilled baristas; the large number of "coffee regulars" is a testament to the coffee quality. Best coffee in the precinct.

One Plus Piece boasts several healthy style brunch options such as Green Monster with broccolini, kale, asparagus, poached egg, roasted almond and feta. 

The great thing is that One Plus Piece offers an all day menu. So you can grab any of these dishes through the day, plus other dishes such as the amazing burgers! (See this article).

Craving a change from the usual breakfast and brunch suspects? Check out One Plus Piece Cafe in Balwyn where innovation and exciting flavours and texture combinations abound. 


Stagger Lee's  - Fitzroy

A major part of a cafe's attraction is its ambience, not just the quality of its food and coffee. But when you tick all the boxes of atmosphere, food and seriously great coffee you have a winner. Stagger Lees is everything a cafe wants to be. The World Loves Melbourne had the task of taking Canadian friends to a standout cafe in melbourne and Stagger Lees came up with the goods.

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Stagger Lees is the brainchild of the folk at iconic Proud Mary in Collingwood. Many would know the song about the muderous dude who murders over a hat. In Brunswick St this may be a vintage hat or some cowboy boots. In any case the Americana theme at Proud Mary continues on at Stagger Lees.

He wore rat-drawn shoes and an old stetson hat

Had a '28 ford, had payments on that

- from Nic Cave version of the song Stagger Lee, very Brunswick...

The menu selections are all appealing here. My friends are health conscious but when Mike saw the Fat Bacon Toastie featuring Apple wood smoked bacon, gruyere fondue, fried egg served with winter greens and chutney, he was hooked. The toastie was served with eggs on top open style. This dish would impress Elvis.

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Having eaten scores of burgers around Melbourne I found the Stack & Billy Burger to be one of the best around. A chart topper featuring Black Angus shin patty, bacon, American mustard, catsup, aioli, pickles and cheddar served with bacon croquettes and greens. The balance of flavours is perfect. The patty is magical. Brioche buns are a great texture and mild sweetness. 

My Canadian friends Mike and Deb are familiar with Vancouver (the other most liveable city) and are taking mental notes re cafes in Melbourne. (Suitably) impressed.

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The fit out at Stagger Lees is stunning with large windows looking out to the prime of Brunswick St, exposed brick rustic look, concrete floor, as well as savvy timberwork and retro chairs and modern cabinets (with tasty treats). Spot the hipster at Stagger Lees.

Stagger Lees also has a liquor license. If it wasn't for the Mork chocolate milkshake this would have been our preferred source of refreshment.

As for coffee this place offers only the best - check out the single origins on the board. Come here and you'll find Stagger Lees to be a keeper... 


 Top Paddock - Richmond

Top Paddock is one of Melbourne's standout cafes with its spacious modern fit out and extensive imaginative menu. Meeting here in a trendy part of Richmond with my salubrious brother (Melbourne businessman and food critic extraordinaire) we commented that "these people know what they're doing". And they surely do being of the stable of Three Bags Full, APTE and Two Birds One Stone - some of the best cafes in Melbourne. Chatting with one of the owners Nathan Toleman at the restaurant, the team have pulled their experience from the other cafes and have even progressed the cafe concept.  

What I love is that the team have not reproduced their earlier successes but sought to give Top Paddock its own identity. In the early days of Three Bags Full it seemed there were similarities with the menu of stalwart APTE. Which is fine. But here at Top Paddock the menu options are distinctive and even exploring new ground. Kudos.

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Top Paddock has a light and airy feel with plenty of space (and is accessible with nearby parking) and great use of timber paneling and modern fittings. Some serious coin has gone into the layout and to great effect. Top Paddock has a superb ambience for romantic escapades or catching up with friends. Check out the tiling along the wall, dark timber floor, semi industrial ceiling, cool world music (at the time) and the cute display cabinets with treats. The spacious outdoor area is also alluring on a fresh Melbourne morning.  

This is not predictable cafe fare. This cafe is on fire with inventive dishes and sources his own ingredients. We were impressed with the Top Paddock menu options, most of which are available all day. Many brunch menus in Melbourne appeal to me with 2 or 3 standouts from the litany of choices - here at Top Paddock it was a case of 6 or 7 intriguing possibilities. If you feel like Muesli or Fruit Toast then go for it - there is always a group that are wanting simple options. Ricotta hotcakes with blueberries, maple, seeds and organic mascarpone beckon. Then there's the Pulled pork on rye with prunes, leaves and goats curd. Tempting.  

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A mega popular dish is the Blueberry & ricotta hotcake with berries, organic maple, seeds and double cream is a stunning brunch dish that belongs in the arts centre as a colourful masterpiece. It is the Rembrandt and Monet of brunch dishes. 

Top Paddock excels in so many areas, including the coffee. The coffee devotee can grab a filtered coffee. My strong latte had a great crema and hit the mark (we enjoyed 2 lattes each). They even offer the soy coffee option that frustrates some baristas in Melbourne - but come on, the customer is king.  Top Paddock also excels with its cakes and desserts... 

Pleasing to me was the opportunity for reasonably priced side plates, fresh juices on offer and reasonably priced mineral water. Yes and wait staff provide table service here. And did I mention there was a Pork belly and fried egg roll with relish for $12 and a killer Steak sandwich - dude food heaven - and on my bucket list.  

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Top Paddock has gone to the top of the charts for me and I left the place raving. I have a few other loves in Richmond I will be faithful to no doubt. But I found Top Paddock compelling. The crew from Three Bags Full etc haven't come here half baked but fully loaded. This is a serious culinary destination.


 CH James - Station St Fairfield

CH James, a trio of festive spaces, is a popular cafe in iconic Station Street Fairfield. Locals are keen to experience the modern menu and character of the venue, which includes a stunning outdoor courtyard. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to experience CH James and some of its signature dishes. The ambience here is a standout, with large welcoming windows and bright spaces, giving a feel of light and airy. Fascinating farm implements adorn the wall, a reference to the period of CH James and heritage. The fit out is such that the indoors and outdoors meets seamlessly, with the windows opening up to accommodate the coffee bars, and its an easy stroll to the courtyard.

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CH James is modern but features a nod to yesteryear with its compelling story of local CH James who was prominent in the northern suburbs in the halcyon period of Melbourne's development. Charles Henry James was a businessman extraordinaire in the 1870s and 1880s, and hugely influential in forming the unique community dynamic of the north we love today.  Dreamer, innovator and fiercely local, CH James was an influencer who was keen to “have a go”, connect with his community and he conducted his business with distinctive flair. CH James became a model and mentor to young businessmen of the era.

CH James represented the interests of the northern community in the Legislative Council and was a champion of Fairfield, Alphington and Thornbury as well as suburbs such as Essendon, Brunswick and Flemington.  CH James was also a man of style and could be spotted handsomely gowned in his silk brocade with heliotrope ribbon and fine diamonds with spangled sleeves. Hipster and fashionable.  CH James and his wife Harriette were keen supporters of local charities, community projects and help to the underprivileged.

Station Street has its own place in Melbourne history. With diversity and an eclectic vibe, Station Street is quintessentially Melbourne. CH James spent much of his time on Station St Fairfield and in 1884 established a horse tramway, which ran the length of Station Street. We think this is very Melbourne.

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CH James is well equipped with a coffee bar that faces iconic Station Street. Customers can pull up to the bar for top notch Small Batch coffee and the barista skills of Yuta Tanaka ex Auction Rooms. The World Loves Melbourne sampled two lattes perfectly made with fine latte art to boot.

CH James features an interesting and fine brunch and lunch menu, with refreshing and healthy dishes.  CH James has an impressive Lunch menu featuring healthier eating options.

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Coffee here is excellent and served in proper glassware. CH James spent time sourcing the best sugar to match its specialist coffee, and uses Coconut blossom sugar, which features a slightly caramelised taste.

Drinks list includes Small Batch coffee, Mork chocolate, and Tea by Chamellia. Wine list includes boutique World Loves Melbourne favourites, Maddens Rise and Medhurst, as well as other boutique wines. Another favourite is Pizzini Prosecco, our favourite Australian Prosecco. Craft beers are sourced from Victoria, including Hargreaves Hill and Holgate Brewhouse. An interesting option is Lager from Keo, Cyprus. 

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CH James has developed an amazing courtyard area next to a church, featuring plantings of fruit trees and fresh herbs, used in its cooking.

CH James is a great new addition for the northern suburbs and Melbourne. CH James has character in spades and boats several attractive dining spaces. Service is top notch, the coffee excellent, and the menu compelling and on trend. Highly recommended.


 Cumulus - Flinders Lane CBD  

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Cumulus exudes passion for a food culture and brings a sense of fun and an air of sophistication to the Melbourne dining scene. This is where the foodies go. And it stays at the leading edge of culinary Melbourne after several years. Cumulus has a warehouse/studio type vibe - with studio type lighting, high ceilings, and large windows fronting  Flinders Lane. There are 3 positions for viewing – either sit at the kitchen bar on a stool watching the expert chefs art work; or sit at the bar overlooking Flinders Lane on a stool watching the baristas at work; or sit in the middle and observe the hip collective in the room.

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But when doing breakfast one must at least tackle the "full English" also a popular mainstay. Be ready to engage some wonderful blood sausage. 

Twice I have enjoyed the Shashouska (sounds like a Kate Bush song?) with baked eggs, tomatoes, onions, peppers and marinated Persian fetta with chives – in a pan. Next to that on the large plate is served great seed bread. Wow! A hearty breakfast indeed which comes piping hot (be careful of the pan). Also a nice touch is the little bowls of pink salt and pepper. 

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If you sit at a communal table you may overhear conversations about gyms, personal trainers or the latest business deal. Coffee is excellent at Cumulus – using a La Marzocco top rank Italian machine.  

Staff are professional and engaging. You are warmly greeted for breakfast by friendly staff who show you to a table or stool, decked out with tulips on the tables and 3 different newspapers. Service is consistently great. Tested by moi when ducking in to Cumulus one summer’s day just to have a glass of water and a coffee – staff obliged but I wouldn’t do this often. For lunch and dinner the lamb is to die for - shared for two (but find someone who is not hungry).  As good as lamb gets. 

Often queues out the door due to no booking policy. I can't believe I was there at the crack of dawn and the place was packed and pumping with jazz on a weekday! Enjoying music from the five Bose speakers mounted around the room! Friendly barista explained to me that the bank vault door to the side of the current modern door is a heritage piece – and it adds to the vibe. Cumulus is a continual culinary joy.  


Hardware Societe - Hardware Lane  (moving to Katherine Place at time of writing)

Hardware Societe is a great place to go for a Sunday morning lazy breakfast in Melbourne! It captivates with French sophistication and charm, and a high quality dining experience.  

 If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s able to offer something more than the usual brunch options, with a certain je ne sais quois, then Hardware Societe is the place for you!

 Any restaurant worthwhile in Melbourne may involve a table wait and I’ve gladly waited for 20 minutes for a table at Hardware Societe. Spectacular news is that Hardware Societe are now spreading out and have taken over the building next door. The revolution is spreading!  

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Hardware Societe offers some of Melbourne’s favourite dishes such as Baked eggs served in a French pan with chunks of chorizo and cheese. This is a cacophony of taste and flavour! These kinds of dishes warm the stomach and leave you with a feeling of pleasantness for hours. Oo la la!

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Be impressed by the communal table and chic plastic chairs. Where space is at a premium they’re functional but also can be fashionable. 

The décor has a cool factor to a sublime degree including damask dark wallpaper imported from Germany and interesting lighting arrangements with naked bulbs. The whole place has an upbeat colourful feel to it...  

Coffee here is also great and sometimes underrated. The crema is velvet, and the coffee showing superb consistency, flavour and strength. A nice touch is the small round donut that comes with each coffee.

Ordering tea is an occasion with your selection coming with artistic tea cosy flair. Even the hot chocolate comes with great presentation and is not made to feel the poor cousin of hot drinks.

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Ambience is great being a vibrant bright restaurant – conversation is loud and atmosphere warm. The fact that it’s on the vibey restaurant strip of Hardware Lane adds to the ambience. 

Service is fantastic with hipster staff wearing aprons to set a French tome. They are both engaging and attentive. Open for breakfast and lunch but not dinner. Popular and a talking point around Melbourne. Rightly so!


 St Ali - South Melbourne

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St Ali is a hip cool fun uber café with amazing ambience, stunning coffee and excellent creative menu choices - hidden down a laneway in South Melbourne. This is one of my “go to” places in Melbourne and have loved each of my many visits. The owner Salvatore Malatesta is an icon and visionary in the industry, in the city of Melbourne, and internationally. He has inspired an amazing culture in and beyond this cult cafe in a laneway.

St Ali is named after Ali ibn Umar al-Shadili, a fourteenth century mystic and  someone who apparently birthed coffee passion. One of the cool mystiques surrounding St Ali is that it can be hard to find. You wander down some nondescript laneway off charming Clarendon Street in the quest for serious coffee. You then wonder if it’s the right laneway. You see a group of people emerge from a non descript entrance. And you realise this must be St Ali (no signage).

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Walk in to a hip if not grungy establishment with industrial themes. The friendly staff are so warm that you don’t mind waiting that 10 or 15 minutes for a table (no booking policy). The staff are also helpful in arranging tables to fit in those groups. We arrived on one occasion to meet an old friend and her partner. The attentive staff were accommodating to find us space as soon as it became available. Another time we met with friends from both Adelaide and London – dazzled by the vibe of St Ali – and staff managed to find us space during a packed Saturday brunch session.

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The menu options excite, are creative and show a sense of fun. Brunch highlights include The Daddy, From Chickens With Love options such as eggs anyway with sides or My Mexican Cousin corn fritters. Or for lunch go the Smokey and the Bandit Victorian rainbow trout. Or order the Chris-P confit pork belly. The Chicadee whole chicken thigh burger is a sensation.

Music pumping, grungy concrete floor, awesome flower arrangements, and the mirror ball, all add to the ambience. Love the communal tables. Love the different interesting areas to dine.

Known to be one of the best coffee establishments in Melbourne, St Ali exudes a serious coffee devotion. The house blends are great. Single origin options are dazzling – just look up and check out the board. Panama. Costa Rica. Colombia. Honduras. And others. St Ali brew amazing Cold Drip, Pour Over and Syphon coffee. It's hard to have just one coffee - usually a coffee or three here.  St Ali is a coffee wholesaler and roasts it’s own coffee, supplying notable establishments across the city. St Ali is spectacular.


Manchester Press - Rankins Lane CBD

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Manchester Press is a spacious funky cafe that you'll want to come back to. This deserves to be a global sensation like Manchester United.

Possibly my favourite café in Melbourne - it's  a great place to meet with friends and has one of Melbourne's most enjoyable breakfasts. Another laneway gem where coffee meets art. Manchester Press is part of the coffee triangle (as opposed to the Bermuda Triangle) with nearby places like Brother Baba Budan and Captains of Industry.

This is a huge spacious cafe - a former gallery and named after the former printing press business. Friends of mine remember it's former life - the renovation has been impressive. The mystery is accentuated by the fact that you need to pull back the sliding door to enter. Coffee here is amazing with highly skilled baristas that have a knack with latte art.

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 This place has a rustic and at times retro feel (check out the menu with old school labels on perspex). Also check out the water jars on tables (with hydrochloric acid labels). Don’t worry the coffee is acidic - but not that acidic! You can really relax here – read the paper and check your emails. Chilled. So relaxed here that a customer went to the bathroom and on passing asked me to protect his back pack and belongings. I passed the test. (I now live in  Rio).

Bagels for breakfast.  Damn fine ones with eggs and salmon. Then there's the simple raisin bagel with jam and ricotta  – good value and huge dollops of both jam and ricotta. In fact Manchester Press does bagels really well with other options (open sandwich style) and toppings available. I was told by the waitress that all menu options were available at any time – not just divided into breakfast and lunch. And that the menu changes whenever the chef feels like it… But some bagel options are more suitable for breakfast.

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The soft egg bagel with salmon breakfast option is a sensation – sounds simple and harmless but it packed a mighty punch. Check out the art on the walls by artist William Montgomery.

 

Where do you think are Melbourne's best breakfasts? Let me know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..