Clean and bright, this is one of those cafes that helps you greet the new day with a warm smile and a optimistic outlook. The communal tables lined with herbs, upcycled wooden shelving and homey menu is a comfort, as is the quality brew.
Find Tall Timber at 60 Commercial Road, Prahran.
If you’re in the mood for some fancy-ish feel-good food, Nieuw Amsterdam’s cheeseburger and Dutch fries, smokey beef brisket or chicken waffles may hit the spot. The split-level eatery and bar also does moody lighting, group-appropriate booths and a sturdy selection of beers and ciders to help wash down your upstairs eats.
Find Nieuw Amsterdam at 106-112 Hardware Street in the city (a short walk from the State Library and Wheeler City).
Pabu Grill & Sake
Even with so much to tempt you on Smith Street, it would be a shame to overlook this lively Japanese gem of a restaurant, which likens itself to a modern Japanese ‘pub’ or izakaya.
I can recommend the Hiyashi (little towers of silken tofu), Kinolco salad of greens and mushies (vegan and can be GF) and ‘Standard Flight’ of three sake with tasting notes.
Find Pabu at 190 Smith Street, Collingwood.
Before, after or in-between your Smith Street meals, be sure to indulge in the incredibly tasty gelato treats at Messina.
At times there are long lines, but steady your gelato-loving heart and trust that it will be worth the wait. I devoured a small serve of ‘The Boss’ Wife’ (a rich and creamy hazelnut concoction) and was overcome with the kind of deep bliss only reached through truly amazing dessert.
Find Messina at 237 Smith Street, Fitzroy.
Jardin Tan Kiosk
French-Vietnamese food and garden-side bliss sum up the joys of Jardin Tan Kiosk, the newly-opened eatery in Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Offering both quick snacks and sit-down delights, this casual yet polished creation seems to have effortlessly combined garden-grown and local ingredients with world-class cooking.
My experience was a relaxed and sublime lunch affair in the ‘beer garden’, surrounded by fresh herbs and veges. I can recommend the crispy tofu with red chilli, the prawn and pork Vietnamese pancake (just like Hoi An), the prawn and sweet potato fritters with green chili pickles, and (the star of my meal) the warm, crispy Bo La Lot.
Find Jardin Tan at the Royal Botanic Gardens, in the former Observatory Cafe.