Friday, April 20, 2012

Wintour&Guinness & A Week Of Melbourne Eating

I've done quite a bit of eating which if I am being honest is completely the opposite of what I was hoping to do this week. One doesn't achieve the rippled body of an Abercrombie & Fitch model eating the way I have this week, but hey as if that will ever happen. I love food, I live for food, I breathe food and I dream of it daily. Melbourne is Australia's food capital and there is an old saying that Melbourne is a city of over 4 million food critics. There isn't a street corner without a restaurant on it and there is a list as long as my arm of all the places that I hope to visit over the next few months. This week I had the pleasure of visiting some of Melbourne's finest eateries and without boring you all with a post equally as long as that list I just mentioned, here are some of the places I've had the chance to visit this week.
Middle Park Hotel: I live in the beautiful area of Port Melbourne which is right next to to some of Melbourne's most affluent areas, such as Albert Park and Middle Park. Tree lined streets with rows of Victorian terraces in various muted tones, Middle Park is a mecca for those wanting to inject some of the beautiful into their life. Port Melbourne is a similar area however what it lacks is a bar with the sophistication and allure of the Middle Park Hotel. I ventured there late last week with Kevin and his parents, just before they embarked on their trip back to Ireland. The air that afternoon was crisp, with a slight breeze and after perching our backsides on the comfy stools, we ordered our food and boy did what we order deliver. Kevin's father ordered the chicken burger which is definitely something I will be ordering the next time I venture to MPH. I myself ordered the rare roast beef sandwich with spicy horseradish aioli. The meat was perfectly cooked however the bread was toasted slightly too crispy for me, making it hard to eat. Middle Park Hotel is the brother to the Albert Park Hotel, another equally stylish part of town and I'll be making it my mission to try the Albert Park Hotel as well as the Middle Park Hotel again very soon.

Rococco, Acland Street, St Kilda: Italian food to me is the ultimate in food indulgence. Pizza, pasta, bread, olive oil, garlic, gnocchi. These are the tastes of Italy that I love and could live on daily for the rest of my life. Rococco is a trusted favorite of mine and I like to take a trip there at every available opportunity. We rarely stray from our favourite pasta dishes such as the traditional carbonara or the spaghetti bolognese. Both utterly divine and if the plate isn't empty by the end of the meal you know its wasn't up to its usual standard. Go, try it out and believe me you wont leave disappointed. I love going on a Saturday night when the place is bustling, full of life and the beautiful (and some not so...) people are dressed up.

Mart 130, Middle Park: This charming cafe is housed in one of the old tram line stations along South Melbourne's Canterbury Road and is a bustling centre for those who believe the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I have been to Mart 130 several times and the place gets better and better the more I go. I distinctly remember my first time there, it was a Wednesday morning and overlooking Albert Park, I sat there writing pieces for the Irish website The Daily Update. I ordered the pancakes which were dense and drenched in maple syrup and sat there drinking coffee watching the world go by. Oh how times have changed since then. Now I have a career, a lovely apartment and life is pretty good. Back then when I was new to Melbourne I couldn't foresee what lay ahead. I took a trip to Mart this week and ordered something which is not typically something I order when I have breakfast., the bircher muesli. It was my first experience of eating it and after one spoonful I was hooked. It was delicious. Creamy, sweet and just magical I would encourage everyone to try it. Its not the best cafe in my opinion for relaxing, however the constant hustle and bustle is part of its charm. One doesn't read the paper or a magazine here, one goes to be loud, social and enjoy great food with good company. A visit is a must especially with exceedingly good company.

Starbucks, Bourke Street, Melbourne: Hear ye, hear ye...there is an Irishman in Melbourne who drinks Starbucks occasionally. Hear ye, hear ye. My name is Taurean, I am indeed Irish and yes I do on a casual basis drink and frequent my local Starbucks. Now before you throw rotten vegetables on me and curse me to the outer suburbs, let me plead my case. See you need to understand that Ireland doesn't have a massive coffee culture. We have Starbucks, we have Costa Coffee, we have Insomnia and we have well pretty bad coffee in most restaurants. Coffee in Ireland is only taking off in the gourmet sense and it will never have the same presence within Ireland as it does here in Melbourne. I adore great coffee and have tried some of the top places in Melbourne but every so often I get the craving for that familiar taste that Starbucks coffee has. Ive been drinking it since forever, I remember drinking it in my local branch in London, in Dublin and now when I want that feeling of nostalgia I venture to the Bourke Street branch where I am collectively known to all the staff as Matthew. With a name like mine where you need to spell it out every single time to strangers, I use my middle name. What you have to remember is Melburnian's are coffee snobs at heart and that is fine, I like a good coffee more than the next person but I really don't think Starbucks is as bad as people make out. I mean if its good enough for Ms. Wintour, than its good enough for Wintour&Guinness.

Cumulus Inc, Flinders Lane, Melbourne: Its not every morning you get invited to breakfast at one of Melbourne's top restaurants and when one is, you don't say no. This was a work breakfast with a difference as there was actually no work to be done or discussed. I had heard of this restaurant before many a time and I cant for the life of me tell you why its taken me so long to take a trip there. The minute I walked in the door I knew this place was special. I could feel that this was a place where things happen, this was a place where the big shots talked shop and I knew instantly that this was a place where I would be able to do the one thing I love most to do, people watch.

In between discussing the future of the music industry, our collective love of The Walking Dead and the rivalry of Sydney and Melbourne the majority of the table ordered the above. The dish was a mouth watering mix of roasted red peppers, Persian fetta and two delicious eggs baked to perfection. Accompanied by two slices of buttered sourdough toast, the meal was delicious however we couldn't all help but agree it was missing something. That certain something was chorizo sausage. If the chorizo sausage had of been included, the meal would of had another dimension to it. The coffee was delicious, however when ones asks for a cappuccino one expects just the dusting of a little chocolate to give the drinker a little sweetness. Cumulus Inc doesn't do chocolate it seems on their cappuccinos and well that was a little disappointing. Goodbye cappuccino, hello flat white.
I am in love none the less with Cumulus Inc. and cannot wait to try it for lunch and dinner. As I said I have a list the length of my arm.


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