All posts filed under: drink

Lolo & Wren

It’s always a promising sign when a cafe located roughly in the middle of nowhere is still functional. Even better when it’s thriving. This, surely, is when you know you’re onto something good. Cycling to Lolo & Wren, I was sure I must have copied the wrong address. I found myself in inner-suburban no man’s land — an obscure part of Brunswick West somewhere between Melville Road and the CityLink tollway. Yep, romantic. But there it was, nestled among houses and apartment buildings, with little to attract punters apart from an A-frame sign and a few glowing recommendations. Run by husband and wife team Franco and Karen Caruso, it’s Lolo & Wren’s food that’s put it on the highly competitive Melbourne cafe map — no wonder considering Franco is a former Scottish Young Chef of the Year (2006). The cafe itself is large and bright, with an open kitchen and a central wooden bench perfect for perching to read the newspaper. On a recommendation I tried the pancakes with pear, almonds, walnuts and mascarpone, and my friend …

Captains of Industry

I have a new cafe crush. Captains of Industry couldn’t be more Melbourne. Tucked down a laneway off Little Bourke Street, this cafe sits one floor above street level, its large front windows overlooking the beautiful GPO building on Elizabeth Street. The space has a warehouse look, with painted brick walls and large metal roof beams, but it doesn’t feel cold or cavernous. A smattering of small wooden tables, a long dining table and window benches makes this a comfortable hangout whether you’re visiting as a group, a couple or alone. And here’s where the industry comes in. Branching off from the main cafe space are three tiny shops: a shoemaker, a barbershop and a jeweller. Each is the size of a shoebox, but each is filled with a fascinating array of tools and contraptions. Peeking through these doors is like catching a glimpse into the Melbourne of another era. While the website declares that ‘the practitioners of Captains of Industry are Practical Men of Wide Experience offering the Good, the True and the Beautiful …

Lentil as Anything

Nestled among the trees in graceful Abbotsford Convent by the Yarra River is a little Melbourne miracle. Lentil As Anything is a volunteer-run restaurant and cafe serving up simple, hearty self-serve vegetarian food that is, quite literally, priceless. Payment at Lentils works through an honour system whereby diners give whatever they can afford. There are no cash registers here — no waiters handing out bills. There’s just a little wooden box asking for donations — whatever you feel your meal is worth. Photos by Marleena Forward Originally opened in 2000 in St Kilda, Lentils is now a registered not-for-profit organisation with four restaurants in operation: St Kilda, Abbotsford, Preston and Footscray. The Lentil As Anything website explains its evolution and philosophy thus: “Money was influencing the trends in the community, leaving many disenchanted. Lentil As Anything aimed to re-engage those who where left behind. It seemed that money was often a barrier to people participating … We used the money left in the box to run the restaurant. Money became a unifying force. Trust began to feel at home. The quest …

CERES Community Environment Park

If you love nature, gardening, organic food, bicycles or animals, or if you’re passionate about conservation and general do-gooderness, you should head to CERES Community Environment Park in Brunswick East. This place is like an urban lung, feeding Melbourne’s northern inner suburbs with oxygen and greenery and the smells of fresh dirt and ground coffee. Apart from being a lovely place to simply wander around and look at chickens, CERES has its own Organic Market, a Permaculture Nursery, and an Organic Cafe. CERES also offers a range of courses and workshops on all things green and sustainable; check the website for details of what’s on offer. There are also a bunch of volunteer opportunities here, so contact CERES if you’re keen to get involved. One popular and very handy CERES service is the team of volunteer bicycle fixer-upperes at The BikeShed. If, like me, you’re a little mechanically challenged, take your ailing bike along to CERES and the kind folk here will teach you how to fix it yourself. You can also buy new and second-hand bicycle parts …

Acústico Café

Two years ago, Diego Iraheta opened a tiny one-room coffee stop called Acústico Cafe on Union Street, near Jewell Station in Brunswick. For a time, this place remained a somewhat hidden secret behind dark tinted windows — a caffeine pit-stop for a handful of locals. Gradually, however, Diego realised the cafe was outgrowing its premises, so he opened the back room to create a lounge area furnished with recycled bits and bobs, including a couple couches and a stripped-back piano. Here, the large industrial side-door is rolled up in warm weather for an ‘outside-in’ feel, and there’s a steady flow of well-chosen, laid-back tunes to soothe the ears. The coffee at Acústico is tasty and the food is delicious and reasonably priced. The Latin-American influenced menu rotates every few months to keep things interesting — check the Acústico facebook page for recent additions. This is where you’ll also find details of any gigs and other events happening at the cafe, which aims to be a hub for the local artistic community.   Acústico is the sort of …

Night Noodle Market 2013

From today until 30 November the Alexandra Gardens will be transformed into a Night Noodle Market, complete with over 25 hawker-style food stalls, four bars for all your boozy needs and nightly entertainment. Held as part of The Age Good Food Month, the market will kick off at 5pm on weekdays and from 4pm on weekends. Click here for a full list of participating stalls. — Tuesday 19 November 2013 UPDATE! I haven’t made it to the Night Noodle Market yet, but I’ve heard feedback from a few readers that the queues at the market stalls are atrocious. One said she had to wait an hour and a half for food. If you’ve been to the NNM, let us know how your experience went by commenting below!   Night Noodle Market 2013 Dates: 18–30 November 2103 Address: Alexandra Gardens, Melbourne Opening hours: Monday–Tuesday 5–9pm; Wednesday 5–10pm; Thursday–Friday 5–11pm; Saturday 4–10pm; Sunday 4–9pm    

Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar

Whenever you hear someone talk about Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, they will invariable use the words ‘Melbourne institution’ in the same breath. And quite rightly so. This little Italian cafe has been doing its thing for over 50 years, and it’s obvious. You don’t come here for the coffee so much as the atmosphere — the staff are friendly, if a little brusque at times, and the place is littered with tatty framed pictures of who-knows-what. Stepping into Pellegrini’s really does feel like stepping into a little slice of Italy on Bourke Street. There are no set prices for the food, but main meals generally hover around the $15 mark. I thoroughly recommend stopping by for a late-night coffee in the front checkered-floor diner. Caps off a night very nicely.   Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar Address: 66 Bourke St, Melbourne 3000 Tel: 9662 1885 Opening hours: Mon–Sat 8am–11.30pm; Sun 11am–8pm Damage: Around $15 for main meals   Read more reviews at

1000 £ Bend

  I discovered this cafe a couple years ago, just after it first opened. It was big, bare, cheap and different — the new kid on a city block that’s generally off-limits to the budget-conscious. Today, 1000 £ Bend is still big, relatively cheap and different — just with a few extra chairs, tables, lamps and lude scribblings on the bathroom walls that have gathered over time. The intervening years have given this cafe space to settle and find its groove — that groove being a blase hangout for Melbourne’s alternative crowd who have been shoe-horned out of their Fitzroy/Northcote/Brunswick homes and flung into Melbourne’s all-too-mainstream CBD. Despite its city location, you won’t find a suit in sight, although free Wi-Fi makes this a popular workspace so during the day the place becomes a sea of laptops. Behind the cafe area in the front is an enormous room used as a quieter work space — when it’s not being used to house exhibitions. Upstairs is a cinema, where free film screenings take place every Sunday. There’s also free live music on Sundays from 2pm-4pm. Food here is mostly of …

town hall hotel

    Tucked away in North Melbourne’s very cute Errol Street is the Town Hall Hotel, an unassuming little pub that gets a lot of things right. The front bar is suitably dingy for a casual drink — a very casual drink. As the Town Hall’s own website says, you’ll feel right at home here ‘if you’re the kind of person who feels uncomfortable in the foyer of the Hilton, but not self-conscious about a gravy stain on your collar’. Wander around the back and you’ll find a great little beer garden — a lovely spot for a quiet beer or an al fresco meal in summer. But it’s the Town Hall’s central dining area that particularly tickles my fancy. It’s cosy, intimate and shabby enough to put you at ease. An open fire burns in winter and there’s always a tea-light candle on every table, lending just a touch of romance. The food here is generally pretty good, with main meals mostly around the $15–$20 mark. A great choice for a hearty pub meal …

be happy

– This post is dedicated to happy hours in bars and pubs across Melbourne. I’ll keep updating this page as I come across new specials.  Please note that I can’t recommend all these venues because I haven’t visited them all yet. I’m just the messenger here…    – The Workers Club Address: 51 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 3065 VIC Happy hours: 4pm–8pm, Mondays & 4pm–7pm, Tuesday–Sunday On offer: $2 pots on Mondays (until 8pm) and $5 house wines, $7 Bulmer pints and $7 Fat Yak pints Tuesday–Sunday – Thornbury Theatre Address: 859 High St, Thornbury 3071 VIC Happy hours: 5pm–6.30pm, Thursday–Saturday On offer: Half-price drinks – Bar Etiquette Address: 408 Sydney Rd, Brunswick Vic 3056 Happy hours: 5pm–9pm every day On offer: $2.50 pots, $5 pints and $10 jugs of lager, ale and cider – Wesley Anne Address: 250 High St, Northcote Hill Happy hours: 12pm–6pm every day On offer: $12 jugs of Gypsy Cider and Boag’s Draught – 1000 £ Bend Address: 361 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000 VIC Happy day: Tuesday, 4pm–11pm On offer: $2.50 pots of Carlton – Angler’s Tavern Address: 2 Raleigh Rd, Maribyrnong 3032 Vic Happy days: 11am–late, …