Restaurants, Bars & Whiskey
You know what they say about Melbourne, don’t you? Of course you do. I’ve told you. It’s a city to live in. I haven’t told you why though, or at least no more specifically than “oh my god I love it here everything is great”. So, let’s talk a bit more about the why.
Eating In Melbourne
I guess you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find one of the world’s most liveable cities and Australia’s self-proclaimed capital of culture has a set of inner suburbs almost dedicated to a national cuisine. There’s Chinatown, stretching down Little Bourke Street through the CBD; the Greek Precinct, off the shoulder of Chinatown; Lygon Street Precinct, home to a vast number of Italian restaurants; Victoria Street Precinct, where you’ll be hard pushed to find a place that doesn’t serve Vietnamese; and that’s just naming a few. As well as the nation-specific neighbourhoods there are also those recently gentrified, some-what-grungey, super-hip parts of town, like Fitzroy, Brunswick and South Melbourne, which makes it some what easier for fussy people like myself to find a veggie friendly place to grab a bite.
I’ve walked Lygon St a couple of times now, having been there on first arrival with Matt and Sarah and again with a couple of my old room-mates from Nomads. It’s a pretty interesting experience, as each restaurant has a couple of guys outside who will do everything they possibly can to pressure you into stopping and eating with them; a couple of free drinks? Not enough, how about some bruschetta as well? A bottle of wine for the ladies! The food has been good and most of the seating is outside which would be great, if it wasn’t on a busy road.
Of course, there is also plenty of street/fast food available. Australian’s love their pies and fries by the looks of things. Ignoring the standard McDonald’s, Subway and Hungry Jack’s (Burger King can’t be called Burger King out here because of some place in Adelaide already having the name.) there are Mexicans, endless Asian stands, Pie Face, Lord of the Fries, a chain selling schnitzels and an array of other wonders. I still maintain that the UK is really hard done by when it comes to fast-food choice.
Drinking In Melbourne
Being as dangerously hip as Melbourne is, it comes as little surprise to find that some of the best places to drink are hidden down alleys (how very Melbourne!), up stair cases, and behind very closed looking doors.
I don’t have a local, it’s impossible when there’s so much choice and so many bars that I’m yet to go in. While I was working in North Richmond I’d frequent the Vic most Friday nights, which I guess was as close as I’ve been to having a local. (For those who can’t read between the lines, I’m no longer working in North Richmond.)
Drinking out isn’t cheap and it pays to know when the happy hours are. That said, if you’re going to go out, you might as well enjoy yourself and go all out. Sarah and Matt have probably had the biggest hand in showing me some of the best bars I’ve been to so far. In one night we hit up three very cool bars. Starting off at the local Hofbräuhaus for a cheeky stein.
Ok, cheeky probably isn’t an effective description of a stein at any time. It’s more like a work out for your arms but that doesn’t matter. German beer is always delicious. Our next stop carried on our European theme as we headed down to Berlin Bar. I’d actually been told about this place a few times but would have never found it alone. Down a tiny alley, up a narrow stair case and from behind a door, a German gent asked us how many we were before escorting us through to the East-Berlin themed side of the bar where we would each enjoy amazing cocktails.
There was a hospital themed bar on the cards where you apparently drink from a syringe, but a $10 cover charge is enough to put me off going in to most places especially when the alternative on offer is a whiskey and ale bar. Matt led us to Whisky + Alement which on first approach looked about as closed as closed can be. Darkened windows and a big heavy door hid a lightly buzzing crowd and one of the most impressive selections of drinks I’ve ever seen. The whiskey flowed and we discussed the smokey, peaty and oakey flavours without really knowing if they actually referred to different tastes.
It was somewhat unusual to have a spent a night out and actually enjoy the drinks, rather than just knocking back as many as possible while the going was good. There was also the added bonus of not ending the night in a club, dancing like a loon and spending an unforgivable amount of money on shots. I’m looking forward to further opportunities to explore the best of Melbourne’s bars.