Catching up with friends for lunch? Please. Everyone knows it’s all about ‘brunch’ these days; a perfect midway point between breakfast and lunch where it’s still acceptable to order eggs and bacon (let’s be honest when is it not acceptable to order eggs?) but it’s also cool if you head straight for the burger option. I’m obsessed with Melbourne’s world class café culture and I’ve nutted out my top three brunch spots (at least these are my faves right now), which you should check out immediately.
Okay, so I’m a little lot obsessed with this place. My sister (who is equally if not more obsessed than me) introduced me to Merchant’s Guild back in 2013 when it first opened. If you were to drive past, unknowingly to its existence, there’s no way you’d stop or even notice this spot. But don’t be fooled. This place is PACKED every single day – even on a Monday…and for good reason!
The food: The menu changes seasonally, as do their daily specials (which I love). Yet, they always leave their crowd favourites on the menu, which is great because I have an emotional connection with their short cut bacon dish; short-cut thick bacon served with poached eggs on top of sourdough toast, jalapeño pesto and avocado and corn salsa. They do an all-day breakfast, but just as scrumptious lunch options if you’re post 12PM and in need of something less ‘brunchy’. My other recommendations are; the donut French toast (not for those on a health kick), the eggs benedict – featuring a changing hollandaise so it’s different every day of the week, and the side of black beans with lime and feta (to die for if you’re a vegetarian).
The drinks: I’m a coffee enthusiast and this place does great coffee. I wouldn’t be saying that if it wasn’t the truth. They also do a different fresh juice each day, and are famous for their signature prana chai which is the fresh kind (with herbs not powder). They also serve their teas in a quirky way, whereby you get sand timers counting down for you so you know exactly when your tea is brewed to perfection.
The venue: Merchant’s Guild offers a simple and rustic floor plan, with an open kitchen and small outdoor sitting area as well. You generally have to put your name down for a table, but they never keep you waiting long. At the busiest of times, I’ve never waited for a table more than 20 minutes.
Number TWO Mart, 107A Canterbury Road, Middle Park
Mart is tram spelt backwards. And Mart also happens to be…at a tram stop. In the heart of the city’s south-east, Mart screams Melbourne and is quite simply put, delightful. I was introduced to Mart by an old manager, and I’m ever so grateful she did, because Mart makes the best bircher muesli I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve tried a lot of bircher.
The food: While on the topic of bircher muesli, let me just break it down for you. Basically, it’s super cheap (about $11 from memory), but also such a generous serve that you’ll likely be asking for a doggy bag to take home what you can’t physically fit. It’s also damn good. You get the option of two toppings; either seasonal poached fruits (which is always my choice) or summer fruits and basically you just need to try it to understand my enthusiasm. My other picks would be the corn fritters with salmon or bacon or the truffle dish. Truffle always wins me over!
The drinks: Again, great coffee. I feel like most good cafes have no choice but to somehow perfect the art of the coffee in Melbourne these days. I’ve personally never ventured from the coffee; however they also do smoothies, juices and fab iced chocolates/coffees.
The venue: Well it’s at a tram stop, so, basically how much cooler does it get? With a true Melbournian vibe, plus friendly staff and a cute outdoor area that reminds me of a country cottage veranda (they even stock you blankets for the cooler months!), you just can’t go wrong.
Number THREE Top Paddock, 658 Church Street, Richmond
I feel like Top Paddock kind of sprung up from nowhere over the last 18 months. But it is arguably one of the most popular cafes in the whole of Australia. You will definitely have to factor in a long wait time if you’re planning a Top Paddock meal, especially over the weekend. So don’t plan to get in and out quick. I’ve waited so long as 1.5 hours just to get a table for 2. It’s also a very tricky area to find parking. Aside from Top Paddock being a logistical nightmare for the faint hearted, it’s actually incredible and well worth the wait/walk.
The food: I would contend that Top Paddock boasts the ideal menu for the brunch goer with a sweet tooth. Sure, they serve eggs and what not, but it’s the sweet options that are both extra tasty but also some of the most Instagram worthy meals in Melbourne. Both the bircher muesli and blueberry pancake are on my hit list. Equally scrumptious, they are a delight to look at. Top Paddock also distributes Dough Boys donuts, so if you have the appetite to take some of these bad boys home with you, then you have the option!
The drinks: There’s nothing too special about the drinks menu, but again, you won’t go wrong with the coffee from Top Paddock.
The Venue: Top Paddock is big for your standard café and it has a really great vibe to it as well. Again, the only issue is the wait time, but I’ll reiterate just how worthwhile that wait is! It has a good balance of indoor and outdoor seating a well.
There are plenty of notable cafes and brunch spots in Melbourne, and I’ve many more on my hit list, but the 3 above would have to be my regular spots that I will return to time after time.