10 Essential Brunches in Melbourne
Operator 25 is a ‘serious’ brunch destination in Melbourne, offering favorite comfort foods with a twist/ Courtesy of Operator25
Melbourne hailed as ‘brunch capital of the world’
Melbourne is often referred to as “the brunch capital of the world.” Brunch is that meal in between breakfast and lunch, and it’s typically long and leisurely. If your brunch meal is substantial enough, you won’t need to eat again until dinner.
Melburnians love to gather late morning and polish off a long brunch in an atmospheric café. On weekends, you often have to queue for your favourite brunch establishment, and a half hour wait is not uncommon.
Work up an appetite and get ready to tuck in. Here are the best spots for brunch in Melbourne:
Brunswick Street in Fitzroy is hipster central. There’s always been a smattering of cafes along this street. But in recent times, the number of cafes has exploded. Most of these cafes are distinctive by their quirky architecture, décor and theme. Stagger Lee’s, in the centre of this brunch hub, is a great example.
The Fat Bacon Toasty, the ultimate toasted sandwich, features apple-wood smoked bacon, thick cut and super crispy, between thick slices of buttery bread. Gruyere fondue brings creamy delight with the Gruyere oozing over the sides. With an egg on top for good measure, this toasty is a smash hit. To soften the blow, a fresh green salad with spicy chutney is served on the side.
The Legal District of Melbourne is starting to grow in terms of café influence. Set in a former telephone exchange in the legal district in Melbourne’s Central Business District, Operator 25 is a revelation. The place, pumping with interesting dining spaces, features an inter-generational crowd.
A standout brunch dish is the sweet corn fritters, fried duck egg, tomato salad, goat’s curd and herb oil. Ticking all the boxes, this dish provides a generous portion of fritters – fresh, moist and full of flavor --- complemented by an oozy duck egg. The entrée is superbly balanced by the fresh, crisp salad and creamy, delectable goat’s curd. This is truly a cacophony of culinary delights! Kudos to Head Chef Felipe Guedes.
Station Street in Fairfield is one of Melbourne’s most historical suburban streets since the 1870s, when entrepreneur CH James conducted his business.
Franck Verschaeve (formerly at Pope Joan) is the Head Chef classically trained from a fine-dining background, and has brought his skills to the cafe scene. The brunch option of house-cured ocean trout, salted zucchini, fennel and dill salad topped with a poached egg impresses the eye, not to mention exhibits a delicious combination of flavors.
Sydney Road in Brunswick is one of the most multicultural streets in the world. A plethora of nations and food styles greet the diner.
Two Little Pigs Charcuterie and Grind specializes in two favorites of Melbourne – charcuterie and pork.
The Pea and Ham is a modern twist on a classic brunch dish featuring peas and ham. Crisp roasted pork belly, poached free-range eggs and green pea veloute is served with sourdough toast. The pork belly is exceptional, being slow cooked for at least five hours, and has crispy skin on top. The eggs are cooked perfectly and the pea soup is delicate and not overbearing. The combination is sensational.
Seven Seeds is credited as being a highly influential coffee powerhouse that has shaped the coffee culture of Melbourne over many years. Walk along a nondescript street in Carlton that appears quiet and sleepy. Then stumble upon a packed house of uber coffee lovers at an unspectacular entrance almost devoid of signage (apart from a painted name on the wall).
Brunch hits the high notes here. Check out The Elvis French Toast stuffed with banana caramel, whipped peanut butter and shards of candied bacon. Decadent and we think Elvis would love it. Of note is the pleasure of the candied bacon (tell yourself the acidity of the coffee cuts through all this dude food).
Melbourne is famous for its laneway culture, having converted previously sleepy laneways into thriving foodie and retail destinations.
Manchester Press is a great example -- one of the original hipster and artistic cafes -- to be found in a laneway in the heart of Melbourne’s Central Business District. This is a huge spacious cafe -- a former gallery and named after a former printing press business. The renovation has been impressive, revealed when you pull back the sliding door to enter.
The soft egg bagel with salmon breakfast option is a sensation – sounds simple and harmless but it packed a mighty punch. Crack open the top of the soft-boiled egg served in a cute eggcup with Oriental figurines, and then smear soft egg all over your piping hot bagel. Then place some salmon from the generous pile on the plate on top of your egg and bagel. There’s lemon to squeeze over the salmon and a great little salad accompanies the brunch dish with lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber - with a killer dressing.
Charm is another trademark of the Melbourne brunch scene. Crabapple Kitchen, on iconic Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn, is a great example.
Walk in to a world of charm, where seating material reminds me of my childhood with blooms of floral against cream. The decor brings the charm of yesteryear with a splash of modern, notably the exposed brick and naked bulbs (not totally naked with clear jars as coverings).
Sweet corn and chilli fritters -- with grilled Cypriot halloumi, avocado, tomato, cucumber, red onion and mint -- is a cracking brunch dish. Staff expert advice is to order sides of a poached egg and a serving of chorizo. Chorizo is a popular ingredient in the Melbourne brunch scene, and adds verve to almost any brunch dish.
Melbourne is also known for cafes with a semi-industrial feel. Top Paddock in Richmond, an oasis among surrounding businesses, is a great example.
Check out the tiling along the wall, dark timber floor, semi-industrial ceiling, cool world music (at the time) and cute display cabinets with treats. The spacious outdoor area is also alluring on a fresh Melbourne morning.
The gin and lime cured ocean trout with beetroot relish, potato galette, poached eggs, leaves, and goat’s curd with toast is a sensational dish visually. The cured ocean trout is divine and the potato galette goes superbly with the trout. With pleasant acidity of the relish, this is an exceptional brunch dish.
Cumulus Inc. is an icon in one of Melbourne’s most iconic foodie precincts, Flinders Lane in the Central Business District. Cumulus is another example of the popular warehouse/studio vibe.
A standout brunch dish is the Shashouska (sounds like a Kate Bush song?) with baked eggs, tomatoes, onions, peppers and marinated Persian feta with chives – served in a piping hot pan. Next to that on the large plate is served great seed bread. This dish is rewarding and rustic. Also a nice touch is the little bowls of pink salt and pepper.
Melbourne enjoys both stylish cafes and laneway cafes, and Hardware Societe delivers on both. French style abounds in terms of décor as well as menu options. For several years, Hardware Societe has been a mainstay of the Melbourne brunch scene, housed in foodie hub Hardware Street.
Hardware Societe offers some of Melbourne’s favourite dishes, including baked eggs served in a French pan with chunks of chorizo and cheese. This is a cacophony of taste and flavour. These kinds of hearty dishes warm the stomach and leave you with a feeling of pleasantness for hours.