What do you do when you have a successful business venture? Well, you expand of course. The newly opened Kettle black is an extension of the highly successful and delicious Top Paddock. Famed for their unforgettable ricotta hotcakes, adorned with berries, organic maple and florals, the chain is known for exquisite plating and stylish interior. It was no surprise that when Kettle Black opened its doors, the fanfare and expectations were tremendously high.  But how does the sister compare to its famous parent?


Top Paddock has long been a Melbourne favourite. It’s signature presentation encompassing delicate touches of micro herbs and florals, makes Top Paddock dishes instantly recognisable and ‘oh so instagram worthy’.  There are advantages and disadvantages to technical plating, very often customers are presented with a stunning dish, only to be disappointed by flavour. This is where Top Paddock reigns it’s superiority over Kettle Black. The dishes taste as mouth-watering as its appearances. For the savoury lovers, the go-to dish is the roasted kipfler potatoes and leek omelette, embedded with sizeable chunks of taleggio, padron peppers and a sliver of jamon sarrano.

The raved about dish; however, are the blueberry and ricotta hotcakes. It’s positively #instafamous and deservedly so.  Sweet treats are all about eating with the eyes and mouth, and these hot cakes are an all round sensory experience. Cutting into the hotcakes releases an aroma of sweet maple, intertwining the nostrils and tantalising the tastebuds. Texturally, the tastebuds are greeted with the crunch of mixed seeds, the smoothness of double cream and the soft fluffiness of hotcake batter. Visually, the colours are vibrant and the plating is a beautifully chaotic. Plump blueberries are revealed, lovingly baked into a thick maple batter, finished with a quenelle of double cream and sprinkled with dehydrated berry powder. Oh so Pretty. The hotcakes are sizeable in portion. I recommend sharing with a friend if your easily sugar-loaded. Conclusively, you cannot leave Top Paddock without trying these hotcakes. You cannot! Top Paddock is my all-round favourite brunch place in Melbourne, and being a ‘hungrycookie’, this is not an understatement. 

Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcakes w/ Berries, Organic Maple, Seeds 


So, Melbourne, here is another ridiculously good looking cafe to add to your growing list of brunch places to try. I hate to use the word juxtaposition, as it brings to mind hairy hipsters talking about ‘art’, but I can think of no other word to describe Kettle Black. It reminds me of the movie ‘Up’, where grumpy protagonist Carl Fredricksen finds his little cottage sandwiched between buildings, that could only be described as barren and sterile. The porcelain white of the Victorian inspired architecture, is a prominent contrast to its glassy neighbours. It certainly is a picturesque image and I assure you there are no angry old men brandishing balloons in sight.

Similar to Top Paddock, the chefs have mastered the art of plating, producing aesthetically pleasing dishes that arouses one’s interest. Disappointingly, Kettle Black did not meet expectations in terms of taste. The service made me feel invisible, it was not a busy day. The dishes we tasted were bland, small portioned and over-priced. The exception was the yoghurt which was HUGE, almost too huge for one person. I really wanted to like Kettle Black, but I’m afraid Top Paddock is the winner in these circumstances.

One Plus Piece – Anime Themed Cafe in Balwyn

One Piece is the only anime themed cafe in Melbourne. Inspired by the manga series, hop on a pirate ship to find gastronomic treasure. The absence of devil fruits is noticeable, but who needs super powers, when you have super eating abilities. If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, watch the series ;). Located on Whitehorse Road in Balwyn, One Piece delivers a bit of fun. The east side cafe, littered with figurines, Jolly Roger flags and manga books, makes this an anime nerd’s dream. The S.O – a fan of One Piece since the teenage years, positively squirmed in fanboy geekdom. Most prominent is the mural of Monkey D. Luffy peering at hungry diners. Don’t judge Monkey, calories don’t count on the weekends!

One Piece isn’t for the calorie conscious. Burgers, shakes and carbs are their specialty. With sinful options such as Japanese fried chicken, double beef and tempura soft shell crab, this will satisfy the burger munchers. Please put aside those pretty acai bowls and chia puddings, this is real breakfast food. Tasty and filling, the Sriracha Maple glazed bacon had the S.O’s eyes rolling in the back of his head. Sweet, sticky and savoury all at once, this puts a hearty twist on the generic Smashed Avocado. Mr Franky – the cyborg pirate is the inspiration for the next dish. A deliciously messy mound of guacamole, sour cream, cheese and tomato salsa, sits upon two fried eggs and flaky pieces of roti. The words ‘roti’ immediately captured our attention on the menu. I only wish all toast could be substituted with this Asian flatbread.  Apart from Sir Charles in Fitzroy, this is only the second time I’ve seen roti featured in a brunch dish.

Not an anime geek? Never fear, locals also love the quirk of One Piece. It’s a pleasant change to the gentrified wooden industrial decor that dominates Melbourne. With a good breakfast menu and positively sinful burgers and milkshakes, One Piece satisfies the weekend cravings.

Top Melbourne Brunch Openings 2015

2015 was the year of the butt. Big butts. Instead of anacondas and buns – we had freakshakes, frankenfoods (cronuts, cruffins etc) and fried chicken to add junk to the trunk. Food trends come and go, but brunch in Melbourne is a staple. It’s stupendously gourmet and oh so #instaworthy. So much so, that when I ordered coconut pancakes in Hawaii and received a singular lonely pancake, I thought to myself ‘Where are the edible flowers? Where is the quenelle of ice cream made from Madagascan vanilla beans picked by oompa loompas? Where is the dehydrated raspberry powder and perfect cubes of exotic fruits?’. It was time to accept that I was a Melbourne food snob, spoilt, very spoilt, with the overflowing diversity and creativity of Melbourne cafes. Without further ado, I give you the best brunch openings of 2015 (in alphabetical order). It was a difficult task, but I begrudgingly accept :P.


The ‘Father Pig’ brings an Asian themed menu to the leafy streets of Glen Iris. Deriving influences from Asia, the resulting menu is modern and inventive with plenty of Asian twists. Gone are the days of boring ol’ scrambled eggs and eggs benedict. Where else in Melbourne, can you get Hong Kong waffles, with green tea ice cream, berry compote and pistachio praline? That’s right. Nowhere.

On to savoury options. Asian ingredients are in abundance, with crunchy bean sprouts and smokey pulled pork filling the ‘Pig-Lette’ omelette. For traditional brunch flavours. Croquettes are filled with creamed corn. This quiet leafy suburb is fortunate to have a high calibre brunch cafe, steps away from Burwood station. It ticks all boxes. Inventive menu. Great service. Trendy decor.

Hong Kong Waffles w/ Vanilla Custard, Green Tea Ice Cream, Berry Compote, Pistachio Pralin

Corn and Zucchini Croquettes w/ House Cured Salmon, Herb Aioli Asparagus, Frisee, Poached Egg


Blue Fox Cafe makes traditional brunch look boring. The visual spectacle at Blue Fox begins with the big boy toys. Out comes the chef tools – smoking guns, 65 degree eggs, coconut ‘snow’.  A smoky jar arrives on the table and we known we’re in for some hocus pocus chef magic. Small cubes of trout are infused with natural smoky flavours. In the absence of heat, the gorgeous pink flesh picks up the smokey flavour, adding a degree of complexity to the tartare. The saltiness is refined, with a oozy 63 degree egg. Blue Fox joins the ranks of Melbourne cafes that are raising the bar.

Table Smoked Ocean Trout Tartare w/ Slow-cooked 63C egg, Whipped Goat’s curd, Herb Salad, Chargrilled Sourdough

Truffled Braised Mushrooms w/ Fried Polenta, Salsa Verde, Red Onion Pickle, Poached Eggs


Eden’s backyard is a Carlton newbie taking inspiration from the owners’ Malaysian backgrounds. At Eden’s backyard, the menu is positively sinful, with dessert lovers appeased with all sorts of sugary goodness. The matcha latte is shaped as a cute lil bear . The ‘special’s menu presents  ‘Abang Apam’ Malaysian crepes, scattered with an Oreo crumb, green tea ice cream, mixed berry crumble and the fluffiest melt-in-the-mouth fairy floss. If savoury is your calling, you will  instantly be drawn to the duck quesadilla in all its cheesy goodness. If comfort food and cheat day is on your agenda, this Carlton cafe will tick all boxes. We look forward to seeing more creative Malaysian influences!

Duck Quesadilla w/ Roast Duck Fillet, Caramelised Onion, Roasted Pepper, Mozzarella

Abang Apam Crepes – Malaysian Style Crepes w/ Green Tea Ice Cream, mixed Berries, Oreo Peanut Crumb, Fairy Floss


Kitty Burns awakens ‘The Village’ – a new apartment complex, stone’s throw away from the bustling Victoria St.  Surrounding gum trees provide a hidden oasis, look outside and you may be tempted to sing Burke’s backyard.  Head Chef Aaron Duffy has created an intriguing menu. The Arnold Bennett Omelette is ideal for fish lovers, slow poached, smoked and drizzled with a bechamel and aerated hollandaise sauce. Meat lovers will gravitate towards the Mr Burns, the culprit words – ‘ slab of bacon’. Not a slice, not a sliver, a slab. The Truffle Mac & Cheese croquettes are an irresistible side. Slice the crumbed cigars open, to reveal an orgasmic filling of mac & cheese. With hints of truffle, this dish is a must-order. Sweet options include the multi-coloured french toast, with artful dollops of fruity gels, runny chocolate and a whipped coffee ganache. The instaworthy dishes are no doubt the Eton Mess and the coconut chia pudding. Not merely pretty, they’re lighter options when one is trying to be ‘good’.

Truffle Mac & Cheese Croquettes


The Glass Den is located at the old Pentridge Prison. The historic location, built in 1850, is now the site of housing developments. The towering bluestone facade remains, in a juxtaposition against the cheery pastels of modern townhouses. The gatehouse of the notorious ‘D-division’ is now the dainty location of The Glass Den. These days, it’s a far cry from prison bars. The appearance resembles a greenhouse, with rustic remnants of prison decor, suspended greenery and alchemy inspired knick knacks. Far from the imposing blue walls, it’s airy, fairy and light.  In this unique location, you will find brunchers voluntarily locked up. The flavoursome food and intricate plating, knocking our socks off. Sweet-tooths will adore the Glass Den, with hotcakes the size of your face, signature French Toast and toppings that resemble radioactive slime. The green tea mascarpone is subtle in sweetness, against the decadence of the rich chocolate mud-cake. The menu at the Glass Den goes beyond simple brunch fare. Finish your calorie laden meal, with a stroll around Pentridge.


‘ Kuu ‘ in Japanese means to eat. Boy, do we love to eat. The philosophy at Kuu is simple – to serve authentic Japanese cuisine, that reflects the essence of the island nation.  Ochazuke is simple dish made by pouring a Dashi broth over a mound of brown rice, adorned with scatterings of nori seaweed, smoked trout and sesame seeds. Poured like tea, Kuu is the only place in Melbourne we’ve come across, that serves Ochazuke.  Cast your eyes to the sweet cabinet and admire the matcha flavoured sweets. The white chocolate ganache matcha cake led to substantial foodgasms.  If you cannot travel to Japan on a whim, consider Kuu in South Melbourne for a taste of authenticity.

Smoked Trout Ochazuke – Brown riced w/ Dashi Broth, smoked Trout, Sesame Seeds, Nori Seedweed

White Chocolate Ganache Matcha Cake


At Mammoth the food infinitely goes beyond standard brunch fare. Sure, there are classics such as avo on toast for the traditionalists. But can’t you order that anywhere?  Every dish has a touch of inspiration that elevates the norm to an exciting level. Simple eggs? No, eggs are bruleed with thin strips of pickled zucchini. Creamy benedict? Yes, but Mammoth’s version comes with duck sausage, the most circular fried egg in existence and a Blini (a Russian savoury inspired pancake). The spanner crab egg crepe, strikingly blackened with squid ink, served with a tangy scoop of lemon sorbet and an artful net of crunchy noodles. The talk of the town? The lobster doughnut burger. Mammoth has certainly set the bar high, with food that is both tasty and inventive.

Lobster Donut Burger w/ Green Mango, Papaya Slaw, Cucumber Jam, Siracha Kimpi Mayo

Golden Gaytime Pannacotta w/ Honeycomb, Sable Biscuit, Chocolate Coated Popping candy


Looking beyond the traditional egg and bacon, MJR’s menu is latin inspired with pan-Asian twists. The Asian-inspired blue swimmer crab omelette, arrives with scatterings of crispy black quinoa, with a fluffy omelette encasing the seafood within. The banana hot dog is the elephant on the menu. Not quite savoury, not quite sweet – the result is nothing but delicious. Smothered in smoked Scamorza cheese, bacon pieces and those delicious crispy bits you find at the end of a toastie, who knew that bacon, cheese and banana would be the best of friends. If you ever find yourself meandering between those Messina queues, the sport outlets or just looking for a bite to eat, visit MJR on Smith Street for a spot of inventive brunch.

Blue Swimmer Crab Omelette w/ Crisp Black Quinoa, Papaya, Watercress, Vietnamese Mint, Cashews, Chilli Jam

Banana Hot Dog – Roasted Banana w/ Bacon lardons, Smoked Scamorza, Arepa, Toasted Marmalade, Brazil Nut Shavings, Chilli & Coriander Salsa


Pavlov’s Duck was an accidental discovery from a walk on Smith St, leading us to the reinvigorated menu inspired by the flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine. At first glance, apart from a few menu items, it looked like any ol’ brunch cafe menu, but you’d be surprised to find some Sri Lankan influence in something as simple as a croissant. Pavlov’s pumpkin and chia seed pancakes are unbelievably sweet, with pumpkin being the predominant flavour. The orange mounds are topped with coconut sambol. On weekends and public holidays, a seemingly ‘aged’ food cart serves hoppers fresh to order. These bowl-shaped Sri Lankan pancakes – traditionally eaten for breakfast is adapted for the brunch scene. One of the best underrated openings this year.

Fish & Potato Fritters w/ Avocado Aioli, Coconut, Lemon, Fresh Herbs, Poached Egg

Prawn Omelette Hopper


Square and Compass brings along a similar concept to it’s Northcote sister, where open spaces and health conscious ingredients retain their popularity. The menu is simplistic, the lustiest option being the SA Rock Lobster roll. A soft brioche bun sandwiches big chunks of lobster and crunchy green mango in a Sriracha Mayo.The leek omelette was a standout, brought to life with scatterings of pecorino and hazelnut. Simple, but very satisfying. A range of freshly baked tarts, pastries and smoothies are also available if you’re feeling peckish.

S.A Rock Lobster Roll w/ Sriracha Mayo, Green Mango, Coriander, Lime

Omelette w/ Chargrilled Leek, Pecorino, Hazelnut


Eastsiders will be pleased that a new local has come to town. Despite its jovial name, Three Monkeys Place takes the breakfast game seriously. Quirky components such as tea marbled eggs, squid ink pasta and pickled octopus make appearances. With dish titles such as ‘Under The Sea’, the inspiration is centred around seafood and Asian influence. Dessert came in the form of roti pancakes. Golden brown, puffed up, and sandwiching chunks of banana and mixed berries. For a touch of quirkiness and artful plating – visit Three Monkeys Place for a tasty and inventive menu. It’s a standout for the outer eastern suburbs.

Housed Cured Beets & Thyme Salmon w/ Fennel Salad, Horseradish Cream Cheese, Rosti, Poached Egg

Roti Pancakes w/ Strawberries, Banana, Mixed Berries, Mascarpone, Canadian Maple Crumble 


A seemingly dilapidated white door opens to reveal a modern interior and a gleaming new coffee roaster with copper plumbing, churning out freshly roasted coffee beans. A very impressive interior, where open spaces and natural lighting is king. The Scotch Eggs wrapped in sausage meat, coated in a textured crumb, reveals an oozy golden yolk within.The shredded slow-cooked lamb was alive with Meditteranean flavours. A rustic winner that reminded me of an open kebab mixed with Tabouleh, Dukkah and Tahini. The menu is innovative and tasty at Vertue of the Coffee Drink. If you’re an avid coffee lover or a fan of brunch (who isn’t), this modern Carlton cafe is a definite crowd pleaser.

Scotch Eggs w/ Piccalilli Mayonnaise, Onion Marmalade, Crispy Pig Skin, Brioche Soldiers

Eight Hour Lamb Shoulder w/ Tabouleh, Baby Broccoli, Dukkah, Tahini


Don’t know what to name your cafe? Name it after your dog. Sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the Italian district, this cosy brunch cafe has settled nicely on the suburban lawns of Carlton. With an unassuming exterior, a closer examination of the menu reveals some interesting finds. Chinese doughnuts arrive stuffed with Mozarella cheese, balanced by the acidity of picked veggies and a sprinkling of pork floss.  Where else could you get this deliciousness in Melbourne? If you happen to journey to Vincent The Dog. Skip the traditional brunch fare and choose one of the interesting menu options.

Chinese Doughnuts w/ pork floss, stuffed with Cheese

Blue Fox Cafe – Kew

Blue Fox Cafe makes traditional brunch look boring. The brand spanking new sister cafe of Liar Liar, brings a touch of inventiveness to the streets of Kew. Gone are the days of traditional bacon and eggs. Out comes the chef tools – smoking guns, 65 degree eggs, coconut ‘snow’ – is it just me or is Melbourne brunch stupendously gourmet, compared to other countries? The cafe is part of the Coffee Culture Communications Group, which also owns Melbourne favourites: Addict Food & Coffee, Sir Charles and Prospect Espresso. Now that’s an impressive portfolio.

The visual spectacle at Blue Fox begins with the big boy toys. A smoky jar arrives on the table and we known we’re in for some hocus pocus chef magic. Small cubes of trout are infused with natural smoky flavours. In the absence of heat, the gorgeous pink flesh picks up the smokey flavour, adding a degree of complexity to the tartare. The saltiness is refined, with a oozy 63 degree egg. The yellow yolk seeps through the trout cutting through the salt. We spooned the tartare onto the chargrilled sourdough, a heavenly combination of smoke vs smoke. This is definitely no run of the mill brunch dish.For vegetarians and mushroom lovers, consider the truffle braised mushrooms served with dollops of zesty salsa verde, pillowy soft polenta and the acidity of a red onion pickle. We added a side of hash because potato… do we need any other reason? The taste of peas were vibrant in the fritters. The oval masses sitting on a bed of minted pea puree and scatterings of wasabi peas for a touch of heat. For dude food, the buttermilk fried chicken is a sight to behold. Served with heavenly truffle parmesan fries, the cheesy crispiness makes these hard to share. The mango hotcakes served with coconut snow and pandan syrup makes for an irresistible description. Alas, there was no room for dessert, next time, Blue Fox! Blue Fox joins the ranks of Melbourne cafes that are raising the bar. The simplistic interior of golden hues and pastel blues, is completely deceiving to the complexity within. Not settling for standard fare, the menu goes beyond traditional breakfast to create an exciting dining experience.

Uncle & Jak – Fitzroy

Uncle & Jak covers all bases on the quieter end of Johnston St. Every Melbournian knows that Fitzroy is the place to go for serious coffee and good food – its brunch utopia. Uncle & Jak is no different, with its white-washed brick walls, hanging geometric prisms and a menu that dances between modern and traditional.  The vibe is more relaxed compared to its busier cousins up the road. It’s a place to settle down with friends, fan-girling over the latest Star Wars – which incidentally, we enthusiastically participated with our friendly waitress.  A nice change from having someone breathe down your neck, because they want your seat. At Uncle & Jak, there’s all the traditional what-nots : fritters, scrambled eggs, big breakfasts. General consensus? Flavours are good, but apart from the cured salmon, I feel there could be a  tad more inventiveness to liven up the menu. It’s Fitzroy after all.

Having just returned from a trip to Hawaii, there was nothing more satisfying than plunging my face into an epic pile of chilli scrambled eggs. We’ve become increasingly accustomed and expectant of good brunch, that when Melbournians travel overseas, it feels as if we’re travelling back to the 90s. We’re a spoilt bunch aren’t we? The Chilli scramble is mild in heat and spectacular in appearance. Shavings of aged manchego cheese, land like a snowstorm on bursts of red. The cherry tomatoes bursting with cool freshness, the chorizo adding much needed saltiness. Consider the citrus cured NZ King Salmon,  meticulously plated with beetroot 3-ways. Reminiscent of the flavours of fall, the earthiness of the beetroot compliments the freshness of the NZ King Salmon and the mildness of the triangular polenta. The appearance resembles an autumn vegetable bed. Chunks of deep purple beetroot sit amongst whipped goat’s feta. A smear of beetroot runs across the plate and thin slices cut through the end result.  If you’re looking for a less heavy option, choose this fresh and artsy dish.

You’d think that Fitzroy would eventually explode with cafes, but nope, there’s another good one to join the ranks.  For a relaxed brunch, head over to Uncle & Jak for a mix of tradition and playfulness.

Chilli Scramble w/ Burst Cherry Tomatoes, Chorizo, Wild Roquette, Aged Manchego Cheese 

Uncle & Jak

Hong Kong Waffles at Humble Rays

Humble Rays doesn’t need a slice of humble pie. Despite the pastel blue walls telling diners to ‘Stay hungry and be humble’, Humble Rays’ food is far from humility. It’s loud and proud. Colourful and vibrant. Owners Gough and Tinee, packed up their suitcases, moving from the much-loved ‘ Honey Badger’  in Hobart, to the rugged streets of Melbourne. Walking distance from The University of Melbourne, I wish Humble Rays was around when I was a ‘studious’ youngster. It certainly would’ve made University life more tolerable. On the weekends, its a quiet affair, relying on locals and the instagram crowd to fill the tables. Once semester hits, it’ll be a different story. No doubt,  it will peak the interest of many millennial, mac yielding, foodies. 

Humble Rays’ menu is succinctly different from neighbouring cafes in the Carlton area. The Asian background of the owners (specifically Thai) has prominently influenced the menu. Aspects of Honey Badger have made it to Humble Rays, with dessert featuring heavily. The skookie is a cookie baked in a cast iron skillet with melted marshmallows and toppings to make you swoon. One of the few places in Melbourne to serve Hong Kong waffles, the airy bubbly appearance distinguishes the HK version from the western counterpart. Elements of sweet and savoury, integrate to produce a fun-loving dish. Shavings of white chocolate, crispy crumbs of black sesame, crunchy peanut praline, creamy coconut ice cream, balanced with the saltiness of a salted egg and sea salt caramel sauce. It’s exceedingly tasty.

The drink menu is novel, with pops of mango and raspberry pearls. The gassy drinks, are ideal for warm summer days. Hojicha is one of my favourite drinks – similar to a matcha latte, the tea leaves are roasted to dispense a smooth smoky nuance.

For meaty indulgence, the egg benny celebrates pork, with a Japanese twist. Instead of a hash brown, you will find a miso potato korokke. Instead of a generic hollandaise, this one has yuzu incorporated. The Citrus cured salmon is beautifully plated. Taste wise, its rather soggy and bland. The halloumi lacking salt, which the dish, is in dire need of.

Dessert is king at Humble Ray’s. From the pornographic melted marshmallows of the skookie, to the dredge of caramel sauce lacing the HK waffles, there is no way in the world I’ll be quitting sugar.Egg Benny – Ginger Braised Pork Belly w/ Miso Potato Korokke, Poached Egg, Yuzu hollandaise, Chilli Bacon Jam, Parsley Crumb

Slow Cooked Sticky Brisket Beef w/ Stout Onion chutney, Cheddar, Sauteed Mushrooms, Smoked Bacon Jam on Brioche Bun


avlov’s Duck was an accidental discovery from a walk on Smith St, leading us to the reinvigorated menu inspired by the flavours of Sri Lankan cuisine. At first glance, apart from a few menu items, it looked like any ol’ brunch cafe menu, but you’d be surprised to find some Sri Lankan influence in something as simple as a croissant.Sri Lankan food is a rich melting pot of cuisines – with influences from its colonial heritage to the aromatic spices and herbs that we’ve all come to love.  Vibrant murals of Victorian buildings, along with scatterings of wooden ducks, made us want to settle down with a Beatrix Potter book in hand.

Pumpkin & Chia Seed Pancakes w/ Spinach, Lentil, Coconut Sambol, Chorizo, Pickled Chilli

Pavlov’s pumpkin and chia seed pancakes are unbelievably sweet, with pumpkin being the predominant flavour. The orange mounds are topped with coconut sambol (Sri Lankan dessicated coconut mixed with spices), pickled chilli, spinach and a rather salty piece of chorizo. Eaten together, the dish is wonderfully balanced.

Fish & Potato Fritters w/ Avocado Aioli, Coconut, Lemon, Fresh Herbs, Poached Egg

This is one of the best brunch dishes we’ve had this year. It’s a big call, but we adored these fish and potato fritters. Beautifully plated with an elevated papadum and three spherical balls of fish and potato fritters, its appearance is certainly gourmet. Sitting upon a bed of coconut, fresh herbs and an avocado aioli – the resulting mixture added a hint of spice that made this dish beyond delicious.

Prawn Omelette Hopper

On weekends and public holidays, a seemingly ‘aged’ food cart serves hoppers fresh to order. These bowl-shaped Sri Lankan pancakes – traditionally eaten for breakfast is adapted for the brunch scene. Served in a woven basket with banana leaves, our prawn omelette hopper reminded us of Vietnamese banh xeo. Fragrant and light, a tad more seasoning would’ve elevated the dish to tastier levels.

Pavlov's Duck

Super Smoothie of the Week

For the paleo nerds and organic devotees, never fear, the menu is also slanted towards your guilt free needs.  A range of super smoothies changes weekly and sweet treats come in the form of raw, organic, vegan, dairy free etc.

The name Pavlov reminds us of University psychology days, discussing classical conditioning with Ivan’s unfortunate drooling dog. We can confidently say, that merely looking at the picture of those spherical balls of perfection – aka the potato and fish fritters, has conditioned us to salivate extensively. If you ever find yourself meandering between those Messina queues, the sport outlets or just looking for a bite to eat, visit Pavlov’s Duck on Smith Street for a spot of Sri Lankan inspired brunch. One of the best new openings this year.


Last Friday the State Government of Victoria were at its most popular. Why? The introduction of the new Grand Final Day public holiday had Victorians celebrating a sweet hurray. Never mind the football. It’s an extra day to soak in the sunshine and fit in an extra day of brunch. Maddox is a Brunswick favourite lighting up the otherwise dingy suburb. Fast forward a few years and Sydney Road is now a cool kids hang out, likened to Fitzroy and Collingwood. Refitted from scratch by Perth couple Marsha Salam and Brendon James, Maddox is an intimate space for quality brunch.

Vegetarians, vegans and GF sufferers will be pleased that most menu items are substitutable to suit dietary needs. Healthy or decadent, there’s something for everyone. Those that are healthy will steer towards vibrant salads or opt for simple classics such as poached eggs on toast with sliced avocado. Consider the mushrooms, pan-fried in butter and mixed with Yarra Valley feta, with a mound of Spinach that will suit even Popeye the Sailor Man. Clearly, these were our dining companions’ choices – at Hungrycookie we’re a tad sinful on the weekend. The Big Ox is a twist on the classic big breakfast with the addition of Haloumi and thick pieces of fried potato. Simple and delicious. Who doesn’t like potatoes and bacon?

Our journey, however; was inspired by the buttermilk waffles. The weekend specials will often have the latest interpretation, soaking in some sort of decadent sauce, beautifully plated and alluring beyond belief. This weekend, it was sizeable dollops of smooth chocolate mousse, combined with the crunch of smashed macadamias and the acidity of raspberries. Thick hotcakes sit in this sweet concoction, soaking up the chocolatey nutty goodness. Pop by this Sydney Road, for simplistic classics and winning sweet treats.


The Fitzroy, Brunswick and Collingwood areas have long been known as hipster central. Unfairly shunned for their unruly beards and thick framed glasses, we have the hipsters to thank for the explosion of quality brunch spots and organic, artisanal what-nots. If it weren’t for our non-mainstream friends, we would be drowning in the watered down ‘coffees’ of Starbucks and generic egg benedicts. So, thank you hipsters for making Melbourne great. We all love you deep down, despite the occasional mockery ;). Stagger Lee’s and Proud Mary are prime examples of quality in the area. Both live up to the hype.


‘We can stay up late, swap manly stories and in the morning, I’m makin WAFFLES’. Donkey from Shrek knows how to live the good life. This long weekend, we took his advice, heading to Stagger Lee’s to swap manly (or rather womanly) stories, with a side of buttermilk waffles. Long weekends call for indulgences, after all.

The Shrooms ‘n’ Truffles is a quintessential winter warming dish. That gleaming confit egg yolk, those thin shavings of pecorino and the smell of truffle wafting through the air. Hungrycookie has a weakness when it comes to Truffles and this #instafamous dish satisfied all expectations. Every restaurant has it’s star and for Stagger’s its the Shrooms. Our friend opted for the ‘The Simple’, a non-complex dish of breakfast favorites – avocado, trout and poached eggs on thick sourdough. A tad too simple for my ravenous appetite, plus the weather is bloody cold! Sugar lovers will gravitate towards the buttermilk waffles with a side of pistachio gelato and scatterings of vibrant berries. The crunchy element comes in the form of a Canadian maple nut crunch.

The sister to Proud Mary is equally as attractive and delicious. So, set your alarms and head over to Brunswick Street.


Proud Mary is Stagger Lee’s older sister. Yes, it’s one of those places that always has queues, but it’s not an unbearable wait. 20 minutes isn’t too bad for Melbourne, considering the ridiculousness of Lune Croissanterie queues. 5am line-ups, seriously….nothing could inspire me to wake up that early.

Proud Mary is an extraordinaire on the brunch front. Queues still form at this Collingwood staple, where quality has consistently been upheld amongst all the hype. Dishes taste as beautiful as their appearances. For the nibblers, the tuna sashimi with amaranth and brik crisp is a delicate option. Otherwise, consider the ricotta hot cakes, dripping with coconut ice cream and blood orange caramel. Carnivorous options include the ox tongue and a decadent pork belly. The wait list might still be long, but drop in before 12pm to avoid the afternoon rush. The crowd favourite is certainly deserving of its reputation.

A Guide To Brunching In North Melbourne

Residents love their brunch in North Melbourne. Their addiction is fuelled by an abundance of cafés , all walking distance from the quaint victorian style housing that gives the suburb it’s old world charm. Dissimilar to other Melbourne hotspots where cafes are concentrated around a single street, cafés are more spread out in the North. What appears to be a quiet suburban street, usually is home to 1-2 ‘hidden’ cafés. In this suburb, word of mouth is more important than prime location. The following is a guide to brunching in North Melbourne:


Auction Rooms – the most well known of the suburb, serves as a roastery and cafe in one. Preserving the integrity of the heritage building, brunchers are greeted by iron signage and a charming, dilapidated blue facade. Coffee is a big drawcard, with beans sourced from premium coffee regions, freshly roasted and served to coffee worshippers around Melbourne.

The menu is diverse and at times a tad kooky. The ‘Shady Deal’ is a Shakshouka of eggs, eggplant, and chickpeas braised with a mixture of aromatic spices and dukkah. The dish can be overpowering to some, so be wary if you are not a fan of strong Mediterranean flavours. On the kookier end was the crispy pork belly, wrapped in a thin corn crepe, with a smother of coffee BBQ sauce, and a side of fried poached eggs. Coffee in sauce? Slightly unusual, but it works.

Pork Belly w/ Corn Crepe, Coffee BBQ Sauce, Fried Poached Eggs

Shady Deal – Moroccan Tomato & Chorizo Stew, Eggplant, Olives, Poached Eggs, Dukkah w/ Grilled Flat Bread


This diminutive corner café  is North Melbourne’s hidden secret. Dozens of egg whisks swing above a glass cabinet, that encase an alluring array of baked goods: fluffy lemon chiffon, layers of red velvety goodness and endless buttercream. The cakes are a mixture of traditional and surprising flavour combinations, baked with love and expertise. The star of the show is the Red Velvet: layers of moist, fluffy red velvet smothered in a rich buttercream, and sprinkled with crunchy chocolate waffle balls. Beatrix also do a range of delicious sandwiches and baguettes to balance the sugar intake 😉 .

Red Velvet Cake 

CAFE 345

Cafe 345 is a chocoholic’s dream, locals swear by the thick traditional Italian hot chocolate coming in 20 varieties of interesting flavours, ranging from banana to white chocolate, to other oddities ( need to come back to try!).  Menu also includes a range of savoury galettes and sweet crepes. The cafe itself is consistently quiet, and undeservedly so; considering the crepes were quite good – thin, crisp and generously adorned with sweet toppings. Perhaps the savoury menu is discouraging? Lacklustre pies and sandwiches unfortunately won’t cut it, in this competitive suburb.

In observation, many average dessert places are packed to the brink on busy nights (e.g Desserts by Night in Maribyrnong). The predominant reason being the absence of non-franchise dessert houses in the Western and Northern suburbs. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity for Cafe 345 to consider night time operation. Just a silly blogger idea 

Banana caramel crepes 


North Melbourne residents are blessed when it comes to coffee. With Auction Rooms nearby, this is the suburb’s second roasting house. Di Bella is a Melbourne staple, whose blends are enjoyed across the Melbourne cafe scene, cementing our obsession with the little brown bean. The bean is king, freshly roasted and served to customers, whilst they enjoy the inner workings of a roasting house.

The ‘Crispy Pork Jowel’ and ‘ Prawn Brioche Roll’ represent artery clogging goodness. Son-in- Law eggs, fried until golden brown with an explosion of oozy golden yolk, was an exemplary alternative to the poached or scrambled varieties. Everything in moderation, correct? 😉  For quality brunch, Di Bella never disappoints.


Elceed is a cosy low-key café, sheltered from the hustle and bustle of brunch crowds. With Melbourne queues and overeager foodies (guilty as charged), it’s easy to overlook the quintessential objective of a cafe – to provide a casual and relaxing environment for friends to catch-up over coffee. With high turnover requirements, staff that work at the latest and hottest cafés can develop somewhat of a entitled attitude (you just work here, honey, you don’t own the damn place). I will refrain from mentioning which North Melbourne brunch-spot has this attitude, but it certainly is refreshing to relax at Elceed, and not have to be concerned about table turnover. Food is top notch too.


Dodge the crowds at Auction Rooms and pay the neighbouring Fandango a visit. The menu is uncomplicated and simple, providing customers with a base choice of eggs and sides to choose from. The most flavoursome were the curried eggs, served with indian spiced chickpeas and spicy brinjal vegetables. I have to admit that Indian Food and my stomach are acquainted enemies, but the  allure of warm roti bread and aromatic spices was too great.

Fandango also demonstrate a great passion for pickling, taking neighbourhood donations and leftovers to bottle a range of sauces, preserves and chutneys. The Mango Kasundi,  a rich tomato pickle with a hint of mango, for tartness and depth of flavour is the most appealing. The café incorporate these flavours in their own dishes, but customers can also purchase a bottle to take home.

Curried Eggs w/ Indian Spiced Chickpeas, Fried Eggs, Spicy Brinjal Vegetables, Pickle, Minted Yoghurt, Warm Roti Bread 


Half corner-shop, half café , Grigons & Orr takes you back in time to a retro era of tea cosies and old school milkshakes. The shelves are stacked with nostalgic and current goodies, firmly resembling a neighbourhood corner-store. Admittedly, the menu is anything but nostalgic, with dishes inspired from cuisines around the globe. Dishes with an international twist included Kimchi Corned Beef, Breakfast Burritos and a classic Shakshouka.

The fried chicken with crispy fried brussel sprouts and crumpets, represented Southern cuisine. Unfortunately, it could not make me a fan of brussel sprouts. Brussel sprouts will remain forever blasphemous in my eye, however; the wickedly indulgent Tim Tam milkshake was enough for a hypothetical apology. The presentation of dishes could be improved; however strong flavours and an international twist makes Grigons a solid competitor.


Napkins and towelettes ahoy! You will need your fingers at Miss Katie’s Crab Shack for some Southern style dining. Technically, not brunch, this is an alternative to when cravings go beyond a big breakfast. The crustacean inspired decor signals heavily that crab is the signature dish. With a humorously large bib and mallet, smash your way through the signature crab boil, seasoned generously with Old Bay and boiled in a mixture of spices and aromatics. Bring your crab whacking strength, but it’s best to leave the whites at home.


If you find yourself growing tiresome of standard brunch fare – Twenty and Six  is the way to go. Creative menu options and quirky plating makes dishes such as ‘The Hunter’ and ‘ The Russian’ worthy brunch contenders. When these dishes were removed, I was a tad disappointed. But with any great business, experimentation and change is pivotal for achieving novelty and excitement. Being a big fan of savoury french toast and ANYTHING truffled, the ‘ Truffled Brioche French Toast’ was an easy choice. Perfectly slow poached eggs, not an ounce of rubbery texture, delicate egg whites, exploding with oozy golden yolk, resting upon a bed of asparagus, whipped goat’s cheese and an immensely satisfying savoury brioche. Twenty and Six is no doubt a standout in Melbourne.

Ham Hock in Baked Beans w/ Smoked Chorizo, Spanish Morcilla, Poached egg, Garlic toast

Truffled Brioche French Toast w/ Braised Mushrooms, Asparagus, Whipped goats’ cheese, Herbs, Slow Poached egg


The French Quarter serves an array of pastries and cakes, perfect for an after brunch sweet treat. The decorative planter boxes, bright spring flowers and rustic woven chairs, add an element of Parisian authenticity. The interior is disappointingly clinical with bare walls and cabinets, which is a shame considering the charmingly beautiful al fresco area.

Quantity over quality wins any time with menu selection, however it is questionable whether the quality of the almond croissants, pastries and cakes are enough to account for the limited selection. Nonetheless, the lemon tart was zesty and fresh, and the cheesecake demurely subtle.