18 July 2013

battle of da brunches

Brunch is one of my favourite meals of the day – considering there are only generally three meals, the others come in as a close second and third!  I mentioned to a colleague that my next post is about brunch and they asked me “what exactly is brunch? “  So I thought about it and defined it as what the word brunch means to me.  It is quite simply a meal that is eaten at that tender time between breakfast and lunch that replaces both these meals.  I think the reason why I am so fond of brunch is that it is typically enjoyed on a weekend or day off work, when you have had a lazy lay in and not having had the mad morning rush for breakfast on a work day or a lunch squeezed into a break at work.  It’s a leisurely social meal that is often enjoyed with great company although I am not opposed to “brunching it” on my own too.

This post takes a look at just some of my favourite places to brunch in Melbourne.  I also have a few fond favourites in Wellington too and admittedly it took me a while to get used to the cafés here that allowed me to let go of the favourites back home.  Having said this I have brunched at many places in Melbourne because of course its my favourite meal  - there are too many to name.  This shortlist is the ones I have frequented multiple times.  I figure, in a city with so much food on offer, if you visit a place more than once, it has got to be good.

1. The Hardware Societe
The Hardware Societe on Urbanspoon
 I first discovered this inner city café nearly two years ago by stumbling across another blog and sure enough once I had looked it up on Urbanspoon it had an impressive rating and of course mouth-watering dishes.  After trying it many times, it has never once disappointed and has been a firm regular in my brunch venues.   This is certainly my favourite place in the city for brunch and is the perfect inner city place to take that out of town guest.  In Melbourne, you know a place is good if it is bustling with patrons and if you have to painstakingly wait in a queue.  I think each and every time I have been here (even after they extended the café), I have had to queue, but yes, it has always been worth it. 
As well as the food, the coffee is also great and if they have not run out, is accompanied with a delicious mini donut.   It has one of those menus where you want to keep coming back to make your way through it!  Here are some of the most delicious meals I have had within the French inspired décor of this bustling café.
'Croque Madam' Smoked Salmon, gruyere, horseradish creme fraiche and fried duck egg - consistently good.
'Scrambled eggs' with persian feta and a baguette with ham and beetroot - satisfyingly good.

'The Special' Fried brioche topped with strawberries and marscapone - overly indulgent!

2. Miss Marmalade
Miss Marmalade on Urbanspoon

There is nothing like finding a local café that ticks all the boxes.  Miss Marmalade certainly does that, with a cosy atmosphere, friendly service and seriously good food, this café does not only tick the brunch box but has the added bonus of being local.  With a menu that has many choices, Miss Marmalade will have something to satisfy many appetites.  The only downside for me is the coffee.  Perhaps I am just not of fan of 5 Senses coffee but unfortunately the coffee here does not fulfil my coffee taste buds.
Here are some of the meals I have tried.

'Farmers Market'


'Ricotta hot cakes'
3. Kitschen Pantry
Kitschen Pantry on Urbanspoon
In the northern suburb of Thornbury, Kitschen Pantry is a hidden treasure.  This is where Urbanspoon comes in and beauty of this app is that you can search for nearby food places.  So one weekend when we were traipsing through Thornbury, Urbanspoon pointed me in the direction of the Kitschen Pantry.  The cutest little suburban café you’d find. It also sells a few things and grows its own herbs and vegetables.  And the food, it never disappoints. It is deliciously satisfying.
The special I had there once was certainly special - first picture below.  It was ‘Beetroot Soaked Salmon with Danish potato salad, watercress, wild roquette & Salmon Roe’.  For $19 it was worth every cent.  The drinks available are also great.  The milkshakes are made with natural flavours.

That special!
'Big Breakfast'

'Smoked Salmon open sandwich'

4. Mixed Business
Mixed Business on Urbanspoon
Further south in Northcote/Fitzroy North, Mixed Business is a bustling café with both indoor and outdoor seating available.  The food here is again amazing.  The only fault with this place is I had to ask the waiter what it was called.  I could not see any signs of the name and it didn’t seem to be on the menu either!  Anyhow the dishes below is what I have tried in this busy cafe:

'Gingerbread waffles with poached apples and ice cream' - unusual for the first meal of the day but certainly delicious!

'Avocado on toast with a side of feta' - simple but satisfying.

'Poached eggs on toast with homemade backed beans and gruyere - added pork belly' 
5. Le Miel et le Lune
LE MIEL et la lune on Urbanspoon
My former local café in Carlton is Le Miel et Le Lune.  The only fault about this café is it does not open on Sundays, in my opinion - the prime brunching day.  Perhaps this is due to it being located in student suburb however of course the food here is fabulous.  The coffee is also fabulous and they also offer fresh juice.  Both sweet and savoury options for brunch are great.
'Brioche French Toast with butterscotch banana, bacon and maple syrup' - a very kiwi combination.

'Crushed Avocado with Meredith feta, snow pea sprouts and semi-dried tomato salad with tabasco dressing on Zeally Bay Toast'

'Sweet Corn Fritter served with bacon, crushed avocado, red onion, coriander, chilli, sour cream and tomato relish.'

6. Batch
Batch Espresso on Urbanspoon

A personal favourite is a touch of kiwiana in Melbourne.  This café in the southeastern suburb of Balacalva is a Kiwi initiative, providing wonderful brunch options and great NZ coffee.  The first time we went the corn fritters had sold out so I knew we would be revisiting so I could try this delicious dish.
Here are some of the dishes I have tried:

'Crispy potato rosti with homemade harissa, rocket and a fried egg + surmac creme fraiche'

'Batches' avocado and feta mash on sourdough'

'Potato and Spinach hash with cornichons and a poached egg'

The famours 'Corn Fritters' with cherry tomato, avocado, feta and coriander salad

7. Green Refectory
Green Refectory on Urbanspoon

Last but by no means least, to finish this post is the latest find, merely around the corner on bustling Sydney Road in Brunswick, Green Refectory has an awesome brunch menu, hearty cabinet food and if you feel like something sweet, the cakes cannot be ignored.  Pictured here is the breakfast stack with a potato hash type base, grilled halumi, wilted spinach and herbs, crispy bacon and topped off with a poached egg is an amazing meal to satisfy any brunch hunger.

So there you have it, a few of my favourite places to brunch in Melbourne.  There are so many more places to try as we all are absolutely spoilt for choice.  Urbanspoon always helps with the decision, as the high ratings have never failed me.  It is a great to be able to use Urbanspoon - a reliable source for providing food advice.  After all, in a city with so much choice, it is best to not be disappointed when eating out is always a luxury.


  1. Awesome post. I did like Miss Marmalade but the coffee is real crap. The Batch on the other hand great food and great coffee. Win win situation!

  2. All the dishes look very tempting, can't wait for a chance to try some in Melbourne. In the meantime, this blog gives me good ideas for brunch dishes at home. Thanks

  3. All the dishes looks amazing. I wanna have a chance to try some. Thank for your post.

  4. Hello from Third Wave,

    We have touched base with you on another occasion inviting you to try the new café in Prahran. Now I would like to invite you to try our American BBQ dinner menu.

    On the menu are 5 different meats and Smoked Salmon. They are all smoked with different woods to impart specific flavours and are done with dry rubs. Beef Brisket, Beef Ribs and Lamb Shoulder are smoked for up to 12 hours using Hickory wood in a proprietary mix of spices. Brisket is marinated for up to 48 hours prior to smoking. The amazing flavours penetrate the meat such that you don’t need to add any sauce.
    Pork Ribs and Chicken are smoked with Maple wood for 5-6 hours. Pork Ribs are the standout of our menu, fall of the bone, juicy and packed with flavour. No sauce required (only if you want to add that extra punch).
    Salmon is marinated, dried out and smoked with Apple wood. People often say that the result is nothing like they tasted before.

    We have lots of tasty side dishes as well as house made BBQ Sauces. See the entire menu at http://thirdwavecafe.com.au/prahran/menu_dinner.php
    We would love to invite you and a friend to try the American BBQ menu. Please email me on info@thirdwavecafe.com.au with a suitable time. Dinner will be on us.

    The invite is for the Prahran venue. Thank you for your consideration.

    Best regards,

    P.S. We also have a really interesting Reuben variation, Pulled Pork and Soft Shell Crab Sliders and a few tasty quesadillas. Lots to try.