Heading out for a spot of weekend brunch is a ritual in Australia’s cultural capital. Here are seven cafés that take the meal to the next level
You’d be hard-pressed to find a locale that’s more synonymous with brunch than Melbourne. With over 1,600 cafés and restaurants tucked into its alleys, sprawled along its streets and sitting next to each other in quaint neighbourhoods, locals and visitors alike are never too far away from a delicious late morning or early afternoon meal. Here are some places to get your fill of everything from a Japanese rendition of eggs Benedict to picture-perfect hotcakes.
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1. Top Paddock
Known throughout the Instagram sphere for its impossibly pretty blueberry and ricotta hotcake topped with a myriad of seasonal berries, toasted seeds and edible flower petals, this Melbourne brunch stalwart – located near the equally beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens – has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Other standouts on the eclectic menu include chilli scrambled eggs served with house-made sambal, mushrooms, goat’s curd and toast, as well as the roasted barramundi burger that comes with a refreshing kohlrabi, fennel and kale slaw and a side of thick-cut chips.
Situated in the suburb of Carlton North, this is the place to head to for some of Melbourne’s best down-to-earth modern Turkish and Middle Eastern nosh. Opened in 2016 by Kirsty Chiaplias and Ismail Tosun, it’s a great location to tuck into a healthy yet hearty brunch. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but may we suggest the baked eggs with spiced tomato, spinach and pistachio dukkah; eggplant toastie with fried eggs, fermented chilli and sumac onions; or decadent rice pudding with seasonal fresh fruit.
Opened in 2019 in West Melbourne, this is one of the freshest faces on the local brunch scene. Owner Kantaro Okada aims to blend the city’s quintessential café culture with traditional Japanese elements to create a unique cross-cultural experience for diners. Indeed, you won’t find any Aussie brunch standards on the menu here. Instead, diners can take their pick from various types of artfully presented musubi (rice balls). We recommend the katsu (musubi with deep-fried chicken); saba-chazuke (musubi with cured mackerel and a light, fragrant green tea broth); and shiso-miso (musubi with shiso leaf and spring onion miso).
4. Fourth Chapter
This Prahran institution is one of the city’s most popular places to grab brunch, and rightly so. The offerings here include classic dishes made with fresh, seasonal Aussie ingredients – everything from sweet potato and ricotta waffles served with maple bacon, a poached egg and turmeric pickle hollandaise to smashed avocado on rye with broad beans, fresh herbs, lime and pomegranate. You can choose to enjoy your meal in the spacious, light-filled indoor seating area or opt for the outdoor patio.
In the mood for some Mediterranean-inspired brunch fare? Make a beeline for this café in the Armadale area. Helmed by Christina Higgins – whose credentials include a stint at Yotam Ottolenghi’s catering company in London – you can expect bright, colourful and flavour-packed dishes to fill you up for the day ahead. Options include the breakfast salad (seasonal greens and zesty herbs served with avocado, buckwheat and crispy halloumi) and their interpretation of smashed avo featuring a poached egg, feta and chilli on a grilled baguette.
This funky spot in the Camberwell neighbourhood serves up delicious Japanese brunch plates that are sure to please any palate. The menu here – inspired by owner Reiji Honour’s mother’s culinary creations – offers an assortment of genre-bending dishes that are assembled like works of art on a plate. Try the impossibly spongy soufflé pancake with red bean custard cream, seasonal berries, salted matcha butter and caramelised lotus root chips; or go for the shiozake salmon Benedicto, a take on eggs Benedict that’s made with grilled cured salmon, poached eggs, onigiri rice, fried salmon skin and genmaicha hollandaise.
7. Code Black Coffee
With four locations in the city – including in Brunswick and North Melbourne – this specialty coffee roaster is a favourite among locals. But their single-origin coffees and expertly crafted seasonal blends aren’t the only things on offer, as the Brunswick outpost in particular whips up a pretty mean brunch. The extensive menu features a bevy of exciting dishes, including miso- and parsley-roasted mushrooms served on rye crumpets with lashings of Vegemite butter and a fried egg, as well as a matcha hotcake with roasted peach, cream cheese parfait, blueberries, pistachio crumble and raspberry caramel.