How to: Eat, drink, shop & play in Melbourne this winter
I raved about the joys of staying on Chapel Street on the blog last week but I was getting ahead myself. Don’t get me wrong, my love of South Yarra is still going strong but I have to admit, there’s another part of Melbourne that has a piece of my heart: the CBD.
It’s cliché I know but there’s a lot to love about staying in the heart of the action.
Case in point: the Novotel Melbourne on Collins. After hopping off an early morning flight from Sydney, Mr LML and I are ready for a weekend of all things Melbourne (i.e. eating, drinking, shopping and getting cultured) and the city is the perfect place to get the festivities started.
Plus, any hotel with a Lindt Chocolate cafe directly across the road is AOK with me 😉
We make our way up to reception and are happy to hear our room is ready for us, despite it not even being midday (love it when that happens).
We’re only there long enough to dump our bags though – my ridiculously long hit list of Melbourne restaurants to try is calling!
We hit the streets and make mere eight minute stroll to the fabulous Flinders Lane for an early lunch. lastminute lovely Kirk gave the nearby Chin Chin her seal of approval (and we venture back another day to test it out too) but today we’re here to try out The Meatball & Wine Bar.
It’s got cosy wine bar written all over it: exposed brick walls, dim lighting and a touch of New York class.
While there are cured meats, mozzarella and jerky, the menu is really all about the meatballs – hello winter comfort food! Pick your balls (three to a serve – I can’t go past the pork with fennel, sage and orange), choose your sauce (I’m reliably informed by the waitress pesto is the only way to go) and soak it all up with warm focaccia bread plus shaved parmesan cheese for the bargain price of $15.
I ate at The Meatball Shop, a renowned spot with a similar concept in NYC, and I can honestly say the meatballs here are better. Go Melbs!
While you can add a ‘sotto palle’ such as potato smash, homemade pasta or creamy polenta, I’m saving space for dessert and it’s a sacrifice well worth making.
The whoopie mac – handmade ice cream sandwiched between two cookies -kicks off my weekend of indulgent desserts perfectly.
There’s something about shopping in a city that isn’t your own and Melbourne never disappoints. From the big department stores (mid-year sales – woop!) to the boutiques you discover down little laneways, Mr LML and I give our credit cards a thorough working.
Having shopped until we dropped, we make our way back to the Novotel (which is actually located within a shopping centre itself!)
The open plan superior queen room we’re calling home for the night is spacious with modern decor and an understated elegance. It’s extremely quiet and a little on the dark side (probably because we are overlooking the shopping centre) but this has the added bonus of providing THE most amazing sleep-in on Sunday morning. But I’m getting ahead of myself again…
Thirsty and hungry (shopping is exhausting business!), we make our way to the super popular Movida Next Door wine bar. A trip to Melbourne isn’t complete without visiting at least one of the Movida outlets.
While they have opened in Sydney, my heart has been set on giving it a go on its home turf and it doesn’t disappoint.
We’re off to see KING KONG nearby so an early dinner it is. We rock up at the nana time of 5.30pm and by the time we’ve ordered a drink, our table is ready. Half an hour later, the line is long and by the time we leave around 7.30 it’s well out the door. Regardless of our lucky table, it would have been worth the wait.
Every dish is ridiculously good but the Croqueta – fried croqueta of wild mushrooms; Bomba – chorizo-filled catalan potato bomb with spicy sauce and the Berenjenas – eggplant chips with salmorejo are the big winners. Oh and the sangria, don’t forget the sangria.
It would be foolish to visit Movida and not try the Churros Con Chocolate so Mr LML and I order some to share (which in all honestly was pretty token, I think he had one and I had the rest!)
Happy and full we wander to the Regent Theatre for KING KONG, then retire back to the nearby Novotel and remark how extremely convenient the hotel location is.
Buffet breakfast bounty
Boasting 380 rooms and suites, the Novotel is a big hotel with big appetites to feed.
I’m not afraid to admit I often judge (and remember) a hotel by the strength of its buffet brekky and the Novotel’s Michel’s Restaurant is up there with some of the best I’ve had.
We settle in with the Sunday papers before doing the customary loop to figure out our plan of attack.
Highlights include a juice machine with pre-chopped fruit and vege options, fresh honeycomb ( the perfect addition to the yummy array of yoghurts, cereals and fruits), and what’s not to love about a chef dedicated to cooking your eggs to order.
Apart from the food and shopping adventures, one of the best reasons to head South in the cooler months is the annual Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series which brings major international exhibitions to town.
This year’s program includes the Hollywood Costume exhibition. After breakfast, Mr LML and I hit the streets again en route to the Australian Centre for Moving image (located on Flinders Street, a seven minute stroll from the hotel)
Showcasing some of the most iconic costumes from filmmaking in the last century including Scarlett O’ Hara’s green ‘curtain’ dress from Gone with the Wind, to Jody Garland’s iconic Dorothy outfit from The Wizard of Oz and the original 1978 Superman costume, the exhibition is an impressive walk down cinema memory lane.
While photos can’t be taken inside, the inclusion of three costumes from the recentBaz Luhrmann blockbuster, The Great Gatsby, in the entryway is a great addition.
24 hours into our weekend escape and Melbourne is definitely living up to its reputation as the city break capital of Australia.