I am always a little torn having my homes in a number of places around our vast country. Having lived in Perth for most of my adult life it is obvious that this is the main place I love to call my home. However to add to this, my Mum lives in Adelaide and returning back there to the house I grew up in I get that familiar sensation like I am returning home. To complicate things further, my Dad has lived in Melbourne with my Step mum for nearly twenty years and in many ways staying with them also feels very homely! I often wonder when we eventually return back to London where the Boy and I lived for several years, would this feel like another home to me? How many places can one call home before it starts to get a bit over the top?
Over the past six months, I have been fortunate enough to have the need to return my “home” in Melbourne several times for my wedding dress fittings at Luci Di Bella. A bride needs sustenance for such endeavours and here are my recent top four Brunch Hot Spots in Melbourne.
Cooper & Milla’s
After a bit of an emotional experience at the first wedding dress fitting, Mum and I wandered down High Street in Armadale in search of some gluten free friendly fare. We stumbled upon Cooper and Milla’s and were drawn in by their spectacular window display of treats and salads.
Like children in a candy store we wandered in all wide-eyed and totally distracted by all the adorable cakes and tarts on the counter. I had to consciously remind myself that I had a wedding waistline to watch and physically forced my eyes away from the many delicious desserts. I shall make sure to return here again to sample some of their dulcet delights.
Thankfully not all their fare is sugar laden and piled high in the window was a stunning looking seared tuna Nicoise salad and once noticing it my attention was easily dragged away from the cakes and onto this seemingly healthy yet vibrantly coloured snack.
My Mum didn’t take much convincing and before long we were both enjoying the sunshine sitting outside at their alfresco dining area feeling proud of ourselves for our dietary choices.
The following day on Christmas Eve there was a lot of market shopping to do in preparation for our big day of feasting. Getting up bright and early the Boy and I walked down to the river with my Dad & Stepmum for some hearty breakfast. Right on the banks of the Yarra River near Federation Square is a gorgeous little spot Riverland.
My parents are regular locals there and the staff all know their three Cocker Spaniels by name. As we arrive one of the waitresses brings over a bowl of water for the pooches as Dad places our order to include toast for the dogs. (I might add that this is not something his diligent veterinarian daughter advocates as good nutrition for his dogs!)
Unfortunately they do not stock any gluten free bread so I always come prepared and bring a couple of slices of my own. They have always been happy to toast this for me. I love their poached eggs with roasted mushrooms topped with a big glob of feta. The mushrooms can be a little oily sometimes however and I occasionally need to blot the oil off with a serviette!
Lindt Chocolate Café
After a full day of last-minute Christmas shopping the Boy and I headed back home which took us up Collins Street and past the Lindt Café. Now before any of you say anything, I understand that this café cannot really be classified as a brunch spot but being a ridiculously obsessed Lindt chocolate addict I felt it would be negligent for me to pass this café by. The interior of the café is initially quite impressive with high ceilings and everything seemingly glittering in gold. We made our way through to the back of the store into the café and were shown to our seats. After this we appeared to become invisible for quite some time despite the appearance of adequate staff and minimal customers. I hate that feeling when you try to catch a waiter’s eye and they look right through you like you are not even there.
As this place is well known for its hot chocolate the Boy simply couldn’t resist. Piping hot milk served with molten Lindt chocolate on the side; this decadent treat filled the hungry hole in his belly satisfactorily. Not wanting to eat too much dairy as I tend to get eczema outbreaks, I avoided the milk and satisfied myself by licking the remaining chocolate from his little jug with my finger! Such bad manners!
After the hot chocolate the Boy protested that he really did not need the St Moritz cake I had strongly encouraged him to order. Hey, if I can’t enjoy any of the cakes (as they are not gluten free) at least I can live vicariously through his gastronomic experiences! Despite his complaints he still managed to eat his way through the silky layers of alternate dark, milk and white chocolate mousse each separated by a thin layer of almond cake. The cake was topped with ultra-thin squares of Lindt dark chocolate with a generous dusting with cocoa powder.
Now don’t be fooled into thinking I sat there empty handed watching the Boy indulge. Other than buying some chocolate for the road, my main reason for entering the café was to stop for a “Mac attack”. The Christmas Delice macaron is seasonally exclusive and is filled with Christmas spices and a white chocolate filling. Although it had a good layering of flavours it was a little lost on texture and lacked the thin outer crisp sensation. It also was an unusually shaped with one side half the size of the other!
After a memorable time on Christmas Day with my family eating and drinking all the excesses imaginable, Boxing Day quickly followed and I realised it was soon time for the Boy and I to jump on a jet plane and head home. I was torn between the emotions of being sad it was all over whilst excited that the next family celebration would be our wedding day! Despite feeling very hung over and sluggish, we managed to squeeze in a last minute brunch catch up with Mum at The European on Spring Street.
The European is one of my favourite regulars in the Melbourne CBD and this French-Spanish-Italian hybrid is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week making it easy to slip in a visit each Melbourne trip. Although they do not have gluten free bread, there are a number of gluten free breakfast options and their menu goes well beyond the standard choices. Their coffee is particularly moreish and after drinking the A to Z of booze the day before I quickly ordered a second macchiato while we waited for our meals.
As the three of us sat in the sun in silence I started to the caffeine course through my veins and push my sleepy brain kick into gear and wake up. We hadn’t seen Mum on Christmas Day as she had spent the day with my sister so we had much to catch up on; what we ate, what presents did we received and what memorable good times we all had. I was feeling a little on the queasy side so I ordered the goat’s cheese omelette which had all the light fluffiness my delicate stomach lining needed and helped make me feel human again.
The Boy wanted something a little more substantial and enjoyed his “Huevos madrileños”; baked eggs with black pudding and chorizo served with toasted ciabatta. I wish I had room for his choice as it looked amazing. I am in love with Spanish style baked eggs and his oozy gooey eggs didn’t disappoint. True food envy plagued me for most of the day and my only consolation was thanks to my gorging efforts the day before, I doubt I had any room in my tummy for them anyway!Cooper & Milla’s 1094 High Street, Armadale VIC 3143 | (03) 9500 8127 Price: $$ ($10-16.50 breakfast) Food: 4/5 (I need to get back and try some sweets!) Service: 3.5/5 (casual, no table service) Ambience: 3/5 (hive of activity, funky) Drinks: 3/5 Total: 14/20 Riverland Vaults 1-9, Federation Wharf, Melbourne VIC 3000 | (03) 9662 1771 | www.riverlandbar.com Price: $$ ($7-20 breakfast) Food: 3/5 (not bad, a little heavy on the grease, BYO gluten free bread) Service: 3.5/5 (relaxed and friendly) Ambience: 4/5 (sitting by the river watching boats go by…) Drinks: 3.5/5 Total: 14/20 Lindt Chocolat Café 271 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9667 0900 | www.lindt.com.au Price: $$ Food: 3/5 (it’s Lindt chocolate, it was always going to be amazing, pity about the macaron) Service: 2/5 (get better service at McDonald’s) Ambience: 2/5 (surprisingly poor) Drinks: 4/5 (get the hot chocolate) Total: 11/20 The European 161 Spring Street, Melbourne CBD VIC 3000 | (03) 9654 0811| www.theeuropean.com.au Price: $$ ($8-19 breakfast) Food: 4/5 (interesting breakfast options, no gluten free bread) Service: 4/5 (quick and efficient) Ambience: 3.5/5 (sit outside for breaky, a bit too dark inside) Drinks: 4.5/5 (coffee is the bomb!) Total: 15.5/20