Preparation is the key to enjoying any visit to Melbourne -- it can actually make or break your stay. Here's a little insight into our recent trip and the places we visited. I have to admit it, sometimes I don't do enough research and things don't work out as I planned, but having a couple of backup options and a wife with an eagle eye helps!
First off the rank was lunch after our arrival. We checked in early to The Vibe Savoy Hotel (keeping close to a railway station is obviously becoming a bit of a thing for me). The plan was to head up Bourke Street and then to Hardware Lane to check out the Rolld Vietnamese Street Food franchise. These guys have been going gangbusters! And so we were heading there to try out their specialty version of Vietnamese coffee. But no...no coffee for us! It was closed for Easter. The first place to get their own back at us for closing too! Good thing our trip up Bourke Street wasn't wasted as we were able to step inside Peter Jackson men’s outfitters shop. It wasn’t part of the plan, but hey, the purchases were really needed and the service was amazing!
Walking through Hardware Lane past Lonsdale Street, we made it out the other end just in time for lunch. That’s when hawkeyed Lauren spotted a Malaysian place across the street - Mamak. The place was only half full so we had no problems getting a seat (was just on 12 noon so people were probably still surfacing). All our favourites were on the menu - nasi lemak, kari ikan fish curry, and roti. Superb!
After lunch, it was Lauren and Ruby’s turn to shop. H&M had an Easter sale and the place was packed. I actually planned for an early dinner at Mamasita expecting that there would be no queues by the time we got there (5:30 pm). But hey, guess what? They were closed - under renovation - darn! We had no choice then but to decide whether to go to option two which was Cumulus Inc. or option three Chinatown. We were pretty sure Ruby would be eating the Spanish Ortiz anchovies at Cumulus so there you go, it won. It was full by the time we got there (around 6 pm) but we only waited for ten minutes to be seated. I’d say good things come to those who wait, as after waiting we were rewarded with three seats at the bar overlooking the open kitchen. Great, now we had both food and entertainment sorted for the evening. I wonder though, are a tin of anchovies normal fare for an eleven year old? Because our dear Ruby hoofed them down with little regard to her parents asking for even a little taste. Oh well! Demands were made for Dad to make sourdough like Cumulus Inc's, so now the pressure is on again! Good thing the food was perfect! We had pigs head croquettes and fried cauliflower with spiced salt for starters, followed by the pork rack and loin with salads (butter bean and a pumpkin and feta salad). Flavours and textures were perfect! It is McConnell establishment after all.
Then where do you go on a full stomach at 8 pm on a Saturday night in Melbourne? Ice skating of course! So it was off to the Medibank Ice House! All this buzzing around town is great, especially on the free trams (as long as you stay in the CBD free tram zone). Thanks to whoever made the decision to not charge for trips in the CBD. Yay!
Of course, Easter morning in a hotel room is no excuse not to do an egg hunt. We just had to hold the egg hunt with eggs hidden in all the nooks & crannies of the hotel room, even if it ended up being a pretty short one! So then off to breaky - Saigon style at Jardin Tan at the Observatory in the Royal Botanic Gardens. We ordered Bánh xèo, Vietnamese fried eggs, and baguettes with jam. Their coffee was definitely good but a little on the cool side. A trip through the children’s garden got us going again. What a great area for kids to explore! It has different ecosystems and paths to entice kids down. It wasn't long before, we adults were thinking about lunch and envisaged a trip to the Galleon Cafe in St Kilda - it’s supposed to be very similar decor-wise to Derailleur.
We then waited for the tram on the corner of Domain and Park Streets which gave me a chance to duck around the corner and stick my head into the Botanical Hotel(my old work place when I was at Uni). I could hardly recognise it - what have they done with all the metal? Brings back memories… Okay, so moving on. We ditched the tram idea as at the back at the tram stop we found Ichi Ichi Ku! Yes, they do sushi and bento box there, along with breakfasts and everything in between. And did I tell you their coffee was amazing? I haven’t? Well it really was! Not to mention the chocolate muffin with half a chocolate Easter bunny popping out the top!
After a ridiculous amount of food we headed off to our next stop -- Luna Park -- the mother of all queues. Just kidding. But seriously, it took us an hour to get in - what? Perhaps another day? Nah. A good thing that it was suggested we purchase a ticket online and use the express lane... and hey presto! Ten minutes later we were in. There were still queues at each ride though. Luckily, Ruby was patient and found interesting things to look at while waiting.
Too many Easter eggs and fairy floss meant we needed to settle a young one’s stomach at dinner. But, I'd had too many belly-churning rides at Luna Park! We had to eat pho then. Good thing Pho24 was just a block away from our hotel. It hit the spot for our pho addicted daughter (she actually managed to get the pho trifecta last week and had pho at the cafe for breaky (a treat!), then pho for lunch at home and again for dinner!). Seriously, I mean I love pho and all, but, oh well, did I say our daughter is addicted to pho? Oh yes, I think I already did.
I just loved our breakfast the next day. It’s an old favourite - you know that place that you always go back to because they never let you down? Well Degraves Espresso is ours. They roast their own coffee blend and it's a cracker - I had the sweetest chocolate-tasting long black ever and followed it up with a ripper short black. Okay - set for the day. What to do on Easter Monday? What else, but go Easter egg shopping with 50% off at the Lindt shop.
We then returned back home via train. But prior to that, we went back to Pho24 for some takeaway Bánh mì (pork and chicken) and a Bánh bao for the ride home (sorry V/Line, but I have to say this - your cafe bar just doesn't cut it). A delayed train departure caused by graffiti in Albury the night prior was the only sour note to our weekend. No worries though, as it meant all the Bánh mì were consumed before boarding! Weekend complete.