Saturday, October 17, 2009

Eating and shopping Melbourne - Part 1

Ah, Melbourne, city of wide boulevards, intimate laneways, intricate architecture and incredible restaurants and cafes.

I’ve visited Melbourne numerous times, mostly for work and usually for no more than a couple of days at a time. I know the central business district pretty well, and have ventured to the main shopping precincts, such as Brunswick St in Fitzroy, Chadstone, Chapel St, Bridge Rd. All good.

When it comes to eating, it’s usually the CBD, Southbank and St Kilda. Though I have been to Pearl restaurant in Richmond, where there was an amusing case of mistaken identity that I’ll tell you about another time…(they thought I was someone important)...

Anyway, this time I had to go to for work again, and decided to stay the weekend, to fit in some extra eating and shopping. And due to some wonderful Melbourne food bloggers, I found some new places to try.

But let’s start at the beginning, at Sydney Airport.

Food stop number 1: McDonald’s in the T2 terminal, where I had a limited edition double cheeseburger (with lettuce and mayo) – it filled the spot before the flight.

On board DJ838: Didn’t eat anything, but read Gourmet Traveller and watched Sex and the City (saw 2 episodes before the free view got turned off).

Out the window: The lovely Sutherland Shire in Sydney’s south is surprisingly picturesque from 1000 feet.

On the ground in Melbourne: I love the feeling of being in a ‘new’ place. We stayed on Collins Street.

The shops in Melbourne CBD are pretty much the same ones as in Sydney (and vice versa). One of my favourites, though, is Little Salon in Little Collins Street (see previous visit here). They have a great range of jewellery (got another Love necklace) and clothing and accessories.

A tradition of mine on arriving in Melbourne is to have something from Grand BBQ, which is in the Target Centre in Bourke Street.  I was a bit dismayed to see that the decor had been fancified since my last visit, and the menu has been reduced from about 50 dishes to around 30 dishes. 
We had #6 (roast duck and bbq pork noodle soup) and #26 (beef brisket and wonton noodle soup), each about $8.50 (the prices have gone up, too).  Relief that they tasted the same - tasty, sweet stock with plump wontons and juicy duck/pork.  And I love that you get your own black tea - served from an urn at the back of the cafe, very Chinese!

Decided to walk off the meal, since I wasn't sure we'd be able fit in dinner at this rate, so we wandered up to Melbourne Central (Lonsdale St).  We walked up Russell St and in the window of a restaurant (Korean?) saw these plates of plastic food covered in plastic.  Would have thought you could just give them a rinse...

Back on Collins Street, the late 19th century architecture is both gothic and lovely.  The condition of the facade of the BNZ bank branch is wonderful, isn't it (below right)?

I hadn't made any bookings for dinner, as I'd hoped to go to Cumulus Inc.  But because of our late noodles, hunger pangs didn't appear till 8pm, too late to go to Cumulus Inc - with their no-bookings policy, I didn't feel like waiting.  The internet comes to the rescue, and I found Bistrot d'Orsay (through good reviews on Eatability) and managed to get a table for 8:15pm.  At this stage I was a bit worried: if the restaurant was any good, why weren't they booked out on Saturday night?  I needn't have worried.

Bistrot d'Orsay is located in the theatre end of Collins St.  With the Athenaeum on one side and the Regent opposite, it's ideally sited for pre-theatre dining.  It also means smokers congregate on the footpath outside during intermission.

Loved the look of the restaurant - very Gallic, with mural on the ceiling, those wicker seats on the footpath, and panelling and tasselled lampshades inside.

The food is 'sort of' French.  There was a charming French waiter, but apparently the owners and kitchen staff are all non-French.  No matter, the food was good.

We had:
Entrees: rabbit, veal and pistachio terrine ($19.50), Tom Cooper's smoked salmon with dill and cucumber remoulade ($19.50)
Mains: gnocchi with ragout (special, $25), pan-fried gnocchi with field mushrooms, chard, hazelnuts ($27.50)

Could only fit in a shared dessert at this stage (a first for me): Prune and armangnac parfait with strawberry puree and almond tuile ($17.50)

Overall, Bistrot d'Orsay is a pleasant place, serving good food with professional service, ie. I'd recommend it!
It's at 184 Collins St, Melbourne. Ph: 03 9654 6498. Open Mon-Sat from 7.30am-11pm (from 9am on Sat).

To finish our first day in Melbourne, a bit of window shopping at Chanel and Miss Louise, which are located in the Westin Hotel opposite Bistro d'Orsay.  I emphasise the 'window' bit, but ooh, look at the shoes!!!


  1. Aw how sweet that they're being so multicultural with the dessert - representing both the Louvre and the London Eye! ;)

  2. Ooh now I'm curious to know who you were mistaken for! All the food looks fabulous, I really need to fly down for a weekend soon. Oh my, the shooooeeesssss!!

  3. I am eager to find out where and what else you did! And I do agree that I am not liking the new Grand BBQ look. At least the Laksa selection have not changed... ;)

  4. How fun! And oh the rabbits at Little Salon and the tuille at Bistrot d'Orsay!

  5. I like the mural of the girl eating icecream. The prune parfait looks even better though!

  6. Sounds like a great first day in good old Melbourne. Cant wait to see what you did on day 2!

  7. you sure had a great time in Melbourne. can't wait for more posts.

  8. hi Conor - haha, I didn't notice that, but you're right, the tuile is very London Eye, non?

    hi Stephcookie - Melbourne is great for a weekend away. You just have to stop yourself going crazy over the shoes...

    hi Penny - I much preferred the old Grand BBQ, especially the more unusual dishes they had. I will have to try the laksa next time, though.

    hi Shez - Little Salon is such a cute place to shop. I don't know if the rabbits are for sale though!

    hi Arwen - the mural is appropriate, isn't it? And yes, the parfait was really good, with bits of prune in it.

    hi Maria - glad you are enjoying my trip, too!

    hi Ellie - there is a little more to come. Hope like it!

  9. This sounds like my kind of tour Belle! :D Window shopping at Chanel and lots of good food. And just randomy, I love that font. Would you have the name of it? :)

  10. hi Lorraine - shoes and food, the ultimate combination! And the font is CAC Pinafore (can't remember where it's from, unfortunately)