Mention Melbourne to someone outside of Australia and you’re sure to conjure up images of street art, flat eggs and… avocado toast. This simple dish has become an icon of the Melbourne brunch scene and, apart from vegemite, is quite possibly Australia’s most famous culinary export.
Best Breakfast Melbourne
Avocado toast is served in almost every coffee shop in Melbourne. And as Australian-style cafes spread around the world, so does avocado toast. But any visitor to Melbourne should know that the culture of the city’s cafés goes beyond this simple dish. Many cafes stay open all day, sometimes turning into restaurants or wine bars after sunset. Food is just as important as coffee. On the menu, next to avocado toast, you’ll find shakshuka, ramen, and panna cotta for breakfast, reminiscent of the city’s cultural diversity. Some cafes even focus on a single cuisine, such as Japanese, Sri Lankan or Thai, but they all have a distinct kind of cafe – lots of plants, a good espresso machine, baked goods behind glass – along with great coffee and casual service. Here, almost everything can be turned into a brunch.
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Of course, in the US it would be unfair to call a cafe Australian if it wasn’t for avocado toast on the menu, but Melbourne cafes do so much more. This is what Melbournes really order for breakfast.
In 2013, Top Paddock introduced blueberry and ricotta hot cakes that have inspired countless other releases; You can still find it there and at sister cafes Kettle Black and High Ground. Dusted with colorful powder and edible flowers, these hot cakes may look like they were invented exclusively for Instagram, but they’re actually more than just a look. The ricotta mixture makes thick fluffy pancakes with fruit, cream, maple syrup, nuts and flowers. One hot cake is the size of a big plate, so if you can’t eat it alone, share it with your friends as an after-dinner dessert.
Similar to rosti or hash browns, the typical Melbourne potato hash is made with sliced potatoes shaped into pancakes, fried until crispy, and topped with things like slow-cooked beef, boiled eggs, and spinach. At Proud Mary, located in trendy Collingwood (there’s also a second location in Portland, Oregon), potato stuffing is served with crispy kale, short bacon, hard-boiled eggs, and bagna coda. Look around and you’ll see hash on half the tables. At Fitzroy, Addict Food and Coffee’s croquette-like potatoes are brimming with mushrooms, onions and eggs.
Japanese cuisine is great in Melbourne, including cafes. Meg and Zinta Tanaka popularized their Japanese breakfast—grilled salmon, tamagoyaki, potato salad, rice, miso soup, and pickles—at the CIBI coffee shop and design store. Both are from Japan, met while studying in Adelaide, then moved to Tokyo for a few years. Back in Australia, they opened CIBI, which includes their love of food and design. The menu also includes baked eggs in the morning and pork katsu sandwiches at the end of the day. To find many cafes with a Japanese menu, head to the northern suburbs of Melbourne. In Carlton, Asako Miura and James Spinks introduced the Japanese-Australian coffee shop to The Emma Project Café in their own way. Their Japanese breakfast consists of fish and organic products.
Melbourne’s Best Breakfast
Like English muffins, muffins are originally from the British Isles, but many Australians have grown up eating them with butter and honey as an after-school snack. The inflatable tortillas are made from a mixture of flour and yeast, and the small holes in their surface make them the perfect spreading medium. Melbourne’s most famous mini waffles are made at Cumulus Inc. They are served with whipped ricotta and raw surface honey, a local brand from city beekeepers. The city now also has its first cafe dedicated to cookie cream: Holy Crumpets opened earlier this year and offers six types of honey and a long list of spreads, including seasonal options like passion fruit and ricotta cheese.
Basic British soldiers and eggs consist of slices of toast dipped in a hard-boiled egg. Australian cafes often upgrade the dish to Vegemite soldiers by spreading brown yeast on toast. This classic is replete with twists: At Pope Joan in the Central Business District (CBD), buttered egg-free toast is served with crispy bacon bits and herb salt. Hardware Société is taking things to the next level by covering their soldiers with toppings like duck roll, potato patty and shrimp grits.
This comforting rice porridge dish is a breakfast staple throughout Asia and is becoming increasingly popular for breakfast and brunch in Melbourne. You may not find it everywhere yet, but Japanese or Thai-Australian cafes like CIBI and Oneyada offer versions. The Magic Mountain Saloon in the Central Business District serves Thai tainted eggs and chicken congee with spices such as ginger, chili and dried anchovies. Australian cafes that do not have other Asian influences on their menus, such as Wild Life Bakery, are also following this trend. Brunswick East Cafe & Bakery serves brown rice, mushrooms and furikake.
Those who like to start their day with something sweet should know that Italian panna cotta has gone from dessert to breakfast in Melbourne cafes. Panna cotta for breakfast is usually very pretty, often surrounded by a garden with edible fruits, muesli and flowers. There seems to be no limit to the flavors chefs add to their thick, wobbly cream candies: pandanus, taro, Oreo cookies, basil, and even peas. Try the Nutella panna cotta with roasted marshmallows at Elsternwick’s Penta or the mango-saffron panna cotta at Tinker’s Northcote.
Best Breakfast In Melbourne
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Almost every cafe sells some kind of baked egg dish, but shakshuka – in its simplest form, eggs boiled in tomato sauce with herbs and spices, served with pita bread – is in the lead. Tahini at Northcote and Fitzroy makes green shakshuka with broccoli, avocado and zucchini, and white shakshuka with mushrooms, Jerusalem artichoke and goat cheese. Bowery to Williamsburg offers a variety of dishes with Italian sausages, halloumi or smoked salmon. They all come with tortillas baked with thyme spice.
Clockwise from top left: Tinker’s Panna Cotta breakfast; Shakshuka from the Bowery to Williamsburg; Iconic Breakfast Pasta from Small Ax Kitchen | Clockwise from top left: Tinker; Michael Woods Timothy Gray
If you’re looking for something vegan or vegetarian and don’t want to stray too far from avocado toast, you’ll find a mushroom platter at most cafes. The “on the toast” part gets interesting. Vegan cafe Admiral Cheng-Ho roasts four mushrooms and serves them with almond feta and chili butter on cornbread. Short Straw serves wild mushrooms alongside crispy polenta, while Two Birds One Stone serves soy and flaxseed toast. Visit the city during the cooler months and you might be lucky enough to get some of the prized local red pine mushrooms (also known as camelinas) on toast.
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Scotch eggs are hard boiled, covered with sausage, breaded and fried. In Britain, it is usually eaten cold as a snack, at a picnic or on the road. You might guess that things are a little different in Melbourne cafes. The bases (eggs, ground beef, breadcrumbs) are the same, but in Australia the Scotch egg is served warm, straight from the fryer, and as part of a signature dish. In Richmond, Holla Coffee Roasters pays homage to the local Vietnamese.
Scotch eggs are served with carrots. At Lights in the Attic, one of the most popular dishes is the egg basket: two Scotch eggs on a rosti “nest” with a frying pan of tomatoes and beans.
You can find dishes with yogurt, fruits, vegetables or cereals on almost every coffee shop menu. Serotonin makes a bowl of acai with peanut butter, banana, and coconut “ice cream,” while Matcha Mylkbar’s Daily Ritual bowl is filled with pumpkin, mushrooms, cabbage, chickpeas, brown miso rice, and tahini. Oatmeal is also a popular option. Plain oatmeal is made with oats, although bases such as quinoa, chia, and polenta are gaining popularity. Milk substitutes such as almond and soy are often used to keep the dish vegan. A few things to try: fried apple porridge made by devotees; quinoa, ginger and orange porridge at Vertue Coffee Roasters; maple-rice porridge from the cereal store; Or oatmeal tea at Home One.
Noodles of all kinds have found their way onto the café menu, including breakfasts. Mammoth Café in Armadale serves breakfast with dashi chicken broth, bacon and onsen eggs. At Terror Twilight, you can put together your own plate by choosing noodles (soba or rice) and broth (chicken and lemongrass or miso and shiitake),
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