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Apr 26, 2017

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Melbourne: Where It’s Warm Inside
by Andrea Frost
Magazine Issue: AUS/NZ Issue Four
WHERE IT'S WARM INSIDE ---> ---> --->

All photos by Hugh Peachy (unless marked).

Winter revelry is something Melbourne is good at. There's a labyrinth of warming bars tucked into the laneway system of Melbourne, like glowing wombs nourishing the cold and thirsty nightcats of the city. Of course there's a lot more to do and we've done you up an itinerary for an entertaining weekend in Melbourne. Spend some time where they do winter well.

FRIDAY NIGHT

It's Melbourne, it's winter and it's about round 18 of the AFL footy season. It doesn't matter if you don't like footy, look at everyone else at the MCG, yelling and fighting with each other - they don't like it either. But going to the Gee Whizz for a game on a Friday night is one of the greatest things Melbourne has to offer. The size of the staium, the lights, the roar of the crowd. You'll be entertained even if it's a dull game just by watching the people.

Before the game, get into the swing of things with a couple of beers at the Cricketers Arms . It's the meeting spot for everyone (which makes finding them difficult) and is as footy as they come - pots, police and punters. It's a top way to fire up for the big game - learn some things like "No room for comments on the scoreboard mate." Just don't go there afterwards, it's difficult then.

Walk out of the G at around 10:30 and up through the Fitzroy Gardens. These are possibly Melbourne's most underrated gardens and if it were daytime and sunny, you should stop heer, but it's dark and probably freezing so keep walking up the hill.


Photo by: Natalie Jeffcott

Pass the lovely old St. Pats Cathedral and St. Peter's Eastern Hill, say a prayer for yourself, and hit Brunswick Street. This is a street that's made for good, honest, happy drinking.

For those who want to eat, it's a right smorgasbord for choice. Guernica is one of the more polished operations on Brunswick Street with a fantastic wine list and fresh, creative and tasty meals. Book, but go. Blue Chillies is a smooth restaurant dishing up big, brothy laksas, an assortment of noodles and tasty Thai fish things in a streamlined, modern and moody environment. The Napier and the Marquis of Lorne both offer dinner in cosy back rooms tucked away from the beer drinking crowds.

With dinner over (or bypassed) the Labour In Vain is a great old pub that's just been given a buff and shine with the renovation stick. Get there early enough on a Friday night and have a beer on the deck. The Napier is a rocking club tucked in to the back streets of Fitzroy, right off Brunswick Street, that has a top crowd, an open fire and a lot of stuff hanging on the wall to look at. You might even catch a replay of the game.

Back on Brunswick Street tuck into Bar Open . You can often get live music, always an open fire and sometimes a seat, so it's best to get there really late or quite early. Rough and cosy couches, a beer garden with kegs for seats and a smattering of chairs and tables. While you're still standing there's only one domaine left, The Punters Club . There's a pool table, carpet that shines like lino but sticks like Velcro and music that hurts. But it's open and it's just what you do - it's what everyone does and at that time of the night you can meet them all. Leave when the bouncers tap you on the shoulder. Grab a souvlaki from the Souvlaki King. Now go home, it's late, you're drunk and you reek of garlic sauce.


Photo by: Natalie Jeffcott

SATURDAY

And good morning to you. Best you get up and duck and weave through Melbourne's inner city lanes to Degraves Street for a greasy spoon to ease all your woes. Degraves Espresso Bar is the pick for true nourishment but, even in that tiny lane and Centre Place just across Flinders Lane, there's a few others you can try - like Hell's Kitchen , Fat Ben's Cafe or the Jbar juice spot to try and cleanse the night out of you. There's chemist on the corner of Flinders Lane and Degraves. Just in case.

Wander up Flinders Lane to Swanston Street and catch the number 12 or the number 16 tram to St. Kilda. You'll go over the Yarra River (yes but Melbournians think it looks nice), past the botanical gardens and you'll see the Shrine of Remembrance.

St. Kilda is one of those spots that everyone seemed to like more "before all the yuppies moved in." It's also chock full of those people... just don't tell them that.

Acland Street is pretty well known for its cake shops - the kind with windows full of pastries and cakes that look so good that you don't know whether to keep it and give it as a gift at the next wedding you attend or just eat and enjoy. Eating is much more pleasurable but

of course, this is your weekend - up to you. Continue up the street a little, kick back, it's time to relax. Try the Vineyard for G&T to refresh the mouth and spark you up, or the Esplanade Hotel (The Espy) for a couple of swift beers while you watch the sunset over Port Phillip Bay.

Peckish? The Espy Kitchen still dishes up big, hearty pub grub meals in the dark and intriguing back room of the pub - you know, steaks, stir fry and chips. Just around the corner on Fitzroy Street, Pelican turns on a plethora of tapas in a super smooth setting. Those looking to satisfy the part of your palate that tastes Italian, let our very own chef Toby Puttock weave his cooking magic on you at Termini . For burgers so good it's almost pornographic and bangers and mash that feel like home, Tolarno Bistro is another way forward. And as the walls are adorned with artwork by famous artist Mirka Mora, a visit here also passes as a visit to a gallery. For those happy to spend a bit of extra coin on some truly amazing wine this trip, you could try Circa , The Prince , or swing around to South Melbourne to est est est .

SATURDAY NIGHT

Ready? Let's dance then. Wear something black.

Melbourne has a reputation for a lot of things - quick trigger pulling cops, a passion for black clothes and the best bars tucked away in "cool little lanes." First trip to these bars can be confusing, what with all the corners and lanes off lanes that all look the same. It's a wonder you get home at all. Thing to remember is, most of the bars are off two lanes, Flinders Lane and Little Collins Street. Start at one end and work your way along. If we start at the Elizabeth Street end, you can make your way up the hill (Melbourne has one) so when you need to get home, it's all down hill from there.

Bond Bar is a pretty new addition to the tucked away bars. It has a big open space, low ceilings, private Cognac and cigar rooms and a fit out that costs more than it took to make a Bond movie. Robot , just off Flinders Lane, is a super funky little bar with a Japanese theme that includes sushi, saki, Japanese robots and, of course, Asahi. Move up and along the block, look for the lime green door and ascend the stairs and slink into the Kitten Club . You could come here for the limited but tasty food menu early in the night, but you're best just to concentrate on the wines by the glass, the spread of top beers or the fancy pants cocktails. If you're lucky, you might get a guernsey in the love room on the second level.

Having a good time? Let's keep moving.

Move along now to Misty Place . Down the lane with the glowing light boxes and into the glowing little misty bar. Lots of little nooks in here, big square 70's couches, super polished tunes, glowing light boxes everywhere, tasty bar snacks, such as wasabi peas and bowls of pistachios and a crowd so beautiful you feel famous just being there. Move on and if you can get in go to Honky Tonk . The trickiest of the lot to navigate (which is why you shouldn't leave it too late to find it) Honky Tonk has managed to treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen for an almost record 12 months now. Decked out in airport 70's decor it's kinda interesting to look at. It has a big sweeping dancefloor to shake some booty and great DJs to match. If only they'd lighten up. Bring it back a notch and into the Gin Palace . This is one of the finest of the couch variety bars. Not only is it fitted out with impressive decor - lots of velvet, plenty of cushions and set up so everyone gets their own loungeroom, the Gin Palace has one of the highest quality bars in Melbourne. Vodka so clean you wonder if it's water, smooth single malts and so many Martinis you soon realise why everyone here is sitting down. Before you run out of legs, there's more - Meyer's Place is the perfect wind down and is open till 4am. Small, dark and with cosy little booths to give your squeeze a squeeze. Sunrise threatens and there's one place left - the Supper Club . Service with a smile till 6am. And with polished floorboards, big leather couches, cigars if you want, a wine list like a phone book and tapas until you figure it's time for breakfast. It makes for a pretty smooth ride into Sunday morning.

SUNDAY

Wake up, take a bath, walk around in your white robe. Feel ok? Now you've got one more day. Let's get out and get amongst it.

Over to Southgate for a cook-up at Blue Train . It's been chugging along since Southgate's inception and serves breakfast from 7am if you want it before bed, or till 4pm for those who don't. You may get the feeling that the staff members have had less sleep than you (and aren't happy about it), but you learn to accept it. Have a browse through the fodder at the Southgate Sunday Market then up to St. Kilda Road. If it's a good day walk through the gardens to Chapel Street. If not, wait for the number eight tram to take you to the corner of Chapel Street and Toorak Road. Wander along the street until something takes your fancy. That's what it's set up for. Try Borders bookstore, or take in a no brainer movie at the Jam Factory. There's plenty to choose from for casual eating and drinking in the street.

Back into the city for an afternoon Bloody Mary at the Hairy Canary . Take in a plate of dips and warm Turkish bread to keep you going. Wander over to Bourke Street and up a couple of blocks to everyone's favourite, Pellegrini's . Take in a serve of pasta that you can see as it's pulled from the oven and definitely have a coffee as you like it. Take a look through specialist book shops around that end of town. For smooth tunes to ease you into Sunday evening, swing by Pony at the top end of Little Collins Street. If you're luck you'll get DJs from local acts like the Avalanches playing their favorite records for you upstairs. If not just enjoy a cold ale from one of the many beers, including a good show of support for the local ones on offer. The Lounge is another one of Melbourne's institutions, having pioneered the loungey inner city bars ten years ago. It's a warm, cosy space, with loads of tables and strange things hanging from the ceiling where you can take a seat on the balcony overlooking one of the city's busiest streets, grab a meal, a glass of wine and maybe sneak in a game of pool.

Now, isn't it about time you went home?


PLACES TO STAY

Hotel Lindrum: 26 Flinders St Melbourne (03) 9668-1111
The Royce: 379 St Kilda Rd Melbourne (03) 9677-9900
Victoria Hotel: 215 Little Collins St Melbourne (03) 9653-0441
Hotel Causeway: 275 Little Collins St Melbourne (03) 9660-8888
The Duxton Hotel: 328 Flinders St Melbourne (03) 9250-1888

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