A local’s guide to Melbourne: ‘The best part is the element of surprise’
Victoria’s capital is rich in hidden galleries, bars and clubs, idiosyncratic buildings and exciting food, says architectural designer Nancy Beka
While Melbourne’s fine dining scene is sensational, it’s the city’s multiculturalism that makes eating here so exciting. Sydney Road in Brunswick is a microcosm of this, a place where old Italian supermarkets mingle with Middle Eastern jewellers and hipster bars. Start with a breakfast halloumi toastie at Wide Open Road then wander along the strip, stopping at A1 Bakery for a spinach-and-cheese triangle or chicken tawouk wrap. Nearby, blingy Lebanese patisserie Balha’s Pastry is open late and its baklava is the closest to my mum’s version – delicate, not too syrupy, just perfect. In an intimate laneway off Sydney Road, Mamma’s Boy Trattoria is fantastic for handmade pasta. It serves bottomless gnocchi and cocktail lunches on Sundays, which you need to book online. Across in Collingwood, Jim’s Greek Tavern is a local institution, the place to celebrate Melbourne’s status as the largest Greek-speaking city outside Greece. Your best bet is to let its staff feed you but make sure to order the saganaki and scallops.