It’s time for Seven:am

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Category: Bayside, Lunch, breakfast

The 'swimming pool' bowl of latte, ready for your attention at Seven:am.

The 'swimming pool' bowl of latte at Seven:am, guaranteed to dezombify

7.00 AM ON A SATURDAY MORNING

Tubbymistress is sitting cross-legged on her bed, bleary-eyed, the morning light and a disobedient body clock ending all hope of a rare sleep-in. She sleepily pushes her Justin Bieber-esque fringe out of her eyes and stares at the bedroom door, fully aware that Tubbymaster and an early morning jog are lying in wait on the other side.

The door opens, and Tubbymaster steps into the room, looking as tired as Tubbymistress feels.

TUBBYMASTER: Coffee?

Seven:am
155 Bay St, Port Melbourne VIC
http://www.sevenam.com.au
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The pretty La Petanque

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Category: Dinner, French, Lunch, Winery restaurant

A SUNNY DECEMBER MORNING IN NADI, FIJI

Tubbymistress is sitting in the backseat of an old taxi, en route from Fiji’s international airport to the palm-tree lined paradise known as Denarau Island. The contrast between the streets of Nadi and the tourist hotspot is immense, as if a veil of instant paradise has been made to order, leaving the rest of Fiji shrouded in third-world darkness.

FRIENDLY TAXI DRIVER (glancing at Tubbymistress in the rear-view mirror): There is regular time, and there is ‘Fiji time’. Only the planes run to schedule, you know.

The taxi headed over the narrow bridge and into Paradise.

The dining room at the very pretty La Petanque

The dining room at the pretty La Petanque

La Petanque is more south of France than Fiji. Instead of palm trees, you’ll find a beautiful garden that winds down to an equally charming restaurant. Instead of wonderful but sometime forgetful ladies delivering pina coladas to bikini-clad Tubbymistresses reclining on poolside deck chairs, you’ll find polite and friendly staff who make a habit of greeting you at the door as you arrive. The one thing that La Petanque and Fiji have in common is that they both seem to run to ‘Fiji time’ – perhaps not a bad thing if you’re here for a leisurely Sunday lunch.

La Petanque
1208 Mornington-Flinders Rd, Main Ridge VIC
www.lapetanque.com.au

The lustrous Pearl Café

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Category: Inner East, Lunch, breakfast

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON

Tubbymistress is standing next to her car, opposite the food temple known as Pearl Restaurant. For once, she is early for a breakfast rendezvous with friend Cyril, although something is rotten in the state of Denmark.  She takes off her sunglasses and strides across the road for a closer look at the restaurant, which is cloaked in darkness on a sunny Saturday morning.

She picks up her phone and dials Cyril’s number.

TUBBYMISTRESS: Pearl is closed! Where are you?
CYRIL: About five minutes away. Are you sure it’s closed? Are you at the café?
TUBBYMISTRESS: The café? What, we’re not having breakfast in the restaurant?
CYRIL: No. The café is a couple of blocks down the road, toward Swan St.

Tubbymistress looks down at her sky-blue Leona Edmiston heels, and sighs.

Pearl Café
Church St, Richmond VIC
http://www.pearlrestaurant.com.au/cafe-pearl-2

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Noisette: Not French for ‘noisy girl’

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Category: French, Lunch, breakfast

Noisette's rendition of an Easter classic: the hot cross bun

Noisette's rendition of an Easter classic: the hot cross bun

Let’s face it: one of the best things about Easter is eating. One of the best things about Easter-time eating is a bun that’s fruit-spiced and branded with a white cross.

Noisette – boulangerie | patisserie | chocolaterie
84 Bay St, Port Melbourne VIC

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Il Bacaro: When in Rome …

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Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch

Il Bacaro, gleaming under the street lights on Lt Collins St

Il Bacaro, gleaming under the street lights on Lt Collins St

Sometimes the best decisions are made on the fly. Like, choosing where to dine on a Saturday night. Or securing a rare on-street car park in Melbourne’s Lt Collins St and deciding that the Italian place across the road is just the place to chow down.

When I stepped into Il Bacaro, I saw a cosy restaurant filled with diners – and seemingly little chance of securing a table. Listed in the Australian Good Food Guide as a premium cut on Victoria’s restaurant menu, this was hardly a surprise. What was a surprise was that we couldn’t have planned the night better if we tried – settling for a place at the bar offered one of the best first-time dining experiences I’ve had in some time.

Il Bacaro Cucina & Bar
168–170 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, VIC
www.ilbacaro.com.au

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Cafe Vue cocktail night

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Category: CBD, Dinner, French, Lunch, breakfast

If only I’d discovered this earlier. Last chance: 7 pm on 26 March!
$75 per person.

Cafe Vue Cocktail night
‘Friday night at the movies’
430 Lt Collins St, Melbourne VIC
http://www.vuedemonde.com.au/

The Victorian

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Category: Bayside, Dinner, Lunch, Modern Australian, Small plates, breakfast

The Big Vic, in all its glory

The Big Vic, in all its glory

EARLY ON A SATURDAY MORNING
It’s a calm, crisp Melbourne morning. Tubbymistress is ‘jogging’ along the beach, her ragged breathing punctuating the sound of children laughing and women talking on their iPhones. The bay is a serene shade of blue, its waves too sleepy to cause more than a ripple. Suddenly, a beacon of light looms up ahead.

The Victorian
123 Beaconsfield Parade (corner Kerford Rd)
Albert Park VIC

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Fairfield Boathouse

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Category: Australian, Lunch, breakfast

Fairfield Boathouse

A land of milk and honey: Fairfield Boathouse, on the banks of the murky Yarra

There’s something very beautiful about this ‘rural’ oasis in a rapidly expanding urban jungle. It’s as if a patch of Melbourne was frozen in time, allowing children to run free in the innocent days when kids could really be kids, before the words ‘Twitter’ and ‘tween’ could ever be found in the Macquarie Dictionary. Fairfield Boathouse plays upon this old-school aesthetic well, advertising its classic array of Australian foodie favourites with a splash of sepia. I found myself craving Devonshire tea and a raspberry spider quicker than you could say ‘bonza’.

Fairfield Park Boathouse and Tea Gardens
Fairfield Park Drive, Fairfield VIC
www.fairfieldboathouse.com

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Il Solito Posto

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Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch, breakfast

Feel like pasta? Try Il Solito Posto. Tucked down a laneway off Collins St, this little bistro may look unassuming from the outside, but inside it’s a hub of activity, buzzing with conversation and oozing with charm; its dimly lit, rustic atmosphere the perfect canvas for after-work drinks and a bite to eat.

Il Solito Posto
Basement 113 Collins St (entry on George Pde), Melbourne VIC
www.ilsolitoposto.com.au

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Benito’s (not Mussolini’s)

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Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch, Monday to Friday

antipasto platter

Antipasto platter

I first encountered Benito’s a couple of years ago after emerging from a fun, girly dinner at Bistro Vue.* As I headed down the laneway with my friend Larrabee, I shoved my hands deeper into my coat pockets, fumbling for my car keys and an ounce of warmth.

Larrabee took my arm, leading me toward Lt Collins St. ‘There’s a little restaurant I want to look at,’ she said, nodding toward a small, unassuming café/restaurant across the road. ‘I walked past the other day. I can’t remember its name … but I think it sounds kind of fascist?’

Benito’s
445 Lt Collins St, Melbourne VIC

* More about Bistro Vue another time.

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