Finding that Melbourne Vibe
Samara Macchia | On 10, Mar 2013
If you’ve ever spent much time in Melbourne, you’ll know what I mean when I speak of that Melbourne vibe. It changes by the season and the day of the week but regardless of the weather or day there are certain places you can go to in this stunning city which make you feel at home year round. For restaurants and cafés having that Melbourne vibe isn’t necessarily about how much has been spent on it or even necessarily the food or coffee (although that definitely helps!) Mostly however it’s about the design, placement and balance, and here are five of my favourites that have gotten all of these details just right…
The Journal and Journal Canteen
Tucked away down Flinders Lane, behind a large timber sliding door is a small, retro style café, with just the right balance of retro furniture and fittings- common to many Melbourne eateries- and style. There is something about walking off the streets into this warm café and sitting at one of the long shared tables, or the retro leather chairs that makes you feel like you’re really in Melbourne. The Journal still does have a great energy in summer months, but its those cold winter days when walking in those doors, taking your coat off and sipping on a hot coffee in this beautifully balanced space its just a wonderful Melbourne experience.
Just upstairs you will find Journal Canteen. Decked out with furniture to replicate an old school canteen, Journal Canteen is like going home to mum’s place for lunch. Sit by the window and watch over the exciting Flinders Lane as you eat your home cooked meal. Despite the canteen-like furnishings of this place, it still somehow feels cosy, in a different way to the café downstairs.
Being a student at RMIT I had to include Pearson’s. As the usual coffee spot for many students in the city, this café has style, which surpasses most student spots. The mixture of old brick and clean glass at the entrance of the building and the quirky printed wallpaper give the space a modern edginess, whilst the tables which spill out into the gated outside area and the dark coloured furnishings make you feel warm and comfortable. Due to convenience and great coffee this is one of my favourite spots to grab a coffee and maybe a panini and catch up with friends in the city.
Caffé e Cucina
If you want to feel like you’re having lunch in Italy or in Nonna’s back kitchen then head to Caffé e Cucina. Perfectly located on Chapel Street in South Yarra, this small Italian restaurant has been created to feel very authentic, without missing a single detail. Everything from vintage Italian advertisements and photographs hanging on the walls and the wine bottles on display feel like Italy. Whilst many Italian restaurants have tried and failed with adding too many of these kitsch features, Caffe e Cucina has done so with class and elegance. The contrast of dark timber furnishing and fittings and the pale green walls have a very retro European feel and come together to make you feel very comfortable in your new Italian dining room.
Head down the street-art-filled Hosier Lane just off Flinders Street in Melbourne’s CBD and into this dark, mysterious space called Movida. If you were to walk into this hole in the wall during the day it may look quite bland, but at night when the restaurant and bar are pumping, filled with all kinds of Melbournians Movida comes to life. It’s an accumulation of the art deco light fittings, the retro furniture, the open kitchen, the great Spanish food and the buzz created by the people who fill the tables, which make Movida what it is, an attraction to all the senses.
Another warm space filled with amazing energy off a lane in Melbourne’s CBD is Long Grain. An Asian inspired restaurant in a large warehouse style space, with classic furniture and elegant fittings. The open kitchen and long bar, which extends out into the restaurant is a great place to catch up for a warm drink, whilst the long shared dining tables encourage a social atmosphere suiting the style of the food, which is predominately made to share. Long Grain is a perfect example of a space, which has been well designed to serve its purpose, whilst still paying attention to detail with the jade fish scale tiles, the use of exposed brick, the furniture and the large statement ceiling lights to set the mood.