What’s even better than date night? Try a whole weekend away discovering wonderful eateries, interesting gardens, markets and art. Enjoy the best of what the Southside has to offer.
Your weekend away begins in style at Pullman Melbourne Albert Park [65 Queens Road, Albert Park]. Drive in and the concierge will greet you and get you settled in. Overlooking Albert Park, this is a wonderful central spot for your stay. It has two restaurants and a bar onsite, plus a pool. Your room has all the luxuries covered including an innovative featherbed, multimedia connectivity panel, 40-inch LCD TV, Wi-Fi access and an elegant rain shower. Room service is at the ready when you are. There’s lots to explore nearby, including Albert Park Lake which has a great walking track. South Melbourne and St Kilda are just down the road, too. You’ll be spoiled for choice in this diverse pocket of Melbourne that offers plenty of fine food and entertainment.
It’s aperitif time! Enjoy a tipple in the Atrium Bar and Lounge [65 Queens Road, Albert Park] at the Pullman before heading out to enjoy your first night in the big smoke. Here you’ll find creative cocktails and the classics done well. If you’re a feeling peckish, there’s a snack menu that will tie you over until dinner. There’s a range of drops on the wine menu, so you’re sure to find something to your liking, so too with the beer options. All that’s left for you to do is relax, delight in the fact that it’s Friday, and you and your significant other have the whole weekend ahead to enjoy.
Image source: Accor Hotels
Order yourself an Uber or ask the staff at the front desk to book you a taxi, then make a beeline towards Tenpin Kitchen [49 Beach Street, Port Melbourne] for a scrumptious Thai meal. This trendy eatery was conceived by renowned Chin Chin chef Ashley Richey, and it has lived up to its hype. Its modern take on traditional south-east Asian cuisine will be sure to satisfy. The food is presented beautifully, to match the picturesque views over Port Phillip Bay. The chilli salt potatoes are a must try, as is the barbecue chicken salad. You will find a jolly crowd here, out to make the most of a delicious dinner in a charming setting. Happy hour is from 5pm to 7pm so pop in early to make the most of its signature cocktails and extensive drinks list.
The desserts at Bibelot [285-287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne] are intricate works of art, making them almost too good to eat. It’s clear they’re a labour of love and the chefs take great pride in their craft. Its art deco inspired interior is stylish yet relaxed. The emerald green banquette seating will be beckoning you to take a seat. The menu will have chocolate lovers rejoicing and ice-cream addicts tickled pink. Perhaps share a pastry or each choose a different flavoured macaroon. There’s also passion fruit bonbons, strawberry and honey oat gelato, maple tea, sparkling wine and espresso martinis to choose from — this is just the tip of the iceberg. Enjoy the sweet treats and savour every mouthful!
Image source: facebook.com/bibelotsouthmelbourne
If Melbourne does anything well, it’s breakfast. Start the day in fine fashion at Chez Dré Patisserie Boulangerie [Rear of 285–287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne]. Hidden down a backstreet, you might miss it if you didn’t know about it. The interior is beautifully styled, right down to the floor, banquette seating and dangling ceiling lights, while lush greenery surrounds the courtyard outside. Opt for a seat peering out into the garden or find a private corner around the back. You can watch the chefs in action at the kitchen that curves around the side of the room. The food is French inspired and it offers classic breakfast with added pizazz. Try its brioche French toast or pastrami bagel — you can’t go wrong with its mouth-watering croissants and pastries. Whatever the case it is delicious and artfully presented.
Take a short stroll around the corner to the South Melbourne Market [Coventry Street and Cecil Street, South Melbourne], a local institution synonymous with Melbourne’s multiculturalism and love of food. You will find oodles of fresh produce and a multitude of freshly prepared cuisines from around the world, as well as the wares of artisans showcasing their various mediums. Soak up the eclectic sights, sounds and fragrances. Sample foods and enjoy a mid-morning brew at Padre Coffee. Then meander over to Zekiri Flowers for a long-lasting bunch of natives; ask the florist to wrap it for later to keep it fresh. Here you will find almost anything that your heart desires — it’s just a matter of looking in the right spot.
Enjoy fine food accompanied by a fine drop at Bellota Wine Bar [181 Bank Street, South Melbourne]. Oysters served on salt with shallots in vinegar? You bet. Delectable cheeses? Yes please. Indulge in a little bit of this and that. It’s a wonderful spot to share and sample. Unwind in its stylish, airy interior where wine bottles run the parameter of the bar wall. There is also outdoor seating that catches the afternoon sun. The wait staff is very attentive, so you won’t be left with an empty glass for long. Another? Well, you’re on holiday after all.
If you’re still thirsty and a fan of beer, pay Colonial Brewery [89 Bertie Street, Port Melbourne] a visit for a refreshing drink overlooking the city. This is a fully-functioning brewery so be sure to browse the range and sample a few of its finest offerings. Head back to your hotel for a swim or a rest. Albert Park is right next door if you fancy some exercise, then spruce up for a Saturday night painting the town red!
Saturday night fun begins at the Hotel Esplanade [11 The Esplanade, St Kilda], more commonly known as the Espy. Order yourself an Uber or ask the front desk staff to book you a taxi to this legendary venue that has been the home of live music in Melbourne since 1878. The iconic white building closed its doors in 2015 but has since been revamped. You can see live gigs here every night of the week. Check to see who is playing and secure yourself a ticket if you can. Wander in earlier rather than later and grab a spot to see the sunset over the bay. Try out the restaurant and explore the three band rooms over five levels. You never know who might grace the stage, or who’ll be in the crowd here.
Wow, it sure is a nice way to start the day at Carousel [22 Aughtie Drive, Albert Park]. Located in Albert Park, this trendy little cafe has views of the city and the glistening Albert Park Lake. Watch the ducks glide by as you munch on the most important meal of the day. Try waffles or fresh fruit, or the classic eggs on toast. The food looks as good as it tastes. If it’s a sunny day, get your coffee to-go and wander out onto the lawn or take a stroll by the lake.
Since 1970 St Kilda’s Esplanade Market [The Esplanade, St Kilda] has graced the pathway that peers out over Port Phillip Bay. Over 140 artists showcase their craft here. Explore the many and varied types of art, plants, jewellery and knick-knacks. Grab a bite at one of the food trucks dotted along the way. It offers a great atmosphere as locals and out of towners gather to sightsee and shop. Dog walkers pass by and creative folk stop to share ideas and inspirations all while the waves continue to rise and fall in the background. You never know what you might see or what treasures you might find.
Try something different at il Fornaio [2 Acland Street, St Kilda]. Drop in for your coffee the way you like it or mix it up with a coconut beverage — coconut with double expresso, in smoothie form or with gin or vodka. Calling all smashed-avocado lovers; here you can choose from a multitude of smashed avo choices that you’re unlikely to find at any other Melbourne cafe. On its menu you will find falafel, sashimi and healthy vegan options like breakfast bowls. Build your own lunch-or pick a dish from the well thought out menu.
As far as old-school theme parks go, Luna Park [18 Lower Esplanade, St Kilda] is a beauty. Since opening its doors over a century ago, it has been a constant source of joy. Many first dates have taken place here, and the strip of images from the photo booth is hard evidence of the good old days. What Luna Park lacks in modernity it makes up for in charm. Take a ride on the scenic railway that provides spectacular views across Port Phillip Bay and the city looming in the background. Have a chuckle at your reflection in the distorting mirrors and, of course, take a spin in the dodgem cars.
Head next door and be inspired at the St Kilda Community Gardens [Corner Corner Shakespeare Grove & Chaucer Street, St Kilda]. St Kilda has long been a melting pot of artists, and in this community garden, it shows. Wander through and admire the nature, the produce and the unique creative flair.
Settle in at one of St Kilda’s most popular venues, Pontoon [30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda]. Kick back and observe as skateboarders, swimmers, travellers, musicians and fashionistas saunter by. Many of Melbourne’s glamorous elite venture here but it has a casual vibe with a diverse crowd, both young and young at heart. Its menu offers a mix between pub classics and flourishes of fine dining. Try its pop-corn chicken, pizzas, beer-battered chips, or much loved Poontoon cheese burger and don’t forget the seafood. Try the lemongrass and coconut kingfish ceviche, char-grilled octopus and charred squid. If you have room left, delight in the dessert options like churros, chocolate mousse, house-made pineapple and mango sorbet, and house-made vanilla ice-cream.
Take a stroll down St Kilda Pier where there is always something going on. You can follow the innovative Solar System Trail. Different sculptures of the planets are dotted along the foreshore. Designed by artists and scientists, the trail is cleverly scaled to size and distance. The sun sculpture is located near the lighthouse at Marina Reserve, and this is a good place to start your walk if you want to see the whole of the solar system. Following the trail, you’ll pass five planets in 20 minutes and the whole solar system in 90 minutes.
Image source: facebook.com/pontoonstkildabeach
Magnificent charm beckons people from all over to visit Astor Theatre [1 Chapel Street, St Kilda]. It first opened its doors in 1936 and has withstood time, a testament to its style and quality. The single screen cinema boasts a Barco 4K digital projector. What does this mean? It is one of the highest quality projectors of its kind in Australia. If there is something on that takes your fancy, stick around, otherwise admire the cinema’s grand exterior before walking back towards the esplanade.
At Ichi Ni [12 The Esplanade, St Kilda] you can try some of Melbourne’s finest Japanese cuisine. Share some Japanese tapas and an assortment of sushi, sashimi and yakitori. A range of Japanese beers complement the food, as does the sake. Traditional plates, bowls and chop sticks will be beautifully laid out at your table of choice. Pull up a pew and enjoy the calming ambience or venture out to the spacious deck, with glorious views out to Port Phillip Bay. The menu caters to a wide range of tastes so whether you like to be adventurous or a little tamer, there is something for everyone.
Head back towards your hotel where your bags await you, and you can drive home, happy, well rested and most definitely well fed.
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