You have to love it when a place opens up within fixie-riding distance from your house. Even if you drive the Volvo to get there. Hello Mr Wednesday. Welcome to the ‘hood.
Located on Wingrove St in Fairfield, it’s a stone’s throw from the local primary school and thanks to coffee from Industry Beans, is destined to become a favourite with the mums after drop-off. Their magic is bloody magnificent.
With a fit out that touches on all the latest trends – think copper panels, terrariums, funky light bulbs and quirkily-named potted succulents, Mr Wednesday nevertheless manages to create its own vibe and the staff are lovely, friendly and welcoming.
Our first visit saw us succumb helplessly to the charms of the Jamaican Jerk Chicken burger with plaintain chips, and the Pulled Pork burger with coleslaw and pineapple. At 10.30 in the morning. Oops. Glad we did, they were friggin’ awesome. Get on them any time of the day.
On the second visit we paid tribute to the breakfast part of the menu, and if you like your smashed avo huge, with chèvre and peas and spinach, then you’ll be one happy camper.
Similarly, bring your appetite for the vanilla and chai porridge with caramelised nut crumble, cranberries, blueberries, honey and apple, served with flowers, which arrives on a blackboard picture frame with fresh cream in a science beaker. Not only is it a generous serve, but your need to Instagram will be working overtime with the cuteness of it all.
There are many more treats to tempt you on the front counter, my advice is just go with it. Have breakfast dessert or take something home with you for later. So worth it.
If you’re in the area, get here. Oh, and there’s an Indian motorbike hanging on the wall for no apparent reason. Which I totally dig.
One of the joys of moving house is exploring your new neighbourhood, including its eateries.
We have been lucky enough to strike some absolute gold on a number of levels, not least of which is living within walking distance of Melbourne’s only ‘5 star Thai restaurant’ as they proudly proclaim on the extensive website at ‘Paladarr Thai Issan’. Right opposite Alphington train station, with a beautiful, modern interior to match its food, and even a sommelier to help you guide you through the spices and flavours of your meal to reach the perfect alcoholic match. A highlight is their famous appetiser, Miang Karm, where you’re presented with a plate filled with diced ginger, chilli, toasted coconut, diced lime and dried shrimp which you then wrap in a Chapoo leaf, add their tamarind sauce and send your tastebuds into sensation overload! Great special-occasion dining, and apparently people come from all over Melbourne for dinner here. www.paladarr.com.au
One of our favourite breakfast haunts is the ridiculously popular Apte, on Heidelberg Road in Fairfield. Despite its bustling activity, they always manage to find you a seat, and bring your piccolo latte with speed and a smile, which is surprising given the heaving weekend workload. Happily the menu has remained constant for a little while now, allowing me to indulge my love of their pea and corn fritters served with Tasmanian smoked salmon, dill, sourcream, rocket and avocado. The big breakfast option is also sensational, their coffee is unfailingly great, and the pikelets with maple syrup, strawberries, banana and sugared pecans are very popular with Mr 6 year old. Apte is very child -friendly, including space for strollers, (and dogs) and has a lovely outdoor area which is covered, heated and filled with flowers, herbs and garden sculptures.
When you go inside to settle your bill, you will be distracted and mesmerised by the large cupcakes on the counter. Or perhaps the homemade preserves or muesli, or the carrot cake. Give in. You won’t be disappointed.
Apte, 538 Heidelberg Road, Fairfield
Next stop, Chianti Bistro, in Clifton Hill which was recommended by our neighbours. We had to search hard for this rustic, unpretentious tiny bistro, covered in prints of Italy, shelves full of Chianti Classico, and a small, handwritten menu up on a chalkboard offering typical dishes like parmigiana, veal scallopine, etc. Delicious, honest food, served with steamed veg, and a huge dose of Italian hospitality, our host alternating between speaking to us in Italian and English. Charming, intimate, well-priced and a new favourite.
Chianti Bistro 376 Queens Pde, Clifton Hill
Station Street in Fairfield is another gem waiting to be fully explored, and we are making our way slowly up one side and down the other. The clear front-runner at present has to be Viet Palace, which serves great Pho, excellent special fried rice (hard to find and very important in my book), a salt and pepper squid to knock your socks off, and a Chef’s special of duck with sesame prawn (sounds wrong but trust me, the flavour is sensational). This place is your standard Vietnamese decor, complete with fish tank, but the food is most definitely fit for a king.