Friday 23 August 2019

Inside Guide to Melbourne (Part 2: Chinatown & Bars)

Continuing my guide to Melbourne's hotspots, taken from a downloadable guide I once wrote which is no longer available in that format (don't worry, I've updated it). Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Visit Victoria

Enter the Dragon in Chinatown

Take lunch at Chin Chin on Flinders Lane, a great example of Melbourne’s lively food scene. You may have to queue to get a seat at this popular modern Asian restaurant, but it’s well worth it for the buzzing atmosphere and innovative menu. If feeling indecisive, just say “Feed me” and you’ll be served a range of dishes for $69.50.

Continue the Asian theme at the corner of Swanston Street and Little Bourke Street, where a colourful ceremonial gate marks the entrance to Chinatown, a part of the city since Chinese miners arrived to take part in the gold rushes of the 1850s.

Follow Chinatown as it rises for two blocks along Little Bourke Street to the east, admiring the colour and life of this quarter with its many restaurants and specialist shops.

When you reach Cohen Place, head left to the Chinese Museum. This small but fascinating institution tells the story of Chinese-Australian life, from the hardships suffered by the early miners to the cultural heritage added to Australia’s multicultural mix.

At the top of Little Bourke Street, pause on Spring Street to admire the graceful facades of the Princess Theatre and Parliament House. Next to the Princess is a string of excellent bars and restaurants you might want to make a note of for a later visit – The European, Siglo, Melbourne Supper Club and City Wine Shop.

One place you should definitely visit for an indulgence now is Spring Street Grocer, which makes its own gelati in-house. The salted caramel and chili version is excellent.

Once you have your ice-cream, walk down Spring Street to Gordon Reserve, a small city park containing Victorian-era statues of both the celebrated Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon and the British soldier General Charles Gordon. Sit on a bench or stretch out on the grass, and relax.

Find it:
Chin Chin (125 Flinders Ln,
Chinese Museum (22 Cohen Pl,
Spring Street Grocer (157 Spring St,
The European (161 Spring St,
Siglo (161 Spring St,
Melbourne Supper Club (161 Spring St,
City Wine Shop (159 Spring St,

Photo courtesy of Visit Victoria

Secrets of the night

Start the evening with a pre-dinner drink at the Rooftop Bar, on top of Curtin House, and enjoy a view of the skyline with a beer in hand. From December to April it doubles as the Rooftop Cinema, screening classic and cult movies in the open air at night.

The rest of the building – nicknamed a “vertical laneway” – is dotted with interesting shops and bars, including Metropolis Bookshop, Cookie bar, and the Toff in Town with its private booths which resemble train compartments. The Toff also has a music room wherein you catch live music acts in an intimate environment.

Walk west along Little Bourke Street, crossing Elizabeth. The stretch of Little Bourke Street from here to Queen Street is riddled with laneways containing restaurants and bars. Enjoy a great cocktail while singing along with the pianist in the former warehouse occupied by Murmur Piano Bar.

For dinner, try the excellent tapas and paella at Portello Rosso, a cosy and classy restaurant tucked away beneath Murmur. The highlight here is the jamón (dry-cured ham from Spain).

To end the evening in style, walk along nearby Hardware Lane, then descend to Golden Monkey (open Thursday to Saturday). This candlelit bar is decked out with beautiful timber furniture from Shanghai, and serves Asian-accented cocktails along with a range of beers. It makes a romantic end to a busy day.

Find it:
Rooftop Cinema (252 Swanston St,
Metropolis Bookshop (252 Swanston St,
Cookie (252 Swanston St,
Toff in Town (252 Swanston St,
Murmur Piano Bar (17 Warburton Ln,
Portello Rosso (15 Warburton Ln,
Golden Monkey (389 Lonsdale St,

Next week... History and 'hoods!

No comments:

Post a Comment