The high of seeing the beautiful nature and sights that Victoria has to offer stayed with me long into the next morning (and not just because I slept through most of it!). Although the late night from my second day meant I lost the morning of the next, my third was by no means wasted. I’d missed the free breakfast in The Nunnery, but had read about a place nearby named “Breakfast Thieves” online and decided it a good place to venture for brunch.
Situated just off of Brunswick St – on Gore – Breakfast Thieves (http://www.breakfastthieves.com.au) is an eclectic table-service café (something not uncommon around Melbourne, as it turns out) with a boastful menu of delights. The windows are vast and decor kept simple with a quirkily luxurious edge, with water being served in wine decanters and not one set of crockery alike. I took a table by the window and made my order – cappuccino and “The Breakfast Chain” (saffron-poached pear and almond crumble; marbled berry yoghurt; side of soft boiled eggs & English cheddar melted soldiers) watching the latest 2 Broke Girls as I waited. My episode hadn’t even ended – nor had i finished my cappuccino (with its perfectly rich and slightly bitter notes) – before brunch was served, by a waitress dressed far better than the diner-clothed Max and Caroline, on a cheeseboard, and MUCH larger than I had anticipated! Tucking into my simple-yet-delicious granola with natural yoghurt and berry compote was lovely, and my soft-boiled eggs a treat – the molten cheddar and chive laden soldiers on the side even more delightful. But it wasn’t until I’d started my caramelised pear crumble that I realised the real talent of the Breakfast Thieves chefs. With a sumptuous fudge-like colour courtesy of the saffron, subtle flavours of the almond and complimenting crunch of the crumble, biting into the sweet and ever-so-slightly-bitter pear that literally melts in your mouth literally – in honoured cliché – transferred me to food heaven. My suspicion is that this is not the only extravagant, almost orgasmic brunch on the menu (seriously, I almost reenacted THAT scene in When Harry Met Sally and would most probably have prompted many “I’ll have what she’s having” orders), and I urge anyone in the area to try these guys out – they clearly know their stuff when it comes to serving the best brunch in the city. Just remember that these bad boys are INCREDIBLY sizeable so – if, like me, you don’t have the hugest appetite and if, unlike Joey “JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD!” Tribiani from Friends you have an affinity to sharing your plate – it may be worth considering taking a friend to finish up your leftovers.
Although I’d only been awake for two hours, my brunch was so filling it required a nap (would wholeheartedly recommend Breakfast Thieves to both insomniacs and the severely hungover!). Not content with how lazily my day was ending up, and although I STILL found travelling by tram incredibly confusing, I took a ride into the city to the Queen Victoria Market on Elizabeth Street. Going back as far as 1878, these are much like London’s Camden Market and are famed in Melbourne for being a one-stop for everything from local food & produce to clothing, cosmetics and souvenirs. Like Camden, though, the real draws here are the one-off stalls selling their quirky, individual pieces you’re unlikely to be able to pick up elsewhere – including mens’ and womens’ clothing, accessories, homewares – as well as start up food businesses. Madame Pompadour (www.madamepompadour.com.au) is a stockist of beautiful couture floral dresses, pyjamas, accessories and house-bits and is ONLY available at the Queen Vic (NOT the pub in EastEnders, please note!) – open Tuesdays and from Thursday to Sunday every week. I bought a beautiful turquoise daisy-print dress from here and, considering the dress is handmade with lovely materials, clean lines and excellent craftsmanship, it was really affordable! The aforementioned Swan Emporium also have a stall here, and I would wholeheartedly recommend visiting Runway Jewels for an array of glittering things to make the largest magpie envious. If you fancy a bit of a break, however, Melbourne luxury chocolate aficionados Koko Black are situated in the deli hall and there are plentiful massage tables and foot spas available for beauty geniuses Sabai Thai and Happy Feet to give you a good rub down.
With such a extensive range of items to look through, I ended up spending about three hours in the Vic Markets, almost running late to a gig I’d booked while still in Sydney. Using my “bandsintown” app, I’d researched who would be playing during the nights I was staying in Melbourne (wanting to truly, fully immerse myself in EVERYTHING in this culture capital) and, though I failed to find one that I recognised, found a few that I liked the sound of; Brisbane trio The Creases hitting the top of the list. I found they were playing at the Tote Hotel – a cosy pub around the corner from my hostel – so went ahead and bought tickets (at a bargain $27!), unbeknownst at the time that they were supporting another act. Although I’d imagined attending a gig alone would raise a few suspicious eyebrows, nothing had prepared me for my first step into the Tote… As awesome a pub as it was – with its cool, rock interior complete with posters, a pool table and jukebox – it was easy to see who was a regular at this place (everyone else) and who was just there for the gig (me). At risk of being singled out as a fan-girl, I ordered a pint of cider at the bar and took a seat, watching a game of pool whilst venting said awkwardness to just about everyone on my phone’s contact list. “You’ll be fine!” said one, “Just wait for the band to start and you’ll forget about all this”. Another wasn’t quite so supportive: “haha, you probably look like a groupie.” Cheers, mate. My cringey, thumb-twiddling loneliness at the bar was LUCKILY cut short (the perks of this case of unpunctuality) by the sound of a drum roll and some guitar chords being played in the next room.
The Creases – Jarrod Mahon, Joe Agius, Aimon Clark and Bridie McQueen – are signed to UK label Rough Trade (original home of The Smiths). From the moment the first chorus played out in their opening song, to the catchiness of single “I Won’t Wait”, to the closing of their setlist, it was easy to see what grasped label manager Tom Travis’ attention. Shy of releasing their first studio album and with a sound that is deeply reminiscent of both the Beach Boys-esque surf rock era of the 60s and the later ressurection of the genre by The Pixies, their songs feature catchy riffs, simple beats and melodic vocals that not only make for incredibly easy listening but are also decent enough to not be able to help bopping along to. Sadly, their set was cut short to only 50 minutes to make space for UK grunge duo Drenge. Consisting of two brothers from Yorkshire (an accent that can be heard clearly in their songs, “Backwaters” in particular), Drenge shot to semi-fame with a cult-following upon mention in Labour MP Tom Watson’s resignation from the Shadow Cabinet last year (to quote, “be that great Labour leader that you can be, but try to have a real life too. And if you want to see an awesome band, I recommend Drenge”). It’s easy to see that these guys are talented and just why they gained such a recommendation; at just 20 and 22 years old, Eoin and Rory Loveless play like they’ve been in this for a while. They display such nonchalance and that epic stage presence we all look for in a band, and yet still manage to emulate a pretty chilled out attitude, all the while playing tune after tune with a sound that isn’t dissimilar to the Arctic Monkeys – brooding, Alex Turner-like vocals included – but adding a whole load of distortion and the odd show of inspiration from Metallica’s Black Album along the way. They seem to enjoy messing around with time signatures too, which make their songs all the more unpredictable, and – just when you think a song is becoming more melodic – will drop a heavy guitar and Lars Ulrich-style drums at a moments’ notice (see “Fuckabout”). I would seriously recommend checking out both of these bands (at http://www.drenge.co.uk and http://www.roughtraderecords.com/news/4861/the-creases, respectively) – they both put on one hell of a live show and I eagerly await their next records.
In spite of how decent my night of music was, it seemed my day of wandering around the city and my night of too many ciders and bopping around the place had taken its toll as I had become incredibly tired. After much deliberation, and though it pained me to leave a gig before the last note had been played, I’d decided to call it a night when the Loveless brothers beat me to it – cutting off mid-track to wander through the confused crowd and out to the bar to order a cold one. I guess you can’t fault them for originality.
Until next time, TTFN! xo.