Cabinet Bar & Balcony

It is no secret by now that Melbourne has lots of hidden gems tucked between laneways or up a few flights of stairs. Although how hidden are those places really? Sure, you won’t be able to spot it from a main road, but with the prevalence of online reviews and just social media in general, it’s near possible for a place to remain truly hidden.

I ain’t complaining though, because without recommendations of the internet, how would I come to find a place like Cabinet Bar & Balcony?

The bar is sleek and moody, with the best seats located on the, you guessed it, balcony! Being one of the minority of restaurants that still offers bookings, it made it much easier for my friend and I to secure a table on the balcony on a weekday night.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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The L-word – $13.00

We started things off with some champagne cocktails, and my choice of the night was rather fruity and light, thanks to the addition of cranberry juice.

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Pouring Rayne – $13.00

Pouring Rayne (ha!) on the other hand, was more subdued and more of an adult drink imo.

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Cabinet Popcorn Chicken – $13.50

Although short, the menu had a fresh take on your average bar food, and the popcorn chicken was an example of that. The bite-sized pieces were juicy and crunchy, and I loved dipping it in the tangy mayo.

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Eggplant Chips w/ Aioli – $13.00

Eggplant chips is something that I’ll always if it’s on the menu. The version at Cabinet faired quite well, with large strips of eggplant cover in a thin layer of panko crumb, and fried to perfection. My only complaint would be that it lacked some seasoning, however, the aioli on the side certainly helped with that.

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Chorizo, Olives, Feta + Basil Flatbread – $10.00

Being a Wednesday night, we had to take on Cabinet’s offer of $10 flatbreads, and after some intense discussion, we settled on the chorizo one. This was a healthier take on your  traditional pizza, being on a much thinner base of flatbread, leaving us with more room to indulge on the toppings. The thickly-cut slices of smoky and flavoursome chorizo were undoubtedly the star of the show, and the simply yet classic combination of flavours made the flatbread an overall winner.

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Mini Chocolate Fondue w/ Croissant, Strawberries and Marshmallows – $12.00

Cabinet keeps its dessert menu short and sweet, with only one item on it – the mini chocolate fondue, so it was a good thing that my friend and I were both keen for it. The melty pot of chocolate was perfect for dunking all the other goodies in, I especially enjoyed the buttery croissant.

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Cabinet certainly carries its own charm, as showcased by the constant flow of diners throughout the night. I always enjoy a bar that puts some serious effort into its food menu too, and Cabinet does just that.

And with events like $10 flatbread Wednesdays, $10 Aperol Spritz Sundays, and $10 Margherita Mondays, it’s guaranteed that no matter when you visit, it will always be a good time.

How to get here:
Cabinet Bar & Balcony is located on Rainbow Alley, although it’s visible from Swanston Street, it is a 10 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Cabinet Bar & Balcony Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Moon Dog Brewery Bar

The end of Summer means that there is an exponential decrease of number of outdoor activities that is available. Other than the real outdoorsy ones – hiking and camping –  I will also miss is outdoor cinemas, rooftop bars and cosy breweries.

Breweries are something that I’ve only started going to last year. They’re fun, relaxing, and creates a vacuum of endless conversations. The most recent brewery that I had visited is Moon Dog, which specialises in a number quirky flavoured beers. We went on quite a warm day, and the intimate almost lounge room-esque area was filled out by people.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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Son of a Spritz – $15.00

Sunny days calls for refreshing cocktails, and Moon Dog’s version of the classic Aperol Spritz was perfect for the occasion. A little more tart than the traditional version, it was hard to stop at one with this drink.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetFood wise, on top of the free popcorn available from the bar (just ask, they have an addictive seasoning!), there’s a pizza truck outside of the lounge area.

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There ain’t no mushroom in this town for… – $16.00

We started off with the cheesy and earthy mushroom pizza on the menu. Mushrooms are some of my favourite ingredients, and the trio of field, shimeji and porcini mushrooms really hit the spot. Being on a garlic base further accentuated the umani coming through, and the dough was thin and crispy enough, but still held onto the toppings quite well.

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Pimp My Marg – $14.00

A good margherita pizza is deceptively simple, but full of flavour, and this was a prime example of that. The vibrant combination of tomato, basil, ricotta and mozzarella really came together. The dough was slightly thicker, which was perfect considering the toppings were considerably more weighty compared to its mushroom counterpart.

The laid back atmosphere at Moon Dog stood out to me from the get go, and the quirky drinks available on tap ensured that everyone can find one that suits them. Whether you’re looking for a destination for pre-dinner drink or spending a relaxing few hours playing Jenga while gauging on popcorns, Moon Dog is the place to be.

How to get there:
Moon Dog is located on Duke Street in Abbotsford. Catch tram #109 from Parliament station towards Box Hill, and get off at McKay St/Victoria St, and the brewery is a short 3 minutes walk away.

Moon Dog Brewery Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milk The Cow

I love it when the name of a restaurant hints at what it specialises in, and Milk the Cow is an excellent example of that. Yup, you guessed it, it’s cheese, a lot of cheese, a cabinet filled with cheese.

Some people might hold the idea of wine and cheese to be a mature adult only activity, and that may be true for some, however I am neither mature nor an adult (where do you draw the line) but it is a pairing that I am quite fond of. Given how decadent it is, my friend and I saw it as the perfect place for some celebration.

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Top to bottom: Farmer’s Board; Kaas Mit Wein Zu Kochen; 3 Cheese Cheesemonger’s Choice

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St John’s Road Riesling – $11.50

After placing our order, I asked the waitress to help me select a wine that would pair well with the food. She recommended the Riesling, stating that it is a wine that will go with various types of cheese. I enjoyed the dry and crisp nature of the wine, and it did indeed taste even better when paired with the cheese.

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Top to bottom: Farmer’s Board; 3 Cheese Cheesemonger’s Choice

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3 Cheese Cheesemonger’s Choice – $28.00

We foregone the flight options for drinks of our own choosing, and therefore picked the 3 Cheese Cheesemonger’s Choice. There are over 180 types of cheese sitting in the cabinet of Milk the Cow, and this cheeseboard is constantly changing depending on the cheese that is currently ripe.

The soft cheese came in the form of La Tur, belonging to the brie family, it was extremely creamy and rich, almost buttery in its flavour. If you are not a fan of blue cheese, the Gorgonzola Bonta della Bonta may be a good one to start off with, it was a lot lighter than most blue cheeses that I’ve tried, the quince and the Shiraz and Onion Jam ($7.00) helped to balance out the flavour even further. The most unique cheese of the trio had to be the BellaVitano Balsamic, the hard cheese was nutty and sweet, and the balsamic rind made it even more interesting. My friend enjoyed this cheese so much that she bought some to take home with her.

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Farmers Board – $30.00

Milk the Cow offered an option to select four items and form a Farmers Board for $30; in addition to the Shiraz and Onion Jam, we had the Serrano ($8.00), Prosciutto ($8.00) and Smoked Salmon Pate ($12.00). The serrano and prosciutto were both delicious with the right amount of the fattiness. The smoked salmon pate was creamy with a much more delicate flavour. Although tasty in their own right, the farmers board was not as impressive as the cheese board, only because I feel that these selections were more accessible.

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Vinea Marson Prosecco – $14.00

It was time for a top up of the drinks, and this time I knew I wanted to end the night on a Prosecco, and given that this was the only option on the drinks list, it’s what I went with. This was another dry wine, a sparkling one at that. The crisp notes of apple and pear were what I tasted at first, before transforming into a more complex nutty flavour.

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Kaas Mit Wein Zu Kochen – $17.00

Cheese fondue is probably what I was most excited to try on the night, and after much debate, we settled on the Kaas Mit Wein Zu Kochen, aka the one no one can say.

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Kaas Mit Wein Zu Kochen – $17.00

The fondue was made with a mixture of Gruyere, Appenzeller, Comte and Emmenthal. A strong flavour is expected from that list of cheese already, and indeed, this was not one for the faint-hearted. The consistency was somewhat thicker than I expected, in the sense that the cheese in the fondue pot kind of all moved together.

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Kaas Mit Wein Zu Kochen – $17.00

Dip the cubed bread into the cheese, and pray that you will be able to get it out of that cheese, and then chew through what is possibly one of the best things in the world, melted cheese that is buttery, dense, and oh-so-cheesy. Every bite is as sinful as it is delicious, and even though we were filled to the brim, we managed to smash through the whole thing.

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Milk the Cow is a place that I never knew I needed, but now I can’t live without it. The combination of wine and cheese is so tentalising, add the relaxing ambience and professional yet friendly service to the mix, it is a place that I know I will frequent, even if it is just for a cheese and wine flight before or after dinner (don’t judge me). One of the waiters also gave us a complimentary round of drinks which was much appreciated.

If you are wanting to visit, make sure you arrive early to avoid a long wait, alternatively leave your name and walk around the neighbourhood, there is plenty to explore; we had to wait for around an hour on the Friday night. If you are going in a group of six or more, it might save you some trouble to just go ahead and book a table.

And no, I didn’t end up having any whacky dreams that night, another plus hey.

How to get here:
Milk the Cow is located on Lygon Street, catch tram #1 or #6 and get off at Lygon/Elgin Street, and Milk the Cow is right around the corner.

Milk the Cow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Madame Brussels

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Madame Brussels is a popular rooftop bar, especially in the warmer weather that Melbourne’s finally experiencing over the last week. The space is decked up in the garden party theme, completed with hot pink serviettes and Japanese paper umbrellas that’s both practical and adorable.

We visited on a Saturday for the actual garden party, an event that’s on every weekend at Madame Brussels, and it’s strictly limited so booking ahead is essential at $55 per head.

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The Madame’s Fruity Double D Cups

Excuse the half filled jug, I only remembered to snap a photo of this later on. The drink was Madame Brussel’s take on the classic Pimms. It was made with a concoction of lemonade and gin, and was light and fruity, with plenty of fruits floating around.

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Phillipa’s Parmesan Sables with Goat’s Cheese, Beetroot and Orange Relish

The appetiser per se came out on the gorgeous floral plate, and the flavours worked well together. The sable acted as the perfect carriage for the beetroot and orange relish, which was tart and zingy, and the creamy goat cheese.

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Old-Fashioned White Breach Sandwiches

There four sandwich fillings included cucumber, ham, chicken and curried egg. My favourite was the chicken, the mayo had ample amounts of chives, ensuring that the chicken was very flavoursome. My friend picked the curried egg as her favourite, a clavour twist on a traditional egg sandwich, without the curry being overpowering.

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Home-Made Sausage Rolls with White Crow

These sausage rolls were piping hot from the oven, and they were some of the best sausage rolls I’ve had to date! The filling was moist and well-textured, not overly mushy as they can be sometimes, and the pastry was crispy and buttery. The tomato sauce on the side prevented the sausage rolls themselves from being too heavy.

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Petite Cupcakes with Gooey Centres, La Belle Miette Salted Caramel Macaron

The cupcakes were nice and moist, with the right ratio of icing to cupate, and it had a rasberry jam centre which added even more flavour. La Bell Miette does some of the best macarons ever, and these were delightful as usual. The pink shell was light and airy, and the caramel filling was gooey and sweet.

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Mini Pavlovas with Lemon Curd

I’m usually not a huge fan of pavlovas, since they tend to be quite sweet. However the lemond curd was thick enough to hold iteslf, and its tartnesshelped to balance the sweetness of the meringue out, and I actually quite enjoyed it.

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Warm Scones

Scones are a must at high tea, and the ones at Madame Brussel came with rasberry jam and cream on the side. The scones were on the small side, but were buttery and warm. I especially liked the cream, because of how thick and creamy it was, just how cream should be.

The ambience at Madame Brussels was very fun and light-hearted, the service was friendly but not intrusive. On the Saturday we visited, there were several bigger parties that were hosting birthday parties and the like. I can definitely see its appeal, however the $55 price tag is a tad bit steep for the amount of food we had.

I would be open to returning for a couple of drinks though, it would be a great location to relax before a musical, given its proximity to the Princess Theatre.

How to get here:
Madame Brussels is hidden upstairs on Bourke Street, catch the train to Parliament station and get out of the Bourke Street exit, then walk up a couple hundred metres, it’s right next to Spaghetti Tree, the glass door has a sign that says Madam Brussels, go up a few steps and then up the elevator to level 3 and you would make it to the bar.

Madame Brussels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Naked in the Sky

After all these years, Fitzroy remains cool and hip, somethings’ll never change. Naked in the Sky, as many of you may know by now, is the rooftop bar right above Naked for Satan. If you’re looking for some more inventive tapas, have more than a $10 note to spend, and are looking for some breathtaking views, then enter the escalator and all your dreams will come true.

1

Crumbed Eggplant w/ Honey and Blue Cheese

The crumbed eggplant is always a must-order for me. These are kind of like eggplant chips, the crumb is super crunchy, and the mix of honey and blue cheese is perfect, definitely get this if you’re an eggplant fan!

2

Grilled Beef Eyefillet Skewers

The large cubes of eye fillet were quite meaty, and the simple flavouring of salt allowed the meat itself to shine through. My only complaint is that this was on the small side of things.

3

Baked Camembert

I loved the baked camembert! I have tried to bake camembert myself at home, but they always turn out to be too oily. The truffle paste and pieces of chestnut prevented the whole thing from becoming too rich.

4

Popcorn Chicken

The popcorn chicken were unlike the original Taiwanese version, but they were tasty in their own rights! The light dusting of batter was very flavoursome, and the pieces of chicken inside were succulent.

Naked in the Sky is definitely one of my favourite rooftop venues around, and given the unusually warm temperature in Melbourne, you still have plenty of time to give it a visit before the weather gets more chilly! It’s as popular as ever though, and there’s really no guarantee that you’ll get a seat on the limited number of numbers if you arrive around dinner time, but hey, isn’t that half the fun?

How to get there:
Naked in the Sky is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #11 and get off at stop #17 Johnston Street/Brunswick Street

Naked In the Sky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Arbory Bar and Eatery

Arbory serves up a wide range of cocktails and wine options, and a versatile menu to accompany the drinks. Overlooking the Yarra, it has a killer vibe whether in day or night. A few months ago, a group of us decided to have dinner here for a little celebration.

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Electra’s Elixir – $17.00

I always go for either a citrus-y or sweet cocktail, and this was the perfect balance of the two. I can’t remember the exact mix in this cocktail, but if you’re into fruity drinks that aren’t overly sweet, then definitely give this one a try.

2

Southern Fried Chicken Burger w/ Chips – $16.00

Keeping things simple, I ordered the Southern fried chicken burger. There was nothing ‘Southern’ about this burger imho, however, it was nice and crispy, and the crinkle cut chips were fried well too.

Although the food is unremarkable at the Arbory, given its atmosphere and prime location, as well as its extensive range of cocktails, including Espresso Martini on tap (!!), I will definitely be returning.

How to get there:
Arbory Bar and Eatery is located on Flinders Walk, come out of the right exit (that I can’t remember), and it’s literally right outside Flinders St Station.

Arbory Bar and Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato