From gourmet fuel to new wardrobe staples, painted laneways to lessons from history …
Melbourne’s Flinders Lane is a cultural mixed tape for the day-tripper, dedicated browser or business boffin playing hooky. These are Excess All Areas’ evergreens….
We’ve high-tailed it down to the “wrong” end of town, where the queue for takeaway coffee and tables starts early, especially on the weekend. But patience is rewarded. Come for one of the best brunches in Melbourne’s CBD.
Generous strawberry tarts are anchored with matcha green tea cream; portobello mushrooms pack down with potato and gruyere rosti; thick-cut slabs of bacon come with black beans, eggs and feta, and – get this – choc-chip cookies are baked to order.
517 Flinders Lane; grainstore.com.au; (03) 9972 6993
More than nine million people have migrated to Australia since 1788 – for all manner of reasons: war, hunger, religious persecution, political repressions or – heaven forbid – good old-fashioned adventure and a desire for a new start.
With immigration being the hot topic it is, drop in here to be inspired by the myriad stories. There’s a pretty back entrance off Flinders Lane between William and Market Streets.
400 Flinders Street, museumvictoria.com.au; 13 1102
Curated collection for the urban male. City backpacks, shirts, earphones, sloppy joes, jeans, a wall of cool socks and even shoes. Compact cool.
6a/ 274 Flinders Lane; incu.com; (03) 9663 9933
B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel, Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm …this modern day apothecary makes nearly 80 formulations, packaged in uniform brown bottles and tactile, squeezable tubes. Hydrators, balms, creams, magic potions … stock up! Founded in Melbourne in 1987, Aesop, with its love of scent, botanicals and science, is a friend to skin, hair and body.
Shop 1c/268 Flinders Lane; aesop.com; (03) 9663 0862
Graffiti art laneways
You’ve gotta love the way Melbourne puts its omnipresent laneways to such good use. AC/DC Lane (between Exhibition and Russell Streets) and Hosier Lane (between Russell and Elizabeth Streets) are an ever-changing canvas: Angus Young had been replaced by a voluptuous double bass on this visit to AC/DC Lane, and Hosier Lane was having a pop art moment.
Improve health simply by reading the menu in this sleek, no-nonsense shrine to nutrition. Smoothies marry walnuts and Manuka honey, kale and kiwi fruit, or chocolate and freeze-dried raspberries. There are bowls full of grains, granola and salads, with all manner of add-ons, including grass-fed beef and their own tzatziki (though probably not with the granola). Caters to vegetarians, vegans and those after gluten-free everything. Feel the body finding new beginnings before you even order.
Shop 2, 242 Flinders Lane; lanewaygreens.com.au; (03) 9639 0619
That iconic red door and the red tartan carpeted stairs that lead down to a place where you don’t need but will forever want … Christine Barro caters to the discerning luxe diva – the latest niche perfumes from Amouage, cool Lanvin accessories, Sonia Rykiel bags, Philip Treacy hats, maybe something amazing from Etro, Tony Maticevksi or Martin Grant. Racegoers will always pick up something head-turning. There’s a little corner of last-of-the-season shoes and boots down the back for the bargain hunters. This trip: Robert Clergerie peachy metallic leather loafers. Never disappoints.
181 Flinders Lane; christineaccessories.com; (03) 9654 2011
A mecca for fans of unique jewellery made with love, care and flair. From dainty to dazzling to almost industrial, dozens of local designers show their wares in this subterranean gallery, among them Cass Partington, Welfe Bowyer, Sarah Heyward, and Kathryn Leopoldseder. Sooo tempting…
167 Flinders Lane; egetal.com.au; (03) 9639 5111
Flinders Lane Gallery
When overdosing on fashion and food find cultural contrition at this small, easily navigable gallery. Excess All Areas caught the last day of Amber-Rose Hulme’s Forsaken Tranquility, compelling pastels inspired by abandoned or redundant industrial spaces; and a group exhibition of portraiture called In Your Face.
137 Flinders Lane; flg.com.au; (03) 9654 3332
Dining out has never been as vibrant as it is at Chin Chin. There’s the pumping ’70s soundtrack, the large ambient space, the snaking queues to get in (wait to be texted in GoGo bar downstairs), and a menu that plumbs South-East Asia’s cacophony of flavours – sweet, sour, fresh, fiery, mostly all at the same time. Chin Chin makes you feel good to be alive.
Let them choose a menu of highlights for you ($69 per person) or create your own fun. We wrapped scallops with curried cauliflower, ginger, peanuts in betel leaves, hunted down son-in-law eggs under shards of asparagus, and were seduced by both rare wagyu sirloin slices dressed with tapenade, and a spanner crab omelette. Even the desserts are true to sweet-and-sour form: an ice-cream sundae plays with salted honeycomb, palm sugar caramel and sour lime syrup. It’s not a cheap night out, but caters to adventurous hunger.
125 Flinders lane; chinchinrestaurant.com.au; (03) 8663 2000