The day starting with aching feet. Not unusual considering how my genetics ‘blessed’ me with big feet. We were in Richmond – otherwise known as Melbourne’s Paddington – and it was our second last day to explore the world through the colder, much cooler side (yes, Melbournites are cooler than Sydneysiders. What was that saying – give credit where credit is due?). I heard the shopping was supposed to be amazing here, so we barged through the stirring wind into a shoe store where I picked up a pair of rose-coloured Onitsukas for $80. Yes, the shopping is good because it is CHEAP. Win!
If you’re from Sydney* and you decide to make your way south to Victoria, make sure you use logic yeah? As in, make use of their cheap, efficient transport system and don’t decide to walk everywhere. Especially at the beginning of winter. So we walked for a good hour or so – with me no longer complaining of feet pains – to what we thought was the Melbourne equivalent of The Grounds. Wrong. Unlike what we expect this side of the neighbourhood, where people only line up for big, hyped up eateries, the world on the other spectrum has a fair few more decent and worthy of line-making cafes, bars and restaurants. So after sheepishly standing around for a good ten minutes or so, we noticed that this was NOT Top Paddock after all, so off we tredged again.
Hallelujah, it was only a few minutes down the street. And what was that – a 40-minute wait? Eh, why not – after all, you only bother once (YOBO). Standing in a crowd of inner city folk – let’s try to avoid that overused term to describe them – I felt an odd sense of difference. Here I was with my bright blue knitted jumper, oversized scarf matching in colour to my brand new shoes and feeling almost a sense of relief that I was not one of the crowd. Different in a good way, the ‘thank god I’m not a hipster’ (I SAID IT) kind of way.
Only ten minutes in and we were called in to brunch-laden heaven. Stooped high on a blonde timber stool, in a café buzzing like no other – I couldn’t wait to tuck in to my Grilled Broccolini & Sugar Snap Peas with Avocado, Toasted Almonds, Poached Eggs and Heidi Raclette on Toast ($17.50) and soy latte. Soy because I’m intolerant to lactose, okay?
Top Paddock is one impressive feat, it’s a café that literally runs as smoothly as the froth on my latte that afternoon. As precise as clockwork. The staff are friendly, approachable, say all the right things and arrive just on cue. The atmosphere is electric – golden-hued with small details in the form of fresh flowers and brown-glassed water jugs – with a slick black fit-out and ceiling-high windows from the exterior. This is my kind of paddock. My accompanying diners had their hearts and minds set on the Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcake with Berries, Organic Maple, Seeds & Double Cream ($17.50) which – much like Three Williams’ french toast masterpiece – has risen to the heights of Instagram fame.
Wait for the photo! Nope.
The Top Paddock: chorizo, pickled onion, peppers, basil, bacon, Adelaide green tomatoes, poached eggs & relish on toast ($22) sounded interesting, so that was ordered too. Expectedly, the food was pretty much perfect. My eggs poached to the point where their golden goo flowed ever so slowly through to the crispy sourdough, just cooked greens, creamy avo and crunchy almonds. Again, because of lactose, I could only have a bite of the gorgeously presented ricotta hotcake which was fluffy and cakey, but I can’t imagine finishable by one person alone. I didn’t even ask about the Top Paddock plate; it was devoured so that’s a good sign I guess?
(From left) Ceramic heart spoons from Rose St Artists’ Market ($8 each); Kirstin Ash ring ($79); Thrive by Arianna Huffington; Lupicia Green Tea Sample Pack ($25); Opinel folding knife ($26); Keep Cup ($13)
Afterwards, I jetted off through the streets on my own and found the most beautiful ‘souvenirs’ from stores which seemed to be pretty popular throughout Melbourne. Shops like Royal Order of Nothing and Lily and the Weasel, where the specialty is knick knacks of every sort, were surprisingly exciting to explore. You just never know what you’ll uncover. The photo above includes some of the goodies I picked up in Richmond, Fitzroy, the CBD and Brunswick.
I had some stunning food experiences on my weekend trip to Melbourne, I don’t want to fill you up with too much choice so expect some more posts on this pretty little area soon.
*We can’t help the constant comparisons. Don’t hate.