I recently stayed in Melbourne for a week and had several breakfast cafes lined up to visit. With so many delicious looking options, I found it difficult deciding on where to go and cutting down my list. Fortunately, my accommodation was right in the CBD and close to Melbourne Central so most places were easy to walk to.

Manchester Press

Mentioned by The Food Avenue from her recent visit to Melbourne, I had to try the matcha maple rainbow bagel ($16) from Manchester Press. Consisting of a toasted rainbow bagel topped with maple matcha mascarpone, fresh strawberries and Persian vanilla cotton candy, I really didn’t know what I was going to taste. Maple matcha? I can confirm that it tasted divine. If you like matcha, this has a bit of a twist in that the maple sweetens out the matcha. There was such a careful balance of sweet and bitter. The mascarpone didn’t have too much of a cheesy flavour either. Pure creamy goodness.

Manchester Press Melbourne matcha rainbow bagel

I also couldn’t resist ordering a matcha latte (around the $4.50-$5 mark). A perfect cup of matcha that set the bar for the rest of the week.

Manchester Press matcha latte

Manchester Press is famous for its various bagels on offer – the blueberry and lemon cheesecake, and the bacon, maple and banana bagels would have been my next choices!

Manchester Press Melbourne alleyway

Manchester Press can be found down one of Melbourne’s graffiti-lined alleyways at 8 Rankin Lane. Open Monday to Friday form 7-5, and Saturday and Sunday for 9-5.

Higher Ground

Located opposite the Southern Cross Station and Spencer Outlet Centre, Higher Ground is situated in an old warehouse loft with multiple mezzanine levels overlooking the main hall. I loved the large arched windows and the simplicity of the eatery. I was greeted warmly and led up to a small bench to join other solo diners where I was introduced to another waiter who would be looking after me.

Monday morning bustle at Higher Ground. . #highergroundmelbourne #melbournecafe #eventspace #openlate #coffee . 📷 @oceangrind

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The drinks menu looked interesting with 4 types of breakfast cocktails and different types of shrubs. My waiter explained the shrubs and other specials available. I ended up ordering the strawberry and thyme house spritz ($6.50) which was fizzy, sweet and refreshing. A good choice.

Higher Ground Melbourne spritz

I already knew what I wanted to eat – the ricotta hotcake with seeds, grains, seasonal fruits, cream and maple syrup ($23). The waiter informed me that the hotcake would take 20 minutes to arrive but I was happy with that. I was on holidays and didn’t need to be anywhere any time soon. The hotcake was everything I wanted it to be and more. For one, it was massive (both wide and deep) covering the entire deep dish. It was also airy and oh-so fluffy just like eating a cloud (or what I think it would be like to eat a cloud). The quenelle of cream on top slowly melted for the duration of breakfast seeping into the small cracks on the top of the hotcake to be absorbed inside. I liked that the hotcake wasn’t swimming in maple syrup. The fresh fruit made it somewhat healthy. I especially loved the toasted seeds to give the dish some crunch. And the flowers just made it that more instagrammable! This was very similar to the hotcake from sibling restaurant Top Paddock in Richmond and I was pleased with the consistency.

Higher Ground Melbourne ricotta hotcake fruit seeds

Great service and deliciously fluffy hotcake. Other items I would have liked to try – the PX ice cream sandwich with chocolate brownie. Mmmm.

Higher Ground can be found at 650 Little Bourke Street in the Melbourne CBD. I noticed the wheelchair friendly entrance into the building. Open Monday to Friday from 7-4. Saturday and Sunday from 8-4.  Thursday to Saturday nights until 11pm.

Operator 25

I last dined at Operator 25 about 4 years ago, and remember the menu having a strong modern Asian influence and had to make another visit this trip. Seeing as there is a lack of matcha food in Canberra, I made the most of this trip and ordered the matcha waffles ($17) and kaya matcha latte ($5).

How did they know I love Totoro?

Operator 25 Melbourne matcha latte

The matcha waffles were slightly crispy along the edges. I would have preferred softer waffles but that’s just a personal preference. I still had no trouble finishing off the dish. I liked that there was a minimal amount of chocolate and maple syrup on top so that it wasn’t overly sweet. I also liked the contrast between the fresh strawberries and blueberries against the dehydrated apple slices. The matcha ice cream was a yummy accompaniment – very light on the matcha, and the greedy part of me was wishing for 2 scoops.

Operator 25 Melbourne matcha waffles

Other items on the current menu that I would have liked to try (if I had the time) are the iced peanutella (peanut butter and nutella milk with white choc foam!), and the soft shell crab laksa.

Lunch is served. Soft shell crab with laksa sauce. 😋🍴 #operator25 📷 @foodream.melb

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Operator 25 can be found at 25 Wills Street in Melbourne. Open Monday to Friday 7-4, Saturday and Sunday 9-4.

Hardware Societe

The Hardware Societe was so close to my hotel that I couldn’t miss a visit. It’s an extremely popular brunch spot for Melburnians so the earlier you get there, the better. I got there later than usual (for me) at about 8.30am. The place was already at about 90% capacity on a weekday morning! I got a seat at one of the counters looking into the kitchen. I started off with a soy mocha ($5.50) and was surprised when a small jug of hot chocolate (filed with 54% dark Callebaut) came out as well as a third-filled cup of coffee. The small doughnut hole sitting on my teaspoon was a bonus.

Hardware Societe Melbourne mocha

The last time I visited, I remember having one of the best baked eggs and decided to order it again. There were two types to choose from this time – chorizo and potato, or roasted pumpkin and creamed spinach. I chose the chorizo and potato ($19) with piquillo peppers, queso mahon, toasted almonds and aioli. I was warned not to touch the iron pot as it was very hot. Again, I was not disappointed. Though it looked small, there was a generous portion of baked eggs with bite sized pieces of chorizo and potato. I thought there was a good balance of all elements. I loved the soft wedges of baguette drizzled in a chilli oil to dip into the baked eggs. Droolworthy and so delicious.

Hardware Societe Melbourne baked eggs

Other items on the menu that looked interesting – fried brioche with passionfruit curd and raspberry gel, the lobster benedict with citrus hollandaise and the salmon millefeuille.

The Hardware Societe can be found at 120 Hardware Lane in Melbourne CBD. On a weekend, make sure you get there early or be prepared to join the queue outside.

Hash Specialty Coffee

Just a few doors down from the Hardware Societe, is Hash Specialty Coffee. After checking out their Instagram feed, I was keen to check it out just for the hot chocolate and fairy floss ($7) concoction. A novelty I know but I’m a sucker for novelty.

Hash Specialty Coffee Melbourne hot chocolate fairy floss

A small flask filled with Mork’s 70% dark chocolate was provided as well as a cup filled high with fairy floss. The whole point is to melt the fairy floss by pouring the hot chocolate over it. As I was on my own and viewing everything through my phone camera, it did get a tad messy with some spillage. But I’m sure you could aim a lot better than me! The hot chocolate was thick – like a melted block of chocolate and I didn’t end up drinking it all anyway. (Click the ‘next’ arrow in the below excerpt to see the short video of me making a mess).

Onto the food. I ordered the pork benedict ($20.50), which consisted of pulled pork, chick pea fries, apple cider hollandaise and toasted sourdough. I added a side of potato rosti ($4) to the plate too. The pulled pork was tender and there was a decent portion provided. Both eggs oozed yolk porn and I loved the slightly tart apple cider hollandaise. The rosti turned out to be one thick chip filled with fluffy deep fried potato goodness. The chickpea fries took me by surprise as they were filled with tofu when I was expecting some kind of fried chickpea crisp. I mistook the fries for something else and told the waitress that I hadn’t received any. She kindly came out with a small bowl of the tofu filled triangles – perhaps covered in chickpea batter?

Hash Specialty Coffee Melbourne pork benedict breakfast

Good service and very apologetic when I mistakenly thought that chickpea fries had been left off the dish. Other items I would have liked to try – the matcha spritzer and matcha latte, brekkie pudding with oats cooked in coconut cream and a poached pear, espresso pannacotta, and the grilled banana and pecan loaf. The menu was clearly marked with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free dishes.

Hash Specialty Coffee can be found at 113 Hardware Street. No split bills. Open Monday to Friday 7-4, and weekends 8-4.

Cumulus Inc

By this time, J had joined me in Melbourne and we both headed to Cumulus Inc for breakfast. At 8.30am on a Sunday morning, the place was already filled with people and there was a queue out the door. I was slightly worried but we made it to the beginning of the queue in just a few minutes, and were immediately seated at the bar. Phew.

We were asked for our coffee orders as we sat down and I ordered my soy mocha (aorund the $5 mark). I was asked whether I drank soy for dietary requirements as the chocolate used in the mocha had quite a bit of dairy in it. Thankfully I’m not lactose intolerant (yet) and can suitably handle dairy, but I did appreciate the notice. I must say that it was the most perfect mocha – creamy and velvety smooth, but not too sweet. I could have easily ordered another one.

Cumulus Inc Melbourne mocha

It took a while for our food orders to be taken. We were looking around trying to grab someone’s attention for what felt like forever. I ordered the shakshouka baked eggs with roasted peppers and shanklish ($17). There were plenty of tomatoes and peppers inside to provide a little bit of spice. I liked the smattering of cheese (shanklish) on top. Unfortunately the eggs were a tad dry for me and didn’t have the oozy yolk that I like. I found the two small bits of bread were not enough to mop up the shakshouka with either.

Cumulus Inc Melbourne shakshouka baked eggs breakfast

J ordered the bruschetta with prosciutto, heirloom tomato and tahini dressing on wholegrain toast ($12). Not the most spectacular dishes but done well with those juicy tomatoes.

I also ordered the house made madeleine filled with lemon curd ($3.30), which the menu stated took 15 minutes to prepare. I was asked whether I wanted it after my savoury meal and I agreed to that. It must have been forgotten as it took quite some time to arrive. Our waiter was apologetic and offered complimentary coffee or juice to us. As J hadn’t tried a coffee in Melbourne, I made him get a cappuccino. The madeleine had some crispy edges but was soft, buttery with gooey warm lemon curd in the middle, which was also leaking out a little at the bottom. It disappeared quickly.

Other items I would have liked to try – the house made crumpets with whipped honey butter and lemon (the guy sitting next to us ordered it with just one crumpet which I did not know could be done, otherwise I would have tried it!).

Some words of warning: Be prepared to wait. The eatery is so busy, you will most likely need to wait for a table, to order, for meals and for the bill. Towards the end, we just got up and queued at the cash register rather than wait for the bill to be brought to us.

Cumulus Inc can be found at 45 Flinders Lane in Melbourne. Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Glass Den

We drove back to Canberra on a Monday morning and I convinced J to stop by The Glass Den in Coburg for breakfast, since it technically is on the way home. We found no problems finding a parking spot nearby, but it was a Monday morning after all. Apparently, the eatery is set on the site of what used to be the Pentridge Prison.

I started off with a soy taro latte ($4.50 + 50c soy), which smelled divine! If you don’t know what it is, taro is kind of like a sweet purple yam used in lots of Asian desserts. It didn’t taste as sweet as it smelled but still had that beautiful flavour of taro.

The Glass Den Coburg Melbourne taro latte

I was there to try the matcha waffle ($23) with matcha soil, strawberry ice cream, raspberry coulis, candied almonds, M&Ms, kiwi fruit, strawberries, rainbow meringue, and a choc top popsicle. Sugar overload. And how good does it look? I loved the matcha soil which gave a nice boost to the subtle matcha-flavoured waffles. The creamy artisanal strawberry ice cream provided a lovely contrast to the matcha and worked well to tie in the fresh strawberries. The sprinkle of M&Ms was a bit naughty but added crunch to the dish. A very pretty dish with good flavours.

The Glass Den Coburg Melbourne matcha waffle breakfast

We also tried a new dish off the new specials menu – the dippy burger pot ($18.50), consisting of taro egg custard in a warm brioche burger pot with coconut soil and almond served with French toast fritter sticks. It sounded pretty amazing, and trust me, it tasted even better! The taro egg custard didn’t taste eggy at all. It was just deliciously sweet warm thick taro custard. The French toast sticks were crunchy and a little bit flakey but soft on the inside. I just loved cutting it into smaller pieces to dip in the taro custard fondue-style. This was by far the favourite dish of the two. The matcha waffle was nice but the taro egg custard blew my mind. YUM!

The Glass Den Coburg Melbourne taro egg custard

It was too bad I didn’t make the effort to tram it to Coburg during my week in Melbourne, there was so much more I wanted to try! The rocky road garden brioche French toast looks gorgeous. As does the coco pot – chia coconut pudding served in a coconut and topped with taro sorbet, and the crab benedict with beetroot hollandaise giving it a beautiful pink shade. The roti stacks was another item on the specials menu – a roti pancake triple stack with berry coulis, ice cream, raspberry soil, caramel milk and pistachio fairy floss.

Service was friendly and staff really wanted feedback on the new specials dish. We found it quite hot to sit by the window with the hot sun streaming in (no blinds), so we ended up moving to the middle of the room. I noticed an outdoor undercover courtyard with additional seating but this was only open on weekends. I can definitely understand why the place would be packed on a weekend.

Highly recommended and well worth trying. I’ll definitely be making a second visit the next time I’m in Melbourne.

The Glass Den can be found at 15 Urquhart Street in Coburg. Open seven days from 8-3.

And that’s it for my week of breakfasts in Melbourne! So many more places I wanted to try but not enough time. I’ll be writing up another post on lunch, dinner and snacks in Melbourne shortly, so stay tuned..

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