10 Melbourne Things That Are Almost Too Hip to Be True
"That's so Melbourne."
Stereotypes can sometimes be great. Often they’re a solid nucleus of truth surrounded by a thick outer layer of mirth. They’re the ultimate shorthand in identification – imagine having to say something like “He wears full body lycra, maintains a sense of superiority and takes all the fun out of an incredibly common mode of transport” when you could just say “He’s a cyclist”? Likewise, when someone says “it’s very Melbourne” you know exactly what they mean: it’s innovative, it’s intellectual, it’s cool, and it’s about two weeks off being mercilessly mocked on an episode of Portlandia.
Melburnians live under the heavy paradox of being caustically aware of their own tendency to hipsterdom, while being completely willing to abandon any care of what people think about that when it comes to finding the best cold drip, single origin long black. Here we have collected the top ten most “Melbourne” things that are almost too Melbourne to even exist, but too awesome not to.
*Drinking game extra: take a shot every time the words ‘concept’ and ‘space’ appear.
#1 Rooftop urban glamping at St Jerome’s – The Hotel
What: Basically, fancy camping on a roof in the CBD. Says the brains behind the project, “It’s about experiencing Melbourne in a different way. Up here, you forget you’re in the middle of the city.” The Saint Jerome’s Hotel boasts five star tents and was created by the ultra-entrepreneur (ultrapreneur?) and self ordained saint Jerome Borazio, famous in Melbourne for things like St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Pony Fish Island (watch out for the swans, they bite) and a 24 hour Vegas-themed wedding chapel.
Where: 3, 271 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne
#2 Eating your way to happiness at the Serotonin Dealer
What: Usually when you set out to eat your feelings, those feelings tend to bare uncanny resemblance to a packet of Tim Tams. Emily Arundel has set out to change all that with her shiny new Serotonin Dealer cafe. They’re worked with a nutritionist, a dietician and a noted food scientist to build a menu designed to do two things; tickle your tastebuds and make your serotonin receptors freak out, so you can get happy in the healthiest way possible.
Where: 52 Madden Grove, Burnley
#3 Socially conscious drinking at Shebeen
What: Shebeen is Australia’s first not-for-profit bar. All staff are trained to know about the various charity organisations Shebeen supports, the beverage or meal’s country of origin and exactly how much profit from each goes towards the designated initiative. All the food, beers and cocktails on the menu are inspired by the 11 developing countries supported, and give you the warm, self-satisfied glow that comes only with a well fed social conscious. The interior is also very, very Melbourne.
Where: Manchester Lane, CBD
#4 The single origin hot chocolate cafe
What: The hottest new Melbourne micro-brewer has made a break away from coffee and beer in favour of a sweeter addiction. Mörk Chocolate, after several years of supplying local cafes, has opened a concept store and hot chocolate brew-house. Partners Josefin Zernell and Kiril Shaginov make a swag of different specialty hot chocolates on site, including a Campfire Chocolate filled with smoke, chocolate, smoked salt and house-made toasted marshmallow that will haunt your dreams.
Where: 150 Errol Street, North Melbourne
#5 Jaffles falling from the sky
What: A Jafflechute is a jaffle (or toasted sandwich) attached to a parachute hurtled through space and time to a hungry customer. Concept overlord Adam Grant calls it ‘Melbourne’s first and only float-down eatery’. You pay on PayPal, select a time, stand on an X and wait for your jaffle to appear in the sky. They also have the best FAQs in the game:
Have you ever lost a jafflechute in a tree?
We lost a ‘test’ jafflechute – a Murakami novel.
That seems appropriate.
That’s what we said.
Has anyone ever been injured by a falling jafflechute?
No. Don’t climb the tree.
Why not parajaffles?
Why not jafflecopters?
Too many moving parts.
#6 A multi-purpose dream space for the distinguished gent
What: Captains of Industry is an unbearably cool concept space (double shot!) overlooking Elizabeth Street that marries made-to-measure tailoring, a cobbler, a barber shop and a café and a bar. Whitewash walls and heavy wooden furniture, it smells like leather and whisky. They say when Wes Andersen isn’t filming he lives here in the back of an empty draw. Probably.
Where: Level 1, 2 Somerset Place, Melbourne
#7 A vegan deli
What: A corner store and New York-style deli by the team behind Smith & Daughters. A vegan corner store and New York-style deli. I can hear your eyes rolling from here, but knock it off. The food is gourmet grade and the selection is mind-blowing; pastrami, lasagne, pasta, turkey, buffalo mozzarella, pretzels, vegemite-and-cheese scrolls, sticky buns, doughnuts, tarts, pain au chocolate and the pinnacle of vegan baking: croissants that taste like croissants. You’ll go the first time because it’s ridiculous and every time thereafter because it’s ridiculously good.
Where: 111 Moor Street, Fitzroy
#8 A cheese dungeon
What: Down a hidden, winding staircase right in the centre of the business end of Melbourne, there is a dungeon. In that dungeon there are wonders and riches worth more than gold. While the folk at the Spring St Grocer’s tend towards the words cellar over dungeon and cheese over riches, that’s pure semantics. Our dungeon-master Mark told us about his extensive and rigorous training in the art of cheese and walked us through the internationally sourced cheeses. He went on to explain their seasons and how they’re aged on-site so to be sold at the point of optimal ripeness. It smells phenomenal.
Where: 157 Spring Street Grocer, Spring Street. Ask for Mark.
#9 A public transport puzzle
What: Whatever you may think of the Public Transport system that is Myki, it’s an unavoidable part of Melbourne life. Adam Grant (who you may remember from Jafflechutes) has found a way to personalise and gentrify the process with his newest venture, Puzzle My Myki. Now when you order a Myki, he will paint a gorgeous picture on it that matches another card sent to another mystery commuter. The hope is that one day they bump into each other on the tram, complete the image and engage in the most Melbourne meet-cute ever.
Where: Puzzle My Myki
#10 A whisky bar with wisdom
What: The uncomfortable truth of doing anything in Melbourne is that it doesn’t count if you can’t school someone else on it. One does not simply drink whisky. What, you think whisky is just about taste and enjoyment? Heathen. Luckily all the bar staff at whisky school and bar Whisky & Alement are here to help, serving knowledge bombs like beer nuts with every single malt. Sit at the bar and find over four hundred bottles of whisky staring back at you. We suggest you try a triple nip panel to kick things off.
Where: 270 Russell Street, Melbourne