Melbourne ~ The Laneways Quirky Bars and Cafes

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Travel Features >> Melbourne ~ The Laneways Quirky Bars and Cafes

Melbourne ~ The Laneways Quirky Bars and Cafes

March 14, 2013

Melbourne's Central Business District (CBD) doesn't sound like the kind of place where the heart and soul of the city thrives. But the south-coast capital of Victoria State has many a hidden depth, making it one of Australia's most appealing cities. Look beyond the grid system and you'll find a network of 19th century offshoots: lanes lined with fashion boutiques, art studios and a fine selection of the independent cafés and bars for which Melbourne is famous the world-over.

Coffee is big news in Melbourne; both breakfast necessity and social past-time, the café scene here is enriched by Italian-style cafés, upmarket road-side takeaways and Victorian patisseries. It's in the distinct underground culture of the laneways where you'll find places like Pushka Espresso Bar, which houses a tiny art gallery on its premises while serving locally-endorsed brews and bagels.

In fact, Melbourne specialises in such hybrid establishments; the Little Mule Company off Little Bourke Street claims coffee and bicycles as its USP, combining a bike store and an ultra-hip café.

Elsewhere, the laneways favourite Aix Cafe Creperie Salon sounds like three places in one and looks like a hole in the wall but its sweet and savoury crepes, hearty lunches and excellent French coffee keep the customers coming.

When the evening draws in and you're looking for something a little more alcohol-based, many of the very same establishments transform into trendy night-spots and bistros. Among the more popular of these is Section 8, found on Tattersalls Lane and notable for its lack of walls or traditional bar setting: the seats are made from shipping crates, hence the fact that it's known as a 'Container Bar'.

More unusual still is the atmospheric Bar Ampere on Russell Place, where you can take your dinner and wine on top of an electrical substation surrounded by wire-and-bulb décor. The nearby Gin Palace lives up to its name, with over forty varieties of the white spirit, while the gastro-bar Cookie is just one of the many levels of Curtin House, a kind of old-world entertainment complex, complete with original elevator and seven floors of bookshops, culinary delights and a rooftop cinema.

The laneways really are where Melbourne gets its reputation for artisan style and quirky spirit. The main thoroughfares may have been planned to perfection with their broad, European elegance and designer stores but like so many characterful cities, the underbelly is where you'll discover the essence of the place. And in a place where you can purchase Florentine stationary, admire the local graffiti and then pop down the road for a pancake stuffed with salmon, anything seems possible.

Author’s Bio: Simon Clark is an accomplished travel writer with over five years of experience. He focuses on holiday destinations in Egypt, Turkey and the Mediterranean and also loves getting great deals on flights to travel further afield to Australia and New Zealand

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