I’m something of a creature of habit. If I find a product or brand I love, I will keep coming back to it over and over again (my trusty travel gear can attest to that). The same goes for coffee, food, and bars in Melbourne: my favourites are tried and well tested.
The past few months I’ve been trying to mix it up by exploring some suburbs I don’t typically visit.
Where better to start than one of the hippest suburbs in east Melbourne: Camberwell.
Welcome to Camberwell
Camberwell is often overlooked by travellers because it’s a little outside the city borders and it’s not near the beach like St Kilda and Brighton, nor is it a Uni student hub like neighbouring Hawthorn.
I see Camberwell as a suburb at the cross-section between the northern and eastern suburbs of Melbourne: it has the youthful, hip vibes of Richmond and Abbotsford, a large student population because of the proximity of Hawthorn’s Swinburne University and Burwood’s Deakin University nearby, and a touch of upper middle class from those who didn’t want to pay the multi-million dollar prices to live in pricey Toorak or Malvern.
It’s bustling but unassuming despite its easy connectivity – you can get there by tram, train, and car – and there’s plenty to see and do on and off the main streets of the city.
You can shop up a storm at the Camberwell Market or any of the boutique stores along the high streets, rummage through the trash & treasure for a vintage find or pick up fresh produce from the Camberwell Sunday Markets. Feeling like a relaxing night out? A drink at the rooftop bar then a movie at the historic Rivoli Cinemas and – of course – there’s plenty of places to eat and drink!
My favourite meal? I’m telling you, you have got to try brunch in Camberwell!
Here are three of my favourite spots to brunch in Camberwell:
MOB (My Other Brother)
While better known for hosting the Camberwell Sunday Market, the carpark behind Burke Road is a gem for great cafes and boutique stores. My Other Brother – better known as MOB – is among them.
My Other Brother is the cool cafe in this area. Hidden from view, this spacious, family-friendly cafe has ample indoor and outdoor seating and would suit almost any brunch situation – or even just a coffee date! Maximising natural light with the pale timber, white subway tiles, and a large central table for communal dining; the cafe also has an open kitchen – there’s nothing better than a bit of culinary theatre! -, the menu is based around superfoods, sustainable produce, and stylish on-trend treats.
The menu is short, much like sister restaurants Penta, Tinker and Temperance Society; but dishes change seasonally so there’s always something new to be delighted by. My airbnb guest Emily couldn’t decide what to eat, so we ordered extra!
- Nutella Hong Kong Waffles – inspired by the latest Instagram trends, MOB’s newest dessert is Hong Kong-style waffles filled with oozing Nutella and topped with mascarpone, banana brulee, strawberries, blueberries, pistachios and raspberry puree. (Note: banana brulee not pictured because I asked for it without!)
- Beef Burger – an Aussie classic! This Beef Burger is topped with smoked cheese, mustard, thousand island dressing, lettuce, onion, tomato served with rosemary salted fries on a brioche bun. If you fancy a shake, make sure it’s part of the burger meal deal because you’ll save more money.
- Eggs Benny – surely a contender for the best eggs benedict in Melbourne; MOB’s Eggs are topped with southern fried chicken, chipotle hollandaise on dark rye. My one recommendation: be sure to ask for extra sauce because the chicken can be a little on the dry side.
While you are there be sure to pop down the laneway that runs alongside the cafe. My friend Nicole has a beautiful mural painted there!
My Other Brother, 586 Burke Rd, Camberwell VIC 3124
Fordham’s Milk Bar
After I proposed we brunch or lunch, it was my friend Nicole (yes, the same Nicole who painted the gorgeous mural next to MOB!) who introduced me to this gem in the backstreets of Camberwell.
Located in a former corner store next to Hartwell (train) Station, you can’t miss the rainbow umbrellas outside Fordham’s Milk Bar, one of Australia’s longest continually running milk bars at 105 years!
At Fordham’s they delight in the old school. When you enter, it’s more like the old school milk bar with shelves stocked with old-school lollies (think raspberries and cream, pineapples, and sour straps – my personal favourite) next to classic hard-to-find soft drinks like Passiona. There’s also plenty of freshly baked and created sweet and savoury treats.
The other side of the building is the cafe. Tiled topped tables, some inlaid with foreign currency in the corners, and cosy wooden nooks furnished with cushions for comfort. It’s a very personal, comfortable space. If you prefer some fresh air and choose to sit outside but it’s a little nippy, then there’s a big basket of blankets to choose from.
Proudly displayed behind the coffee bar is a delightful record player complete with rows upon rows of vinyl records. The playlist blends old favourites and a few more modern tracks (Right now the MaCoys Sloopy Hang On is playing and previously The Beach Boy’s Surfin USA and Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman were playing.)
The two dishes I’ve tried and loved were:
- The Famous Egg & Bacon Roll – there’s a reason these bad boys are famous! Fried egg, a generous portion of bacon topped with caramelised onion, sliced tomato, herb mayo & rocket on the softest bun.
- Zoodles – these guys have been making zucchini zoodles cool since before you heard of them! Fordham’s top theirs with roast pumpkin puree basil mint dill chilli & crumbled feta.
Fordham’s is about as local as you can get and truly deserving to be on any list of best places to brunch in Camberwell and Melbourne!
Fordham’s Milk Bar, 116 Fordham Avenue, Camberwell 3124
If you are seeking to add a creative brunch in Camberwell to your feed then Collective Espresso is the place to go.
Tucked away up the north end of Burke Road next to Camberwell Train Station, this cafe may look small but their food packs a punch!
From the inlaid round tiles at the doorstep reading ‘Meet Me Here’ (popular with people ‘gramming their coffees) to their Gravity Waffles that seemingly defy… well, gravity; the food is great and the coffee (by Undercover Roasters) is smooth and creamy.
The two dishes I’d recommend are:
- Gravity Waffles – forget the hard cardboard-like waffles from other cafes, these babies are soft and fluffy. Topped with vanilla and white chocolate and whipped cream, with a side of stewed kiwi fruit and strawberries; the crowning glory is the salted caramel & popcorn ‘gravity’ stick.
- The No Brainer – for the days when you really can’t decide what to eat, the No Brainer is a favourite. Thick cafe-sliced multigrain toast topped with smashed avo and a generous helping of feta and fresh herbs; this bad boy is best served with a poached egg and bacon. A millennials dream brekkie! 😉
The cafe also serves a range of Melbourne’s best vegan dishes making Collective Espresso a great spot to bring all your family and friends.
Collective Espresso, 3 Cookson Street, Camberwell, 3124
Let me know in the comments
Is there a cafe you think makes the grade in Camberwell?
What do you order for brunch: sweet or savory?
Read more about Melbourne!
The Best Eggs Benedict in Melbourne
Exploring Elwood: Beach, Brunch and Boho Vibes
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