Melbourne prides itself on being cosmopolitan, surprising and enchanting both locals and visitors who enjoy its mix of old and new.
Diversity is the city’s strength and makes it the perfect setting for an interesting date. But when there’s so much on offer it can be difficult to decide where to go and what to do. With this in mind, Same Same sent Clem Mykytiuk on a quest for interesting and diverse Melbourne dates…
#1. Coffee – Wall Two 80
Melbournians cherish their coffee and it shows in the quality and diversity of venues around town. A cup of coffee requires minimal effort to organise for a date and is perfect for that spontaneous opportunity when you meet a potential Mr. Right.
If you want perfect coffee every time head to Wall Two 80 in Balaclava. I placed my order and received my coffee from a small hole in the wall covered with street art. The coffee here was so good I found myself drinking four in a row and buzzing through the rest of my date. If you’re not already a coffee drinker and Wall Two 80 does not convert you, nothing will!
#2. Cake – The Special Cake Shop
When you meet someone special you want to take him or her somewhere special. The Special Cake Shop is a Prahran institution and has been baking treats since the mid 1950s. Family-owned and operated it was purchased by its current owner George Seherlis in 1976.
I walked inside and ordered two strawberry tarts. As I was placing my order I could hear Greek spoken in the kitchen, which in my mind represented the authenticity of the establishment. The old lady behind the counter sent her grandson out the front to deliver our tarts to the table. They were so good there was no conversation for the 10 minutes it took us to slowly devour them. Normally no conversation on a date is a bad thing, but in this case it left my date and my sweet tooth satisfied.
The Special Cake Shop – 207 Chapel Street, Prahran.
#3. Brunch – Dukes Coffee Roasters
It’s always good to have options. You want breakfast but your date wants lunch. Time for Brunch then! Much more than a coffee house, Dukes offer all day breakfast, and lunch simultaneously from 12.
I was greeted with a warm smile as soon I stepped inside. Coffee quickly arrived at our table as I looked through the menu. My tastebuds always melt when I come to Dukes as the food on offer is so tasty. The most difficult task for the day becomes deciding what to order. Their food is matched with the fine coffee they roast on site. I have a quick chat with one of their staff who is roasting towards the back of the café’, who explains he personally samples up to 20 varieties of coffee each day. I return to the table and our food arrives. Brunch is served!
#4. Dinner – The Toff in Town
Dinner can be the most impressive of dates when well executed. Good food, drinks and post-dinner entertainment are paramount for an enjoyable evening. The Toff in Town provides all three of these in the most interesting of settings.
The venue is split in two with one area for dining and drinks and the other a stage for entertainment. The dining area was the setting for my date. It boasts a large bar as well as private carriages in the centre of the room which create an intimate and private setting. I slipped in to a carriage and prepared myself to enjoy the delights on offer from Choo Choo’s, the Toffs Thai Dinner and Supper. The menu offers a selection of small dishes and is designed for sharing. The meal was complimented with fantastic cocktails recommended by the knowledgeable and friendly staff. The date went so well I couldn’t help but think The Toff would become my new haunt for a dinner date to impress.
#5. Drinks – Polly Cocktail Lounge
When heading out for drinks on a date, picking the right bar is crucial. Brunswick Street has few fancy establishments but Polly Cocktail Lounge defies this trend. Given its location you can arrive at Polly dressed casual or formal, if you feel the occasion is special. They don’t mess around here with lavish red velvet chairs inside and elegant statues in the foyer.
If you think the décor is impressive wait till you see the drinks list. With my date and I comfortably seated, a bartender in waistcoat and tie arrives at our table to tempt us with the first round of drinks. After flicking through 100’s of drinks I haven’t made up my mind. I make an off-the-menu request and the bartender gladly accepts the challenge. With drinks so impressive it is hard to stop once you’ve opened a tab at Polly. The date ends and I exit, catching a smile from our bartender. He knows it’s always a good night for drinking at Polly.
WEEK 2: A CHANGE OF PACE
My second week of dating was quite different from the first. I took suggestions from friends for alternative settings for dates. Good food and drink can be had in any city but the following are truly unique to Melbourne…
#6. Luna Park
Luna Park in St Kilda is a Melbourne icon and was the first to be built in Australia. Installed in 1911 it contains the oldest continually operating roller coaster in the world.
After the bumper cars, two lots of fairy floss and the ghost train it was time to brave the line for the scenic railway (the roller coaster). Thinking the name sounded a little lame my expectations were set low. 30mins later and it was our turn to ride. Stunning views of St Kilda and the Bay awaited us coasters first peak. 1km of track later and I was left surprised. With twists, turns and speeds of up to 65km/ph my expectations were blown away. I was pleased when I stepped off the coaster. If you want a good excuse to hold your date’s hand give Luna Park a try!
#7. Astor Theatre
Going to a movie is viewed by most as a classic date idea. Built in the 1930s, the Astor Theatre is also a classic, but not your typical venue for a night at the cinema. The foyer and inside of the cinema are all art deco retaining the charm of the period and setting the scene for a perfect cinema date.
On most nights the Astor screens a double feature and plays a variety of films for old classics, art house and Hollywood blockbusters. After purchasing my tickets I ascended to the top floor where the lounge and candy bar are located. I purchased two choc tops and a large popcorn from bow-tie clad workers. As we entered the cinema we were guided to our seats via flashlight. Both movies were enjoyed with the night ending in the promise of a second date!
#8. Carlton Gardens
Melbourne is known for its stunning parks and gardens. If the forecast is sunny, a picnic in one of these lovely gardens can work a treat. The Carlton Gardens are world heritage listed and a personal favourite of mine. They’re located on the northern fringe of the CBD and house both the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum.
Carrying a picnic blanket and a basket full of food and drink, I met my date just after midday for lunch. Sitting in the sun next to one of the fountains with the Royal Exhibition Building in the background was just fantastic. I find people always smile more when they’re outside in the sunshine and this was proven to be true on this particular date. When my date ended several hours later I jumped on the tram home with my blanket, an empty bottle of wine and nothing but breadcrumbs in my basket.
#9. Melbourne Winter Masterpieces: Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
Melbourne is regarded as the cultural capital of Australia and refuses to slow down come winter. Each year Arts Victoria presents two exhibitions for their Melbourne Winter Masterpieces. One is shown at the National Gallery of Victoria and the other at the Melbourne Museum. For its only stop in Australia as part of this programme, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is showing at the Melbourne Museum. As the artefacts presented in this collection do not normally leave Egypt, I decided this was the exhibition I had to attend.
Not your typical setting for a date but its one that can still work. The exhibition was amazing and I was left spellbound by the time I exited. Before you enter your photo is taken behind a blue screen. My date and I had our picture taken, which was later imposed behind the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. A memorable date and a priceless souvenir.
#10: Queen Victoria Market
The Queen Victoria Market reflects the true diversity of Melbourne and everything the city stands for: Shopping, food, drink and culture. I couldn’t think of anywhere more Melbourne or more perfect for my final date.
We started with wine and cheese tasting, which was the catalyst for another hour of tasting different varieties of food on offer in the deli section. I had not even purchased lunch and was already feeling full. Walking between the deli and the shopping section we stopped to enjoy a local band playing on the street outside the market. As we continued on we began to explore the endless isles of shopping the market had to offer. From fresh food to fashion there was something for everyone here at the Queen Victoria Markets.
The market was so much fun, but I did manage to lose my date amongst the stalls for just under and hour. He didn’t mind and returned with an entire new outfit in hand. Our trip had proven to be everything it promised and more.
Know of any other great dates to enjoy around Melbourne? Let us know with a comment below.