One of the worlds most unique dining experiences can be found on board the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Limited choice 5 course meal (late sitting - 3 courses for early dinner) while watching the panorama of a beautiful city from a superbly presented fully air-conditioned vintage tram as it trundles its way through the city and close-to-the-city suburbs. Although expensive, it is a great experience and not to be missed.
There are 3 almost identical trams and each seat a maximum of 36 diners at tables for 2 or 4. The trams are divided into 2 compartments with seating for 24 in one and 12 in the other compartment while 3 staff members busily serve food, drink and beverages. There is also a tram driver. Conditions are a little cramped and the on-board toilet makes an airline toilet look like a ball room in comparison – not easy to fit all that is required into a tram and makes for a quaint experience. The late dinner trams do stop for a ‘stretch legs’ break at a tram line siding while regular commuter trams pass by. .
The first tramcar restaurant commenced operation in 1983 and by union regulations had to be staffed by a crew of 2 – driver and conductor. Of course the conductor did not have to perform any tasks and was even featured on the back cover of the Melbourne phone book – sitting in the ‘B end’ drivers compartment (no where else to sit) while reading the days paper. Some lament the passing of the conductors from the Melbourne tram network; I think the Tramcar Restaurant management would have applauded the change.
The menus for both the early and late dinners and the luncheon service can be viewed on the web page as listed below – click onto the ‘Menu’ tab. Costs vary between $77 per person for the early dinner to $137.50 per person for late dinner Friday and Saturday evenings.
The Tramcar Restaurant is VERY popular for visitors and locals celebrating special occasions and I do strongly suggest booking 6 to 12 months ahead to avoid disappointment. Lady Gaw and I were lucky as we were originally on the waiting list for our chosen night – our 42 wedding anniversary. Most of the cost of our night was compliments of a credit card loyalty program.
The departure and return point for the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant is tram stop number 125 Normanby Road, near the corner of Clarendon Street, South Melbourne and opposite Crown Casino. Several tram lines from/to city/suburbs are adjacent and taxis can be found at the Crown Casino.
About the photos:
1. The 'smoke break' stop tram and passengers at William Street, Melbourne.
2. Sir and Lady Gaw on board and waiting for dinner - hang on, first course is all ready and waiting. Now where's the drink - LOL
3. Lady Gaw said, "Can I have those flowers?" - "No, wait until I've taken the photo and you'll get the flowers at the end of the trip." See what 42 years of marriage does - LOL.
4. All the mirrors and glass make for tricky photography without flash.
5. Sort of like this - on Puffing Billy Railway (separate tip - Belgrave page) the equivalent restored carriage is nick-named 'The Gin Palace' owing to its opulence of a by-gone era.
A nice, clean dumpling house
Favorite Dish: Steamed Vegetable Dumplings served in a bamboo-stitched container on baking paper.
A perfect method to serve steamed dumplings because they do not fall apart from their own sogginess like they would if served on a regular plate. There is a lot of soy and chilli sauce to go down with it.
Wash it down with a nice beer and you are feeling great.
Gypsey and Musquito do a rather fancy take on a classic English fryup, in a setting that makes you feel less like you're in a restaurant and more like you're at a friend's house.
Practically every item on their menu is delicious and they play non-stop calming 80's music in order to help soothe that headache which represents a solid previous night on the booze.
Favorite Dish: Big Breakfast
Scrambled Eggs, Tomatos, Mushrooms or Spinach, pretty much any side item you want, they have.
A high-scale Mexican affair, Movida De Tapas has a real hint of Europe in their atmosphere and culture. Located right on Hoiser Lane opposite a greal deal of professional street art, you can look through the window and see some of the pieces during your meal.
Sitting at the bar is probably the best fun - you get to see to servers at work. Food comes in two servings - individual tapas and entree size meals. The portions are somewhat small in comparison to other places I could take you, but what they lack in size they make up for in taste.
Every mouthful is a treasure. I have yet to have a single item on their menu which was anything short of absolutely delicious. The barmen greets you, explains the menu and offers you mineral water or tap water. He also carves up three pieces of freshly baked bread and serves them with olice oil as an appetiser. He also lists the daily specials. The last time I went it was freshly shucked Adelaide Bay Oysters served on a bed of rock salt. Mmm...
Favorite Dish: Spiced Chickpea and Spinach Broth
A mix between a soup and a curry, the entree sized dish is hot and spicy, with just the right level of spinach to soften the blow of the pepper. The chickpeas add a nice texture.
Wash it down with an imported Spanish beer like Moritz and you are feeling fantastic.
A coffeehouse with an emphasis on solid food and solid service, thousand pound bend is perpetually inhabited by a colourful young crowd that has nothing better to do than hang out and have a slow coffee with friends.
The food is presented beautifully by a heavily tattooed waitress staff (it adds attitude, I guess?) and quite affordable. The venue is laid back and lots of things that other places make you work for are easy done here: there are a pile of board games in the back lounge you are free to use. The wifi password is listed in plain view up on the wall, no purchase necessary.
There is an art studio at the back of the cafe and you can see artists in progress - but don't interrupt them! They are working!
The tea is hot and the coffee... uh... well I don't drink coffee but I'm told it's very nice here. I really like this place. It feels like it's not a company out to make money. It feels like you're just chilling out at someone's house.
Favorite Dish: Tea/Coffee for just $2.5 within the morning rush - a perfect pick me up for those horrible mornings that follow great nights.
A poor sign and little legroom make for an unassuming atmosphere for this great little Spanish Cafe right on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda.
If you manage to find the place, the food is so totally worth the wait I am not sure how this place isn't more popular.
Favorite Dish: Eggplant Chips with Aioli and Incredible Sangria.
Of course all the Paellas are the best displays of food, but for me nothing gets better than a snack of deep fried eggplant chips and a glass of their home-made sangria ,a jug of which serves 4 and costs $28.
Little Malaysia is hidden down a small side street off of Bourke and Little Bourke Streets in the city, but it would be a shame for anyone to miss this. Malaysian was my favourite food when I worked in KL, and Little Malaysia is downright indistinguishable from any of the amazing food I had over there.
I cannot recommend this little place highly enough.
Favorite Dish: Vegetarian Mee Goreng - tastes like memories of KL!
Hidden behind three flights of stairs off Swanston Street in the city, Gopal's Vegetarian has won a bunch of awards for it's Indian-inspired vegetarian food.
Even meat-eaters wouldn't mind a bite to eat here - everything is incredibly well-cooked by a resident expert who usually charges $130 for a cooking class.
Lunch is served 5 days a week and it is a monster. In my humble opinion this place is way better than Crossways just down the street - which is another vegetarian restaurant 10 stores down towards Flinders Street.
Favorite Dish: Weekly Special: For $11.90 I got a mango lassi, soup, a Koffi Ball, a Tofu Steak, Basmati Rice and a generous helping of Garden Salad plus a dessert. All of it was exquisite.
For an extra dollar I got my hands on their special salted pickles. The green ones are covered in chilli seeds and are extremely spicy.
A cosy, quiet, clean venue hidden down a little shopway (like most of the best places in Melbourne) serving hot chocolates and candies imported directly from Belgium.
The owner is fantastically talented and knowledgeable about chocolate in all forms, the prices are on par with the rest of Melbourne Chocolate bars. I really enjoy my hot chocolate so I want you to understand the level of experience I am talking about when I say that in my experience this is the best hot chocolate in town by a mile.
None of the bigger chains match it, not San Churros, not Max Brenners, and definitely not Starbucks.
Favorite Dish: Spicy Dark Chilli Belgium Hot Chocolate
Spicy, thick, dark and rich. Warms you up nicely on a cold Melbourne winter's morning.
This central diner right off the corner of Collins and Spencer St gives off an inviting air by maintaining a hint of quirkiness within it's walls. Fascinating decorations and polite, helpful staff offset the idea that you are in fact in some kind of tiny Japanese village - away from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne City life.
No matter how busy the diner gets the staff never lose their patience, and the waiting time is never too long. The food is beautifully presented and is obviously done with care and passion.
The cafe is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, but I recommend getting in early in order to snap up the freshest sushi rolls and most carefully prepared dishes - as with all restaurants when they are not busy they put more effort into any one dish.
Favorite Dish: Tofu Burger - $9
A long wholemeal bun covered in tangy mayo, lettuce, cucumber and tomato with a sheet of freshly pressed and fried tofu. Delicious and nutritous - you can taste how recently the bread was baked.
This place is hard to find, but worth it. It's in the middle of the food court hidden inside the GPO shopping center on the intersection of Bourke St and Elizabeth St.
The sitting room is crowded but take away is possible. If you don't know how to eat a properly made sushi roll, I recommend watching someone else do it. You have to roll it yourself here.
Favorite Dish: Any variety of fresh prepared sushi you can handle. I take the veggie rolls with lots and lots of wasabi. The soups are quite amazing too.
The Hotel is a welcome break from the hardness of travel. If you've just spent the day on the Great Ocean Road, probably getting slightly carsick, stop off for a beer and a steak.
The white building is clearly visible from the road - you do not have to go off the path.
Favorite Dish: My personal favourite also happens to be the only vegetarian plate on the menu: Pumpkin Cannelloni.
My friend sweared by the steak however. I put a photo of that up too.
helal kebab is a kebab place in flinders ln, next to the police station it serves kebabs and biryani rice,... the good thing abt it is that its still open till 3 or 4 in the morning, so if u r in the city hungry on a friday, saturday night and wondering where to eat.. its the place to go.. there is no dine in place.. only take away.. the place is kinda un welcoming but it does the work (fills an empty belly) :P
Favorite Dish: mix kebab
food is always nice, halal as well.. have been there couple of times.. yet the service is a bit below average.. u gotta wait for some time till the waiter / waitress take your order.. nd the food takes a while to arrive.. but worth trying.. atmosphere is friendly, gr8 for families.. prices are average.. menu available on their website.. http://www.tibasrestaurant.com.au/
Favorite Dish: shish kofta skewer..
The staff are spectacular: friendly, attentive and knowledgeable about the food and surrounding area (if you need help finding anything). There are approximately 40 seats, half inside and half outside. Outside is perfect when there's sun, otherwise move inside where it's warmer.
The real special thing about this place is the food. It's all cooked right on site, everything is fresh and nothing is reused or done half-heartedly. The soups are warm and filling, the burgers are simply amazing.
Favorite Dish: Vegie Burger - A spectacular relish and avocado spread on wholemeal bread with chickpea pattie, rocket, cheese and tomato. Served with a side of shoestring fries. Superb - probably one of the best burgers I've ever tasted. I come here regularly simply for this exact same dish.