You know the shops, from the moment you see them, you want to walk in. Warm and inviting. And once you are in, the smell, the ambiance, you know you are somewhere special. The hardest decision is what to buy!
This month we are discovering Melbourne, and today we are going to explore 11 of Melbourne’s best food shops and cooking classes. Those special shops that you just love, that you want to return to time and time again. And how about a cooking class to teach you to make something special at home? We have you covered for those as well.
Melbourne has some fantastic shops and producers very close to the city making them easy to reach. We are going to share a few of our favorites. If you are looking to find something special or learn a new skill, read on . . .
Great Food Shops in Melbourne
1. The Cheese Room at Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder (Richmond)
The Cheese Room at Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder, has one of the finest selections of cheese anywhere in Melbourne. From the aroma the moment you enter the glass temperature and humidity-controlled fromagerie, you know you are in for a treat. This is where we need smell o-vision on the computer. You can find an extensive selection of imported (mainly European) and fine Australian cheeses here. You can sample anything and if you need advice or accompaniments for the perfect cheese platter you can find it all here.
Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder host a number of special events featuring cheese, i.e. cheese and wine or cheese and beer nights. You can order a fantastic cheese platter in the cafe as well. Bookings are essential for special events and recommended for dining in the cafe. The Cheese Room is open 7 days a week, 9:30am-5 pm. The tasting notes on the site are fantastic. And if you live in Australia, they also run a Cheese Club which delivers a selection of seasonal cheeses direct to your door.
RHCL is a great place to eat as well with a great selection of seasonal and classic dishes featuring local Australian produce.
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A future post will focus on creating your own cheese platter.
2. Oriental Tea House (Melbourne, CBD)
Oriental Tea House on Little Collins Street is both a shop and restaurant featuring a wide variety of oriental teas and tea wares and accessories. The Oriental Tea House sells traditional teas such as oolong, jasmine and also a selection of their own herbal and signature blends. With such names as Happy, Calm and Concentration, Drink B4 Drink, and Relaxing, you are sure to find something to suit your tastes. Owner David Zhou also owns and runs the popular Shanghai Restaurant David’s in Prahran. David’s is a great place to try Yum Cha (and Tuesday’s are BYO night.)
If you are unsure what tea you prefer you can always have a taste before you buy.
3. Laikon Deli (Richmond)
If you continue down Bridge Road from Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder, you will reach Laikon Deli, reminiscent of a European deli and a great place for a coffee, a small bite to eat or to find a great selection for a picnic or hamper. From the moment you walk in you’ll feel right at home. The staff are friendly, the greeting is warm and welcoming and the selection behind the glass is tantalizing. You can eat at one of the outside tables or load up with provisions and head to the Yarra River Banks or the Fitzroy Gardens for a relaxing day out.
With the third generation now working in the deli, Laikon Deli has been a Richmond favorite for years and well patronized by the locals, always a good sign. The coffee is also very good and in Melbourne where finding the perfect coffee is an obsession, this is high praise.
4. Hopetoun Tea Rooms (Melbourne CBD)
Located in the Block Arcade, Hopetoun Tea Rooms, a shop and cafe are a step back in time. High tea is served here (reservations required) or it is a great place to recharge you batteries with a mid-morning or afternoon break. The Block Arcade is one of Melbourne’s oldest shopping arcades and it has been magnificently preserved. The Hopetoun Tea Rooms, named for its founder Lady Hopetoun was originally a small tea room for the Victorian Ladies Work Association. You can order cakes from here or take something home with you as well.
5 & 6. Koko Black and Max Brenner’s (Melbourne CBD)
Chocolate lover’s do not fear, Melbourne will not disappoint. Between Koko Black and Max Brenner’s it is arguable which would be better or the local favorite. But hey why decide? Try them both.
Koko Black has outlets in Carlton and on Collins Street in the CBD. Koko Black started in Melbourne in 2003 so it is a well established business with outlets across Australia and New Zealand. Shane Hills, the owner, studied chocolate making in Bruges, Belgium. (And if you have ever been to Bruges you know it is one town that is just full of chocolate in a country obsessed with chocolate. Seriously Bruges would have more chocolate shops than any place I have ever seen.) The Dessert Degustation is a decadent treat. I have many friends that swear this is the best chocolate they have ever had.
The other choice is Max Brenner’s. Max Brenner’s is an international chocolatier with shops in 6 countries. Their chocolates and hot chocolate drinks are divine. They have locations in Melbourne Central and The QV Complex in the CBD. Both locations can be amazingly busy on the weekends. Open ‘til midnight on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday it’s a great option for dessert.
Both Max and Shane credit the book Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as part of their inspiration to start making chocolate. Koko Black and Max Brenner’s both have shops to purchase chocolate and cafes if you would like to try something while you are there.
Specialty Cooking Classes
If you after a cooking class, there are a lot of options in both Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Our Melbourne markets post lists some local markets offering cooking classes by some of Melbourne’s well known chefs working with fresh, seasonal produce.
Today we are going to focus on some of the specialty skills and niche classes on offer in inner city Melbourne. (So they are easy for you to get there.)
7. Artisan Bread Making at the Convent Bakery (Abbotsford)
Making some of Melbourne’s best breads and supplying a number of local cafes, the Convent Bakery has its own ancient, wood-fired oven for baking. If you would like to learn more about bread making, the Convent Bakery runs a number of classes including:
- Beginning Bread Making,
- Pies and Pastry,
- Artisan Bread Making,
- and several other specialty courses. Classes are very popular and if you would like to attend, book well in advance.
8. Pizza Making at Gradi 400 (East Brunswick)
Want to learn more about the art of making Pizza Napoletana? You can spend the morning with Johnny Di Francesco of Gradi 400 and learn from the master. And I mean the master. Johnny won the World Pizza Champion crown at the Pizza World Championship in Italy. You can find all the information on Gradi 400’s website.
9. Market Lane Coffee
If you want to learn about coffee and how to make better coffee, try Market Lane’s Brew Class. Market Lane is one of Melbourne’s best coffee roasters and one of our favorites.
In this class you will learn the basics (how, why, pros and cons) of three different brewing methods: pour over, aeropress and plunger. Learn how grind, time and brew ratio impact the result in the cup and how to make a great cup of coffee at home.
10. The Essential Ingredient (Prahran Market)
Again, this could be in the list of shops above. If you are looking for anything cooking-related, you can find it here.
But in addition, they run a well-established, cooking school featuring many local chefs. You can take courses to learn technique and skills (such as baking or smoking), how to handle foods (like fish), learn about a cuisine (Japanese, Korean) or find some seasonal inspiration (such as Spring Harvest or Summer Entertaining. It is presently late spring in Australia). You can find the course schedule here.
11. Gewürzhaus Herb & Spice Merchants
Okay, you have been warned, bring your self control. This shop is a cook’s dream! It has everything! Herbs, spices, salts, peppers and sugars from all over the world! They mix their own blends. There are more than 100 different blends made in-house and exclusive to Gewürzhaus (German for “spice house”).
You can buy in preset amounts or scoop your own! So while this easily makes the great shops list above, it gets better! Gewürzhaus also runs a cooking school. You can take a variety of classes learning to cook some of the world’s best cuisines, including Morrocan and Persian. Check out the full course list.
Gewürzhaus’ original shop opened in 2010 and is in Carlton at 342 Lygon Street (near the corner of Faraday Street). Cooking School is at the Hawksburn Village store in Toorak. The also have outlets in the Block Arcade (282 Collins St, Melbourne, picture right) and in the Dairy Hall of the Queen Victoria Market. They also have a Sydney outlet in the Strand Arcade.
These are a few of our favorite shops, chosen for both variety and convenience if you are visiting Melbourne. We haven’t been to attend all of the cooking schools, but they are well-established, well-rated and on our wish list. Enjoy your visit. If you have any questions leave us a comment (you do not need a URL to leave a comment), we do reply.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these Melbourne travel posts:
- 5 Insider Tips for enjoying food in Melbourne
- Melbourne: World’s best city for sport?
- How to Eat your way Around the World in Melbourne
And here are some great, Melbourne food and recipe posts:
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Soup
- Avocado Smash and Poached Eggs
- Traditional Roast Pork with Better Crackling
And please help us spread the word via social media, we certainly appreciate it.