It’s late afternoon, the sun is setting and the streets of Melbourne are filling with office workers making their way to the nearest watering hole to celebrate the day’s successes. While they head for the more corporate options like Collins Quarter, meet your date at Embla. Centrally located with a stellar selection of wines and tasty morsels to nibble on, it is the ideal destination for the quintessential date night ‘drinks and nibbles’. The ambient lighting and cosy interior make for an intimate setting, but it is still casual enough that you can race out the door after the first glass of chardonnay should things take a turn for the worse.
If things go well, however, the suggestion of moving on for a more substantial feed will no doubt become a topic of conversation. A few steps around the corner, Izakaya Den awaits. With a nondescript sign and a staircase to descend, your date will thank you for shifting aside the heavy black curtain to reveal a lively Japanese eatery. Share a feast of Den Classics like sashimi, den chicken, sweet corn kaki-age, and grilled pork belly, with Japanese sake, beer or tea.
If the hour permits, and the romance is blossoming, walk the 500 metres to Melbourne’s theatre precinct. Both the Comedy Theatre and Her Majesty’s are located on Exhibition Street, just a block and a half away. See the love-story that is Aladdin come to life on stage (until 22 October, 2017) or take in a comedy act, sure to tickle your date’s funny bone.
In the mood to groove? Head to one of the city’s late night karaoke hotspots. Nab a private room at FM or KBox or wow the crowd at Jankara where every drink purchased gets you a song voucher, to be redeemed onstage. Not sure karaoke will last for more than one song? Head to the just-opened karaoke/mini-golf/cocktail bar – Holey Moley – to keep your options open.
When the music stops, head up to Siglo and sip cocktails on the rooftop terrace. Overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Parliament House, you’ll be seated at a table with white cloths and offered a glimpse into old-worlde Melbourne. The cocktails are poured with quality spirits, and champagne is in abundance, with an array of options available. If the night air proves chilly, progress downstairs to The Melbourne Supper Club to recline on a brown leather chesterfield and indulge in a cheese platter or lavish dessert. Open until 3am and 4am respectively.
It’s the wee hours of the morning by now, but you don’t want to say goodbye. Suggest a moonlit stroll along Southbank and view the city from the edge of the Yarra River. Sit river-side and watch the lights twinkling on the water, or book a last-minute hotel room at Crown Metropol.
The Queen Victoria Market opens at 6am, but the vendors arrive much earlier. Head north of city to watch as they set up, then meander through the stalls and select your favourite delicacies for breakfast. Top it off with a coffee from Market Lane on Therry Street, just 200 metres away.
The options don’t stop there, however. With more eateries per capita than any other city in the world, Melbourne offers a host of options when breakfast time ticks round. Cumulus Inc remains one of the city’s long-time favourites, with menu items including House made crumpets with whipped ricotta and rooftop honey; Marinated mushrooms, zucchini, black barley & slow cooked egg; and Smoked bacon bap with gentleman’s relish. For less traditional breakfast fare, Magic Mountain Saloon features a Thai-inspired menu with items such as Black Sticky Rice, Strawberries, Banana, Coconut Cream & Dried Mango Granola; Sticky Pork & Shrimp Rice, Green Apple, Omelette, Ginger & Chilli; and Rice, Avocado, Tomato, Ginger & Cashew Crumble. Both open at 7am on weekdays and 8am on weekends.
Refueled and ready to face the day, take your date through Melbourne’s laneways. As the city wakes up, check out the street art in Union Lane and Hosier Lane and meander past Federation Square to the National Gallery of Victoria on St Kilda Road. Australia’s oldest, largest and most visited art museum, the permanent collection houses an extensive collection of art from Europe, Asia, America, and Oceania. It is known to attract some of the most coveted touring exhibitions such as Van Gogh and the Seasons (until 9 July, 2017).
From there, it is a short walk to the Royal Botanic Gardens, a magical escape from the hustle and bustle of the city filled with rare plants and manicured lawns… and an Ornamental Lake on which to take your date on a punt. Complete with parisoles and blankets (depending on the weather), and a dapperly dressed gentleman to punt you around in a wooden boat, there is nothing to do but sit back, relax, revel in the serene surrounds and rest your head on your date’s shoulder. The only thing more romantic than a punt is to follow it up with high tea – available at the Terrace Café, on the lake’s edge.
With high spirits, it’s time to bid your date adieu, or collapse together in a suite at The Blackman (a 20 minute walk from the Terrace Cafe), book a hot air balloon ride for dawn the next day and while away the hours enjoying room service on the balcony.
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