When you have an interstate or international visitor land on your doorstep, the challenge is to take them on a mini-tour that showcases at least a few of the many reasons why Melbourne is such a special and surprising city. We spoke to a few tour companies that specialise in taking travellers off the beaten track for some expert recommendations.
Sarah King, from Hidden Secrets Tours, pointed us toward Captains of Industry, located on Level 1, 2 Somerset Place, tucked down a laneway and up a rickety looking staircase.This unique warehouse space overlooking Elizabeth Street to the GPO building serves a killer 'Knuckle Sandwich' of pulled pork, ideally washed down with homemade ginger beer or, if the sun is setting, some great little boutique Melbourne brews. The building also contains a leather artisan who specialises in handmade shoes, belts and bags, and a jewellery designer, should you be in a shopping mood.
With Melbourne’s reputation as a great coffee city, Sarah ventures to suggest that even the most ardent caffeine snob will be swayed by the offers presented at Patricia. Once again you will need to venture down a laneway, Little William Street in this case, and search for the business, which is located behind an unmarked black building on the corner - the only tell-tale sign being the toing-and-froing of those in the know. Patricia has three different coffee roasters and passionately make four types of coffee - black, white (with milk), filtered and cold filtered. They are true world-class baristas, and one of Melbourne's greatest hidden coffee spots.
Alternative Walking Tours suggested venturing down the Degraves Street Subway under Flinders Street to check out the Sticky Institute, an eclectic art gallery and not-for-profit retail shop.This mainstay of the local arts scene offers the chance to chat with artists and explore international zine culture. It is open Monday through Saturday, after 12 noon, the traditional artists’ rising hour.
When the feet are getting heavy Sarah recommends heading to Whisky and Alement for a civilized and enlightening drink. The amber atmosphere provides the perfect hideout spot in the middle of the CBD with an unending list of options including rare whiskies and a secret batch in their rotating barrel from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Knowledgeable staff will guide you through the many, many options available, and you will leave the premises at least a little more informed about the esoteric world of grain derived beverages than you were upon arrival.
1 Captains of Industry → Level 1, 2 Somerset Place
2 Patricia → Corner of Little Bourke & Little William Streets
3 Sticky Institute → Shop 10, Campbell Arcade, Degraves Subway
4 Whisky & Alement → 270 Russell Street