Aura Cafe, Templestowe

Aura Cafe is located in Templestowe, in a little cluster of restaurants on the intersection of High St and Manningham Rd. A couple of buses go past the area, and there's also plenty of parking in the nearby area. The cafe prides itself on providing exceptional customer service and outstanding food, and offers catering services as well as dining.

The cafe is spacious and open, though quite noisy because of all the people. The cafe almost seems to have two separate sections; a modern, cosy section with plenty of natural light, contrasting with a wide, open area that has a more homey, comfortable feel to it. The staff were friendly and attentive, though our food did take at least 25 minutes to arrive.

Studley Park Boathouse, Kew

Studley Park Boathouse Cafe is as the name suggests, located in the Studley Park area and overlooking the Yarra River. A great place for a weekend brunch or afternoon tea session, particularly when the weather starts to warm up again.

There's seating both inside and out at the cafe, and the outside area is sectioned off into two; a shaded deck area for warmth with heaters around, and the patio style seating outside with large umbrellas. We chose to sit in the heated outside section which gave us a really great view of the park, but ensured we didn't freeze in the chilly weather! The use of pink and green pastel colours made for a very homey, holiday style decor, and together with the scenic view made for a really relaxing atmosphere. The staff were extremely friendly and attentive, with good service and not too long of a wait for food.

Scarvelli Cafe, Balwyn

Scarvelli Cafe is a small cafe in Balwyn, easily accessible by tram 109. It prides itself on the use of locally sourced produce, in particular from the Swan Bay farm that is owned by the same people. The cafe have actually release their own recipe book; I was lucky enough to have a quick flip through it when I visited, and it felt like very informative with the details on ingredients and the background on the cafe and farm. You could tell a lot of heart had been put into the recipe book, and the effort taken to not only provide recipes ideas for people, but also to inform and educate.

The darker wooden decor contrasts with the white walls and bright lights, and the atmosphere feels cosy and warm, with chatter from the customers mixed with the sounds from the kitchen as well as coffee being made in the front area. Service was pretty good, with our food coming out quite quick, and friendly, attentive staff.

Smith and Daughters, Fitzroy

Smith and Daughters is a vegan restaurant in Fitzroy on Brunswick St, easily accessible by tram 11 and close to a number of other popular eateries. It's opened by the same people who own the also vegan Smith and Deli (also in Fitzroy), which is best known for their sandwiches and of course, range of deli produces.

The interior of Smith and Daughters is quite spacious, with large windows allowing plenty of natural light to enter. There's a rustic feel with the stone and brick walls, and the back wall is adorned with a range of framed artwork that gives the place an edgy vibe. Although there are a lot of tables, the open space doesn't make you feel cramped at all, and there wasn't any need to raise our voices particularly when talking, even with the music and chatter in the background. The staff were attentive and there wasn't too long of a wait for our food when we went on a Sunday afternoon. As we didn't book a table, we had the option of sitting at the bar or the communal table, so if you're after your own space, it's best to call in advance.

Saint Thomas Coffee and Kitchen, Richmond

Saint Thomas is a cosy cafe in Richmond, about a five minute walk from East Richmond Station and also easily accessible by tram 78. It's actually a few doors down from a famous cafe in the area, Pillar of Salt, which I've also blogged about.

The cafe has a very lively, bustling environment from all its customers, so you do have to raise your voices slightly when talking to one another. The kitchen is to one side of the cafe and there's further seating behind it, so you hear the sounds from within as well. We were sitting quite close to the kitchen and the smells of bacon kept wafting over to our table, which almost made us want to order some ourselves! There aren't very many decorations up on the walls; for the most part it's just white, though the seating at the very back is for a larger group, with couch like chairs to one side. Service was great, we waited about ten minutes for food at most, and got a table immediately when we went on a Sunday around 11am, and the staff were friendly.

The Black Trestle, Balwyn

The Black Trestle is a cafe in Balwyn in the shopping strip just past Balwyn Rd and relatively close to Mr. Hendricks, a popular cafe in the area. The cafe is easily accessible via tram 109, and there's plenty of side streets for parking as well.

The cafe is quite small, with minimal decorations apart from a plant here and there. The white walls and general wooden decor give the place a comfortable feel, with a cosy atmosphere. We went on a Sunday around 11:30am and surprisingly didn't have to wait at all for a table. There weren't very many people at the cafe at all when we were there, which was a bit surprising. Couch like seating lines one side of the cafe, which is mostly designed for groups of two. We were in a group of four, so felt a little cramped at times with all the food on the circular tables. The staff were friendly, though our food did take at least twenty minutes to arrive, even though we were the only people sitting down to eat at the time.

Royal Stacks, CBD

Royal Stacks is a new(ish) burger joint in the city located on Collins Street, closer to the Southern Cross end of the CBD.

Like most burger joints, Royal Stacks is a self service where you have to up to the counter to order, and pick up your food when the buzzer goes off. We went relatively early on a Saturday night and there was about a fifteen minute wait for our food. The restaurant itself is quite big, with dark wooden decor lining the seating beyond the counter. In contrast, the front of the joint is made up of large communal tables by the large window and the plant covered wall, and there's a cool neon pink burger sign on the other side.

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