When you have a favourite local haunt you usually like to keep it all to yourself. But Mark Zito of Fractures, one of Melbourne's best upcoming experimental bands, isn't greedy like us. After the secret acoustic gig he played last weekend in Melbourne thanks to Cloudy Bay, he took us beneath Melbourne's pretty facade and showed us the wonderful spaces where true locals like him spend their days and nights. From underground places to eat and drink, to secret green spaces and cinematic hidey-holes, you're not going to find these spots in a Trip Advisor top ten. Next time you're in Melbourne, spend a weekend walking in Fractures' shoes.
This has been a mainstay for me. The whole building in fact. On a good night, I'd make it up the entire building. Start at Cookie, grab some quality nosh, chuck it down my pie hole, consume with beverage. Perhaps repeat.
Then probably skip a few levels up to Rooftop if it's warm enough, worst case would get warmth off a stranger for as long as I could before they realised I was standing behind them. Then down to the Toff for further iced beverages and perhaps an informal dance to loud music. The theme of all venues is 'solid vibe'. They lack pretension.
This one came out of nowhere for me. A friend led me in. As obvious as it is once you've been, it doesn't stand out so the secluded feel it has makes sense. Melbourne does pretty well with bars, this one for whatever reason ticks all of my boxes. It's good to start at, good to finish at, and good in between. A classic all-nighter, I'd say. I'm also a sucker for anything with a neon light logo. Take note.
This is a local spot, just around the corner from home. It's a nice spot on the Yarra, usually filled with cyclists and families picnic-ing. So that's when I avoid it. The falls themselves are manmade but they're surrounded by volcanic rock, trees, and nearby is an old flour mill. I've hung down here later at night a few times (with people, I'm not a total shut-in) and it's more or less silent — if you discount the sound of the falls — and people don't tend to pass through. It doesn't involve a whole lot of action, just sitting really, stopping for a bit. I dunno, it's nice. I like it. And also it's very close to my house.
Another local shoutout. Without exaggerating, I'd say this cafe is 25 metres from my front door so I was always going to head in there a bit out of laziness. Luckily for them they do a great job.
I'm not a foodie at all. Pretty happy to microwave most things and then spoon them into my small mouth and I'm a happy chap upon swallowing, but these guys have all the things you'd want in a cafe — eggs, bread, and the list goes on! Typically I test a cafe with a scramble, they've passed with flying colours every time I've gone in.
Next time you're in the area, pop in, tell them 'Fractures sent me' and you will receive a zero percent discount.
SHELLEY BEACH, PORTSEA
Portsea lifestyle isn't usually for me. There's not much about the polo or the pubs that interest me, and despite my heritage (Italian/Surry Hills), my pasty complexion doesn't lend itself to large doses of the hot Aussie sun. It's a bastard of a thing, excuse my language of course. This beach is a beauty during the day. It's very much a front beach, with no waves, beach boxes, and pretty cut off from the main strip, so it feels a bit like a secret. A sexy secret. I love it at night even more, especially when it's more or less deserted except for the dogs being walked. Ideal for pensive moments/night time love making/petty crime.
I haven't actually played a gig here yet. I'd love to given its a staple of the Melbourne music scene. It's ever-reliable otherwise for that purpose: hosting great gigs. Good for a feed too. A tasty dish known as the chicken parmigiana, which I call a 'parma' just for a laugh with close friends, is a delight. I'm sure their other dishes are great but once I find what I like then you're not going to budge me.