Order fancy-things-on-toast at a chic new city diner (and savoury doughnuts at its moody basement-bar sibling), check out an intimate gig in a 1970s country motel, dive into a ball-pit full of giant marshmallows at a new multi-sensory exhibition, and get unlimited award-winning pizza and G&Ts. Here’s what Broadsheet Melbourne editor Ellen Fraser will be checking out this month.
The chic new diner on everyone’s list right now is undoubtedly Hazel. It’s split across two levels and is the first non-cafe from The Mulberry Group (Liminal, Common Ground Project, formerly Higher Ground, Top Paddock and Kettle Black). An ex-Rockpool chef is plating up oysters with a delicate chicken sauce, and smoked whiting with capers on toast. Then venture downstairs to the basement to meet Hazel’s evil twin: a dark, obsidian bar named Dessous that’s serving lively cocktails alongside savoury doughnuts.
Prefer to get out of town? The third instalment of OK Motels, a series of intimate gigs in rural Australia, is happening about three hours out of Melbourne this month at the ’70s-era Charlton Motel. Pub-rockers Amyl and the Sniffers are headlining, there’s lasagne or schnitzel for dinner, and you either stay on-site or camp at the footy club nearby. Broadsheet readers get discounted tickets, too. (For gigs closer to home, check out the Melbourne Music Week program – there are more than 2200 shows happening this month.)
Wham Bam Thank You Fam is a kid-friendly day party from Jerome Borazio, the man behind Laneway Festival, Reunion Island Pool Club and Back Alley Sally’s. There’ll be a rock’n’roll choir, bowling for littlies, and karaoke and speed dating for parents.
Multi-sensory pop-up museum Sugar Republic returns to the old MacRobertson’s chocolate factory in Fitzroy, this time with a Christmas theme. Wander through 10 new spaces designed to fully immerse you in the sweet stuff. Make your own milkshake from old-school Aussie lollies, sink into a ball pit full of marshmallows, explore a giant gingerbread house and more. There’ll be plenty of free chocolate and lollies to taste, too.
On the 16th, in an old East Melbourne church, a night of booze, cheese and great acoustics is happening. Rev-ale-ation will be an exploration of craft beer and specialty cheeses selected to complement the five singers performing. On the same night, the final Henry and the Fox cheesemaking night will be held on Little Collins Street in the city, where you can learn the ins and outs of mozzarella manufacture and take your own creation home.
The Night Noodle Markets are back from the 7th, kicking off almost three weeks of smoky, fiery, salty and sour snacks from a stack of hawker-style stalls on the banks of the Yarra. And the 4th – if you’re anywhere near the Queen Victoria Market – will be devoted to dumplings, with a one-day festival covering everything from pierogi to gyoza.
Broadside is a new two-day feminist ideas festival happening at the Wheeler Centre where you can hear from Senator Mehreen Faruqi, the first female Muslim senator in Australia; New York Times bestselling author Jia Tolentino; and musician Courtney Barnett. And attend panel discussions on everything from un-whitewashing feminism to the personal costs of speaking out.
And a big welcome back to two of the city’s best courtyards – the lo-fi, always-buzzing beer garden at longstanding North Melbourne bar Prudence, and Drinkwell, the little astroturfed space at the back of Bar Liberty that borrows that bar’s esoteric wine list. They’re both open now (Prudence after last month’s fire, Drinkwell because, well, it’s just that time of year). Grab a vino and some fresh spring rays.
Over in Richmond, pup-centric music festival Dogapalooza is happening again. The line-up is yet to be announced but Moon Dog will be on the beers, of course. And canines are also welcome at Peel Street Festival, Collingwood’s annual spring street party held under the plane trees of Peel Street.
If the question, ‘How much pizza can you eat in two hours?’ reads like a challenge to you, you might be better off avoiding the bottomless pizza option at 400 Gradi’s Brunswick, Essendon and Eastland locations. Why? Because there’ll be unlimited slices of Gradi’s award-winning Neapolitan margherita, and bottomless wine, beer, spritzes and G&Ts.
Bjenny Montero’s charming, melancholy comics – featuring record-snob dogs, sweet-natured frogs and socially anxious ducks – have earned the Melbourne-born artist fans worldwide. Check out his works in person at Oh, I Love This One, an exhibition of Montero’s work featuring sketches, installations, paintings, prints and new T-shirt designs.
And terrifying new immersive theatre show Flight has landed at Southbank. The whole thing takes place in complete darkness inside a shipping container – but you’ll feel like you’re 30,000 feet in the air. By UK-based theatre company Darkfield, this is not one for nervous fliers.