Nine boozy brunches in Melbourne

Vietnamese-style brunch at Saigon Sally.
Vietnamese-style brunch at Saigon Sally. Photo: Supplied

To breakfast is human; to brunch divine.

Yes, you heard us. Brunch. That abject non-meal tucked indecisively between breakfast and lunch. Derided by chefs ("A dumping ground for the odd bits left over from Friday and Saturday nights" wrote professional sourpuss Anthony Bourdain). Blamed for the general breakdown of civilisation across Manhattan each weekend, largely thanks to premixed all-you-can-drink mimosas ("Brunch is for jerks", went one typical headline in the normally sober New York Times).

But we here at Good Food are prosing an amnesty on brunch hatred. Lay down your guns and get with the life-affirming spirit of brunch, a concept first proposed by English writer Guy Beringer in his 1895 essay Brunch: A Plea. "Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting," he wrote. "It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week." It was also, he admitted, an excellent response to the Sunday morning hangover.

We accept it's a good rule of thumb to avoid portmanteau food words (see: spork, cronut), but the bastard child of breakfast and lunch is being raised to new levels of fabulousness by these Melbourne venues. Just add booze. Enjoy.

Eggs benedict at Entrecote.

Eggs benedict at Entrecote. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

Entrecote

The vibe Luvvie fest (air kissing optional).

The French concept of "service continu" makes this so Frenchy-so chic joint opposite the Botanic Gardens ground zero for the southside's ladies and lads who brunch. It's pistols at dawn over the prime real estate on the park-facing terrace.

Eat this How French can you get? Croque-monsieur, brioche French toast, a full-onslaught breakfast burger with smoked bacon and fried egg, or les oeufs any which way.

Drink this Start with a Berocca – no joke – before heading on to a coupe of Mumm Champagne or a breakfast martini of marmalade vodka, Contratto aperitif and lemon.

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Can you book? No.

Good for Being seen in your latest designer outfit.

131-133 Domain Road, South Yarra, 03 9804 5468, entrecote.com.au

Giant Steps salumi.

Salumi board at Giant Steps. Photo: Supplied

Giant Steps

The vibe Easygoing country charmer.

Not strictly in Melbourne, nonetheless this epic brunch venue is well worth the one-hour drive to the Yarra Valley. The glass, steel and timber edifice, until recently known as Innocent Bystander, dishes up a mean all-day menu at weekends – as you'd expect from a multitasking joint with hardworking wood-fired oven, bakery, coffee roastery, cheese room and wine tasting.

Eat this A breakfast calzone of ham, mushroom, Yarra Valley feta and fried egg; salumi including jamon iberico and Blackmore's wagyu pastrami; baked eggs with tomatoes, chorizo and white beans.

Drink this Italian-leaning bubbles – moscato and prosecco – a Bloody Mary with chilli vodka, a G&T with local hero Four Pillars gin and Fever Tree tonic, or an emergency pick-me-up espresso martini.

Can you book? Yes.

Good for The start to a Yarra Valley cellar door amble.

336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville, 03 5962 6111, giantstepswine.com.au

Scallop siu mai and?ox cheek potstickers at Gingerboy, Melbourne.

Scallop siu mai and ox-cheek potstickers at Gingerboy, Melbourne. Photo: Supplied

Gingerboy

The vibe Antic Asian cafeteria.

Bottomless Sundays at Teage Ezard's twinkle-lit upmarket hawker joint take their cues from the great brunch cities of the world, including Los Angeles and New York. And indeed you can similarly spend most of the day in pursuit of brunch perfection.

Eat this Ezard's pan-Asian flavours pack plenty of punch, whether it's scallop siu mai with XO chilli dressing, duck larb with lotus and pomelo, or sticky rice with chicken and lap cheong.

Drink this The banquet package includes bottomless Chandon, either straight up or made into a yuzu bellini or mimosa. Or head over to the cocktail list where lemongrass, lychees and kaffir lime steer the alco-ship.

Can you book? Yes.

Good for Anyone looking beyond traditional yum cha.

27-29 Crossley Street, Melbourne, 03 9662 4200, gingerboy.com.au

Roasted mushrooms and polenta at Higher Ground.

Roasted mushrooms and polenta at Higher Ground. Photo: Supplied

Higher Ground

The vibe Beardy Brooklyn warehouse

It's no surprise Melbourne's cafe kings do a mean brunch menu at their latest, and probably their greatest, venue in an upcycled historic electricity station at the Belfast end of Melbourne.

Eat this Avocado smash raised to high art (it's all in the plating, dear); roasted and pickled mushrooms on soft polenta with hazelnut and sourdough crumble.

Drink this Breakfast cocktails find the right balance between the yin and the yang. Try Four Pillars gin with cucumber and celery-based green juice, or Archie Rose vodka with beetroot juice, apple and celery.

Can you book? Only weekdays, for groups of six or more between 7am and 10am.

Good for Wearers of tatts, beards and beanies. Apple Mac optional.

650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, 03 8899 6219, highergroundmelbourne.com.au

Salmon and potato blini at Kirk's Wine Bar.

Salmon and potato blini at Kirk's Wine Bar. Photo: Darrian Traynor

Kirk's Wine Bar

The vibe Melbourne's 6th arrondissement.

When brunchtime hits there are few better pieces of real estate than this sunny corner spot channelling a whole heap of classic European style. The lane-side terrace is perfect for people watching, while the quirky, intimate interior will steal your heart and deliver it to the northern hemisphere.

Eat this Smoked salmon, potato blini and fried egg make an excellent menage a trois. There's gnocchi with spring vegetables, mozzarella and pinenuts; pepper steak with celeriac remoulade; or simply get down with some cheese from stablemate Spring Street Grocer.

Drink this You can go the virtuous road with their cold-pressed juices but the grape rules supreme, whether it's boutique local producers or interesting Old World drops – or split the difference with a long drink such as Pimm's No. 1 cup.

Can you book? No.

Good for Parisian reveries.

46 Hardware Lane, Melbourne, 03 9600 4550, kirkswinebar.com

Brunch that packs a punch: Chicken and kaffir lime scotch egg at Magic Mountain Saloon.

Brunch that packs a punch: Chicken and kaffir lime scotch egg at Magic Mountain Saloon. Photo: Pat Scala

Magic Mountain Saloon

The vibe Bawdy bacchanalian brunch.

It's associated more with late nights and DJ tunes than early mornings but MMS kicks off from 7am in a room that's just as winning in broad daylight – and the Thai-influenced food from Karen Batson is very good indeed.

Eat this You can swing sweet (roti bread, almond butter, grilled banana and condensed milk); comforting (coddled egg and chicken ball congee); or head directly to something that'll put hair on your chest (beef basil fried rice with fried egg and heaps of hot sauce).

Drink this Champagne every which way: the Buck's Fizz is a jazzed-up mimosa with Grand Marnier and pomegranate, while the Spearhead goes floral with Absolut Pear, elderflower liqueur, and pear nectar.

Can you book? Yes.

Good for Injecting firepower into your day; an apres-nightclub pitstop.

62 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, 03 9078 0078, magicmountainsaloon.com.au

Marion wine bar in Fitzroy.

Breakfast wine at Marion in Fitzroy. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Marion

The vibe Studiously relaxed (also see: loafers with no socks).

Marion is locked in the collective consciousness as an after-dark proposition, but weekend brunch (8am-11.30am) shows another side to Andrew McConnell's pitch-perfect wine bar.

Eat this Asparagus omelette with tarragon and pecorino flies the flag for seasonality; merguez sausage (from McConnell's butchery Meatsmith) with baked eggs and shanklish goes gutsy. Also headline-worthy are the Lune croissants (with smoked ham and gruyere, or cultured butter and hibiscus and rhubarb jam), the only Melbourne venue stocking the cult bakery's swoon-worthy pastries.

Drink this Go brunch classic with a mimosa, Bloody Mary or Champagne – or maitre d' Andrew Joy can prescribe an appropriate breakfast wine.

Can you book? No.

Good for An easy start to a Gertrude Street shopping expedition.

53 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 03 9419 6262, marionwine.com.au

Persillade.

All-day brunching: Persillade in East Melbourne. Photo: Eddie Jim

Persillade

The vibe Bright and breezy garden party.

East Melbournites are a populace blessed with gardens but not places to eat, so they ought to be damned happy Persillade came to the 'hood. A leafy paean to the dark arts of brunching, the all-day menu has a sophisticated slant and the booze starts flowing from 9am. Classy.

Eat this Breakfast runs headlong into lunch with pumpkin and sage waffle with pumpkin jam, blood sausage, poached egg and spiced pepitas; or miso butter toast, dashi scrambled eggs and crab-stuffed fried zucchini flower.

Drink this The owners make all-natural wine in their Preston garage – at the moment it's a merlot that could pass as a pinot noir ("It's super light with short skin maceration," says Aidan Raftery) and there's plenty of other new-school action on the list.

Can you book? Yes.

Good for Denizens of postcode 3002; anyone heading to the MCG.

150 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne, 03 9078 4056, persillade.com.au

Tira-mi-sally at Saigon Sally.

Tira-mi-Sally at Saigon Sally. Photo: Supplied

Saigon Sally

The vibe Fun dining in a rockin' joint.

The Sunday-only Vietnamese-style bottomless brunch at this backstreet Windsor hotspot has recently been beefed up with an oyster bar. Hurrah. Brunch here is done yum cha style, from midday to 4pm, with booking times in two-hour blocks.

Eat this Oysters, of course. Saigon chilli crab (soft-shell crab with black bean, lime and chilli); sticky lamb ribs going sweet, sour and aromatic with star anise, mandarin, oyster sauce and fennel; tira-mi-Sally (macaron, Vietnamese coffee parfait, condensed milk and peanut brittle).

Drink this Beer Hanoi, the most refreshing beer in town; endless bubbles.

Can you book? Yes.

Good for Bright young flavours for bright young things.

2 Duke Street, Windsor, 03 9533 2342, saigonsally.com.au