Melbourne is known as the market hub of Australia – and when you’re brandishing the likes of Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne Market, it’s easy to see why.
However, with quality comes territory – each market is uniquely renowned for a particular purpose. Queen Victoria Market might be best known for its hot jam donuts, or the certain nostalgic response it elicits at any one of its numerous Night Markets. South Melbourne Market’s legacy will unquestionably be the cherished ‘South Melbourne Market‘ dim sims and spring rolls they so, very, graciously imparted on us in 1949.
However, in the heart of Chapel St resides Prahran Market, known as the market for the finer foods in life – with its impressive array of European delicatessens, pâtissiers, cheesemongers and self-proclaimed ‘dip specialists’. Fortunately, cheeseboard plans are not a prerequisite for a satisfying meal here, as these four impressive lunch places can attest:
1. Q Le Baker
Sourdough is often featured at the dinner table next to a hearty soup or a creamy spring vegetable dip, but for Q Le Baker, sourdough is the main course.
For lunch, the sleek bakery-café amalgam offers crusty deli sandwiches and rolls for the hard-toothed.
Also on offer are Q Le Baker‘s trademark sourdough olive fougasses – an interesting, herb-dashed mix between pretzel and pita.
Truthfully, market-made coffee can be hit or miss. In this case, the coffee was simple and smooth upon swallow – a resounding hit. Be sure to wash down the inevitable crumbs with a piping hot ‘cuppa’ from this hidden gem.
2. Sweet Greek
For those inclined toward a quick, sugary fix, Sweet Greek is a logical recommendation.
Oversized cupcakes, chunky rocky road bricks (because ‘brick’ is the only term that seems to do this sweets size justice) and baklava are all sensible, saccharine snack options.
Refreshingly, Sweet Greek‘s savoury menu opts for more traditional, crafty Greek dishes over easy-sells like souvlaki.
Oven-roasted cauliflower, yemista (rice-stuffed peppers), moussaka and a dazzling, rainbow assortment of salads are exhibited proudly throughout the store for your ocular enjoyment.
3. Anatolia Gozleme Kitchen
Nowhere else in Melbourne can you find the traditional Turkish household kitchen so immaculately replicated, but through Anatolia Gözleme Kitchen.
From the entertaining Turkish sprays issued by the magnificent, terlik-footed owner Çiğdem, down to the cosy, oil-licked classics of Asia Minor: this may just be the most original cafeteria in the city.
Beyond their namesake (their spinach and cheese gözleme is certainly worth a try), Anatolia Gözleme Kitchen is one of the only places in Melbourne that offers authentic, home-stylefırında köfte patates (lamb kofte & potato casserole) and taze fasulye (braised green beans with tomato or, as they call it, ‘vegetarian bean casserole’) – both staples in the Turkish diet.
However, you’ll want to visit as early in the day as possible in order to nab a seat for your dish on a bed of their famous pilav (rice).
4. Maker & Monger
Reverting back to the comically large, we have Maker & Monger – an elegant cheese cart that specialises in giant, stringy toasties and raclettes.
With four variations on the ever-reliable grilled cheese (All American, Pimento, Fondue and Fondue Special), deciding which one to get might present a lonely conundrum.
Drizzle some hot sauce into your toastie for an perfect dollop of comfort value.
There’s nothing in Melbourne that’ll give you a wonderful dining experience, delicious food and a warm atmosphere, quite like the Prahran Market. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be hard pressed to desire anywhere else.
Photos supplied by author.