First, cafés served food on bread boards. Then, bars served drinks in jam jars. Now, Melburnians have become so accustomed to receiving a meal or beverage in an unusual vessel or container that we scarcely blink at the absence of plates or glasses. These are brave new times we’re living in, and the hipster train has careened off course down an Insta-worthy track made out of bits of raw wood and cafeteria trays.
Despite a popular #wewantplates movement building online, we found it pretty easy to round up 8 of Melbourne’s best (or worst) plate-free food and glass-free drinks. Without further ado, please raise your deconstructed latte in an ironic toast to Melbourne’s best food and drinks in unusual vessels.
Kiss & Tell Eggs | Stepping Stone
Fancy an order of boiled eggs and toast soldiers with a side of avocado, bacon, chutney and relish, all cosied up in a repurposed egg carton? Stepping Stone, a ‘concept’ café in South Yarra that tests out new ideas by Melbourne restaurateur Clare Hu, has got you covered.
The controversial brunch item has caused a stir since the café opened late last year, but hey, in our internet-obsessed world, all press is good press, right? And before you start to stress that there are health code-related reasons why you can’t reuse egg cartons to serve food, relax. They’re specially made from sustainable sugarcane packaging, and apparently, as well as being cute, they provide a fresh spin on the farm-to-table movement.
Bathtub Gin | The Noble Experiment
‘Rubber ducky, you’re the one, you make gin time so much fun…’ As well as being served in a mini ceramic bathtub, the Bathtub Gin at The Noble Experiment comes with a little rubber ducky floating on top of spiced rhubarb ‘soap suds’. Made from a generous splash of gin, citrus, cranberry bitters, Lillet Rose and lemon syrup, the Bathtub Gin is topped with spiced rhubarb and pink grapefruit foam. Like a good ramen, you should just slurp it up from the sides of the bowl, rather than messing about with a straw.
Avo Luxe 2.0 | Chez Dre
Forget your average avocado smashed on toast and sprinkled with feta. The Avo Luxe 2.0 at Chez Dre, which we’d like to nickname the iAvo 2.0, comes in a glass jar and resembles a layered trifle. Let us explain.
A layer of avocado hummus is topped with whipped goat’s cheese which is then topped with hazelnut dukkah and another layer of spiced nuts and seeds. Two slabs of grilled sourdough sit alongside the little jar. It’s avo, but not like you know it, and you can potentially repurpose the glass jar as a coffee cup for that house you’ll never own.
Steamed Mussels | Cirelli & Co
Ever dreamed of eating mussels out of a bowl made of bread? At this cosy Italian restaurant housed in a converted milk bar, your dreams can come true. The kitchen doesn’t cut any corners—rather than simply scooping the insides out of a loaf of bread, they actually bake the bread into a bowl shape. Does that classify it as a super weird vessel? No, but who cares? It’s super delicious.
Anything Alcoholic | The Croft Institute
This is what happens when mad scientists open a cocktail bar: you get drinks served in beakers with syringes and hospital beds near the toilets. Croft is a Melbourne institution for a reason: mainly, that it makes you feel institutionalised, but also because the drinks are delicious.
We recommend trying the signature cocktail, The Experiment, which changes monthly but is always potent and mysterious. If you’re feeling under the weather financially, try to get there before 10pm, or you’ll be hit with a heavy door fee.
Granola Jar | The Bell Jar
The Granola Jar at The Bell Jar combines two hipster evils: it’s served on a bread board, and it comes in a glass jar. It’s delicious, though, and it sure does look pretty. A base of crunchy granola is topped with vanilla yoghurt and a layer of stewed rhubarb, then this order is repeated ad infinitum until the top of the jar. It’s accompanied by a little white ramekin of passionfruit pulp, and goes well with a large latte which is also served in a bell jar—naturally.
The Banderillo | Eau De Vie
Served in a bull’s horn, the Banderillo cocktail at notoriously experimental bar Eau De Vie is not for the faint-of-heart. It combines chorizo-infused mescal, pineapple vinegar, Aperol, lime and habanero bitters to create a drink that will put hairs on your chest and bring out your inner bull-fighter.
If you’re after something a little more delicate, they also serve a Pina Colada-inspired concoction called a Conch Colada in a giant seashell. And of course, if you get sick of hanging out in the Prohibition-era themed cocktail lounge, you can venture through to the Whisky Room secretly hidden behind a large bookcase.
Inca Punch | Lady Carolina
The Inca Punch at this beloved rum and pisco bar comes served in a hollowed-out cocoa pod that looks like someone out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And we reckon Willy Wonka would have knocked back a few of these given they contain exotic incaberries as well as pisco, fruit and chichi morada syrup.
Lady Carolina also does Mexican-style corn on the cob served in pretty copper baskets and twisted metal cones of traditional tortilla chips that are the perfect size and shape to scoop up their creamy guacamole.
Would you maybe rather eat from a plate? Here are 9 fine dining bars you should hit up.
Image credit: Stepping Stone