Nestled into the banks of the Yarra and surrounded by the bustling CBD, Etihad Stadium and Crown Casino, a stay in Northbank puts you well and truly at the heart of the action.
All good days start with great coffee and there’s no shortage of cafes at this end of town. If you want to work up some good karma with your cappuccino, Kinfolk is your venue of choice. Staffed by volunteers, this little cafe with a big heart gives 100% of its profits to charities. If you didn’t know this Bourke Street local was a social enterprise you’d never guess: the space is warm and beautifully decorated and the coffee well and truly stacks up to Melbourne standards. Once you discover its motto is ‘we give a fork’, it’s hard not to love it even more.
If you’re on the hunt for some food with your caffeine, head one block over to Little Bourke Street’s Higher Ground. Sitting in a beautifully converted warehouse, this café-restaurant hybrid offers enormously high ceilings, 160 seats and a large mezzanine level complete with its own bar. Once you stop ogling the interior, turn your attention to the menu where you’ll find carefully elevated staples such as spiced cauliflower scrambled eggs or buffalo yoghurt chia with muddled strawberries, mint and pistachio. The coffee is excellent and, if you find yourself here later in the day, so is the wine list.
For fine dining experiences take a stroll over the Yarra to Southbank, home of Melbourne’s Crown Casino complex. Boasting big names such as Nobu and Rockpool Bar and Grill, the complex is a mecca for those in search of world-class dining. Perhaps the most famous and talked about venue on its books is Dinner by Heston, the widely acclaimed restaurant of creative genius Heston Blumenthal. Expect deconstructed elements, such as the powdered duck breast, uniquely Australian ingredients, including wattle seed, eucalyptus and kangaroo tail, and a little bit of theatre. Of course, restaurants aren’t the only offering at Crown, with numerous bars, a first-rate casino and all sorts of entertainment ready to be enjoyed.
Entertainment of the more boutique kind can be found back over the bridge at Speakeasy HQ, Melbourne’s one and only vaudeville theatre. A somewhat dwindling art, vaudeville refers to a performance made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts. As such, a night here entails cabaret, burlesque – and, for that matter, boylesque – circus, jazz, stand-up and illusion, all in short sharp bursts. It’s not uncommon for around 20 different acts to perform in one night, providing a truly invigorating experience which is best enjoyed with one of the venue’s delicious cocktails in hand.
Of course we can’t do a piece on Northbank without mentioning Etihad Stadium. The enormous venue plays host to hundreds of events each year, from hotly contested games of AFL (undoubtedly Melbourne’s favourite sport) to performances from the biggest names in the music industry. The calibre of events and the enormous attendance is simply further evidence that this neck of the woods is a great place to be.