Posts Tagged ‘City’


Coffea Cafe – and castagnaccio

August 2, 2009

Coffea Cake is not exactly a hidden treasure of Melbourne’s hospitality scene.  It holds a proud position on the Elizabeth St side of the Victorian Markets, and does a thriving weekend trade, closing somewhere between 2 and 3pm each day. They sell a selection of  beans which you can also buy ground to take away – the coffee is definitely tasty and worth a try.  But that’s not revelatory news.   So why do I mention Coffea Cafe?  That’s easy.  It’s the Castagnaccio.  Those of you who have tasted it will most likely smile in satisfied agreement.  Those of you who have not tasted – or perhaps heard – of Castagnaccio need to amend this severe life deficiency pronto.

Castagnaccio is walnut flour cake.  Warmed (always ask for it to be warmed) it is like a sticky date pudding without the caramel sauce and with a slightly herbal flavour:  it is made with raisins (or sultanas) and rosemary.  There is no way to describe this sweet adequately.  On paper, unless one is italian and has grown up with it, it sounds like an odd mix of flavours.  But on the plate, it works oh so very well.  Especially with an espresso to accompany.

Recipes exist on the interwebs for making your own, but I recommend trying Coffea Cafe’s freshly baked version as the best introduction to Castagnaccio you could have.  And then you’ll be a convert, just as I and many before me have also been.

519-521 Elizabeth St Melbourne 3000 VIC

Phone: (03) 9326 7388


Play: an unexpected arthouse DVD treasure trove

February 21, 2009

Play is a new/used CD + DVD + Gaming shop at the top of Bourke street.  It’s quite small, definitely unassuming, and not unlike a Dixons in its’ layout. It would be easy to miss, and easier still to dismiss.  When a friend insisted on perusing the shelves I walked in, expecting to indulge them with a quick and bland wander through yesterday’s megaplex hits.  How wrong could a person be?  On the shelves I saw almost nothing but arthouse obscurities, intriguing music documentaries, underground horror and rarely seen overseas television programmes of some note, like Peepshow and The Tudors.  I spied in this shop copies of Passolini’s  Salo (deluxe boxed edition), an early Mike Leigh film ‘Meantime’ starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman (which I must confess I purchased, sorry all),  George Romero’s ‘Diary of the Dead’, an obscure documentary about Joy Division (not ‘Control’) that came out last year, the BBC adaptation of Dostoyevskys’s Crime and Punishment starring John Sim, The Apartment with Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassell… many many more.   I was really very surprised and rather impressed.  

The staff member who served me was very cooperative and helpful, friendly and enthusiastic.  My purchases were very reasonably priced, although it must be warned that some of the collectors editions do become rather more expensive than your average DVD at the larger discount retailers.

The CD and Game selection is currently without comment, as my was instantly drawn to the DVD wall, so this blog welcomes the opinion of readers as to whether these sections of the shop impress as much as the film section. 

There is no website for Play, so unfortunately a visit is your only way of perusing their current stock.  

Contact details:

4/50 Bourke Street

Melbourne VIC 3000

ph 61 3 9650 0652

Open until at least 8pm mon to sat…. check with the store for actual times.


Comics in the city

January 22, 2009


We’ve covered Minotaur – so just a short note about the wee city establishments who have less hustle and haste and more solicitous suggestions for the avid comic shopper.  They may lack size but they concentrate on the ink and word rather than talking keyrings and novelty clocks.  And that’s not a bad thing. 

Comics R Us:  upstairs in Bourke St at no. 220 near Target – it’s a small doorway a little difficult to spot but well worth your effort.  They have a reputation for their friendly and helpful service and from my own interactions with them it’s well deserved: friendly and helpful without being pushy, false or seemingly desperate for conversation, there’s no Comic Book Guy syndrome here.   Indies and established comics all get decent coverage and a small smattering of cased collectibles. Back issues a plenty and are also orderable.

The only criticism I’ve heard of this place is that a comic-collecting comrade from the US who visited said it was annoying that they didnt’ have a ‘new release’ section, instead sectioning the room by publisher.  I tend to agree a little – a section highlighting ‘what’s new’ would be really useful to the dedicated comic fan looking to browse beyond their (unfortunately named) “pull list”.


Level 1, 220 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: 03 9663 8666

They also have outlets in Ringwood and Chapel St, Prahran.

  • Ringwood

112 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood VIC
Ph: (03) 9870 3841

  • Windsor

114 Chapel Street, Windsor VIC 3100
Ph: (03) 9510 1584

Classic Comics – just off Bourke St between Bourke and Lt Bourke near Spring Street, although their official street address is 50 Bourke St don’t look for them on the main drag as you won’t find them.  This place is small. And I mean SMALL.  However it is packed totally full of trade paperbacks and new release comics plus a small amount of figurines.  The staff seem super busy often, processing and cataloguing all the titles they have in the store, but are always happy to make suggestions or discuss your issues/questions.  A little bit more Comic Book Guy in their own passionate opinions on favourite characters and comics but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy obsession.  These guys care.


Shop 4, 50 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Australia 3000
+61 (0)3 9663 7210


There’s quite a comprehensive guide to greater Melbourne’s comic stores available at which is the website for the Melbourne Anime Society… did you know we had one of those? Well now you do. Check ’em out!


Minotaur – comics, books, figurines and a plethora of ephemera

January 22, 2009

If you haven’t heard of Minotaur yet, well, I’m afraid you’re missing what is arguably  Melbourne’s most voluminous slice of geek/collector culture.  Downstairs on Elizabeth St, between Collins and Lt Collins, Minotaur is a heftily sized L shaped emporium of pop-culture.  From the latest comics and graphic novels from Marvel, DC, Wildstorm, Vertigo and a swag of other publishers to Manga and Hentai, novels, biograhies plus art books and erotica, any fan of the popular written word will have a home here at Minotaur.  For the true fan, of course, there are also figurines a plenty of your favourite comic book, film or novel hero – from A Nightmare Before Christmas to Lord of the Rings, Hellboy to Dexter. 

There is really not enough room for me to try to list the gamut of Minotaur’s stock, and they have even more online in their webstore!!!

The main plusses of Minotaur are that it goes further than almost any other store I’ve seen in Australia to cover the entire world of pop culture and its’ ephemera.  Nothing is too silly, too gimmicky, too obscure for Minotaur: from Emily breathmints to Deathnote shoulderbags, Simpsons toothbrushes and Dexter bobbleheads. At the same time they have a huge back catalogue of trade comics and art books for those who are more serious/completist about their fandom.

The main doubts I have about Minotaur is that they are too large and busy to have any care or attention to their customers:  or perhaps they’re just wary of the passion fans have and they know they’ll get stuck for hours on some obscure point about Batman’s costume if they’re not careful.  However, the smaller comic stores do seem to have more of a personal touch than Minotaur.  But if you want to collect not only your favourite TV show, but the resulting comic, or film, or poster, or patch, or novelty gimcrack, or figurine, or spinoff series, or flavoured gum: Minotaur is the place for you.  Most insane at Christmas, on shipment days and sometimes on the weekend.


   Minotaur Entertainment     Phone: +61 3 9670  5414 
    121 Elizabeth Street   Comics: +61 3 9670  5415   
    Melbourne 3000   Fax: +61 3 9670  7670


Shop Opening Hours:
Mon – Wed: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Thursday:  9:00am – 7:00pm
Friday: 9:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm


Fabians Maps – 309 Swanston Street, Melbourne

July 2, 2008

I was all champing and bittish about to write a low-down for the iconic Fabians Maps in Swanston Street, when I found out that nifty culture mag online Three Thousand has just done so a matter of two to three days ago! Rather than resist the obviously robust collective unconscious, we here at Underground Melbourne decided to direct you to their brief but fine coverage of this glorious shop.

What we will add is that Fabians has been in the same shop on Swanston Street for as long as this writer can remember, his haphazard scrawl indicating the maps and paraphernalia located within the dark hall at the back of the shop.  What was once a clothing shop at the front currently stands empty, except for Fabian’s curiously arrayed selection of books and chairs, making a haphazard stab at an Edwarding Drawing Room set from a school play. 

Fabians is a Melbourne institution: as indeed is Mr Fabian himself!  Make sure you drop in and take a look! 

Mon-Fri 12pm-4pm (but not always)

9663 3302




Peril Underground expands CD emporium

June 25, 2008

–break (core) ing news! 

Peril Underground, already featured in this blog, has started having a massive facelift… no mean feat when you’re in the basement with nowhere to go but sideways… The clothing line has definitely sharpened up even more (plus a gussy-up of the actual clothing shelves and layout)  but the big news right now is that Australian gothic/industrial/futurepop importers extraordinaire GUP (Ground Under Productions) have now made a new home for themselves downstairs at Peril, bringing the super-dedicated expertise of Jarod Collard and the outstanding backcatalogue available through GUP in to Peril!  It certainly more than adequately covers what was mentioned as Peril Underground’s weak point: the cd catalogue. 

Just in case you can’t bring yourselves to scroll down: here are the details for Peril again:


 Address: 17-19 Elizabeth St.City: Melbourne

Contact: 03-9614 2040 

Hours: approx 11am  – 6pm daily

Still no website or email address. Although with GUP in the building it can’t be long…



McIvers Coffee Merchants, Queen Victoria Markets, City

May 2, 2008

A quick homage to my favourite coffee grinder: McIvers @ the Queen Victoria Markets. 

A huge range of teas, including some odd herbal teas, plus a highly eccentric array of tea and coffee pots for sale. Some need to be seen to be appreciated but odd shapes, sizes and artwork are promised.

The essential purchase for me at McIvers is the organic fair trade coffee: being socially aware never tasted so good as the Papua New Guinean dark organic fair trade roast.   It is one of the most full bodied, piquant and yet not overly astringent coffees I’ve had the pleasure and luck to savour.

And excellent news for the remote and or the slothful: McIvers are now on line and you can order coffee drect from them via paypal.  It doesn’t have the sensory magic of choosing your grind type and smelling the coffee as it is bagged for you, but certainly provides a solution for those who can’t or don’t make it to town. 

The downside: they don’t serve coffee, just grind it.  You’ll have to wait until you get home to find out how good it really tastes. 


Shop 101/102 Dairy Produce Hall (on Therry St.)
Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne 3000

Ph: +61 3 9329 8911
Fax: +61 3 9600 9078



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