I love Melbourne city. No matter where I turn, there is always another nook and cranny to discover. It is so different compared to Sydney CBD which is usually dead on the weekend because it is more sparse with hot spots scattered all around the suburbs and not easy to get to without a car. On the other hand, Melbourne city is more centered and well connected with tram system, it is absolutely buzzing on the weekend with everyone out shopping, dining, hanging out at cafes, hit the Crown casino or even just hang out at Federation Square; the streets never seems to be empty of pedestrians and trams are frequently roaming through the city.
There are two things you must do while in Melbourne - 1. Check out the cafes hidden in laneways, Degraves Street for instance; 2. Check out the rooftop bars hidden in city buildings.
Have to admit this is also my first time to check out one of the more well known rooftop bars in Melbourne, the Madame Brussels on Bourke Street. Unless you know where you are going, you can easily walk straight pass the entrance and not even knowing there is actually a rooftop bar hidden in this unattractive city building. Led by Melbourne food blogger, Michele (Iron Chef Shellie), Helen (Grab Your Fork) and I follow her through the side entrance next to a restaurant into the building. I don't trust old elevator and decided to take the stairs, which is just as eerie with tungsten lights flickering and vacant office spaces, no sound except our foot steps until we reach the top.
We step through the doorway into the bright sunny rooftop, the noise level instantly raised a few bars higher. We find ourselves surrounded by happy goers, soaking in the warmth of the sun with some holding colorful parasols, sipping on cocktails and having a great time. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day in Melbourne today to catch up with Michele and also Adrian (Food Rehab) who comes and joins us later on.
I first heard about this little eccentric quirky rooftop bar when it was featured on Getaway TV Show a few years back. The only way I can describe Madame Brussels is like stepping into the the fantasy land crossed between Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz.
The indoor parlour is covered in lush AstroTurf with ornamented outdoor (or is that indoor?) furniture throughout. Care to take a stroll down the bricks-paved memory lane inside the parlour which leads you to a pink bar at the back where different cocktails are served, cupcakes inside a glass cake stand are shouting "EAT ME". Would you succumb to temptation and instant grow larger in just one bite?
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Too good of a weather to sit inside and we manage to secure a table on the sundeck outside the rooftop. The menu comes with an extensive list of cocktails and a selection of small bites (think cupcakes, club sandwich and the sorts) for those who are feeling peckish. A reference to a tennis match (or ping pong if you like), the cocktails are available in jugs for two (singles), or four (doubles). It is never too early to chase after some green fairies, absinthe is also available and served with a marvel of art deco tap fountain.
We are of course playing doubles today, and opt for the refreshing Warsaw Mule, a minty cool cocktail of vodka and gingle ale. At $50 for a jug, it is not cheap but we sure having a good match between two Sydney food bloggers and Melbourne food bloggers with interesting conversation and much laughter to be had. I called it a draw. But it is the "ball boys" that get more attentions at Madame Brussels.
Baby pink polo shirt with knitted vest, and flamboyant waiter in terry towelling shorts that gets way too much attention than the Melbourne cityscape, the whole preppy outfits speak for themselves don't you think?
As we are about to leave the bar, another patron comes with a pooch on leash, only then I noticed a dog bowl with water is inside the parlour on the astroturf, just like anyone's garden really. A dog, inside a city building, in a bar, on the roof top?! I suddenly feel like I am in Paris where dogs are allowed in shopping malls and restaurants. That will never happen in Sydney.
Miss Pearls (the owner of Madame Brussels) introduces herself to us as "Madame". You can tell everyone adores Ms Pearls and many have become friends. She loves to entertain and always ready to chat to everyone who walks through the door and make themselves at home. What not to love?
Madame Brussels Level 3, 59-63 Bourke St, Melbourne, Victoria
Tel: +61 (03) 9662 2775
Sunday to Wednesday 12pm-11pm
Thursday to Saturday 12pm-1am