Hidden in a side alley off the busy Little Bourke Street is a perfect spot for brunch in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Manchester Press used to be a former gallery, now transformed into an inner-city café with space to spare, unusual for its location.
Owners Issy Shaked and Nir Kalif have taken their experience running Loco Café, another popular brunch destination, and created a must-go (and be-seen) venue for hipsters and students alike. During peak hours, the line to enter can be long but part of the fun is observing the waiting list that is written in chalk on the wall next to the entrance. Every time the names and numbers get wiped off with a wet cloth, there is a collective cheer.
Cyclists may leave their bicycles against the worn, wooden post. Eye candy is abundant, but if no one catches your fancy, there is a large decal of Manchester Press Printers on the old red brick walls, a defunct printing press from which the café gets its moniker; that’s pretty too.
Once you are inside, pause to take in your surroundings: the warm, industrial décor with life-size art prints on the walls; giant contemporary lamps above the espresso bar; bits and bobs that look like they were rescued from scrapyards (and probably were).
Instead of concealing yourself in a corner, sit at one of the many communal tables where you can enjoy the conversations of your fellow diners (otherwise known as eavesdropping) while peeking at what is on their plates. Whatever looks tasty usually is.
The menu is simple at Manchester Press. In lieu of the eggs-and-toast heavy offerings at other brunch cafés, bagels reign supreme here. Almost everything on the menu is paired with these doughy breads.
Their signature bagels are made in-house daily; is there anything like the soft, chewy bite of a freshly baked bagel? Here you have a choice of plain, wholemeal, sesame seed or poppy seed bagels.
A firm favourite is their BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) bagel; the simple and fresh flavours are heightened by a cranberry and plum relish topping. Adventurous diners can try a grilled blue cheese bagel served with grapes, roquette and walnuts. No kissing afterwards, please; not unless you are fond of stinky smooches!
We opt for something simple and something more decadent: a toasted bagel with peanut butter and raspberry jam makes brunch absolutely guilt-free, while their 12-hour roasted pulled pork bagel with barbecue sauce and homemade apple slaw may require some hotel gym time later.
Don’t forget the coffee. The flat white at Manchester Press is a revelation…and a reminder why Melbourne is the coffee capital of the world.
8 Rankins Lane Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia
Mon-Fri 7am-5pm / Sat-Sun 9am-5pm