Wednesday, 9 May 2007


I am (un)lucky enough to work at two different ends of town; Spring Street and the legal district. Both bring their own dining challenges. It's hard to find a bite to eat after 4pm in the legal district and unfortunately that's the same time I'm desperate for afternoon munchies. At 4pm around Spring Street people are still enjoying their long lunches and who would blame them? It's becoming quite the dining precinct with newcomers Longrain, Oyster and Gingerboy joining The European, Grossi Florentino and Becco. As much as I love a boozy extended lunch some days I find myself short on both time and cash. What do you do when you only have a one hour lunch break and less than $15 in your wallet? Well read on...


The re-opening of Society is a very pleasing development. Society apparently means people who are fashionable, wealthy and influential so that's the Spring Street egos covered. For us mere mortals compared to the $35+ mains you'll find down the hill at Grossis and Bottega it's exceptional value. Food here is only a whisper dearer than bargain spots Pellegrinis and the Waiters Club but for an extra dollar or two Society offers a sumptuous setting, excellent service and a wider variety of dishes. After work despite protesting I was only after a drink I found myself seated with a little dish of olives and bread accompanied by above average oil and vinegar. No wonder I'm always tempted to stay on here. While it's perfect for a work lunch I also recommend it for post-work drinks and nibblies, romantic dinners and even a morning latte and muffin.

6 tastes antipasto and a glass of bubbly for around $15 per head. Dinner mains $16-35. They used to do lunch specials in $10-16 bracket and hopefully this won't have changed.

23-29 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Ph: 03 9639 2544

Sushi Masa

The Japanese chain on the other side is admittedly cheaper but the staff here are cheerier. It's easy to miss this place but when lunch boxes start from $11 with your main of choice along with miso soup and a salad, you'd better keep an eye out.

Chicken yakitori on rice, miso soup, salad and green tea for $12.10

Sushi Masa
10 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Ph: 03 9662 1322

Shark Fin House

This was the first place The Writer and I ever ate at back in the day when he spent more time on his mobile than talking to me. I'm not convinced it's the best yum cha in town but I'm rather fond of the place. If you have a lunch date this easily falls within the $15 a head range.

7-8 yum cha items and an endless pot of green tea for $15 per head.

Shark Fin House
131 Lt Bourke St, Melbourne
Ph: 03 9663 1555

Red Pepper Indian Restaurant

There's no shortage of cheap Indian restaurants up this end with the recently opened Jaipur Curry Bar sandwiched between Red Pepper and soon to open Green Chilli. In the Jaipur Curry vs Red Pepper debate the latter clearly comes out on top. You may have to fight for a seat but for $8-9 you get 4 pieces of tandoori chicken, garlic naan and salad or a curry and two naans. Both meals come with a free lassi.

Red Pepper Indian Restaurant
14 Bourke St Melbourne 3000
Ph: 03 9654 5714


Little Foodie said...

Mmmm - I'd like sushi now.

Anonymous said...

Is Sushi Masa a chain? Do you know where the others are?

Truffle said...

Little Foodie- I'm having sushi cravings right now too!

Anonymous- The chain I was referring to is across the road and a little further down Bourke Street. It's called something like Sushi Sushi I think and there's also one on Flinders Lane. Another Japanese spot up the Spring Street end is Ito Cafe. Sushi Masa doesn't have the flash decor but it gets extra points for quick service. If you're happy to go up a price bracket perhaps try Kenzan. You'll struggle to find anything under $20 but you get what you pay for.

thanh7580 said...

Good work Truffle. More people need to post about some cheaper eats as you never know where to go for a good quick cheap meal. I should post more cheap eats too, but it just seems so unspectacular compared to the beautiful creations at expensive restaurants.

I'm currently going through a sushi phase and have eaten at so many sushi places recently. Sushi sushi is not too bad for a chain store, a lot better than some small sushi places where the sushi rice is ordinary longrain rice with no vinegar in it even. How can you call that sushi? Its just fish on steamed rice then hahaha.

Mel. said...

Society looks FANTASTIC, because I love antipasto with a passion.
Thanks for the awesome tips, will be sure to remember those.

Truffle said...

Thanh- I agree cheap eats pale in comparison to some of the fine dining foodie destinations. I think we're pretty lucky in Melbourne though with so many reasonably priced restaurants in the city and inner city, compared to other Australian cities anyway.

I've developed a bit of a sushi habit recently too but I keep telling myself it's better for me than most food habits.

Thanks so much Mel. It's a lovely restaurant with really warm staff and excellent service. It's also quite romantic with a really old fashioned European decor. Perfect winter dining spot.

mellie said...

Heard some iffy things about Society pre-renovation, but since then, it appears to have improved! That antipasto platter looks fantastic. Is it a per price head for the platter/bubbles?

And Red Pepper is still on my list of places to try :-)

Truffle said...

Mellie- It really depends on which platter you choose. I think they do a 4 tastes, 6 tastes, 8 tastes and 10 tastes starting at around $10.

Hope you enjoy Red Pepper. I'm going to have to try Laksa Me after your review.

Karishma said...

hi hi - was just looking for the "red pepper" number and I found your blog. you might want to check out :
for more food stuff, in Auckland and around Melbourne :)

Truffle said...

Thanks so much for the suggestion Karishma. Will check it out now :)