Friday 5 November 2010

Queen Victoria Market - lunchtime delights

This is the Queen Victoria Market! Busy! Yummy! Enticing! Exotic! A tyranny of choice! I am lucky enough to work close by. Over the past few months I have been making an effort to walk down there most weeks to shop and while I am there I grab some lunch. So I have taken my camera to record a few of my favourite lunchtime haunts.

Firstly let me give you a little background. I have been going to the Vic Market for years, on and off. I remember first going when I was young and my memories of the food are the jam doughnuts (more about these later). Then as a student before I went vegetarian I discovered the amazing Bratwurst. Later I learned to love the rich cheesy filled croissants at Le Croissants des Halles.

Boreks, Shop 95-96:
More recently I have been a frequent visitor to the Borek Shop. Apparently its correct name is the Mezze Table but I have never seen that name anywhere. This stall does a roaring trade in freshly baked boreks with all manner of fillings. Upon arriving, it is often hard to get near the counter for people flocking around it, waiting for their borek of choice to come out of the oven. Despite that it doesn't take long to reach the front. I often go there when I want something quick.

They don't look very big but I have found that one is quite enough. You can see in the picture that a borek is a Turkish flaky pastry wrapped around a filling. My favourite fillings are spinach and cheese, spicy potato and vegetables, and a chickpea filling. But it if it too much gluten for you, you could just go next door!

Colour of Earth, Shop 97-98, Tel: 03 9329 5708
Next door to Boreks is my new favourite pizza shop. Colour of Earth. I love it because they do all sorts of weird and wonderful bases - and toppings. I have tried the delicious beetroot and pumpkin bases - this is the Provincial above - but I want to feel brave enough to try the seaweed and black rice bases. These bases are all gluten free! The range is so overwhelming, it seems there is nothing you can't find: vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, gluten, savoury, sweet.

Here's another pizza with gluten. Called the Taste of Tuscany, it has a wholemeal base topped with zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, olives, artichoke and cheese. The pizzas are made up in the display cabinet and are then cooked as you wait. They are worth the wait. But if you are feeling impatient, you can buy pizza bases to take home. I have taken the GF white rice pizza bases to my sister who loves them. (More pictures of Colour of Earth at Melbourne Food Review)

Invicta, 76 Therry St,
If you are after food that is neither full of gluten nor carbs, you could do worse than look at Invicta Cafe. I ignored it too long until blogging pointed me in the right direction. I quite like eating on the run while browsing. However there are days it is nice to sit with some reading and eat at table and chairs. Here you can find soup, savoury slices, salads, burgers and cakes.

Invicta is not just vegetarian but identifies vegan and gluten free foods. In fact, you can see a list of every ingredient in the display cabinet. My rice ball above had brown rice, corn, carrot, zucchini, coriander, seaweed, tamari, ginger, lemon, olive oil, rice crumbs and tapioca. It was served with a nutty chutney, green salad, spicy chickpea salad and marinated tofu, seaweed and vegetable salad. Though a bit more expensive than my usual market lunch and the chickpeas could have had a bit more cooking, it was delicious and felt healthy.

I was a bit less excited by the berry tofu cheezecake at Invicta. It was good but the tofu filling was a bit much for me. I did enjoy the berry topping and the base. But I still want to try the GF brownies. Fortunately there are lots of nice other sweet foods at the market. You can always try the cakes at the Queen Victoria Market Cake Shop (Shop 51-54) - I highly recommend the bee sting cake. But here are a few of my more recent loves.

American Doughnut Kitchen, Queen Street
Of course, the classic Queen Victoria Market sweet treat is the jam doughnuts from the American Doughnut Kitchen. Once you have tasted these doughnuts, you will not be amazed that Australians did not embrace Krispy Kreme. There is no competition! It might not look as good as those perfect rings but I can categorically state that I have never met a doughnut that comes anywhere close to this amazing, freshly fried, golden, crisp, sugar-dusted, jam-filled delight.

The queues are often long but it is a great place for people watching. I love seeing the rows of round uncooked donuts lined up in the window of the little van. Then you get to the front of the queue, hand over your money and watch the lady with white jam-stained apron twist closed the top of the paper bag. It is hard to eat these doughnuts without getting sugar over your lips and fingers but, with a little care, you can at least avoid the jam dripping down your front or scalding your tongue. It is only since starting to visit the Vic Market so regularly that I am able to resist their charms.

Dragos, Shop 90-92.
Boreks is the place to go for savoury boreks but if you want to branch out and try some sweet boreks, I highly recommend the cherry boreks at Dragos. They are so generous with the fruity filling that it has got to be healthy!

Herbert Adams Bread Shop, Shop 66-68:
Another fruity favourite of mine that I have become enamoured of recently is the almond and apricot bagel at the Herbert Adams stall. They are chewy, slightly sweet and have fresh juicy chunks of apricot throughout. More carbs than the cherry borek but less deep frying than the jam doughnut!

This post focuses on the lunch offerings but I am often buying my groceries on my visits. I usually buy fruit and veg and bread. The Herbert Adams Bread Shop is my favourite place to buy bread (above). They sell some of my favourite brands such as Irrewarra sourdough. I also have found some wonderful bread at Andrews Bakery (shop 29-30) such a Glicks challah and bagels. At the top of the post is a photo of Diana's Delicacies (shop 45-46) where I regularly buy pesto.

Sometimes I stop for some chocolate or nougat at the above shop (69-70). It is also where I have found sour dried cherries there but the last time I tried to buy them they only had the sweetened kind. If I want to feel more healthy I will buy juice opposite the boreks shop.

Of course the Vic Market is far more than all these places I have discussed above. If you want to know more about the Deli Hall and Meat Market, I suggest you read Lorraine's post which gives a bit more history. I have previously written more about fresh fruit and veg and the Night Market. I have also discovered a booklet about eating places at the market. This covers a few of the places that I don't, including cafes on Elizabeth Street, Victoria Street and the Food Court on the corner of Victoria and Queen Streets.

And for those in the vicinity, I have been informed that the Queen Vic Night Market has moved to Coburg for Fridays in November and is worth a visit.

Queen Victoria Market
Corner Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, Melbourne
Open Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
Check website for opening times
Tel: (03) 9320 5822


  1. I am getting on a plane NOW to Melbourne so I can eat pizza from Colour of Earth. Gluten-free pizzas involving pumpkin and seaweed and black rice? It's like something I would dream about and then feel all tragic when I woke up and realized it was only a dream. Only it's real! But in Australia, so pretty much the same thing. :)

  2. Great post, Johanna! I think I've been to the Vic Markets less than a handful of times since I moved to Melbourne almost 3 years ago! Do you find the fruit and veggies cheap? Do you know if those jam doughnuts are vegan?
    And thanks for the heads up about the Coburg Night Market. I think we might go for a look next Friday!

  3. Ohh yum!! I am a regular to the borek shop but didn't know about some of the other places!! I may have to make a trip today!! :) great post!! Ash

  4. Thank you J-lady! :D :D This is *perfect* timing, seeing as I just booked a quick trip to Melbourne for next month! (Particularly as you highlighted a chocolate place ;) ) I'm sad that the tofu cheezecake wasn't nice, though. I've been wanting to try vegan cheezecake for ages, but might hold off at Invicta!

  5. I want to shop and eat lunch at Vic Market! Never heard of boreks before but they sure do sound tasty. The tofu cheesecake looks wonderful--just curious, what didn't you like about it? And oddly, we Canadians haven't embraced Krispy Kremes, either. I remember a shop opened about 3 years ago near us, and for the first week, the line was around the block. They closed within 6 months for lack of customers (nobody really liked them once the novelty wore off). Apparently they are much greasier and much sweeter than our "native" Tim Hortons donuts. Now I'm wondering how Tim Hortons will do in the US (they've just begun to branch out there).

  6. i loveee vic market. It's so full of characters!

  7. Wow - that looks like JUST my kind of market! Great review - really gives a flavour of the place and the food.

    If I ever have the good fortune to be in Melbourne, I'll be going straight there :)

  8. I've just had supper but having read this am feeling hungry all over again. I remember the Victoria market well - we were well impressed with it, but I'm not sure it was quite as good then as it is now.

  9. Fun post! I like the look of the Colour of Earth pizza - will have to check that out. I like the Noisette fig and apricot loaf which I think also comes from the Herbert Adams shop - it is exxy, but lasts for breakfasts for a week and is both filling and tasty.

  10. *sigh* I wish we had something like that in Canberra. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the queen vic markets - and always seem to spend waaaaay too long ogling all the yummy treats when I visit!

  11. Am a total convert to Queen Vic.

    Prahran, which is closer, just isn't anywhere near as good!

  12. I think every Sydney sider has got to feel a twinge of envy when they visit the Queen Vic markets as we have nothing like that here. There are weekend markets but not something permanent like this!

  13. Oops! My "plane to Melbourne" comment was just wishful thinking... I doubt I'll ever make it to Australia. But if I ever do, Colour of Earth will be my first stop!!

  14. Thanks Scrumptious - oops I got a bit literal and was all excited that you were coming to melbourne - just wishful thinking I guess - maybe one day - am sure you would love the pizzas

    Thanks Tahn - there is a whole range of vegies - you can find them cheaper than the supermarket or better quality - not always both at once - and you have a great range of organics too - the beauty is that if you don't like one stall you move to another - I love the choice. Am not sure about if the donuts are vegan but would be worth asking at the van. Will look out for you if I get along to the market - I am hoping to get there one week!

    Thanks Ashwee - it has taken me a while to discover all the good food there - I couldn't believe it took me so long to find Colour of Earth (only this year) when I have been going to Boreks next door for years

    Thanks Hannah - would love to see you at the market - or in Melbourne - am sure you will have a great time - the tofu cheesecake tasted too much of tofu - not as good as the ones I had at the recent vegan bloggers bbq - but I need to try more invicta desserts - if only there wasn't such a tyranny of choice at the market

    Thanks Ricki - I think Krispy Kreme is all about marketing not taste - I've never liked them so am not surprised that once they novelty wears off they aren't that popular. Now if Tim Hortons opened a branch in Melbourne it might be a different matter :-) And yet boreks are great - I love middle eastern pastries

    Thanks Anh - yes the characters are great - lots of colour and passion

    Thanks A Forkful - hope you will have the good fortune to visit the Vic Markets one day - they are a foodie's dream

    Thanks Choclette - it maybe that with many return visits to the vic market I have discovered a lot more than you could ever hope to on one visit - I couldn't have eaten/seen all this one just visit

    Thanks Cakelaw - am not sure I have tried the noisette fruit loaf but I do love a good dense fruit loaf so will check it out

    Thanks Lisa - I grew up thinking every big city had a vic market - wish this was true!

    Thanks Lucy - I haven't spent a lot of time at the prahran markets but they are certainly smaller - the Vic Markets have so much choice

    Thanks Lorraine - I was really shocked when I read your comments on your recent vic market post about sydney not having anything like it - I guess our cities just have different food histories (after all we had three other markets that have now closed and become car parks and hotels and the like - I guess sydney's markets didn't survive the pressures of progress)

  15. Wow what a fabulous foodie market. I'm so jealous and so impressed at the wide range of exciting food on offer and all the different dietary choices. Looks amazing

  16. I love Vic Market too. I haven't been in a while, must get back there soon. The seaweed and black rice pizza sounds interesting, want to try that, thanks for the heads up. I cooked some black rice recently, was okay, need to tweak the recipe a bit.

  17. Thanks Katie - it is a foodie's dream - in fact there are even quite a few foodie tours and I think cooking classes on offer there

    Thanks Deb - have never come across black rice - sounds interesting - and I hope you get back to the vic market soon

  18. I can report the black rice pizza is delicious. But it doesn't really taste of anything too much, there are a few pieces of rice in the pizza dough. So having eaten one of their pizzas, am going to have to go back and try more, yum!!

  19. The American Doughnut Kitchen is now a second generation business still being owned by the sons and daughter of the original partners. We often have customers from interstate and New Zealand purchasing doughnuts on there way to the airport for thier flight home. We can now be found on facebook where you can leave your comments.
    American Doughnut Kitchen


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