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Opal cheese toastie
Photograph: Supplied/Opal

Five comforting cheesy dishes to get you through Melbourne’s winter

Cheese dreams are made of these – all of them to be found in the City of Port Phillip

By Time Out in association with City of Port Phillip
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There’s a reason so many of us go weak at the knees for cheese. The endlessly versatile food can be humble or fancy, sweet or savoury (or funky), shaved over a steamy plate of pasta or baked into a cake. And when the cold weather hits, cheese becomes an irresistible comfort, particularly when enjoyed hot and melty with a glass of red. Eat your way across these venues doing deliciously cheesy specials for winter.

Let's get cheesy

Opal cheese toastie
Opal cheese toastie
Photograph: Supplied/Opal

Truffled mac and cheese toastie at Opal, St Kilda

This peppy café-bar is an all-day pleaser. They open up bright and early for coffee and sumptuous toasties, before staying open late for fascinating local wines, craft beers, cocktails and snacks. For winter, they’re doing a special truffled mac and cheese toastie that’ll get you carb-loading in the best way possible – think perfectly crisp, buttery golden bread encasing oozy cheese and chewy pasta. Pair with a glass of red and a plate of freshly sliced salami, and you’ve got a winter warmer for the ages.

Cheese fondue
Cheese fondue
Photograph: Supplied/Milk the Cow

Assorted baked cheeses at Milk the Cow, St Kilda

This cheese-lover’s nerve centre combines a fromagerie selling over 180 artisan cheeses with a wine bar where you can nibble away at expertly assembled cheese flights paired with wine, beer, whisky or gin. As the mercury drops, however, there’s one part of the menu rife for exploration – their assortment of lush baked cheeses. Have your camembert cooked with garlic, herbs and white wine, or panko-crumbed and lathered with onion jam. Meanwhile, baked Brie is bathed in a glaze of Cognac, honey and fig, or go the whole hog with raclette cheese melted over seasoned new potatoes, prosciutto and cornichons.

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Monarch Cakes Polish baked cheese cake
Monarch Cakes Polish baked cheese cake
Photograph: Supplied/Monarch Cakes

Polish cheesecake at Monarch Cakes, St Kilda

The Polish cheesecake at this St Kilda institution has been made using the same recipe for 100 years – proof that true classics stand the test of time. Instead of ricotta they use soft quark cheese from Gippsland, brightened with lemon and fully baked until smooth, creamy and aromatic. It’s consistently one of their best sellers, alongside irresistible treats like chocolate swirled kugelhopf and their famed plum sponge. The shop is steeped in history, with many of their traditional Eastern European sweets measured on a vintage scale and sold by weight.

Bala Sanga triple cheese melt
Bala Sanga triple cheese melt
Photograph: Supplied/Bala Sanga

Triple cheese toasted sandwich at Bala Sanga, Balaclava

There’s a brand new sandwich shop in town, and they’ve already won a flock of fans. The folks behind pocket rocket wine bar Pretty Little have opened this side project in the garage out back, serving a snappy list of fresh and hot sangas that hit the spot every time. On a blustery winter’s day you can’t go past their triple cheese toastie, a heady number that combines raclette, emmental, cheddar, confit leek and pickled onion on thick cut light rye. Expect a cheese pull that goes on, and on, and on.

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Shelves and shelves of cheeses
Shelves and shelves of cheeses
Photograph: Supplied/Emerald Hill Deli

Pick your own at Emerald Hill Deli, South Melbourne Market

Alternatively, stay rugged up at home with a delicious cheese platter of your own making. When it comes to sourcing the good stuff, there’s one place at the top of people’s lists – South Melbourne Market’s Emerald Hill Deli, where a full walk-in cheese room will introduce you to all the curdy, crumbly, smooth and sharp varieties you could dream of. For over 30 years owner Maria Totos and her team have guided customers through their 200-strong collection, offering endless samples and thoughtful recommendations based on what you love. There’s no doubt you’ll walk out with favourites old and new after a spin in this magical corner of the market. 

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