Singer-Songwriter Gretta Ray on Her Fave Pasta Place and and a “Dangerously Good” Sanga Shop

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, my name’s Gretta. I’m a singer-songwriter. I’m 23. I live in Melbourne with my parents, my little sister Holly and our dog Billi.

What do you love about Melbourne?
The culture, the food (which you’ll see from my picks below), the people, the live music scene – which is slowly but surely making a comeback – and the fact that so many of my friends and family are here. Plus, everything is close. It’s very easy to get to and from places.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
I have two. I love taking people to Tiamo on Lygon Street – I’m a massive pasta fan. I highly rate their gnocchi. I also really love Viet Rose on Brunswick Street. I feel like it’s my comfort restaurant. I always order the seafood laksa with combination noodles when I visit.

It’s your birthday – how do you spend it?
Oooh, it’s actually my birthday soon (maybe I’ll plan it right now)! I would definitely eat breakfast out, and if I were going to the city I’d either eat on Degraves Street or at a cute little laneway cafe called Brown Sugar. For dinner I’d probably go to Lygon Street, because even if Tiamo is booked out there are many excellent Italian restaurants close by. Then I’d go to Brunetti for cake.

Where do you go for breakfast or brunch?
I love A Minor Place. If I were getting takeaway, I’d 100 per cent go to Take Two and order the salmon and cream cheese bagel. I live in a very good area for breakfast.

Do you have any favourite shops?
There’s a very cute stationery shop that I’m obsessed with called Milligram, and I spend a bit of time at the grocery at Ceres in East Brunswick. They have really great toasties and a lot of fresh produce. I used to buy jars of their kimchi during lockdown, and my whole family would eat it. We’d run out so quickly because it’s so good.

When you want to impress someone, where do you take them?
I take them to the Merri Creek because it’s my favourite place and very personal to me. Or the NGV, because there’s always a beautiful exhibition going on.

What’s one of the city’s most underrated spots?
Oh my gosh, any little bakery on Smith Street that sells banh mi is hugely underrated. I fail to recall the names of these bakeries but I always have a life-affirming banh mi whenever I go to one in Collingwood. Also, Kelso’s on Johnston Street – it’s dangerously good.

What’s your favourite weekend getaway?
I love the Great Ocean Road, and have been fortunate enough to travel there regularly since I was very little. I spend a lot of time in the area just where that road begins – in Anglesea and Aireys Inlet. There is nothing more grounding than walking along the clifftop to the lighthouse in Aireys and looking out at the sea.

What makes Melbourne a better place?
I really love the State Library – it’s one of my favourite buildings. When I was in high school, I would study in the reading room all the time and imagine what it would be like to sing in it. It’s so quiet, yet the acoustics are amazing.

Do you think there is an essential Melbourne song?
My favourite Melbourne song of all time is Divorcee by 23 by Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set. It references Brunswick Street in the opening verse, which I’ve now also done in my own music.

Gretta Ray is touring Australia from June 2–18. You can buy tickets for her Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Fremantle shows now. Her Melbourne gig at the Corner Hotel is sold out.

@grettaray
secretsounds.com

“My Melbourne” is a regular column discovering the places and spaces that captivate and entice Melbourne’s well-known residents.

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