Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Beyond belief

I was bemused when the café at the base of the HM@S apartments, whose penthouse is currently asking a price beyond belief, was renamed from Bellezain to simply Boat. But that was considerably more creative than the frankly dismal name chosen for the latest incarnation of what was, until recently, the charming Harold Holt espresso lounge.
Staking a, not very, bold claim to be "Beyond Basic", the self declared speciality (or specialty if you prefer) for this beach-facing café is their coffee; which is a considerable disservice to the, clearly accomplished and ambitious, chef. With a wide selection of beans, some heavyweight brewing equipment and an enthusiastic barista, the coffee's certainly not basic, but how does it compare to the best of Bay Street?

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Underpass

It's hard to imagine a less contentious canvas than the dingy expanses of concrete that lie beneath Graham Street's 1970's overpass. Now a joint state and council funded project has seen the drab tagging replaced with the sort of street art so conspicuously rare elsewhere in the area.
The project has seen artists like Searious Jones collaborating with local residents to bring much needed colour and interest to the bridge over the 109, and all for a cost not that much higher than the annual cost of graffiti removal from the site.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Bertie's best

The irony of Matilda Bay's latest billboard, drawing attention to their rather excellent (if you can find it) brew bar, is rich. As thanks to the corporate know-it-alls that have already seen Australia's original craft brewery unceremoniously dragged from Perth to Dandenong to Port Melbourne, come March next year Bunnings will revert to being the best thing about Bertie Street.
It seems that the award winning Alpha Pale Ale, like the rest of their range, is destined to arrive by big red boat having been brewed at Hobart's mega-brewery; thus consigning Matilda Bay to be just another fake craft badge applied to CUB's yawn-worthy portfolio. And of course it means the loss of our very own local brewery, make the most of this little hidden gem whilst you still can.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Urban urchins

Port (and South) Melbourne received the attention of the RACV last month, courtesy of their magazine's regular feature on urban wedges to explore. "A pocket of Melbourne between the city and the bay that never dates" is the preamble into a colourful sprinkling of some of the neighbouring suburb's well known (to locals) gems, that thankfully avoids repeating the "heart of wellness" slogan.
According to the 2011 census, the under 15's make up only 12.4% of the Port Melbourne population (versus 19.3% nationally). Nevertheless, another dominant retail area seems to be emerging to join the hair salons, nail bars and bike shops on Bay Street, with Little Urban now joining the likes of Buckets & Spades, Junior Republic, Tiny Polkadots and Cotton on Kids. Hopefully the parents are a little friendlier to the staff than they are to parking officers.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Art crush mob

The vacant lot opposite Matilda Bay brewery currently provides a rare Port Melbourne street art canvas, with this not too taggy piece appearing since the Google Street View car last drove past in April.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Southern fox

Slowly, but surely, the near total domination of great pubs North of the Yarra is dwindling. And a surprising number of those Southern upstarts are conveniently congregating in a small area between South Melbourne, Port Melbourne and Albert Park. The latest arrival is particularly symbolic as it is the remote outpost of one Collingwood's best.
The Fox has moved into the, classy but troubled, Montague that overlooks one of Melbourne's more peculiar junctions. And, to the raised eyebrows I'd wager of nearby St Vincent Place residents, they've brought a pool table, a whopping twelve taps of craft beer (and a further eighty bottles) ... and a grouse pub grub menu that deftly satisfies both the parma appreciators and vegos/vegans of the world. It feels a world away from the its Northern brother's rooftop outlook over the Eastern highway, yet somehow its inherited claret red walls and homely carpet fit this Fox very warmly.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Room 101

Having done their part in the ritual humiliation of the English soccer team, Italy themselves bowed out of the World Cup ... with a little help from Mick Jagger. Which must've hurt, at least as much as a shoulder bite, at number one hundred and one Bay Street where, everywhere you look, there's reminders of the heritage of Port Melbourne's latest in a long line of pizza parlours.
Despite The London's rather excellent transition to Middle Eastern cuisine, there's still a lot of local competition in the melted mozzarella stakes. Fortunately the pizza at Bay 101, though not wood-fired, is undeniably authentic; the thin, yet airy, dough up there even with the recently opened Albert Park branch of legendary D.O.C. And their cheeses are far from one-dimensional either with tallegio, provola, asiago and fontina all on offer alongside a similarly authentic range of cured meats.
The wall of customer graffiti has now gone, replaced by black and white images of Vespas, supplanted by shelves filled with San Marzano tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, and seemingly exclusively Italian wait staff. And along with the superb patisserie counter at Noisette opposite, their chilled display unit makes the beach end of Bay Street resemble a certain cake-laden stretch of St Kilda. However, despite the tempting delights, it's hard to resist the call of the huge tubs of Nutella used to make their delicious sweet Calzoncino

Monday, 30 June 2014

State route 30

It is now possible, thanks to Google's recent addition of historical imagery to their Street View, to step back in time and see how Bay Street (aka State Route 30) has evolved since 2007. Though not as dramatic as this scene from WA, the change in sky-line resulting from the Bianca complex is pretty stark.
The time lapse shows the gradual replacement of cafes like Bay Treat Cafe, the Fergusson Plarre Bakehouse and Tallship Cafe with today's coffee heavyweights. It also a reminder of some of the chains that decided to move on from this suburb; like Pepe Jeans, Readings and Urban Burger. But it's the colourfully named independent stores like Fat Zap, Shoe Fetish, Boils and Kinki Koko I think I miss the most.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Inflationless

In the first year after I started my highly scientific annual comparison of grocery prices there was a fair degree of change, but since then the price of tins of Whiskas has remained surprisingly static. The relative pricing of these supermarkets and servos too has managed to remain the same for a full five years now...
But then as pet related stories this week go, no amount of statistical wizardry was ever going to topple the tale of adventurous Frank; a very worthy successor to Ricky Nixon as Rouse Street's most infamous character.