Friday, 13 May 2016

The brave new colony

It's been a while coming, but finally the doors of Port Melbourne's very own brewery have been reopened to the public. Just like their Bertie Street predecessors, the Colonial Brewing Company started life over in WA, but unlike Matilda Bay they're still an independent brewer with deep roots back in the Margaret River.
With poor old Matilda suffering the ultimate "craft" indignity of relegation to just one of CUB's messy marketing tools, it's encouraging to see the place in fresh hands. They threw a house-warming party to coincide with the start of Good Beer Week, and are aiming to open their bar every Friday night thereafter. I really hope we start to see some of their exiting new beers in our local bars and restaurants the rest of the week. Under the stewardship of the parent Colonial Leisure Group, you can at the very least expect to see their (not at all) Small Ale nearby at the Albert Park Hotel and Lamaro's in South Melbourne.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Didyabringyagrogalong?

If you were passing Station Pier this evening, and thought you were seeing things, don't book your emergency optometrist appointment just yet. For the "New" Spirit of Tasmania was indeed loading up some two hundred "shitbox" cars, with pirate-dressed drivers, on the final leg of their charity rally to Hobart.
Decked out with crazy paint jobs and sporting cheeky team names like Trough Lollies, Two Dicks Outback and Didyabringyagrogalong, the officially sub $1000 cars had driven the road less travelled from Mackay to raise money for the Cancer Council. And with almost $1.5 million banked, it looked like there'd be plenty of well deserved celebrations going on overnight.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Gluten-free organic paleo palace

It's hard to fathom, given the combination of premium pricing and willing customers how Woolies can have failed to turned a profit from their Thomas Dux store here. But with money haemorrhaging from their DIY chain, they controversially closed our store a couple of months back.
That may have made good financial sense in the short term, but in the process they've allowed Sydney based up-start About Life to slide in to the, now established, market. Initial impressions are that "Nature's Providore" are more willing to go the whole hog with the whole gourmet grocer concept and capitalise on demand, particularly amongst high disposable incomer earners, for organic and holistic products. And they've somehow managed to find space too for a café and array of bain-maries offering tempting looking ready-cooked dishes, and salads to rival the Foxes Den across the road.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Turning tide?

Could it be that the vanity tide is finally turning? For a while it seemed that every change of Bay Street business brought with it yet another hair salon or beauty parlour. But the peak of that trend may have passed last year with Belvga taking over from the Secret Stylist.
Continuing the local love affair with pun-based business names, Thyme for Living has moved its boutique homewares and gifts into the almost opposite store, previously occupied by Body Bronze.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Vincent on vincent

To be honest I was never a fan of the bar at the Hotel Nest, as hoards of over-dressed 'beautiful people' seemed helplessly drawn to its overt bling. Which is why it's taken me so long to get round to trying the latest incarnation of the grand hotel which started life as the Windsor Hotel, but now takes its name from the avenue upon which it proudly sits.
However this venue is now run by the same company as the more diminutive Wayside Inn, and it shows in the fantastic array of beer taps, which would not be out of place in Gertrude Street. However Albert Park is very obviously not Fitzroy, and the restaurant that takes up the bulk of the ground floor is in The Graham's price territory. Which is a boon to those happy to eat without white linen, as bar food is excellent.
As supposedly Scott Cam's favourite pub, it's perhaps no surprise that the upstairs featured in the South Melbourne centric TV phenomenon The Block. Downstairs meanwhile is awash with mosaics and marble with only the boxy side room to the bar feeling a bit like the poor cousin. With a near daily happy hour this if without doubt my favourite Albert Park pub.

Beers on tap: Carlton, Peroni, Trumer Pils, Mountain Goat Steam Ale, Two Birds Golden Ale, 2 Brothers Grizz, 4 Pines Pale Ale, Brookes APA, Hawkers IPA & Tooboorac Blacksmith!!
Wine range: $7.00 - $12.00
Happy hour: 5-7pm Tue to Fri
Parma: No
Gastro: Yes
Tradie vs Yuppy: Definitely no hi-vis in here

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Rude awakening

For many it really was a rude awakening on Bay Street this morning, as twenty MFB units battled the blaze at the former Port Melbourne Theatre, closing off a slew of neighbouring streets in the process. Fortunately no-one seems to have been seriously hurt.
I'd already drafted a post about Brew'd Awakenings, the punny Manhattan themed replacement of the Simple Affair café and alternative therapy centre. It had maintained the same cavernous open-brick interior, although with the counter moved to an island in the centre, bizarrely concealing the best tables behind it.
It would be unseemly now to mention how I rated their coffee and food. The one ominous observation that does linger though is how much chunky timber, much of it with their blackened logo burnt on to it, there was. I just hope that the distinctive structure of this heritage building can be saved.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fancy fence

It's a shame in a way that the impressively creative design painted upon this Raglan Street fence didn't sneakily use the official palette of exterior paint colours for heritage houses in this borough (which, incidentally, really ought to be displayed in the paint aisle of Bunnings). It landed the owner in strife with VCAT last year, but then there's many a charcoal grey exterior in Port Melbourne that also flouts the rules, albeit in less extravagant fashion.
IMHO heritage controls benefit communities as a whole more than they do individual property owners and there is risk in making exception, even for well-liked cases, in precedent being set and then later abused, more for financial benefit, than artistic merit. However the only way I can see it being fair for Alex Skopellos to paint over his colourful design, which his neighbours seem to like, is if it's part of a wider clamp down on the slow erosion of traditional street frontages.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Colonising the bay

There's change afoot over at that peculiar pocket of cool centred around Fennel Street. The Salford Lads Club has morphed into the Merchants of Port and, perhaps capitalising on the demise of Matilda Bay, now offers craft beer in addition to the usual cafe fayre.
However movement was today also spotted at the former Cadburys factory, following exciting reports that the brewery is to be revived by a bona fide Western Australian craft brewer in the shape of the Margaret River's Colonial Brewing Co.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Hours of happiness

The Railway Club Hotel made it to #7 in this year's Top 50 pubs according to, the ever frugal, Happiest Hour ... despite not really having a happy hour (also, and more understandably, mentioned is the non-club Railway Hotel at #47).
It got me thinking about local happy hours, and the potential for chaining them together for a cheap Friday night out (The Montague, Prince Alfred, Exchange perhaps?). So may I present Spencer's unofficial guide to Port Melbourne's happiest hours...