Posts By: Ed

The new venues shaping St Kilda

You’ve probably noticed that everything hip that is happening is in Fitzroy, Collingwood or the CBD. And perhaps Northcote or Yarraville. People are also doing things in St Kilda and somebody has to tell the story. St Hotel Imagine what the illegitimate love child of the Royal Saxon and The Prahran Hotel would look like. It would probably be very much like the St Hotel, the reimagined Saint nightclub in St Kilda, which is almost finished and may open very soon. Last week 700 or so local riffraff, venue owners, girls, boys, girls who are boys, girls looking for boys (and daddies) packed in for the opening of the new multi level venue; on the ground floor a Chin Chin leaning Asian restaurant and bar; a club and private members lounge upstairs. The look is concrete, dark steel window frames and raw ply. At least I think the look is raw plywood panels. It may just be that part isn’t finished yet. The central atrium hangs over the restaurant and provides a glassed in balcony for clubbers and VIPs. Upstairs there’s a nifty machine with lockers where you can recharge your phone after a long night on the town. As soon as it’s open properly I’ll report back on the food. Dog’s Bar The good news is that the food has improved and the booze is cheap. The bad news is that the room is still badly in need of a good clean-up. The pasta portions are huge and cost under $20. They are tasty and filling – I could barely finish my bowl – but nothing worth crossing town for. The new manager, Lachlan Sleeman who was last seen in Melbourne running the London in Port Melbourne, has put Estrella on tap and red, white and pink Dal Zotto wines from the King Valley. At under $30 for the equivalent of a bottle, you can’t argue with that. The usual local personalities and colourful characters are back. But in attracting the new upmarket generation of St Kilda locals the Dog’s Bar now has competition. The Nelson What was once Slow Down at Harley Court, and prior to that the local favourite cafe Spuntino, is now The Nelson an exciting new arrival to St Kilda. What the new owners have done is taken a dark dungeon of a room, which was always awkward, and turned it into a light airy… Read more »

What next for St Kilda and the Dog’s Bar?

Dog's Bar

Has St Kilda lost its mojo as a destination or has the rest of Melbourne caught up? As I write this the Dog’s Bar is ten minutes from re-opening (at 4pm October 2 2014) under a new manager and what was Slow Down at Harley Court is now The Nelson, a cool looking rum bar, that opens on October 17 at 4pm I see the story of St Kilda’s decline and potential for rejuvenation as the story of the Dogs Bar, where the former owner operator of 12 years was kicked out for reasons you can read about here. Once St Kilda was the place to be. Circa The Prince with its white leather banquettes was the hottest restaurant in Melbourne. The Melbourne Wine Room at the George was bustling. It has since changed owners twice. St Kilda is currently without Donovans and the Stokehouse, both recent victims of fire. Donovans is closed till after Christmas and the Stokehouse has moved to the city until it can be rebuilt. The Dog’s Bar was once a casual dining destination, but the quality of service and food declined while the rest of Melbourne caught up and became better places to eat and drink. My affair with the Dog’s dates back to my moving around the corner to it in June 2000 after four years in Sydney. On any Friday night four couples from four houses in the street would go there with friends. There may be 10 to 20 of us depending on the night, drinking, eating and smoking. I can remember crisp service, reasonably priced and decent food and booze. And then a year later the brewing giant Lion Nathan bought it. These were the days before you could buy craft beer in a bottle let alone on tap in a pub or bar. Friday night was VB (or Carlton Draught) o’clock until Lion took over the beer taps. Lion Nathan with a loyal beer drinking base in NSW was trying to take the Carlton and United Breweries stronghold of Melbourne by buying up pubs including the Dog’s Bar, Bimbo Deluxe and a few more. They failed and their Melbourne boss David Carruthers, as the story was told at the time, negotiated the Dog’s Bar as part of his exit payment. All continued as normal with Becks on tap which tasted pretty good in 2001. By the time I temporarily left… Read more »