Posts Categorized: Eat streets

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 »

The essence of Saint Crispin on Smith St

Flinders Island lamb, nettles, radish tops and slippery jacks

A fish dish was the essence of a rockpool. The pullet egg with truffles and mushrooms like a forest floor. It was the evening before opening at Saint Crispin. And the restaurant was already hitting its stride. Chefs Scott Pickett of The Estelle and Joe Grbac, formerly of The Press Club, were working with the kind of seasoned intensity you only find in the world’s best kitchens. Rewind 5 years. Smith Street was all but a culinary wasteland being colonised by The Panama Dining Room and Cavellero, both fresh and casual takes on drink and food. They were the precursors to Gorski & Jones, Hell of the North, Huxtable, Easy Tiger and the soon to come Lee Ho Fook. Back in 2008 Scott Pickett , fresh from The Square in London, was at The Point in Albert Park before leaving to open The Estelle in High St Northcote. What was Albert Park’s loss was a huge gain for Northcote. It’s with no joy I’ve followed the slide of the two businesses that broke ground in Smith St. The once shoulder-to-shoulder packed Panama has had its wings clipped by liquor licensing reducing its hours and patron numbers. Cavellero, despite a reasonably priced list of decent booze, slipped in the face of new competition, a food offering that required work and service that mostly was hipster. What St Crispin offers is a similar idea to The Estelle, high end food that isn’t easily defined by continent or style in a casual and reasonably priced space where two courses cost $50 and three $60 – for now at least. So back to the food, a pared back menu of 4 of each course and 3 sides. Pullet egg, mushrooms, parmesan, goats curd and black rice shaved with truffle was what evoked earthiness and forest floor (with $25 worth of truffle). King salmon, shaved calamari, oysters, squid ink and saffron was the essence of rockpool. Our mains were Flinders Island lamb, nettles, radish tops and slippery jacks; and Veal cheek, hand rolled macaroni, miso eggplant and almonds. Desserts: Chocolate, earl grey, milk and ginger; and, poached rhubarb, burnt custard and blood orange. The old Cavellero kitchen has been upgraded. The booths have been replaced by simple yet stylish banquets as remarkable comparison to the similar Gorski & Jones space next door but one. Like with The Estelle in Northcote, Saint Crispin is a huige… Read more »