HOT: Victoria Hotel, 43 Victoria Street, Footscray

victoria hotel footscray

The Victoria Hotel Footscray has reopened after a transformation from the down-at-heel Harts Hotel thanks to new owners Anthony Hammond (co-owner of the excellent Builders Arms in Fitzroy) with business partner Nick Carter plus Anthony’s wife Jo deFina.

victoria hotel footscray

Much of the dark wood and brick interior has been retained, albeit spruced up a lot. Inside there’s booth seating for groups, smaller tables in the dining room and a small airy internal beer garden.

victoria hotel footscray

The menu by James Cornwall includes classic pub meals as well as some more adventurous gastropub fare.

From the small plates we try the chicken hearts with endive, fig and hazelnuts, the steak tartare and mussels.

The chicken hearts ($14) are not very palatable on their own and are much improved in the same forkful as some fig and endive. The texture of the heart is exactly as you’d imagine too – it’s like eating a small muscle/chewy mussel. It’s an interesting dish without being something I’d be returning for.

victoria hotel footscray

The steak tartare is pretty classic and highlights the quality of the meat $16. None of us can work out what ‘bulldog sauce’ is.

The mussels are the best bargain – the mussels are fresh and fleshy and a $15 bowl can easily be a light main meal.

From the main meals we order the schnitzel ($25) and fish and chips ($24). Both of the dishes are good without being spectacular and could do with some uplifting presentation beyond a plate of beige.

A big tick to their fries, which have their skin on and shaped like they’ve been cut from an actual potato. Industrially-made fries charged at $5+ are my pet hate!

The main meals are all around the $24-$28 mark and only steaks costs more.

Most people don’t go to the pub to eat dessert but in this case the sweets are our meal’s highlight (both $9).

The cinnamon waffle is fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, while the mango soft serve is addictively punchy. It tastes almost like that fake mango flavour you get in Chinese mango pudding.

The chocolate tofu mousse is rich and dense and the chocolate crumb and berries gives the mousse the perfect textural contrast. Share this one unless you want to fall into a food coma.

Victoria Hotel Footscray is an affordable local boozer that the west already loves – but be aware that the staff are still finding their feet. There is only two till points for four sides of the bar, making the wait for ordering food and drinks longer than desired during busy periods. There’s also a minor mixup with cutlery, crockery and water during our non-peak time visit. Not a big deal, and hopefully something that will be quickly ironed out as itbecomes Footscray’s new favourite pub.


Victoria Hotel Footscray, 43 Victoria Street, Footscray

Monday-Wed 4pm-onwards

Thursday-Sunday 12pm-onwards

(food available at all times)

Kids menu – high chairs, change table

 

 

HOT: Meat the Greek, 105A Victoria St, Seddon

meat the greek seddon

Greek food doesn’t get much a look in Melbourne’s west despite the area’s long Greek heritage.  So it’s with some excitement that we try Meat the Greek souvlaki bar in Seddon.

The space is light and bright, with a few Greek flourishes – like the Mati bottles holding the table numbers – without being over-the-top Zorba the Greek.

The menu is simple one-pager of gyros/souvlaki, kids options of smaller servings for only $6, sides and drinks (not licensed). There restaurant’s heroes are the two large spits slowly grilling chicken and pork. Apparently, the Greeks don’t eat lamb in souvlakis so you won’t find a lamb gyro here.

meat the greek seddon

We try the chicken gyros ($9), with chicken freshly shaved off one of the two large spits. The meat is marinated in simple herbs and seasoning and has a smoky crunch to the edges. The souvlaki is large and stuffed with tomato, onion, tzatziki and chips ($12).

If you’re vegetarian then the saganaki pita wrap ($12) is also a winner, with two fat slabs of paprika-spiked grilled saganaki within a pita bread filled with delicious roasted capsicum, tomato and tzatziki. That’s something coming from someone who doesn’t normally like grilled capsicum!

The pita bread used in all the souvlakis is delightfully spongy. Turns out it comes from the small family business Mr Pitta in Thomastown, who supplies all of George Calombaris’ restaurants and other Greek establishments in Melbourne. You can also buy them from Gourmet Deli House at Highpoint.

meat the greek seddon

The chips are Greek style and come out piping hot and generously festooned with feta and oregano ($5.50).

My only gripe is that I hope they get rid of the plastic cups and start using washable reusable cups. Seeing that sort of unnecessary disposable waste brings out the eco-warrior in me.

Meat the Greek is a great way to reintroduce modern Greek cuisine in Melbourne’s inner west. The food is tasty, cheap and filling. We’ll be back!


Meat the Greek, 105A Victoria St, Seddon 90779369

Tue-Sun 11:30-8:30pm

HOT: Toruk – The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Olympic Blvd, Melbourne

toruk

Cirque du Soleil‘s latest production, Toruk – The First Flight, is another unforgettable, magical experience that has to be seen to be believed. I was invited to opening night and highly recommend you get tickets for the show’s limited 2 week run in Melbourne. 

Inspired by James Cameron’s AVATAR, Toruk – The First Flight is set on the world of Pandora 3,000 years before the events of the film. The production combines puppetry, state-of-the-art visuals and lighting, incredible stagecraft and Cirque du Soleil‘s trademark acrobatic brilliance to tell the story of Ralu and Entu, two Na’vi teens who must unite their people’s tribes and save Pandora from destruction.

It’s hard to know who deserves the most acclaim – the performers, the puppeteers, the costume and set designers, or the lighting and multimedia engineers. That’s doubtless a significant part of Cirque du Soleil‘s success since its beginnings in Quebec in 1984 – each element of each show is flawless and contributes equally to the end result.

People who are more familiar with Cirque du Soleil‘s more traditional shows such as Alegria may come to this show expecting a more obvious focus on the acrobats and performers. But, just as the production honours the Na’vi’s co-existence with nature, Toruk – The First Flight also honours the relationship between performers and the sets they inhabit, the costumes they wear and the light that brings their skill to life. 

At times it’s impossible to believe that Pandora is an imaginary world, particularly when stars and swirling constellations flood the arena or pulsing waves of virtual water lap at the audience’s feet. It’s a truly immersive experience, from the enormous trunk of the HomeTree to the lifelike movement of Toruk and other creations. The show also has an app to apparently enhance the interactive experience, though many people missed the announcement about this at the beginning of the performance. 

Cirque du Soleil‘s productions are always special, but Toruk – The First Flight is stunningly executed, honouring its film inspiration but adding to the mythology at the same time. If you get the chance to go, don’t miss out.


HOT Tips:

  • Download the Toruk app before the performance to make the experience even more immersive;
  • To ensure your experience at Rod Laver Arena is an enjoyable one, plan for extra travel and entrance time to the event;
  • As a standard condition of entry into Rod Laver Arena, patrons will be subject to searches, wanding and ticket check;
  • Public transport is the quickest and easiest way to get to and from an event at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, with train, tram and bus options;
  • Due to current works, one city-bound lane and one footpath (Rod Laver Arena side) of the Swan Street Bridge has been closed.  This will cause significant delays for those travelling by car; drivers should allow up to 20 minutes extra travel time.
  • Limited parking is available in the Eastern Plaza car park via Olympic Boulevard
  • show goes for approx 2 hours with one interval.

Toruk – The First Flight by Cirque du Soleil, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne & Olympic Parks, Olympic Blvd, Melbourne

2-12 November
Tickets from $76.35

Tesselaar Tulip Festival 2017 – Giveaway!


The annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival is returning to Melbourne’s magical Dandenong Ranges from Thursday 14 September until Tuesday 10 October 2017. Bring your cameras and your gumboots!

Stroll through 25 acres of gardens and enjoy a spectacular display of more than 900,000 flowering tulips, showcasing 130 different varieties.

While the tulips are undoubtedly the stars of the show, every day different activities and events are happening including children’s activities, live entertainment, delicious food and market stalls.

September 15 – 17 Turkish Weekend

September 18 – 21 Over the Rainbow Week

September 22 – 24 Dutch Weekend

September 25 – Oct 5 Children’s Weeks

September 29 – Oct 1 Food, Wine & Jazz Weekend

October 6 – 8 Irish Weekend


Giveaway!

I have 5 x double passes to give away (children under 12 years get in free) for use anytime during the period of the festival.

To win just follow the instructions below. The competition closes midnight Monday 11 September and winners will be notified by email within 24 hours. Open to Australian residents only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOT: Small Graces, 57 Byron St, Footscray

Small Graces is a bright and cosy Footscray cafe by chef/owner and Footscray local Diego and his partner Bec.

Small Graces‘s menu focuses on seasonal and wholesome food, with a few Colombian flourishes harking to Diego’s heritage. Diego uses ingredients that are ethically sourced with minimal processing. Vegetables feature heavily and dishes can be adjusted for vegan diets or food allergies.

Minimal sugar is used to sweeten dishes. Case in point is the sweet potato waffles ($16) which are accompanied by naturally sweet caramelised banana and not syrup. If you’re concerned the sweet potato flavour is not evident at all – instead the root vegetable gives a solidity and crispness to the waffles. I love the addition of black sesame ice cream too (my favourite ice cream flavour).

Another sweet option from the all day menu is the porridge made with quinoa, tapioca, coconut milk, puffed wild rice, rhubarb and mint ($14). It’s warming and filling, like a hug for your insides, and very pretty to boot.

I’m told by the friendly staff that next time that I should try the house made nut and seed granola. 

The glass cabinet contains daily salads and fresh sandwiches that you can take away. They can also provide catering. 

The bread is by Seddon’s Sourdough Kitchen, eggs come from happy Burd Eggs and coffee is by Kensington’s . Not being a coffee drinker I recommend the Raja chai latte made from real brewed tea and spices ($4.50) and served in custom-made cups by Lisa of Asaka Ceramics. 

And remember if you BYO cup you’ll get a 50c discount on your take away coffee.

Small Graces is a welcome addition to Footscray CBD, which is filled to the brim with restaurants but not very many good quality cafes. 

For other Footscray CBD cafes try Rudimentary.


Small Graces, 57 Byron St, Footscray
M-F 7am–4pm
Saturday 7.30am-4pm
Sunday 8am-4pm

HOT: The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, NGV

 

Fashionistas will absolutely swoon over the National Gallery of Victoria’s newest exhibition –  The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture.

The Melbourne-exclusive exhibition and world premiere is a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior,  one of the most prestigious couture houses in the world.

The exhibition features an exquisite display of over 140 garments from Christian Dior Couture designed 1947 to 2017. They have been sourced from the House of Dior archive in Paris, the NGV Collection and other international borrowings from museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris.

The iconic New Look outfit introduces the show at the entrance…

 

…which then moves to different thematic rooms including works by the seven designers who have played key roles in shaping Dior’s renowned fashionable silhouette: Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Highlights include examples from Christian Dior’s iconic Spring 1947 ‘New Look’ collection which revolutionised women’s fashion in the 1950s…

….magnificent displays of Dior’s signature ballgowns and evening dresses…

… and current contemporary designs from the House’s first female head designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Interspersed within the exhibition are accessories (including headwear by Stephen Jones and shoes by Roger Vivier), sketches, photographs, haute couture toiles, multimedia and archival material.

 

In one room for the opening and closing weekends you can watch craftswomen from the Dior atelier in Paris work on their garments.

The exhibition closes with artefacts that explore Dior’s relationship with Australia, including the historic Spring 1948 fashion parade at David Jones, Sydney. Fifty original creations by Christian Dior were paraded, the first time a complete Dior collection was shown outside of Paris.

 

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is accompanied by a scholarly publication and a program of talks, tours and events and the curated NGV Friday Nights program, featuring live music, food and performances.

Don’t miss this exhibition, the likes of which are unlikely to be seen again in Australia in the near future.


The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Sunday 27 August to 7 November 2017

Adult $26 | Concession $23.50 | Child (5–15 years) $10 | Family (2 adults + 3 children) $65.

Tickets are on sale now from NGV.MELBOURNE

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