HOT: Kodama Coffee, 69 Stevedore St, Williamstown

Kodama Williamstown

Kodama are spirits in Japanese folklore that inhabit trees. It seems that Kodama Coffee in Williamstown is taking some Japanese inspiration for their menu and in their minimalist decor with pops of bright flora. 

The small kitchen serves a tightly edited all day breakfast/lunch menu featuring Japanese ingredients such as yuzu, matcha and edamame – while still serving eggs and toast for the traditionalists.

The coffee comes from Hawthorn’s Axil Coffee and the pastries from Candied Bakery in Spotswood.

The whitewashed cafe is split into two rooms with two separate entrances. Both rooms are cosy but the communal table is definitely the place to hang out if you’ve got kids. One wall has a chalkboard for scribbling on and the low stools provide enough room for a pram or high chair.

Kodama Williamstown

I try the quinoa, kale, pickled beets, roasted hazelnuts and egg ($17). The egg is perfectly poached with a bright orange lava of yolk, the quinoa is fluffy and not gritty and the roasted pumpkin and miso puree makes me want to lick the bowl clean.

Kodama Williamstown

The fluffy matcha waffle is topped with a contrasting palette of red strawberries and black sesame ice cream. The red bean inside the mousse is barely discernible, which is ok with me as I’m not actually a fan of red bean ($15). The melting ice cream means that the waffle doesn’t really need the chocolate caramel sauce (but who’s going to say no to it!).

Kodama Williamstown

Curiously the kids waffle with chocolate sauce, fresh strawberries and house made marshmallow is actually the same size for less money ($9.50). Granted the ingredients in the ‘adults’ version of the waffle are more exotic, but if a waffle is really all you’re after then I recommend getting the kids meal!

Kodama Williamstown

Don’t be deceived by the muesli-bowl like appearance of the chia pudding ($14). In fact the jelly-like pudding is on the bottom of the liberal layer of house made granola along with a fan of fresh fruit and dabs of vanilla labne. There’s no real need for the small pot of milk that comes with it.

Kodama Coffee is a great addition to Williamstown, and area which until now has been short of really good cafes despite boasting amazing water views and an affluent latte-sipping population. Welcome to the neighbourhood!

Kodama Coffee , 69 Stevedore St, Williamstown 03 9397 7890

Monday – Friday 7am – 4pm

Saturday Sunday 8am – 4pm

HOT: 2016 Architecture Commission: M@ STUDIO Architects, NGV Garden at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

NGV car wash

This is the second year that the National Gallery of Victoria is installing an Architecture Commission in the Sculpture Garden of NGV International – and this year it’s a surreal hot pink ‘car wash’.

NGV car wash

The 2016 Architecture Commission by Melbourne-based M@ STUDIO Architects is inspired by an actual car wash in Blackburn and is a large open-sided pavilion with five lanes of bright pink astroturf.

NGV car wash

Each lane contains different details – rubber waves, road markings, misting spray that disorientates the senses, rope ‘rollers’ and dangling plastic ribbons.

NGV car wash

The architect’s vision is to use design to improve the amenity of the urban fringe. Sit on the stools inside the car wash and contemplate what makes good suburban design and just enjoy the neon colours while you eat your lunch and lounge back on some cushions. It will be illuminated at night.

NGV car wash

BYO car for extra fun!

NGV car wash

2016 Architecture Commission: M@ STUDIO Architects, NGV Garden at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Friday 14 October 2016 to April 2017.

Open daily, 10am-5pm. Entry is free.

NOT: The Art of Banksy, The Paddock in Federation Square, Melbourne

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

Banksy is the world’s most famous street artist and I feel like I have a special connection with him. Believe it or not, the landlord of my flat in London knew Banksy and there was a small signed print of his iconic work of two London bobbies kissing hanging inside my toilet. There it was, signed on the back of the picture – To Darryl, from Banksy. I have no idea why you’d hang a picture possibly worth thousands of pounds inside a rented flat – but I loved the unexpectedness of it, much like Banksy’s art.

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

The Art of Banksy is a new temporary exhibition that’s come to Melbourne courtesy of Banksy’s former agent Steve Lazarides. The Art of Banksy is not a Banksy-endorsed display (that wouldn’t be in keeping with the artist’s ethos) but it still contains about 80 original works from Lazarides’s collection plus other private collections. I was curious to see how the works would be curated so paid the hefty admission fee ($30+ booking fee per adult) to visit.

Turns out I like my street art…on the street.

The exhibition is set inside a large tent behind the Federation Square carpark, so is a little hard to find if you’re approaching from Flinders Street as it’s closer to Batman Avenue.

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

Large canvases by Melbourne street artists such as Be Free, Heesco and Makatron greet you at the entrance and provide a local connection to the international exhibition.

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

The inside of the marquee has been divided into a spiral layout to approximate a house interior, street scape and platforms of the London Underground.

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

The majority of the art is prints, with the most impressive piece being the Flag Wall on ten panels of wood.

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

Banksy’s art is as witty, satirical and challenging as ever. But it seems to odd and artificial to display them in a frame on a wall. I feel that taking the works out of their contextual location lessens their impact, as the juxtaposition of the art with its surroundings and the guerilla-like nature of the art-making is as relevant as the actual artistic outcome. Framing and lighting the art sanitises them – they could have been produced in an expensive artist’s studio overlooking the Thames.

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

Also I can’t work out whether the gift shop is an ironic nod to the Banksy doco ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ or a genuine commercial enterprise of Banksy paraphernalia. I suspect it’s the latter as the exhibition is accompanied by food trucks, a bar and DJs so they are encouraging you to spend.

The Art of Banksy Melbourne

My advice is to save your $30, walk across the road and check out some of the amazing, street art in Hosier Lane and other laneways in Melbourne. Those walls are an evolving canvas for established and emerging street artists and they tell stories that reflect our society, culture, politics and tastes right now. It’s free and is a much more inspiring, rich and satisfying experience than The Art of Banksy.


The Art of BanksyThe Paddock in Federation Square, Melbourne

Daily from 11am-8pm

October 7 to January 22.

Tickets start from $30 

HOT: John Olsen: The You Beaut Country, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square Melbourne

John Olsen NGV

From Friday 16 September to Sunday 12 February National Gallery of Victoria is hosting the biggest showing of John Olsen’s work in their newest temporary exhibition John Olsen: The You Beaut Country. It’s a joint production with the Art Gallery of NSW and will be touring to Sydney in March 2017.

John Olsen NGV

John Olsen has been touted by many as Australia’s greatest living artist. The 88 year old is still energetic, painting and exhibiting and the retrospective is the collection of almost seven decades of work.

John Olsen NGV

His fascination has always been with Australia’s landscape and so many of the large scale pieces are inspired by places such as Lake Eyre, Lake Woomera and Australia’s rivers.

John Olsen NGV

For me there are a few standout pieces. The vast paintings comprising Summer in the you beaut country are displayed on the ceiling as they are originally intended.

John Olsen NGV

Lie back on the light-embedded low backed chairs so you can really appreciate the view, pick out the intricacies of each painting and immerse yourself in its mood.

John Olsen NGV

My favourite painting is entitled ‘Nightfall, when wattle stains the doubting heart’ and it has no explanatory plaque. In its place is an excerpt of Terra Australis, a poem by James McCauley

‘Voyage within you on the fabled ocean,

And you will find that southern Continent,

Quiros’ vision – his hidalgo heart

And mythical Australia, where reside

All things in their imagined counterpart.


It is your land of similes: the wattle

Scatters its pollen on the doubting heart;

The flowers are wide-awake; the air gives ease.

There you come home; the magpies call you Jack

And whistle like larrikins at you from the trees.

I love the deep, enigmatic blue background, the golden points of colour and the bird-eye perspective of the trees, houses and wildlife with the high horizon. I spy it out of the corner of my eye as I enter the room and it literally makes me gasp. My photograph does not do it justice at all, so you must see it in real life for yourself!

John Olsen NGV

John Olsen is most famous for his paintings but in this exhibition you’ll be introduced to his tapestries, ceramics, prints and watercolours and even volumes of his sketchbooks and notebooks.


John Olsen NGV

John Olsen NGV

If you are taking young visitors then there are NGV Kids plaques dotted around the exhibition and a ‘Draw with John Olsen’ space. There visitors young and old are invited to take a specially designed drawing sheet and to draw something inspired by what they’re seeing in a unique collaboration with the artist.

John Olsen NGV

John Olsen: The You Beaut Country, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square Melbourne  +61 (0)3 8620 2222

Fri 16 September 2016 –  Sunday 12 February 2017

Daily 10am-5pm

  • NGV Member Adult $12

  • Adult $16

  • Concession $13

  • Senior Card Holder discount Wednesdays $13

  • Child (5–15 years) $7

  • NGV Member Family (2 adults + 3 children) $32

  • Family (2 adults + 3 children) $41


HOT: Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

Middletown cafe in Prahran brings strong brunch credentials to competitive eat street High Street as it’s the second cafe by Randy Dhamanhuri and Valerie Fong of Operator 25 in the CBD.

Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

The large cafe is underneath an apartment block and the first thing that captures your attention is the wide and high windows. If you grab a street-facing stool it’s great for people-watching (or in my case, car and tram spotting with a three year old).

Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

Once inside it’s the cool colour palette I love. The patrician blue matched with bright white gives the place an airy, elegant and almost maritime feel. For me it evokes the Ralph Lauren and Gant set and holiday houses in Cape Cod and the Hamptons. Though apparently the styling has been inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and hence Middletown is not named after a town in Connecticut after all but is a play on her ‘commoner’ surname.

Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

The menu though is all Melbourne. It’s everything I love about cafes in this city – a creative menu that goes beyond eggs and toast, all day offerings and a strong drinks menu with coffee by Code Black, matcha lattes, fresh juices and healthy smoothies. The head chef  Dilpreet ‘Gilly’ Singh has previously worked at Top Paddock, Kettle Black and Two Birds One Stone.

Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

For a savoury option I try the duck leg, which is ostensibly on the lunch menu but it’s available all day. The duck is crispy-skinned and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. I cannot get enough of it and seriously consider ordering a second serve! I love the sharp celeriac remoulade that accompanies it, which cuts through the richness along with the tiny pops of sour cherry.

Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

For my dessert I have the coffee waffles, already doing the rounds on Instagram. Two fat waffles comes piled with ‘textured’ strawberries in all shapes and forms, a squeeze of truffle honey and vanilla ice cream. While I love the texture of the fluffy waffles and the mountain of strawberries, I cannot detect any coffee or truffle flavouring at all, which means that is turns out to be surprisingly bland dish.

Another option for sweet treats is the glass cabinet filled with goodies from Cobb Lane. The muffins and sandwiches are made in house.

Middletown, 229 High St, Prahran

The only other query I have is with the pricing. The duck leg is a high-end restaurant dish, something that you’d expect to pay $30+ for in a restaurant. It is only $22 at Middletown and for the quality ingredients and techniques it is the bargain of the year. In fact, all the lunch dishes are $18-$22.

On the other hand, the waffles are $17 which is relatively expensive in my experience. My kale, spinach, avocado, coyo and almond milk smoothie is $11. Granted the latter is so thick and large it could count as a meal in itself, but I’m not sure when smoothies starting inching into double digits.

Middletown is another great addition to Melbourne’s brunch scene, with a beautiful interior and interesting menu that will have you returning again and again. My tip is to head straight for the lunch menu, any time of day!

HOT Tips:

  • head straight to the all-day lunch menu;
  • three high chairs and pram access;
  • no disabled toilet;
  • limited street parking, particularly hard to find on High Street.

 Middletown, 229 High Street Prahran 03 9530 2288

7am-4pm weekdays

8am-4pm weekends

Middletown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

HOT: We Will Rock You, Regent Theatre, 191 Collins St St, Melbourne

We Will Rock You Melbourne

Photo by Jeff Busby

Brought to you by Nuffnang and We Will Rock You

We Will Rock You, the worldwide smash hit musical by Queen and Ben Elton, in now playing in Melbourne for a limited time.

We Will Rock You first premiered in London’s West End in 2002 and since then there have been 3600 performances in the UK, it has received 3600 standing ovations and it was crowned UK’s favourite show at the Olivier awards 2011. It’s been seen by over 6 million people in the UK alone and over 16 million people worldwide in 28 countries.

It is returning to Melbourne after its 2003 season with what seems like an updated script with more contemporary references and relevant-right-now in-jokes.

We Will Rock You Melbourne

Photo by Jeff Busby

The show is a stadium style experience, with a ‘wall of sound’ band (including two drum kits in action!), high energy, dazzling lighting and Queen’s legendary hits; We are the Champions, Radio Ga Ga, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Somebody to Love, Killer Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now, Under Pressure, Bohemian Rhapsody, Another One Bites The Dust – and of course We Will Rock You.

The anthemic songs are definitely the highlight and scaffold a flimsy, preposterous plot line involving a dystopian futuristic world where rock ‘n’ roll and live music is banned. But there’s an underground rebellion of rock lovers fighting against synthesized pop and being told what to do – and naturally they triumph, restoring music to the world.

It’s not deep but really, let’s be honest you’re just there for the music.

We Will Rock You Melbourne

Photo by Jeff Busby

The standout talents are the two female leads – Erin Clare (Heathers, Phantom of the Opera) as Scaramouche and Jaz Flowers (Hairspray, Hot Shoe Shuffle, Fame) as Oz. Their soaring vocals really bring out the melodies and emotion behind the lyrics. Hearing Erin Clare hitting the notes of ‘Somebody to Love’ gives me chills down my spine in a way that the song has never done to me before.

If you love Queen and love power rock, you will love We Will Rock You. Even if you’re not a huge Queen fan, it seems everyone has a favourite Queen song! So iconic is their body of work that I guarantee you will be tempted to sing along to songs that you may not even realise are originally by Queen.

We Will Rock You, Regent Theatre, 191 Collins St Melbourne

1 September – 30 October 2016

Tues 7pm, Wed–Sat 8pm, Sat matinee 2pm, Sunday 1pm & 6pm

Tickets from $71.07 via Ticketmaster

Running time: 2 hrs 45min with interval

Suitable from the age for 13 years and above

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