HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Brighton Schoolhouse HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Bayside locals are lucky to have Brighton Schoolhouse on their doorstep. It sits in the most stunning Downtown Abbey-esque surroundings, with manicured lawns and a round turning circle next to the church (though the New Street high street frontage is less picturesque).

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 6 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

The heritage listed stone building was built in 1842 and was an original schoolhouse. The decor retains the cathedral vaults and some monastic boarding school dining-room elements such as the long communal tables and round light fittings.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 10 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Old school chairs and desks still abound and there’s even some school lockers in one corner, but don’t worry you won’t feel like you’re back in Year 5 – they’ve been hipster-fied with greenery, a long banquette, high stools and some fun murals.

The all day breakfast and lunch menu focuses healthy, seasonal and sustainable dishes all named with eye-rolling schoolhouse puns.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 12 540x358 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

I order Ja’mie: Private School Girl’s Heirloom Tomatoes ($18.50). I am astonished by the size of the dish – there are probably a dozen tomatoes atop two slices of crusty olive bread slathered with avocado puree, a few dabs of ricotta and basil pesto and a perfectly poached egg wobbling to one side. I love the addition of popped grains to add textural crunch to an otherwise simple dish.

I also try Screech’s Saved by the Bell Pancakes ($18.50). It’s a pretty dish with two fat raspberry studded buttermilk pancakes, a huge ball of white chocolate ice cream, a hairdo of pistachio fairy floss and again I love the maple and ginger crumble for the crunch.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 8 398x540 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton


Brighton Schoolhouse source their Schoolhouse-only seasonal espresso blend from St Ali and they use premium fresh milk from St David Dairy so I’d expect the end product to be good.

What Brighton Schoolhouse does really well is cater for children. There’s easy pram access, high chairs, change facilities, a short children’s menu with colouring-in, a chalkboard, toys and even a fenced playground.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 5 540x339 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton 14 540x427 HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

I really enjoyed my delicious and relaxed breakfast at Brighton Schoolhouse and was a bit surprised that it wasn’t busier on a weekend morning – maybe the bad weather? The menu is quite inventive, with twists on the standard-issue cafe offerings. Most dishes nudge close to the $20 mark but the serving sizes are huge and could easily be shared.

Brighton Schoolhouse 15 St Andrews St Brighton (03) 9593 3129

Mon – Fri: 7:30am-4pm

Sat – Sun: 7:30am-4:30pm

minilink HOT: Brighton Schoolhouse, 15 St Andrews St, Brighton

HOT Chat: Emmy Heikamp from Dutch Cargo Bike

By now you would have realised (a) I love bikes; and (b) I’m about to have a baby. So naturally I am very interested in baby-related bike stuff these days!

Today’s HOT Chat is with Emmy Heikamp, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind Dutch Cargo Bike, a Melbourne-based company which has just started importing Bakfiets (as they’re called in Dutch) from the Netherlands. Thanks Emmy!

IMG 0010 HOT Chat: Emmy Heikamp from Dutch Cargo Bike

Emmy, tell me a bit more about your background and the story behind your business Dutch Cargo Bike?

I’m Dutch, so is my husband and our one-year old twins. We cycle everywhere and we already had a bike trailer but did not feel entirely comfortable with the kids behind us. We liked to have them close by and up front so the most logical thing for us to do was to get a ‘Bakfiets’.

The Bakfiets (or Dutch Cargo Bike) is very common back home in The Netherlands. Practically every mother with small kids has one. We looked and researched but we couldn’t find the original “Bakfiets” brand here in Australia, so that is how we started importing them. We are now the exclusive distributor of the Bakfiets brand in Australia and New Zealand.

What inspired you to move into the world of selling bicycles?

My husband and myself, like many of our friends, believe in living outside, not using the car unless absolutely needed and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. We want our kids to start life the same way and that means using bicycles as the main mode of transport! Whenever .. wherever!

For our kids in time cycling is going to be normal, being outdoors is going to be normal, and that is exactly what we want to achieve with the Dutch Cargo Bike concept.

logodcb HOT Chat: Emmy Heikamp from Dutch Cargo BikeWhat is special about the Dutch Cargo Bike that you sell?

The Dutch build, superior quality, the solid marine multiply wooden box, the light and easy handling and the proven design. That is a nutshell is what makes our bikes special.

The Dutch Cargo Bike “Bakfiets” has been the leading brand in Holland for the last 10 years. They have improved and upgraded the bike till perfection! So customers in Australia can rely on the thousands of happy customers in the Netherlands that have preceded them. Our range consists of a 2-wheel, 3-wheel cargo trike and tandem bicycles. The 2-wheel version is really the flagship of Dutch Cargo Bike.

The frame is handmade and powder coated in the Netherlands, all components are high quality Shimano such as the internal gears, roller brakes front and rear, hub generator for powering the light etc. Because of the fantastic design and quality this is one of the smoothest rides you will find. It’s amazingly easy and light!

The marine multiply wooden box and Dutch style frame gives it an authentic look. But even more important it is safe, your kids, pets or other ‘cargo’ will have a great time in the box, and you as a parent know nothing can happen as the wooden box will protect them!

And it just looks amazing, when you ride the bike everyone has a second look and you get a lot of big smiles, so you always arrive happy!

IMG 0003 HOT Chat: Emmy Heikamp from Dutch Cargo Bike

What are your future plans for Dutch Cargo Bike?

Importing the Dutch Cargo Bikes, Family Tandems and work cycles. We will market them in Australia and New Zealand through a combination of a network of dealerships and direct online sales. As the market grows we expect to sell more via dealerships and less direct. Quite straightforward really.

This is our business plan. But our plans for the future are bigger :–) Get all people and especially kids on the bike! Out of the car, achieve a healthy lifestyle and use the bike not only for sport and recreation but also for daily life.

I didn’t know how special the Dutch cycling culture was until we moved overseas. It would be great if we could participate in that culture change that Australia hopefully will go through even if it is going to take a few more years.

In the near future we are planning to organize a Cargo Bike event with all the cargo bike brands in Melbourne. There are a few these days. We don’t see them as competition but as co-workers in the “get on your cargo bike” mission!

Why do you like cycling?

Cycling is part of our culture, we don’t know otherwise than to cycle. Growing up in the Netherlands you cycle almost before you can walk. I love being outside, feeling the wind, sun and even rain against my face. Feeling your legs work when you go uphill and feel like flying going downhill.

Besides it is easy, just take your bike, no worries about parking, traffic jam etc etc. We cycle for sport but also to get a carton of milk. Drop your kids and crèche, go to work, and get groceries on the way back home, a quick and easy way of transport!

You can get perfect coffee on every corner of the street, so just take the cargo bike, kids in it, do some shopping and rest for a latte, read the newspaper and off you go, can you imagine a more perfect Saturday morning?!

Finally, what are your HOT tips for Melbourne where you like take your bike?

Melbourne’s weather is perfect for cycling, besides roads like Beach Road have a perfect cycling path, you can cycle for ages with the beautiful view over the bay! Then stop at the Sandbar Beach Cafe (175B Beaconsfield Pde, Middle Park +61 3 9696 6334) it’s lovely to have a coffee and feel the sand between your toes!

Then cycle towards the other side on Beach Road, stop in Black Rock. There is a small playground so the kids can have a play just by the bay. Cycle on to Ricketts Point, great in summer, shallow water, and even small toddlers can have a great afternoon playing in the water!

We also like to take the train or cycle to Prahran Market with our cargo bike, do our shopping and have lunch at the market at Essential Ingredient. On Sundays sometimes we cycle to The Pantry in Brighton (bike parking just around the corner), have breakfast with the whole family and a stroll along Church Street afterwards.

Our other favourite haunts are the nursery on Bay Road Sandringham which has a gorgeous small café and the playgrounds at Thomas Street Park in Hampton and Dendy Park (Breen Drive, Brighton East).

Ask the Doctor: Where to buy Japanese ingredients

06 Japan JK 194 1023x795 Ask the Doctor: Where to buy Japanese ingredients

Help me Doctor!: Do you know where in Melbourne I can buy black sesame paste and matcha powder (green tea in powder form)? I have not noticed them in Asian grocery stores. – Jenny T

Your prescription: Perhaps you would have better luck with a Japanese specialist grocery store? Here are a list of Japanese grocery stores close or close-ish to the city:

Itadakimasu! – Jetsetting Joyce

HOT: The Pantry, 1 Church St, Brighton

 HOT: The Pantry, 1 Church St, Brighton

Heading to the beachside suburbs of Melbourne is now a day-trip for my northside self. But not only is it geographically distant, it’s almost a foreign land compared to my local hood (which centers around the Un-Safeway of Smith Street). This is a land where fake boobs bob perkily above skinny soy decaf lattes, where women aim to emulate the look of cinnamon sticks and no one has anything but swishy layered hair. I didn’t even notice the men, I was so astounded by these exotic birds of Brighton.

Pantry sits in the heart of Church Street and it’s the perfect place for the Brighton set – sleek, shiny and white. The menu contains standards-with-a-twist with a wee Brighton-price premium and our meals were healthy, delicious and nicely presented. I had seared yellow fin tuna with diced tomato and an outstanding salad of finely shredded cabbage, dill and parmesan shavings ($24) – the salad definitely outshined the rather tasteless cubes of fish.

 HOT: The Pantry, 1 Church St, Brighton

J had an omelette of mushrooms, spinach and ricotta with a tomato and basil salsa ($17.50) and L ordered the open chicken sandwich with avocado, mayonnaise, honey seeded mustard – and a quarter  head of lettuce ($17).  Both dishes looked quite nice and drew neither criticisms or accolades.

 HOT: The Pantry, 1 Church St, Brighton

L has been eating at Pantry since she was a teenager and I can see why it’s sustained business for the last 16 years. It’s  a winning formula – good solid food + relaxed surroundings + friendly service. I wouldn’t cross town for it, but it’s a nice place to hang out on the weekend if you’re in the area.

minilink HOT: The Pantry, 1 Church St, Brighton

NOT: Time Traveler’s Wife, Palace Dendy Brighton, 26 Church St, Brighton

time NOT: Time Travelers Wife, Palace Dendy Brighton, 26 Church St, Brighton

I dithered a bit about whether to give The Time Traveler’s Wife a HOT or NOT. It was a moderately pleasant experience and I didn’t feel like I’d wasted 2 hours of my life, but would I encourage my friends to see it? Probably not – basically because it could have been so much better.

For those who haven’t read Audrey Niffenegger’s betselling book, the story revolves around Henry (Eric Bana), a Chicago librarian who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that makes him travel through time whenever he is under extreme stress. He first meets his wife Clare (Rachel McAdams) when she’s 8 years old, and then again during various intervals of her life.  The story is about their predestined love affair, told mainly through the eyes of the patient Clare, who has to put up with her husband disappearing at inopportune moments.

There are two main aspects that make The Time Traveler’s Wife fail. Firstly, Eric Bana is as stiff and robotic as a cardboard cutout so I was never really convinced by any of Henry’s emotions, including the most important – his adoration for his wife.  Secondly, the arc of the couple’s relationship is rather mundane if you leave out the time-travel part (they meet, they get married, they have a kid, they go through some ups and downs), so the film requires the audience to suspend disbelief  in order be pulled in by the plot”s emotional trajectory. To be honest, I simply didn’t care that much about the characters and the ending left me completely dry-eyed.

The most commendable aspect of the movie was the acting of Rachel McAdams. The poor woman had to act around the Eric Bana totem pole and she gave a heartfelt performance, with her limpid eyes and sweet smile conveying a whole gamut of emotions, from complete joy to shock to distress.

HOT Alert: Week of 16 November 2009

HOT being the operative word. Lordy me, I’m definitely not a hot-weather person, hopefully this week gives us all some respite. Anyway, a bit of sweatiness isn’t going to stop this week’s social calendar:

This week’s little slice of Melbourne comes courtesy of a Smith Street warehouse. Your profound thought of the day:

 HOT Alert: Week of 16 November 2009