Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The face of St Kilda

Luna Park, St Kilda, Melbourne
That’s right – Sydney is not the only city with a Luna Park with a big face entrance. In fact, the Melbourne one is the original, and one might agree judging by its scarier face – they Sydney one seems toned down in comparison.

I don’t know what St Kilda is to Melbournites. I wouldn’t quite call it a beach suburb like our eastern suburbs (although technically I think it is); although to be honest, I’ve never been to St Kilda in summer. To me, the attraction of St Kilda is, quite simply, all those Acland Street cake shops with front windows jam packed with cakes and slices and tarts and biscuits.

Window at Acland Cakes, Acland Street, St Kilda
Window at Le Bon Cake Shop, Acland Street, St Kilda
Cakes at Le Bon Cake Shop, Acland Street, St Kilda
Window at Europa Cake Shop, Acland Street, St Kilda
Pigeons get in on the action
For some reason or other, we bought a couple of items at the first store along Acland Street, where the person from the store angrily rushed out to shoo away pigeons from emptied tables; the birds pretty keen on the crumbs from the leftover plates and the coffees too it seems.

Cherry cheesecake from Europa Cake Shop
If looks could kill, this cherry cheesecake would probably have life sentences. The distinct layers – biscuit base, cheese, something white, cherries, jelly – make the cake pretty and irresistible. The tartness of the cherries is a nice contrast, cutting through the sweetness as well as the richness. I have no idea what the pile of white icing-like stuff beneath the cherries was, except that it was mildly sweet and generally inoffensive.

Chocolate cream cannoli from Europa Cake Shop
Less inoffensive though was the cannoli. Let’s just say it was far from the best I’ve ever had – very far. Filled with what looked like a chocolate mock cream, things didn’t improve with the pastry shell, which was bland and possibly had been filled many, many hours ago. But I won’t be letting this one bad apple destroy my love of cannoli; though I might have to rush out to Bacco or the Pastizzi Café soon.

Outside of food and sweets, the array of stores along Acland Street has a bit of a holiday town feel – cheap (and some not so) clothing stores, homewares, a bookstore – nothing to really excite the shopaholic. It seems the focus is more so on food than anything else – not that I have a problem with that.

RocKwiz anyone?

As we left oh-sweet-street-of-cakes, we ventured around to Fitzroy Street via Hotel Esplanade. I’ll admit, “The Espy” was a little more grunge than I had expected as a RocKwiz viewer, but it was reasonably quiet on a Saturday afternoon.

A game of pool at Hotel Esplanade, The Esplanade, St Kilda
It was also a lot bigger than I had expected, with various cavernous rooms and upstairs too. We managed to stretch out a game of pool (mostly through my lack of skill) across a couple of Bulmers Cider on tap, but thought twice about eating there.

By the water in St Kilda
When we did turn the corner with a murmur in our stomachs, there to greet us with open arms was a pizza special at One Fitzroy Street. We plopped onto their comfy window-side couch with a couple of beers and watched the sky turn dark grey and drizzle light rain onto mostly prepared people.

Water bottle at One Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Lamb pizza special

I was nicely surprised with the pizza, which was larger than I’d anticipated for a special. Topped with a piece of lamb on each slice, goat’s cheese in addition to the stringy yellow mozzarella, and roast capsicum, the highlight for me was the moderately thin wood-fired base – the light char flavour coming through nicely. While slightly under-seasoned, does anything beat the pizza and beer combo?

Fries

Beer and fries is a pretty good contender. This gigantic bowl of thin, golden french fries also appeared to be under-seasoned, although I found an abundance of salt flakes at the bottom of the bowl. I question whether flakes really work for french fries, but with saffron aioli and tomato sauce on hand, we made it to the bottom of the bowl.

Bellies full, we put on all our available clothes and accessories, whipped out an umbrella and dashed to the tram stop in the middle of the road – probably rosy-cheeked and feeling very Melbourne.

The Esplanade Hotel (Espy Kitchen) on Urbanspoon

One Fitzroy Street on Urbanspoon

10 comments:

MelbaToast said...

I love the cake shops on Acland Street...sounds like the looked better than they tasted though. You'll have to go back next time and work your way through all the shops on sweet street.

Tina said...

Hi MelbaToast - This one looked better than it tasted. Epic vanilla slices to be had elsewhere though!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I remember going into one of those shops and taking ages to choose a cake. Sadly it just didn't live up to expectations at all despite it looking pretty! That pigeon feasting picture is quite amazing!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

My friends and I have always thought the Melbourne Luna Park face looked like the evil twin to our friendly Sydney version :)

Tina said...

Hi Helen - Turns out it's the evil older sibling...!

Though I sometimes think our one looks like it may have taken one too many happy pills...

Alessandra said...

OMG those cakes and pastries are to die for!

Tina said...

Hi Alessandra - Some of them were, and some not so :(

Laura said...

sure sure, melbourne is fun but sydney is WAYYYYY better

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Tina said...

Hi Laura - The age olde debate... ;)

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