Renowned for its wide leafy streets, private colleges and bustling junction, there is a lot more to Kew than meets the eye. Dig a little deeper beneath the surface of the High Street and you’ll find a plethora of great quality restaurants, cafes and gourmet shops to discover. Here’s my foodie guide to Kew.
Where to get a caffeine fix…
Right in the heart of the action on Kew High Street, Lil Boy Blue is the place to come for a quality brew. Freshly ground Allpress coffee pours through the La Marzocco and is expertly crafted by the specialist baristas. Housed in a heritage listed building, this 70-seater neighbourhood cafe retains its traditional charm and is neatly decked out with vintage-inspired artwork and a brass horn. The super friendly staff make you feel immediately at home.
Located just off the main drag on Fenton Way is another great quality coffee shop called Basecamp Espresso, nestled on the cusp of a quiet car park. Their baristas serve up high-end espresso blends and single origins using their A class Slayer machine. The cafe also offers a small selection of sweet treats and pastries which you can enjoy eat in or takeaway. On your first visit you will made to feel like a local in no time.
Where to go for brunch…
Percy’s Aeroplane Cafe is a local institution in Kew. The hugely popular cafe on Denmark Street has recently started to trade seven days a week, much to the relief of its loyal patrons.The light filled cafe has been beautifully converted into a cosy cafe with two front rooms and an alfresco garden at the rear. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a nicely brewed coffee with one of their fantastic brunch options.
Venture slightly off the beaten track to Pakington Street and you’ll find a hidden brunch gem called Ora Specialty Coffee. The sun soaked cafe is always busy, and for good reason. The unconventional brunch menu is full of fun and creativity. Think wasabi fritters and prawn toast or Mexican style pork belly. Ora specialises in seasonal and free-range produce; even the herbs are grown in their own backyard.
Where to dine…
One of my favourite Greek restaurants in Melbourne is Hellenic Republic. The second outpost of George Calombaris’ restaurant is located in Kew, near the corner of High Street and Cotham Road.With its splashes of Aegean blue and white throughout the venue, Hellenic Republic remains true to its Greek heritage. Don’t go home without trying their saganaki and the slow roasted shoulder of lamb.If you’re feeling hungry, try the Trapezi or Athenian banquet menu – priced at $58 and $70 per person.
To escape the buzz of Kew Junction, venture further afield to the picturesque Studley Park Boathouse, the oldest operating boathouse in Australia.The restaurant at the Studley Park Boathouse offers the special ambience of contemporary fine dining and boasts a glassed in verandah overlooking the beautiful Yarra River and surrounding parklands. With a modern European menu on offer the restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner or special occasion. For a less formal atmosphere, try the kiosk downstairs during the day.
Doubling as a great breakfast and lunch spot during the day, Cru, on the quiet side of Glenferrie Road, certainly knows how to pack a punch with their dinner service. With a focus on seasonal produce, the menu showcases both local, French and Italian influences. There’s a beautiful twice cooked duck breast on potato rosti with rhubarb relish and a confit lamb rump with pea puree, roasted capsicums and saffron potatoes. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
Where to get a drink…
Unfortunately Kew does not have many strong contenders for quality watering holes. The Skinny Dog Hotel is a local favourite for its steak nights on Tuesdays and parma nights on Thursdays, while the Harp of Erin is a homely family owned hotel offering traditional bistro service.
Where to shop…
Leo’s Fine Food and Wine is a local institution in Kew for its gourmet goodies. The boutique supermarket on Princess Street combines basic supermarket fare with deluxe produce including an in-house cheese larder, gourmet deli, on-site butcher and fine wine. The deluxe produce section may be a bit too expensive for your weekly supermarket shop, but it’s a perfect place to buy some treats for a picnic or a special occasion. Bargain hunters – don’t miss the discount fridge section which is full of discounted produce which is near its expiry date.
Another great place to shop is Toscano’s on High Street, one of Melbourne’s finest fruit and vegetable purveyors. The first Toscano store opened its doors in 1950 and has now been in the family for three generations. The store provides an extensive range of quality fruit and vegetables, but also rare and exotic treats such as French truffles, Zucchini flowers and wild mushrooms.
Whether you’re looking for a plant, a garden accessory or just some helpful advice, Kew Nursery and Cafe is the place to come for those with green fingers. The High Street nursery stocks a large variety of plants, compost, mulch and garden care accessories. There is also a cafe amidst the lush grounds of the nursery, a perfect spot to relax with a hot cup of coffee and a bite to eat.