Melbourne Musings – a Tale of Two Hamburgians

Let’s call him Horst. He was a bright, lively, lithe young man who was the sole soul behind the counter of the Crocs retail outlet down in the basement of the new Emporium complex. This aggregation of shops is to be found in the stead of the old Little Bourke Street Myers. As a retail venue it was recommended to us by our mate Brother Jim as a must see for our recent visit to Yarra City. For my tastes, initially, it looked too upmarket, but Darling Loving Partner was keen to visit its shiny interior. And inside, to my delight, we did find a cornucopia of delights.

SONY DSCSummer Crocs Display

Apart from a few old favourites, the centre of Old Bearbrass has held little appeal for me in terms of its offerings for shopping, particularly now as Hobs has had for some time its own JBs. It’s full of the same global franchises to be found in any capital on the planet. No, this shopper has always preferred the more eclectic appeal of the strips such as Acland, Smith, Brunswick and Clarendon/Coventry for his retail kicks. But once inside the Emporium that changed. Sure the same generics were there, but it, together with the accompanying Strand, seemed both less pretentious and frenetic than its rivals, two qualities off-putting for me. We were soon spending money. We were also impressed with the fit-out that has occurred across the road in the old GPO to accommodate the behemoth that is the Swedish experience H and M – worth taking in for the visuals and the accommodating pricing.

But back to the Emporium where the Croc Shop really caught my eye – mainly because of the display of unCroc-like sandals on show. Soon DLP was in there trying on summery foot attire. And this is where Horst came into the frame. Once DLP had made her choice, she and Horst teamed up to work their considerable combined charm on me. ‘Come on, you know you love them,’ they cajoled in unison. I have been a recent convert to the comforts of Crocs so, once a generous discount was on offer, I was putty in their hands. DLP purchased a pair featuring real leather for me.
She is so generous my love.

As you do, because the little outlet was hardly flushed with customers, we got to chatting with Horst. He hailed from Hamburg, was studying in Oz and very homesick – seemingly at odds with his professed urge to get out of Germany for a while. He was enjoying Melbourne, but reckoned Byron was the place to be for him. He was underwhelmed by his visit to Tassie -‘down there the people don’t talk to you.’ he opined. Eventually other potential victims to his talents entered and we made our departure, delighted with our purchases and that we’d come across such a charming chap.

Let’s call her Helga. She was bright, lively and lithe. She served us our tucker at Clover and Rye, an eatery on Bridge Road (410) in Richmond, again recommended by Brother Jim. And a fine recommendation it was too. I’d read that this area, a haven for DFOs, was struggling. But on a Friday eve the restaurants in this sector of it seemed to be thriving. In the case of Clover and Rye, its popularity was certainly because of its very fine fare. The paella delivered to me by the fair Helga was ace. DLP and Brother Jim were similarly complimentary about their chosen dishes. And the lovely Helga was certainly an attractive asset to the place as well. She was in the early throes of working her way around Oz and was looking forward to experiencing my island’s wilderness. But first she had to earn some dosh to make that possible – thus her presence attending to our culinary needs. She’d been to Sydney already and found the Emerald City very much to her liking – but as for Melbourne? So far it wasn’t too positive. She was underwhelmed by her time in the city on the brown river- ‘Here the people don’t talk to you.’ she opined. Then she let slip she was also from a certain German city – and DLP’s eyes lit up.

SONY DSCHelga (left) with colleagues

My wonderful lady couldn’t help herself. She described, in most alluring fashion, a certain young man we had met in the bowels of the Emporium and hinted that maybe the fair Helga should seek him out. DLP was matchmaking. When Helga asked her to repeat exactly where Horst was to be found, DLP knew she was on to a possibility.

Of course we’ll never know if that will actually happen – whether she will take the Number 48 into the city and seek him out. But my DLP is content in the knowledge that there is a remote chance of two Hamburgians finding happy ever-afters thanks to her assistance.

Staff at Clover and Rye with ‘Helga’ on the Left

DLP chose the city on the Yarra rather than the city on the Harbour for our pre-Christmas excursion to the Mainland. She’s grown to appreciate its attributes in recent times, plus there was the chance to catch up with some of her mates – Brother Jim and Judy. The former took us to his Hawthorn (pity he’s Collingwood through and through) community and we were privileged to view his stupendous place of worship. It was quite gobsmacking. Later we dined with him again at our regular haunt, the Spaghetti Tree (59 Bourke). For me it has just great lasagne served in a lusty amount. This Saturday night the place was pumping. Yes, the music was a little loud, but at least it references the classics rather than thumpa-thumpa.

Our other dining experience was Tsindos (197 Lonsdale) and in deference to DLP, I will not go into too much detail about the attractive elan of our Cypriot-Pakistani waiter – except to say he was outstanding in attentiveness given the place was extremely busy. The fare here was also great. My mixed grill was almost heaven. DLP’s calamari was indeed so.

I did enjoy this trip across the Strait. As well as luxuriating in DLP’s presence at my side, our hostelry in Little Bourke Street, the Mercure, was adequate. The room came with a great view down the guts of China Town and that was a plus. The twin exhibitions of Jean Paul Gaultier and David Shrigley, at the NGV St Kilda Road, were both ultra-impressive for very different reasons. They are well worth a visit if Melbourne is a destination over the festive season. Acland Cakes (97) tempted DLP with one of its luscious treats and we discovered a very fine pub in our wanderings along Smith Street, the Grace Darling (114). If a visit to the South Melbourne Markets is on your itinerary when next in that part of the world, try breakfasting across the road from it at the retro Bunyip Café (313 Coventry).

For DLP and I it was a hectic four days in Yarra City. We were both relatively stuffed on our return. We are starting to know the importance of pacing ourselves but, that being said, I can’t wait to get back there in ’15. And maybe, just maybe, ’15 will be a very romantic year for Helga and Horst.SONY DSC

The new Melbourne Emporium  =

Clover and Rye =

The Grace Darling =

The Bunyip Cafe =

The Spaghetti Tree =

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