LATELY — 2 June 2002

Cold and the Hollywood Palace; Favourite Places

Just walked up to Hol­ly­wood Palace on Bridge Rd (“No Half Sou­vlakis / No Credit”) to get a late-night egg and bacon toasted sandwich. It’s awful cold out there. In the scheme of things, it’s ac­tu­ally not cold, of course. This is Mel­bourne after all. But I have been to some gen­uinely cold places—Prague, say—and never found the cold there to be as ob­jec­tional as it is here. When it never gets really cold—below freezing, shall we define it—it’s all too easy to fuck about with half-measures. You don’t need gloves, you don’t need a hat—and so you don’t wear them—and so the cold insults your ears and nose and fingers.

The Hol­ly­wood Palace is one of two Hol­ly­woods in Richmond: the other is Hol­ly­wood Pizza (on Swan St, under Rich­mond Station). I find this in­cred­i­bly amusing. What are the chances? (Melbourne also has at least three bars named for rooms of a house: a Lounge, a Laundry and a Loft. This too in­trigues me.)

Hol­ly­wood Palace is perhaps not one of my favourite places in Mel­bourne but it does have its uses. If it can pos­si­bly be arranged, your res­i­dence should be sited within walking dis­tance of a greasy take-away. Prefer­ably one that never closes. Hol­ly­wood Palace does souvlakis, burgers, chips, toasted sandwiches… for when­ever you feel the need.

Perhaps I should mention some actual favourite places.

There’s the Baked Potato Cafe. This is pretty much op­po­site the Hol­ly­wood Palace on Bridge Rd. Veg­e­tar­ian baked potatoes, very large serves. I gen­er­ally get the the broccoli.

The Lambsgo Bar (c.f. “cows go moo”). This is on what­ever street in­ter­sects with Smith St at the KFC. Small, very chummy. Bar­tenders will remark upon your choice of beer and may, by way of apol­o­gis­ing for closing on you, invite you to another bar. There are board games. (Trevor and I once spent over an hour working out the optimal strat­egy for two-card Guess Who—unless you have a prodi­gious memory, prob­a­bly best to do each card separately.) Lax smoking-with-food policy.

Lady Luck (180-something Brunswick St—near the housing com­mis­sion flats). Is sep­a­rated a ware­house of cut-price clothes by a bamboo partition. I don’t know what makes this place so comfortable, but it is. For Saturday/Sunday afternoons.

Belgian Beer Cafe Bluestone (on St Kilda Rd, in the grounds of the Vic­to­rian In­sti­tute for the Blind). Belgian food (fries with mayonnaise, etc.), Belgian beer, choco­late waffles. Rea­son­ably corporate, also can get pretty busy. Cosgriff is ap­par­ently often there twice a day.

Gin Palace (off Lt Collins St). Fancy drink­ing es­tab­lish­ment (i.e. you sit down, some waiter with artful facial hair takes your order). Lots of plush fabrics. There’s a curtained-off “harem.” The choco­late fondue is recommended.

Yelza (Gertrude St, near Smith St). This used to have a too-large foun­tain in the middle of the restau­rant section. What look to be 18th C. family por­traits are on the walls. (The walls are covered with flocked wallpaper.) My out-of-town vis­i­tors are brought here.

Cafe Baloo (Russell St, near Lons­dale St). Mostly Indian, but pasta is served too. A few years ago this place was magnificent. Garlic hung from the roof. Serving staff seemed to be made up of phi­los­o­phy grad­u­ate students. It’s still good, just not quite what it was.