Following the bends of the Yarra River, Kew is a leafy spot seemingly sheltered from suburban bustle. But it’s attracting a slew of new shops and eateries to explore.
The well-heeled set have long been aware of Kew’s many attractions. This is where Raheen, a 19th-century Italianate mansion, considered one of the most beautiful homes in Melbourne, is located. And it’s only one of the historic homes dotted throughout the suburb. With new developments opening, however, there’s been an influx of cool new cafes, restaurants and stores opening on its streets.
One of Kew’s major attractions will take you back to days of old. The Studley Park Boathouse is a restored Edwardian building, where you can dine from a modern European menu in the restaurant, have a more casual breakfast or lunch in the cafe, or hire a boat to cruise the Yarra. Perhaps cruise is the wrong word, because you’ll be providing the power in either a rowboat, kayak or canoe.
Most of the shopping in Kew is gathered around the area known as Kew Junction. If you’re searching for something special — a present for a new baby, a piece of jewellery for your mum or a token for a friend — head to Onyx Gift & Homewares. For fashion-savvy women, Oscar and Wild is a great find. It offers a select range of statement pieces and new season fashion from labels including Ginger & Smart, Rachel Zoe and Citizens of Humanity. Another favourite fashion haunt is Ooshka. Customers rave about the service from buyer and stylist Esmerelda Petrov, who can help find the perfect outfit for any occasion.
Anyone with an interest in contemporary art, should visit Bird’s Gallery. Run by artists, it shows and sells work — from photography and painting to sculpture and jewellery — from both international and local practitioners.
When hunger sets in, head to the nursery. Set in the midst of flourishing plants is Kew Nursery and Cafe. It offers simple yet delicious fare, and is totally kid friendly — there’s even a box of toys to keep them amused when they’ve finished their banana smoothie. For a more sophisticated lunch, Centonove on Cotham Road offers two or three courses of fine Italian food. The full a la carte menu is presented in the evening, and the wine list, featuring Australian artisan producers and benchmark names, is an award-winner. If you’ve got one thing on your mind and it’s steak, you can’t go past Charcoal Grill on the Hill, where the beef is carefully selected, aged then cooked to perfection.
Enjoy a cold beer in the courtyard or ask for the wine guy’s recommendation at Cru Bar & Eatery, a European-style venue on Glenferrie Road. The wine list is long and strong, boasting 350 different varieties, and there are regular tastings and events if you want to try a few different types. Skinny Dog Hotel is a more casual affair, with booths, a sports bar and beer garden. People also say the Dog serves one of the best parmas in Melbourne, so don’t miss Thursday night when there are eight different variations from which to choose. Whether you’re looking for a bottle of wine to take home or fancy sipping at the bar, Open Cellar is there to please. It stocks predominantly small boutique drops, as well as craft beers and ciders. Enjoy a glass in the cosy bar accompanied by a cheese plate.