Spend a day – or a weekend – exploring the suburb of Elsternwick. When the bayside breeze blows through the area, you’ll understand why it’s such a gorgeous place to live, or visit.
Located between the trendy suburbs of South Yarra and Prahran and the bayside finery of Brighton and Hampton, you’ll experience the best of both worlds in Elsternwick. Glen Huntly Road is the main thoroughfare, home to the route 67 tram and plenty of welcoming, friendly shops and cafes. The strip has gotten trendier over the past decade, so find yourself a quiet nook with someone special for a cocktail at Antique Bar, or pair a glass of wine with a sampling from the expansive charcuterie and cheese menus.
Other hotspots for late-night antics include After The Tears, a Polish bar with probably more vodka varietals than any other bar in Melbourne. Dozens and dozens of tantalising cocktails – think the Velvet Fog, comprising Czech absinth, melon vodka, apple liqueur, pineapple juice, shaken with sugar & lemon juice – and piles of steaming pierogis and other Polish food will have you glued to your seat until the early hours.
Make a detour to Glen Eira Road to find Glovers Station – the perfect spot for a mid-morning pick-me-up. Housed in what was a 1930s service station, the Dukes coffee and house-made sodas are sure to take the edge off after a big night out, while highlights of the food menu include Chilli and Coffee Calamari and a devilish Brisket Benedict.
Whether out of curiosity or a love of Russian culture and cuisine, an evening in Elsternwick should include dinner at Nevsky Russian Restaurant on Glen Huntly Road. Caviar leads into Piroshkis and main course options like Utka – roasted duck legs on braised red cabbage with an orange brandy sauce – and Siberian dumplings. Or, throw caution to the wind and indulge in one of the chef’s tasting menus.
Elsternwick’s Classic Cinema, just off Glen Huntly Road and across the road from Elsternwick Train Station, is one of the suburb’s major cultural drawcards. The original building was built in the late-1800s and opened as a theatre in 1911. Over the past century it has seen a number of refurbishments, the most recent of which has seen its own bar built inside – perfect for that post-film debrief. As well as being home to the Jewish International Film Festival (held annually in October and November), it plays Hollywood blockbusters as well as arthouse films.
Elsternwick is also home to the Jewish Holocaust Centre, a memorial to the millions of Jews who were murdered between 1933 and 1945. Designed to educate visitors 12 and older, a visit to the Centre is a sobering experience that takes in thousands of artefacts commemorating the horrors of the Holocaust.
Across the Nepean Highway, Elsternwick Park (also known as Sportscover Arena) is one of greater Melbourne’s most popular sporting grounds, home to the Victorian Amateur Football Association. During the cooler months, expect the sounds, sights and smells of suburban footy at its finest. In the summer, the crack of bat on ball indicates that cricket is in season, so lie back on the lawn and let the sun sail over the heads of the on-field combatants.