Tuesday, November 30, 2010


C'mon. Like I am qualified to talk about them. Yes you with the filthy mind. Note, fanny means something different in Australia to what it does in many places.

This used to be Fanny's, the upstairs part anyway. One night I was passing by in a tram and smoke was pouring out of its windows. It was not a chef burning a chop but a genuine fire. It re-opened but in 1993 it closed. Just in May this year, the owner and big boss in charge, Gloria Staley, died at around the age of ninety. She was diminutive but fearsome.

Speaking of hospitality type peoples deaths, I note Kath Byers died recently, the long time publican of the Notting Hill Hotel, at the age of 98. Notting Hill Hotel was one of my father's favourite watering holes. He liked Kath in an unqualified way. Can't get much better recognition from my father.

Fine dining in Melbourne has re-invented itself, mostly based at Crown Casino. I have never really been fine dined. Value for money prevents me. I can get a nice pork roast at my local pub, and if I want beautiful strawberries or mussels fresh from the ocean, I just ask Sister to bring. She is proud to show off the wholesome produce from the Bellarine Peninsula.

Fine dining was big in Melbourne in the 1980s. There was the afore mentioned Fanny's, Miettas, Two Faces, Maxims, Glo Glos and one I can't quite remember, but one of you will. It was in Peel Street in Collingwood and ex politician and 'close friend' of Shirley McLain, Andrew Peacock, had some involvement with it. I just cannot remember the name but it was a two storey Victorian building.

Now the late, suicide, Fred Podgornik, who demolished the Case of Bananas, sorry, Casa de Manana hotel at the corner of Park Street and St Kilda Road South Melbourne and built his own office building had something to do with a fine dining restaurant too. Which one was that?

Another was maybe Walnuts at Camberwell Junction? Did Vi Greenhalf (heart?) have something to do with that?

Seems very little about these places show up with Google. It all really needs to be on the record, so if you can fill in some gaps???


  1. C'mon. Like I am qualified to talk about them. Yes you with the filthy mind...

    Who? Me! [A dirty mind is a joy forever]

    ...and if I want beautiful strawberries or mussels fresh from the ocean... strawberries fresh from the ocean?!

    [I confess, I'm in a funny mood]

  2. Peter, while sea cucumbers can be found all over the world, sea strawberries are only to be found off the Bellarine coast.

  3. I thought you were pulling my leg [long distance], but you know me... checking the facts... it's true.

  4. Anonymous7:43 am

    Used to hang out at the Nott when I was a student at Monash Uni.

  5. A few I'd add to the list of fine nosheries. (Some - if not all - now defunct.)

    Balzac's. (East Melbourne)
    The Society. (City)
    Fleurie. (Ian Hewitson's place in Seth Yarra)

  6. I thought damn, that Peter is going to make me google sea strawberries when I know there is not such a thing, and it seems there is.

    Ah yeah Scott. Not far from Monash. Do you remember her?

    LS. I though you might have answers rather than adding more. I don't remember Balzac's at all.

  7. The now defunct Bistrot Balzac.

    The one in Peel St. likewise has me stumped, but irritatingly rings a bell. Something sounding like Virgona's comes to mind, but may be way off.

  8. Oooo, I expected Kath to be the Energiser Bunny and just keep going forever.
    *sigh* She was one good thing my ex introduced me to, a lovely gal.

  9. Fine dining, overrated, pretentious crap from a bygone era.

  10. Balzac, East Melb - the first French-style bistrot. Founder Georges Mora.

    another French fine-diner is/was in Queensberry Street Nth Melb, forget name.
    I have eaten at the fabulous Fanny's and Neil Diamond was there with the Ron Walkers - he was Mayor of Melb at the time. Fanny's had very plain food, served elegantly. It was beloved by CEO's as it reminded them of boarding school food I think.
    Vi TooBigByHalf was married to the owner of The Walnut Tree in William Street (near Victoria St).
    One of the weekend papers raved about a place with excellent duck, and I thought of Sedgwick. He likes a duck. I have eaten at The Two Faces, but I try not to eat anything that has a face.

  11. "another French fine-diner is/was in Queensberry Street Nth Melb, forget name."

    La Chaumiere? It had pomme frites to die for.)

  12. Sedgwick darling - there is no bad frite. Potato is The Nazz food.
    The very first posh restaurant I ever dined in was The Society (in 1965).
    Old Mietta's was the best night out, bar none. Where is that fabulous waiter now I wonder.

  13. L'Alouette (Nth Melb) and The French Chef and the Singapore Lady (Russell St) another couple from way back then that were good nosh and good fun.

  14. LS, I see the website was 2000. Even then the prices were quite high. The one in Peel Street was quite a well known one. I am sure your suggestion is not right.

    Age 98 was pretty good Jayne. Imagine the smoke she inhaled, even if she didn't smoke.

    Ian, I don't feel qualified to answer but instinctively I agree.

    Plain food served elegantly sounds good to me Em Stacks. I must be mixing my nuts places up. There was a something nut at Camberwell Junction. Re Mietta's, do you mean Tony?

  15. scarves with drawings of Melbourne buildings at melbournestyle.com.au/ and one with names of great Melbourne women, has Mietta, but not Stephanie Alexander.

    a glaring omission.

  16. I think the restaurant in Peel St was Clichy - they specialised in what my ex-boss called "cuisine mingy" as the serves looked beautiful but were tiny.

  17. Love ya Frank. That is it. There was a lot of cuisine mingy around back then. We fell for it a couple of times.

  18. Ah, cuisine mingy! Left after a couple of them with our stomachs groaning after having negotiated plain white plates the side of soccer fields in the middle of which sat a scallop, a baby carrot and a nasturtium flower.

    How we managed to wade through that feast and still have room for the quarter a Cream B Tween swimming in a thimble full of raspberry coulis topped with a mint leaf I'll never know - and all for a measly $85 a head!

  19. LS, I guess once people woke up, that was the end of fine dining as we knew it.

  20. Anonymous7:18 pm

    О! Très bonnes choses.

  21. wow, what a blast from the past. such fantastic eating houses. Do you remember the one at the top of Bourk st? The waiter from Florentino opened it. Opposite side of the road to the society. What was Di Greenhalf's husbands name? Bruce and Phil on 3aw were talking abovt Vi and Vi's Pad last night.

    1. Robert, Em Stacks fills in some blanks below. Of course Vi was a 3AW personality when she was on air.

  22. when he was married to Vi G, Bernard Meester paid John Carrodus half a million 1981 dollars for The Walnut Tree. The building had been the stables of Cliveden Mansion.
    Robert above - did you mean The Latin?
    Go here to Spaghatti Mafia for a nice read:
    'By the 1930s their presence in Melbourne at the top end of the city in and around Bourke, Lonsdale and Exhibition Streets, had become very strong. The restaurants these families started - Cafe d'Italia (later The Latin), The Society, Florentino's, Molinas and, my family’s Marios, attracted first the bohemians - the artists and thespians, and the politicians. (Melb Uni) Students who were later to become powerful members of society (would have) had their first spaghetti at one of those establishments.'

    1. As usual Em Stacks, you are the go to person.