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Published March 20th 2014
History, Grandeur and Surprises
I'm a girl from the other side of town, so you will have to excuse me for not knowing that Macaulay Rd Kensington is an upmarket spot for shopping and sipping coffee while the plebs have to go to work in the city.
I was very early for a meeting so I decided to check out what Macaulay Rd Kensington had to offer. My perception of the shops was initially wrong. I had to ask some locals if this was main shopping drag.
This strip may have once been a street of terrace houses
The terrace style shops enable the street to be crammed full of inviting little establishments. I am being selective in mentioning a few in this article. My choice reveals my biases. However, I was pursuant to getting 'insider' opinions so this article includes direct quotes from various locals who frequent the shops.
Kensington for coffee
Tonik Tapas Bar Tonik Bar is is a cosy tapas lounge and bar. A Weekend Notes readers says that the food is great and they often have live music and regular events such as trivia.
This is another small coffee shop with very few tables. They were all full when I passed by, so I thought that was a great sign.
The Premises This is a trendy café for coffee, brekky or lunch. It has relatively large amount of seating and the service is good. There seemed to be a lot of staff for the number of diners. The locals comment on the quality of the food.
Trendy and inviting
Kensington for Food
For some strange reason Kensington has two bakeries and they are right next to each other. Matilda's home-style bakery has hot bread, homemade cakes, pies cakes and sandwiches. The Bakehouse has bread and a patisserie and more room with tables and chairs.
Kensington also has the obligatory pizza shop on the corner of the junction. It looks modern and retro but not open in the early morning. Just down the road is a Mexican restaurant as well.
Kensington for Fashion
This was my first surprise. Firstly I wasn't sure what would be inside because of the name. Secondly, I loved the garments in the window. Moth looked like it had a little bit of everything. A clothes shop with shoes is after my heart.
What do I try on first?
Doll's Warehouse I'm so disappointed this shop was not open as there was a least one handbag I may have purchased. This problem therefore worked to my financial advantage. The label on the bag said 'My best friend is a bag: Stylish, practical bags for working women'. So, I definitely have to go back. They also stock clothes, jewellery and accessories. My informant said 'The bags are to die for' but I'd already figured that out.
Kensington for Pampering
Venus Day Spa Venus Day Spa is on the other corner of the junction. I imagine that way back this would have had an excellent view. I'm sure this place has an intriguing history but there are no windows that can be seen into and the exterior gives very few clues about what is inside. There's a small poster on the window about the Chinese Year of the Horse that makes me wonder about the owners.
Come inside for some pampering
Kensington for everything else
This is a discount variety store. It stocks large clocks and wall ornaments. When the shop is closed the goods are crammed to the door. I guess when they are open they spill out onto the pavement to tempt the pedestrians.
Have I got space for another clock?
This is contemporary designer ware. The name of the shop gives clues about what happens once inside. A local told me 'The owner only buys things she would put in her own house'. So now I know a bit about her house but I'd like to see what it looks like.
Can the visa card take it?
Macaulay Clean Skins
Not to be confused with a location for people without tattoos. This is a bottle shop that stocks unlabelled wines and a large range of other bottles. They proudly advertise that they sell 'Kensington wines that are loved by the Kensington community'. By the way these are not local but grown and produced in the Goulburn Valley near Lake Nagambie.
More than just cleanskins
One of Weekend Notes readers has suggested I should include Twenty Thousand Stage and Fancy dress Costumes for hire at the Costume Factory. It's just beside the rail station (under the Bolte Bridge flyover). Don't go there without a couple of spare hours.
One thing is for sure, you will never go hungry or thirsty in Macaulay Rd Kensington. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Macaulay Rd has to offer. Be careful not to miss your turn, as it can be hard to find your way back. This is not a criticism of Kensington but it's not laid out in a systematic grid style.
I had off street parking but I suspect it may be difficult to find close parking at peak time, however Kensington railway station is at the end of the street. It is not more than 100 meters from the 'essential services'. I'm sure you'll find something you absolutely need.
Also worth trying are the Rusty Fox and the fish
& chip shop -best in town ! Can't go past their grilled barramundi. Best shops are Tempted/ Dolls Warehouse and just around the corner in Bellair St is Erinbank.
Check out Facebook pages for Tonik and the Rusty Fox for some mouth watering food.
It's Macaulay Road not street . Tonik is more a pub/bar than a coffee shop - check out their Facebook page -and the Rusty Fox is also definitely worth a mention - they too have a FB page where you can view their delicious food. Tempted and Dolls are a couple of my favourites. Be warned if you dare to try Kensington's fish & chip shop you may wish you hadn't as they will stop you from wanting fish and chips anywhere else they are soon good - their grilled barramundi gets 10/10