Skip to main content

Palace Westgarth

Due to a childhood filled with forced visits to antique shops, I now have a solid fondness for Art Deco and Nouveau architecture, furniture, jewellery and design. What, at the time, was a begrudging exercise for me, has actually cultivated an appreciation that I now enjoy. I guess I should thank my parents at some point...

Cinema foyer. Note the parquetry flooring,
fanned ceiling lights, and door craftsmanship.

So, naturally, whenever I come across a cinema with Deco stylings, I become inordinately excited. Although Palace Westgarth isn't as decadent or magic-filled as some Deco cinemas I've seen (looking at you, Hayden Orpheum Cremorne and Village Rivoli Camberwell), it still has plenty of charm and enough features for me to want to take photos. Hence this blog post!

What is now Palace Westgarth originally opened as the Westgarth Theatre in 1920. Increased immigration levels and proximity to the city led to burgeoning growth in the area, and a small strip of bohemian shops sprang up at the southern end of High Street, Northcote. The area retained a village feel, and the Westgarth Theatre sits in the centre of that strip to this day.

Cool curvy chairs and mirror. Matchy matchy.

In 1986, the Westgarth Theatre became the art-house Valhalla Cinema, which had been operating since 1976, but was relocated to Northcote after its original venue in Victoria Street, Richmond was sold (and later demolished). It's a good thing too, because originally, at the Richmond venue, patrons had to bring their own seats! After ten years of operation in Northcote, soaring rental costs meant the Valhalla had to close, and the cinema was taken over privately, and run as "The Westgarth" for a further decade.

Even the bathrooms are Deco. Note the mirrors and lights.

Facing commercial difficulties, in 2005, the owners sold the business side of the cinema to chain Palace Cinemas, whilst retaining ownership of the building itself. In 2006, the theatre underwent a $4 million, six-month refurbishment, converting it from one of the last two remaining single-screen venues in Melbourne, to a three-screen venue: one with 300 seats downstairs, and two with 100 seats each, upstairs.

I LOVE movie theatre carpet

Many of the building's original features were preserved, with their distinct Art Deco geometric shapes, lines and patterns. The venue also contains a wine and espresso bar (available for private functions, pre- or post-screenings) - but I was disappointed to see the coffee they choose to offer is Lavazza. [clicks tongue]

Why Lavazza, oh why?

The Palace Westgarth is a relatively quiet, small, suburban cinema but with good amounts of charm. It offers all the usual features of modern cinemas (surround sound, 3D, blah di blah, plus cheap-arse Tuesdays), but I find it's a more pleasant evening out when you can also nod to the past.

Popular posts from this blog

Spice Temple

Spice Temple  Neil Perry's Fine Dining Chinese Restaurant at Crown, Southbank, Melbourne
It's considered an institution in Melbourne, and with a chef to its name like Neil Perry, a location like Southbank, and an existence of six years in the Melbourne restaurant scene (when staying power is notoriously elusive), it's no wonder. Spice Temple's name is a pretty accurate description of the restaurant: food heavy in spices and spiciness; a dim space with a sort of hushed reverence.

The quiet tone of Spice Temple (Shop 7, Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank) could well be due to its design. With lots of dark wood and more traditional red and gold carpet, one might be forgiven for thinking it's a little dated. What keeps it current is the symmetrical and perpendicular fittings, creating neat squared-off eating nooks, and the dark, felt-like soundproofing material spaced out overhead, muffling any white noise.

Walking into the restaurant's reception area, yo…

Saint Crispin

When Smith Street had just become a local area for me, I used to walk past Cavallero and think about how I 'must try that place soon'. But as everyone knows, Smith Street (and surrounds) is not short of venues, and I must have been busy checking out all the others first, because before I knew it, Cavallero had closed and I had missed my chance. Apparently it had been struggling. Who then, would dare to take on the site, and what would they make of it? Smith Street is a prime location, but it's also full of competition. This would have to be good.

Enter Scott Pickett (Estelle Bistro) and Joe Grbac (The Press Club). Two chefs who used to work together at London's fancy-pants The Square (which boasts not one, but two Michelin stars), they joined forces to open a brand new venue as both business partners and co-head chefs. The result: Saint Crispin (300 Smith Street, Collingwood).

Named for the patron saint of shoemakers, Saint Crispin acknowledges its site's origins a…


The shops along Domain Road, South Yarra have a reputation for being a bit posh. It is South Yarra, after all, and the majority are cafes and restaurants that take advantage of their location (opposite Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens) by providing some outdoor seating. Apparently The Real Housewives of Melbourne even frequent one or two venues along the strip.

A little further down the road, on the corner of Millswyn Street, EntrecĂ´te(131-133 Domain Road, South Yarra) is having a party of its own - still refined, but with a little more colour and personality. In operation as a Parisian-style steak bistro since January 2015, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week in the former site of the infamous Lynch's Restaurant.

Business partners Jason McLaren Jones and Adam North developed the idea when they bumped into each other in Paris in late 2014. They took a meal together at the institutional Le Relais de L'EntrecĂ´te: a no-bookings bistro that ser…