8bit: The Bennie Verdict

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8bit, 8 Droop Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8838

We have a few loose ends to take care of at the venue of our great party of a few nights ago.

I’d be happy to chow down right here and now.

But Bennie has other ideas: “We’ve already had African this week!”

Says Kokeb’s Helen: “I don’t blame you!”

She’s plainly envious as we troop off to 8bit.

Since the initial CTS story on Footscray’s new burger hot-spot, we’ve heard and read a lot … many happy raves, some “meh” and quite a lot of talk about protracted wait times.

I’m very interested to see what Bennie, the undoubted burger expert of the family, thinks.

We’re told the wait time will about 20 minutes.

It ends up seeming like more, but no worries … Bennie soon finds something to keep him happily occupied.

 

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After snagging a pair of stool right there at the shake station, I’m happy, too – watching kitchen action such as this is very much the CTS equivalent of taking in some performance art.

 

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Item 1: Cheese and bacon fries ($7).

These are almost certainly the unhealthiest things we’ve eaten this year – and that’s saying a LOT.

They’re gone in under three minutes.

Yum.

Item 2: After Burner ($9.50) with beef, tomato, red onion, lettuce, cheese, chilli sauce, calapeños, chipotle mayo.

“It’s just a burger,” says Bennie. “Grill’d is better …”

Ouch!

Based on my good-sized sample, I reckon he’s making a pretty harsh call. I really like the bite and freshness of the multi-layered lettuce and the spicy tingle of the mayo.

Item 3: Golden Axe ($9.50) with crispy fried chicken, cheese, Sriracha mayo, slaw.

Bennie rather wishes he’d had this instead.

It’s darn good and the chook really is delightfully crunchy.

The only fault I find is a lack of your actual real chicken flavour.

Some readers, both here and on the CTS FB page, have made unflattering comparisons between 8bit and a certain Latin-American joint in Sunshine.

Now, as much as we love that Sunshine emporium – and we really, really do – I’m not sure such comparisons are really valid.

They’re wholly different propositions, with different aims, staffing levels and – no doubt – rent to pay.

8bit is cool … and despite his lukewarm response, Bennie is keen to return for an outing with the “double beef, double cheese, double bacon, pickles, mustard, lettuce, 8bit sauce” Double Dragon.

See the 8bit website here.

8bit. on Urbanspoon

 

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EAHA/Kokeb/CTS party – the wrap

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EAHA/Kokeb/CTS fund-raising party for Eritrean kids, Kokeb Restaurant & Cafe, 247 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 0157

Tuesday, July 22.

 

It was an evening to raise funds to support the work of Eritrean Australian Humanitarian Aid.

It was held at Kokeb Restaurant & Cafe in Footscray.

It was beaut!

Thanks go to many people …

 

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Thanks to everyone who supported the event through their credit cards and their presence.

Thanks to the Kokeb family – Helen, Melaku, Naeb … and, most particularly, thanks to Demet, who spent the whole day cooking the wonderful food we enjoyed so much!

 

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Thanks to Louise and Noray from EAHA for telling us about Eritrea and the group’s work.

Thanks to the rest of EAHA gang – Wafa, Namarek, Aziza and Amira – for providing smiles, great ginger-infused Eritrean coffee and popcorn, dates and sweet cake hombasha to go with it.

Thanks to Nat Stockley for his as-always fantastic pics. He really saved me. Maybe it’s time to face reality – that hosting these events AND taking good blog pics is too much of a stretch!

Thanks to Matt from Westgate Party Hire for providing the serving platters free of charge.

 

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What we enjoyed food-wise:

 Yebeg wat: Freshly made beef stew served with injera.

Doro wat: Chicken drumsticks slow cooked in dense stew of onions, berbere and Ethiopian butter. Boiled eggs are knife-poked and simmered in the stew. A high holiday treat in Ethiopia.

Misir wat: Split lentils stewed with onion, garlic and a blend of Ethiopian herbs.

 

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Alecha: Potatoes, carrot and split peas cooked in onion, garlic and olive oil. A mild dish with a touch of turmeric and a subtle blend of herbs and spices.

Salad, injera.

$1000 has been deposited in the EAHA bank account.

Thanks!

 

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Cold night, fried dough

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Mozzarella Bar, 103 Victoria Street, Seddon. Phone: 9687 0097

Some time before the end of year, Bennie will become taller than his dad.

His shoe size is already a step up from mine, so to speak.

This is all a far cry from his first appearance in Consider The Sauce – a late 2010 review of Laksa King in Flemington.

It’s to Bennie’s considerable credit that in that time he has continued to thrive in two separate homes with two very different adults/parents.

I was never going to be a movie-and-Maccas-once-a-month kind of dad.

No way!

Which isn’t to say I don’t mostly enjoy the bachelorhood our arrangement affords me.

Though things can get a little scary.

So the Bennie times are to be preferred, bringing a centredness and a sense of belonging.

On his first night back with dad, I generally make sure we have a meal at home – just to settle in once more and knuckle down for the work/school week ahead.

So this week, Sunday night dinner is yummy pies from a new Werribee bakery, tomato salad and yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip.

What we can do on such nights, however, is go for a post-dinner promenade around the nighbourhood.

Bennie sometimes may take a little persuading to leave the house, but once we’re out and about he truly digs walking the streets with his old man.

And happily, and despite their much-discussed trendy veneer, Yarraville and Seddon offer very, very little by way of food and drink temptations on a cold Sunday night – they’re pretty much locked-down and shut-up like small country towns.

This reduces us mostly to bat-spotting and talking to cats – no problem!

But Mozzarella Bar is changing all that.

As we enter, Bennie has his mind fixated on Nutella calzone.

Of course!

But a quick glance at the menu reminds me of the eye-catching Italian doughnuts I spied on my first visit here.

Oh boy, these are good!

Our zeppole are hot, chewy, crunchy with cinnamon sugar and spiked with plump sultanas. They’re served with a just-right bowl of cream infused with vanilla and coffee.

A $11 serve of five is fine to share for two lads who have already consumed a healthy dinner.

Our cafe latte and hot chocolate arrive, as requested, within seconds of our dessert – a touch of class and timing we appreciate.

As we depart, I ask Bennie which he thinks the superior concept – zeppole or Nutella calzone.

“Maybe if they deep-fried the calzone!” he quips.

Now, THERE’S an idea …

Check out Temasek’s review here.

Mozzarella Bar on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

Best schnitzel EVER!

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La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911

Meeting a fellow blogger and her friends a few weeks back – at La Morenita as it happens – I casually mentioned that I am happy for Consider The Sauce to cover a restaurant or business more than once.

This occasioned surprise on behalf of one of my new friends.

Me, too, I guess!

It has never been planned.

But somewhere along the way this blog has become an ongoing journey so updates and second-looks seem natural as the western subrubs food scene develops and evolves, menus expand or change and people come and go.

After several “reviews” and before-and-after stories on two separate CTS Feasts, La Morenita certainly fits snugly into that continuing scenario!

And for that we make no apologies – this after all, in our opinion, is one of the true gems of the west.

What’s more, exciting things are happening at this fine Berkshire Road emporium, with revamps and extensions planned for both the premises and the menu.

After a “research trip” to Sydney, Marco and Maria will be rolling out for testing a number of new dishes on coming Sundays – they’ll be of a more substantial nature, to match the grouse range of sandwiches/burgers and empanadas already featured.

First up tomorrow (July 20) will be fried fish (barramundi) and beef schnitzel with chips and salad.

I, of course, misread Maria’s Facebook announcements and bowl up on Saturday – but Marco whips me up a schnitzel anyway.

Oh … My … Lord – it’s sensational!

The crumbed coating so crisp and unoily, the meat so thin, tender and tasty.

And what looks at first blush like somewhat ordinary accompaniments turn out to be perfect – the chips and, particularly, a simple salad of tomato and onion.

It’s big, mind you – really really really big. So much so the $20 price tag seems like a bargain.

Half of it went home with me.

Unless you are of pronounced appetite, this’ll do as a light meal for two.

Schnitzel? Latin-American food?

Yup.

Maria tells me schnitzel and chips is an absolute Uruguayan classic.

“This is what I grew up on,” she says.

Best way to keep track of what the weekly dishes will be is to like their Facebook page.

 

 

Good, fresh Japanese in Moonee Ponds

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I Dream Of Sushi, 6 Margaret Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9375 7951

I Dream Of Sushi is a brand new – Nat and I hit it for lunch on opening day – Japanese joint tucked just around the corner from Puckle Street, with a branch of Yim Yam and a fine fish and chippery nearby.

As this is his work nighbourhood, Nat has been watching developments with great interest as he sometimes gets cranky with despair and boredom concerning the same old same old lunchtime routines hereabouts.

The place is done in cheerful cafe style and the staff are on the go and smiling.

I suspect that, not unlike another Japanese CTS favourite, I Dream Of Sushi delivers sushi rolls not out of any great passion about doing so but because to do otherwise would be commercial suicide.

In any case, he and I happily focus on the rest of the menu (see below), which covers a tight but appealing range of smaller dishes and a line-up of rice bowls.

We do real good.

My miso soup ($3.50) is regulation but very good, with deep miso flavour.

 

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Gyoza ($6.50), too, are orthodox but also yummy with a nice garlickiness.

 

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Tofu salad ($10) is a winner and just the sort of light, healthy lunch I’ve been desiring.

The greens, tomatoes, cucumber and radishes are super-fresh and the dressing tangy.

 

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Nat is very happy with his salmon sashimi (12 pieces for $10).

 

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But it’s his teri may don ($12) of “tender chicken thigh cooked in sweet soy on steamed rice w/- Japanese may” that does it for him.

“I’ve hit the bullseye,” he happily proclaims.

I Dream Of Sushi is pitching itself cleverly for the local lunch market – it’ll do fine.

And, yep, Nat will be back.

 

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As we are wrapping things up, we get talking to Catherine and Barb, for whom this is a family affair – they could hardly be prouder of what Acko, Yagu, Miho and Con are doing!

 

I Dream of Sushi on Urbanspoon

 

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Fabulous and fancy @ Ebi

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Ebi Fine Food, 18A Essex St, Footscray. Phone: 9689 3300

Consider The Sauce loves Ebi; we adore the place, its charming host, the perfect fish and chips and bentos.

But $120 for a tricked-up degustation men?

Not exactly regular fare for CTS, as regular readers will understand.

How to justify such extravagance?

Birthday prezzie?

A few days out, but what the hey …

Tax return treat?

Having only just got all the required documentation in the one room, I haven’t even really started on this year’s effort yet …

Celebratory outing based on good results in the “scary medical tests” department?

Truth is, tonight’s Ebi event – the first of its kind – is simply too tempting to pass up.

I’m tingling with excitement at seeing John spread his wings with the sort of ritzy food, time – and labour-intensive sauces, and superior and refined ingredients of the kind that rarely come my way.

And I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with what I assume will be a small audience of Ebi regulars/fans and doing so with some classy beer, sake and wine on hand … though I suspect the booze may be wasted on a wine prol such as myself.

I’m expecting food that displays strong influences from both Japan and France – and maybe even Italy.

And so it largely proves to be …

Sharing the bar stools with me are Jake and Kim, on one side, with Daniel and Tom on the other.

 

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The table for two behind us is soon filled, to my happy delight, with CTS pals Justin and Sasha!

Wonderful!

And so it begins …

This is no ordinary degustation bash. For starters, the price is way less than those sought for most of the famed and storied options available elsewhere.

There’s the same paper serviettes as ever.

And John himself acts not just as chef but also waiter, maitre’d, busboy and dishwasher.

Frankly, I’d not be comfortable with a more formal arrangement.

 

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Spherified edamame with sea salt crystals is as out-there as tonight’s fare is to get – John even uses the word “Bulli” in relation to it. It’s a gorgeous, slippery, crunchy mouthful with pronounced edamame flavour served with Koshihikari Echigo rice beer.

 

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Anchovy and parmesan straws are rich, buttery and crumbly, the anchovies supplying just the right kind of salty flavour explosion.

 

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Seared Hokkaido scallops with soy wasabi butter are such a hit – for good reason – that John quickly whips up another round for us!

 

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Grilled, salted salmon belly is profoundly exquisite and served with Osakazuki Junmai Ginjo Sake.

 

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Lobster? CTS? Blimey!

Butter-poached crayfish is a dream, served with a yuzu kosho sauce that exhibits just the right kind of tartness to match the seafood’s sweetness.

John describes the sauce as made with a fruit that is a mix of lemon, lime and orange blended with salt and chilli.

This is served with a just-right Borgo Bello Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2012.

 

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We’re about to move into significantly more robust and richer territory …

 

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Duck and porcini kamameshi comes with blackcurrant jus.

Kamameshi turns out to be a sort-of Japanese version of the universal rice dish and is very much like risotto – it’s wonderful, too, as is the juicy duck.

(Served with Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz 1998.)

 

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Ahhh – the best of all!

Wagyu fillet with roast marrow, shallot and herb tartlet comes also with roast beetroot and organic kale.

It’s all terrific, the beef ultra-succulent and the tart pastry so very rich.

Served with Wynns Coonawarra black label Cabernet sauvignon 1997.

 

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And to finish …

Ginger and ume bombe with “plum” ice-cream, sponge and meringue – just my kind of grown-up, not-too-sweet dessert; served with lovely Osakazuki Umeshu (“plum liquor”).

So … has it been worth it?

Yes.

I’ve loved the food, the company, the conversation and the liquid accompaniments.

It’s been a beaut experience!

But we’ll still be loving those bentos and fish and chips …

And, yes, there may be more such events at Ebi.

See earlier stories here and here.

 

Ebi Fine Food on Urbanspoon

 

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An A1 arrival in Werribee

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A1 Bakery, 2/70 Watton Street, Werribee. Phone: 8714 1592

What good news this is – a branch of A1 Bakery in Werribee, a sister joint for the Lebanese shops in Sydney Road and Dandenong.

Yippee!

They’ve been open a week when I arrive, hungry, for lunch.

I’m expecting the big space and in-depth grocery range of the Brunswick establishment.

So I’m surprised to find instead a smallish but cheerful cafe, with only a minimal range of groceries.

There is a heap to eat, though.

There’s a range of 15 super-cheap pies and piazzas.

Plain zaatar goes for $2, zaatar with vegetables is $4 and a spinach and cheese parcel will cost you $4.50.

There’s wraps and salads.

And, best of all, there’s a range of platters – falafel, tawouk (chicken), labne, kibbe, “kafta” and the like.

They range in price from $6 up to $10 and all come with a varied line-up of pickles, yogurt, salad, chips, salad and pita.

 

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As listed, my $8 kofta deal is served without pickles, so I get them added for an extra $1. I’m pretty sure the cheerful and obliging staff will allow customers to customise their platter choices in terms of accompaniments.

My lunch is terrific.

The three kofta sausages, in particular, are wonderful – fat, juicy, mildly seasoned and pinkish in the middle.

The pies and pizzas I see being consumed around me look very much the goods, too!

 

A1 Bakery on Urbanspoon

 

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