Meal of the week No.12: Brother Nancy

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Brother Nancy escaped my radar right up to and past Erika’s marshmallow story.

Lately, though, it has become for me a very good road coffee alternative to my usual haunts – I love it that parking is such a breeze.

Today is just right for a Brother Nancy lunch.

I’ve been driving around somewhat aimlessly – to Sunshine and back, for gosh sake – without fixing on an eats decision.

You know what?

I realise that while driving I had been far from idle – I’ve actually been working on a blog post.

Really.

I suspect I’m far, far from alone in being a writer who, by the time I front the keyboard, has the whole story virtually complete “in my head”.

Including punctuation.

Anyway, now it’s time for lunch.

I love the Brother Nancy space and vibe.

And I love the menu – with its Francophile outlook, it has really strong and laudable points of difference with all other inner-west cafes.

My crisp polenta chick pea and warm vegetable salad ($13) is a pearler that eats every bit as good as it looks.

The chick peas are superb in their tomatoey sauce.

The plump polenta patty is crisp only on the exterior – inside it’s delicate, steaming and wonderfully homely.

All the bits and pieces are good, too, including peeled baby tomatoes!

Though the shaved fennel adds nothing by way of flavour.

 

 

West Footscray and the winds of change

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wefo2

 

It seems unlikely at this point that the possibility of about 200 apartments going up on the site of what is currently 501 Receptions will generate the same kind of uproar that greeted the developmental threat to the Dancing Dog building.

Still, doing a story about those plans has seen me engage in a number of interesting conversations about urban living and planning.

No one I’ve talked to is opposed to development – but that support usually comes with a proviso that new buildings be of high quality and intelligently designed.

There’s the rub …

One intensely interested West Footscray local also brought into focus for me the fact that the 501 Receptions proposal is just one of many changes taking place within a very small area.

I had been at least subliminally aware of most of them, unaware of others – but taken as a whole, they certainly signal a neighbourhood in transition.

What is driving these changes?

Is the demand really there for so many apartments and townhouses – or is there always an element of guesswork in such investments?

I wonder, too, if there is a cadre of long-time landlords and property owners who have been passive investors for decades but who are suddenly feeling the inclination to cash in.

If so, why?

On Barkly Street – between 501 Receptions and Dosa Hut/Dosa Corner, and amid much commercial activity of various kinds – there is a surprisingly high number of residential properties.

I wonder what their future is in a time of neighbourhood flux.

 

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Likewise, how secure is the future for the old Barkly Street churches?

 

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Opposite 540 On Barkly stands what can accurately be called a paddock.

It bears a “for lease” sign.

 

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Further along, and opposite Ovest, is another vacant lot, this one not so big and without signage.

 

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There’s another paddock on the corner of Clive and Russell streets, behind Dosa Corner.

What was once a funky ’60s-style church is now definitely earmarked for apartments, I’m told.

 

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Further along, opoosite West Footscray Vet Clinic, stood for many decades a neighbourhood mechanic.

I’m told that one minute a few weeks back it was there and about 30 later it was gone, the land destined for … apartments and/or townhouses.

According to the vet clinic folks, “people who have been bringing their animals to us for years had been taking their cars there for years”.

 

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Back in the village, the two shops between Dosa Hut and the paint shop are to become townhouses, six of the eight already sold, according to the sign.

 

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According to a post on the Barkly Village Facebook page, the defaced property next to the laundrette is all set to become an amusement parlour – “primary use seems to be for billiards and games machines”.

 

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Also in the village, GM Manchester is adorned with “closing down” signs.

 

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The short-lived Akshaya Indian street food enterprise is giving way to a WeFo branch of Biryani House.

When I have a peek, they look like they’re just about ready to roll …

On a roast roll

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carv1

 

Carv’n It Up, shop 1a 167-179 Tarneit Road, Werribee. Phone: 9974 0661

Werribee Village is one of the older – and smaller – shopping centres in the area.

It has a Sim’s.

It has Chinese x 2, F&C, a chook shop and a place with curry signage that purportedly sells kebabs.

And now it has a brand new purveyor of old-fashioned roasts and accessories.

 

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Carv’n It Up is rather austere in terms of decor but on the evidence of my Saturday lunch-time visit, it is already a hit with locals.

Folks aren’t queuing up out the door but they are coming and going in a steady stream.

The roast theme is delivered via meals, family deals, rolls and a bevy of extras.

I am gratified my lunch is served on good, solid, real crockery and with metal cutlery.

Potential takeaway customers be warned, though – at least some of the to-go meals are served on yukky polystyrene trays.

 

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Roast beef with veg (14.90) does me real good.

The three slices of beef are well done but cut easily enough – though a serrated knife would’ve been appreciated.

The meat serve is very generous – so much so that what at first appears to be a surfeit of gravy is only just enough to make my meal work.

I like the spuds and peas.

But I am enough of a roast traditionalist to find the veg “medley” a bit over ambitious and fiddly – I do not want capsicum with my roasts.

See other recent stories about roasts here and here.

 

Carv'n It Up on Urbanspoon

 

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Hot lunch and free soup

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pacific5

 

Pacific Seafood BBQ House, 295 Racecourse Road, Kensington. Phone: 9372 6688

Let’s hear a big cheer for places that serve soup – soup unordered, soup served simply as part of the dining experience, soup that is a tradition and not added to the bill at the end of the meal.

Safari, the brilliant Consider The Sauce Somalian fave in Ascot Vale, serves sublime bowls of broth almost as soon as you are seated.

On several visits to Kebab Surra in Footscray I have been provided a marvellous lamb-and-vege-and-barley soup – though it seems to depend on just which main is ordered.

Pacific Seafood BBQ House, the newish Chinese place on Racecourse Road that is a sibling to older establishments in the CBD, Richmond and South Yarra, follows the same tradition when a frequent CTS dining pal and I visit for lunch.

Our soup seems to have a what I regard as a rather robust corn flavour, even though there are no corn kernels in evidence, and has what I at first take to be spud chunks.

My companion reckons, no, it’s winter melon.

She’s right.

We also subsequently discover the gratis soup is indeed corn-infused and is a pork broth.

Whatever the details, we love it.

We also love the enthusiasm with which our curiosity about the soup’s contents is greeted by the bloke manning the soup ladle.

 

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From there, ignoring the many specials detailed on wall paper that seem more suitable to night dining and larger groups, we head straight to the quickie lunch list.

We are very happy we do so.

We both order roast meat dishes that cost $11.50.

We rank them as being at the highest end of what is expected from such dishes.

 

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My soya chicken and BBQ roast pork with rice is wonderful.

The meats are moist and, as is almost always the case, more generous of proportion than eyeball or photographic impressions may convey.

The crackling is a crunchy, sinful delight.

The rice has enough soya cooking juices to do the job and the bok choy is fine.

The oil/green onion/ginger mash is very, very welcome though I wish there was more of it.

 

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My friend goes the roast duck with noodles.

The noodles glisten atop a bed of soya juices and bok choy – she fails in the mission of consuming them, as I do with my rice.

The roast duck is expertly done.

The meat comes from the bones more easily than is often the case and the skin is a dark brown and, yes, another sinful delight.

We love Racecourse Road – and now we love it more.

 

Pacific Seafood BBQ House on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.11: Saudagar

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Saudagar has been a Footscray fixture for years.

I’ve had their cholle bhatura and tried some of their sweets.

But it’s never appealed as an obvious or attractive place in which to obtain a nice, cheap feed of Indian tucker.

 

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So I am delighted – thrilled even! – to discover the place has been spruced up a bit with some new furniture and a much more welcoming look that says, “Come and eat here!”

Aside from the sweets, the prices – AFAIK – are the cheapest in the inner west: Vegetarian main courses all about $8, meat mains about $10, chicken biryanai $9.

 

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I enjoy a vegetarian thali priced at $8.

Unbuttered naan – and that’s fine by me.

Excellent, uncreamy daal that has a nice hit of ginger and appears to be made of aduki beans.

Malai kofta – wonderfully delicate and toothsome potato and cheese balls in a creamy cashew nut sauce.

Fluffy rice, pickles, onion slices.

I love my Saudagar lunch but I’m not about to tell you that it’s exceptional in any way – and that’s a profound testament to just how rich we are in the west of terrific Indian food.

 

Saudagar Sweet Shop & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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198 apartments for Barkly St, WeFo?

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wefo1

 

More than a year ago, I tried to sweet talk the proprietor of 501 Receptions in West Footscray into letting me do a story on his operation.

Specifically, I wanted to spend a Saturday night at 501 Receptions taking in the go-to-whoa of an event such as a wedding – taking in along the way the staff, the kitchen, the food, everything.

Nothing came of my idea – even after a mutual acquaintance, someone who is something of an elder statesman of western suburbs food, tried to ease the way with 501 Receptions on my behalf.

Now I find that, under plans before Maribyrnong council, the future of 50 Receptions is very much up in the air.

 

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According to a story by my Star Weekly colleague Benjamin Millar – read it here – council is considering a development proposal that would see the property home to 198 units in twin five-storey blocks plus eight retail tenancies.

I am not automatically opposed to such a development but such a plan certainly raises many questions.

The plans show carparking spaces to the tune of 201 while, according to Ben’s story, council guidelines would require a minimum of 260 spaces.

According to Ben’s story …

“A traffic assessment by engineering consultant Cardno found ‘anticipated traffic volume … is expected to have no significant impact on the surrounding road network’.”

Hmmm … I wonder what data and/or methodology they used to reach such a conclusion?

 

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As anyone knows who regularly drives on Barkly Street, West Footrscray, or on Rupert or Cross streets, which run parallel to the railways tracks, the traffic situation in the area can get quite intense even with the current housing/resident levels.

And it would seem the revamp of West Footscray station is rather timely – but are there, or should there be, limits?

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who regularly uses either West Footscray or Tottenham stations as to whether either is nearing or already at peak capacity, especially in peak hours.

And on top of Banbury Village, what would such an apartment block plan mean for the area more generally in terms of what is often referred to as “amenity”?

Bug Boxes and Burmese

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bug9

 

Bug Box party, Footscray Makers Lab, West Footscray

Bug Boxes are very clever self-watering, modular raised garden beds that uses wick technology to water plants from the bottom up.

Bug Boxes are built by a team of former refugee and Australian-born carpenters at the Footscray Maker Lab in West Footscray.

They are being created, using 100% recycled materials, under the auspices of BEAUT – Burmese Enterprise Association for Urban Trading.

As it says on the BEAUT website: “When you buy a Bug Box, you give an ex-refugee tradie a job.”

They are priced from $49 to $119, with delivery with seedlings to suburbs in the west costing $10.

To arrange a Bug Box purchase, visit the BEAUT Facebook store – but be warned: the Facebook store doesn’t load on mobile devices so you will need to order from a laptop or desktop. 

Bennie and I felt very honoured indeed to be invited to the Bug Box party at Fooscray Makers Lab – but we did wonder how many, if any, people we would know there.

We need not have worried in that regard.

Among the cheerful throng were …

 

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… Mia from West Welcome Wagon – you can read about the forthcoming WWW/CTS Greek feast fundraiser at Santorini here.

There are still tickets available but they WILL sell out.

Mia is the one with the very surprised look on her face.

On the right is Liana, one of the wonderful brains behind Footscray bar Littlefoot.

Consider The Sauce has taken its time about getting around to visiting Littlefoot but as it happens we had visited for dessert post-Pandu’s just a few nights before.

So I was happy to tell Liana that I consider Littlefoot’s “injera and hazelnut chocolate pinwheels with creamy coconut dipping sauce” a work of intense genius.

Frankly: We can’t wait to return to try out the entire menu.

Stay tuned!

Liana and her family were just some of the friends I’d made during the Dancing Dog building campaign who were in attendance at the Bug Box shindig.

 

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Some of the teenagers attending were only too happy to display their social deftness.

Crowning the happy gathering was a really fine spread of Burmese tucker.

 

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The lighting situation was challenging to say the least – suffice it to say the food was delicious, even if the photographs fail to convey that fact very well!

 

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