McKebab, 49 Gordon St, Footscray. Phone: 9317 9132
It’s not precisely, literally a hole in the wall, but McKebab has that sort of vibe about it.
This tiny kebab shop is situated next door to a convenience store, with both of them sitting on the ground floor of what is otherwise as a spectacularly ugly building.
Across the street is the pokies pub known as the Powell. Across Ballarat Rd, but still on Gordon St, is a foodie strip – a fish and chip shop, pizza place, Korean noodle hang, a couple of Indian eateries – that seems forever to be waiting for that magic spark.
It seems that often in the west, and no doubt elsewhere, businesses and their operators must make do with situations, locations and premises that are presented to them, that are affordable.
In this case, we suspect that what presents as a simple kebab joint has the capacity and knowledge to present more home-style cooking of the Turkish/Iraqi family that runs it.
We wish them well if that is the case.
Certainly we enjoy our brief visit and the friendly service we receive.
As we take one of the two tiny interior tables, we strike up a conversation with two blokes at the other who turn out to be senior players for the same rugby club for which Bennie plays. Like him, they too have enjoyed success earlier in the day.
It is the home-style dish that draws our eyes and impresses the most.
Well, impresses me the most anyway.
As we’re returning from a friend’s birthday party in Hoppers Crossing, Bennie is already quite full of party pies, sausage rolls, saveloys and chips, and would prefer to be at the burger place up the road anyway.
Later in the week, buddy!
We order “green beans, rice and salad” ($9.90), with the main protagonist turning out to be fasolea.
This is a fantastic, tangy dish of green beans tomato, capsicum, what is described to me as an “Arabic herb”, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
The beans are, of course, very tender, but I find the whole thing delicious.
The tabouli is a tad too dry and onion-y for us, but the rice is fine.
The house-made turshi – pickled turnip – is fantastic, salty, bitter and crunchy.
We order as well four felafel balls, which are freshly made and good, with an inwardly greenish hue and a smooth, ungranulated texture.
The hummus that accompanies is smooth and mild of flavour and the bread – housemade, too – is like a cross between Lebanese pita and Turkish bread.
No doubt because of their location – students above, boozer across the road – the McKebab folks face heavy demand for your typical kebab options.
But we hope they hang in there with some more home-style fare.