Vintage cool and a cool burger

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marsh7

 

Vintage Loft, 99A Main Street, Bacchus Marsh
Little Lucky Cafe, 3 Grant Street, Bacchus Marsh. Phone: 0400 695 787

A road trip to the Ballan area has been enjoyable but ends in disappointment in terms of getting a story up for Consider The Sauce.

So now I’m stuck.

Do I race for home and hit, for lunch, any one of several places on the CTS wishlist?

Or do I cast around where I’m at and see what can I find – or perhaps even stumble upon?

Then I remember … there is something of much interest to check out in nearby Bacchus Marsh.

 

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Not exactly food, perhaps, but what the hey …

The woman I am seeking is named Daisy.

I have met Daisy before – maybe even a couple of times.

But it was a bloody long time ago and the memory is little more than a tantalising blur. It was, I’m guessing, about 25 years ago.

Certainly, I cannot recall the precise circumstances.

But I DO know it involved Daisy’s dad, Keith.

Keith Glass was and is a lovely man, one with a long and colourful history in the Australian music scene – and, these days, very much beyond Australia. No need to go into the details here.*

Keith and I have never been close mates but we have been something more than mere acquaintances over the years.

A few years after the encounter(s) at which I met his daughter, Keith started reviewing country and related music for the Sunday Herald Sun when – quite preposterously – I was the entertainment boss there and in a position to arrange such things.

Keith did a great job during what was something of a purple patch for both of us – but, yep, all that was a bloody long time ago now.

And it seems like it.

Both our lives have changed – a lot.

For myself … well, regular readers know what that’s all about.

Keith?

Well he now lives in Mobile, Alabama, where his zest and passion for music remain undiminished – so much so that he’s running a gung-ho operation called … yup, Mobile Records.

 

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So – sorry about the longwindedness! – that’s how I find myself climbing steep metal stairs to the floor above a chicken shop and a pizza joint in downtown Bacchus Marsh and entering Vintage Loft.

Keith and I stay in touch – if that’s the right term – through the magic of the internet, and Facebook in particular … so that’s how I came to know about Daisy’s new enterprise.

 

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Daisy, naturally, doesn’t recall me – nor I her, really.

But it doesn’t matter.

I like checking out the pop culture riches of the business she has started with two other locals.

 

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I like getting the back story of her journey from Windsor to Bacchus Marsh and family life.

And, of course, we discuss her father – perhaps his ears were burning?

Whatever … if you’re in the area, and especially if you’re retro-minded, CTS very much recommends a visit to Vintage Loft.

 

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But what of lunch, what of food?

To be honest, the options in Bacchus Marsh look mighty threadbare.

 

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But after we’ve taken the obligatory selfie to dispatch to Alabama, Daisy and her local knowledge come to the rescue.

She sends me just a few metres and just around the corner to a lovely place called Little Lucky Cafe, which is housed in an old cottage.

Thanks, Daisy – no way I would’ve found this place without you!

 

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Of course, I warm immediately to an establishment that has such great floorboards …

The menu (see below) covers a range of breakfast and lunch options – and according to in-house signage, they do dinner on Fridays, too.

 

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I go the cheese burger ($16) served with “rustic fries” and feel like a winner.

It’s a no-fuss straightahead cheese burger that is very fine.

The fries are superb.

*Hair (cast member), Boys Next Door/Birthday Party (manager), Missing Link Records (proprietor), Deep South Records (proprietor), Onie J Holy (alter ego), High In The Saddle (RRR), recording artiste.

 

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Footscray eats goss

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footgoss21

 

Wow – replacing Vietnamese eatery Pho Ta on Nicholson Street will be Afghan Master Kebab.

And, yes, it will run by the same people who operate the restaurant of the same name in Sunshine.

 

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Expect an opening in about two weeks.

I wish the rest of this report’s items could be as cheery …

 

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Around the corner on Irving Street, I was saddened to see that Saudagar appears to have closed – or, at the least, is not presently operating.

 

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Over on Hopkins Street – on the last retail strip before a parking lot, Centrelink and Franco Cozzo – the long-established Indian grocery has also closed.

 

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Right next door, the restaurant known as HM Quan has a real estate agent’s sign in the window that reads “Available Now” and “Fully furnished restaurant”.

Though, peering through the window, it didn’t seem the interior had started accumulating the litter and disarray that usually attends a business closing down.

 

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Heading in the other direction and up Barkly Street, it’s with much sadness that I discover that it appears that Kebab Surra has also called it a day.

CTS pal and contributor Erika tells me there has been a sign since mid-July saying there is an illness involved but I saw no sign when I was there this afternoon and the furniture has been stacked.

Darn!

Cool cafe for Braybrook

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mist1

 

The Mist Factory, corner South Road/Duke Street, Braybrook.

There was a quite a buzz going on when Quan Viet opened in 2011 on the South Road shopping strip in Braybrook.

Quite rightly, too, as their Vietnamese tucker was very good.

Sadly, it closed quite some time ago now, replaced in the first instance by a generic-style noodle shop (I had a single, very mediocre meal there) and in the second instance by a new Vietnamese place, the quality of which we have yet to ascertain.

Happily, still on the strip – though currently undergoing renovations – is the home of Gerry’s Pittes.

Our 2012 story on Gerry’s continues to be read regularly, confirming these flatbreads’ cult status!

Now, in good news all-round but especially for Braybrook locals, the South Road shopping strip boasts its very own cool cafe.

 

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I love the fit-out of The Mist Factory – there’s wood and enamelled chairs and stools; the vibe is elegant and simple.

(The name, BTW, comes from the “vape” business run by the same folks, with some of the products available down the back of the cafe.)

Having a hunch The Mist Factory would not be a serious lunch place, I did not soak muesli the previous night so am happy to step out for a rare breakfast engagement.

 

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My breakfast ($12.50, from the handwritten list presented with printed menu – see below) is very nice.

The eggs are expertly scrambled and sprinkled with just right amount of dukkah.

There’s a bunch – so to speak – of lovely spinach under those eggs, while the sourdough toast is fine and the bacon of high quality.

 

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For lunch or other non-breakfast times, there’s a range of filled Turkish rolls, panini, slices and cookies.

My two cafe lattes are good.

One of The Mist Factory crew, Peter, tells me it’s very early days for their cafe and that they consider the present situation pretty much “a soft opening”.

He hopes the place will become something of a late-night hang.

 

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Moonee Ponds eats goss

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moon22

 

More changes are afoot in Moonee Ponds and in and around Puckle Street.

At 19 Pratt, formerly the home of Italian establisment L’Angolo Italiano, a barbecue place called  BBQ Land is being prepared for opening.

 

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Going by the photos and dish titles already adorning the exterior, this seems unlikely to be serving American-style barbecue and will be doing more Aussie-style things over charcoal.

 

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Around the corner in Puckle Street, Greek joint Hellenic Flavours has folded.

 

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Across the street, Just Burgers has also closed – we didn’t get around to trying it!

I’m told the people – or person – behind a well-known and fondly regarded burger operation have/has taken over the premises with a view to opening a deli-style sandwich shop.

Think: Pastrami.

Think: Dill pickles on the side.

 

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In the old-school arcade off Puckle Street that leads through to Young Street, the equally old-school Bruno’s Coffee Lounge has closed down.

 

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Over in Hall Street, Nature’s One is offering what looks like a lovely range of breads and baguettes, along with things such as simple toasties and dips.

 

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And even though it happened a while ago, it would remiss of us not to mention that what was once a branch of Yim Yam in Margaret Street is now a Korean eatery called Hanspoon.

 

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Finally, and even though it has absolutely nothing to do with food, let me record the surprise and utter delight felt when, upon walking through the front area of a Puckle Street homewares/furniture store, I find at the back … the still-recognisable shell of a lovely old-school cinema/theatre.

How cool is that?

Ovest revisited

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ovest35

 

Ovest, 572 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7766

It’s been a while since Consider The Sauce’s inaugural visit to Ovest so I’m very happy to be taking Bennie for his first visit for Sunday lunch.

The place has quickly established itself as a popular fixture for West Footscray and beyond.

But as it has done so, Ovest has been evolving and growing.

 

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For starters, and no doubt to the grateful hurrahs of many, the boss has “caved in” – according the place’s Facebook page – and now has a “shiny new Wega machine”.

Espresso coffee at Ovest – oh yes!

As well, while Ovest has been open on Sundays for a while, starting this coming week it will be open as well for lunch from Tuesdays through Saturdays, with those days offering a streamlined menu of nine-inch pizzas and a few other goodies (see menu below).

For our Sunday lunch, Bennie and I have no problem with choosing from the regular menu, going pizzas all the way.

 

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The spicy pork on a tomato base with fennel sausage, ham, baby tomatoes, fior di latte, wonderfully crisp pancetta and chillies ($22.50) and …

 

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… the napolitana with olives, fat anchovies, baby tomatoes, mozzarella and basil ($19.50) are brilliant.

Really, these two are – in our experience – as good as pizzas can be.

My cafe latte is pretty good, too!

 

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Full-on Chinese at Highpoint

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tina17

 

Tina’s Noodle Kitchen, Highpoint.

Having checked out the swish new food area at Highpoint by myself, it’s a real pleasure to return with Bennie for another look and taste.

He, too, is impressed by it all.

We immediately note that the Vietnamese operation, Saigon Square, appears to be ready for business.

Sadly, we discover that it’s only open this day for friends and family, while the public opening will be the following day.

So we move on over to Tina’s Noodle Kitchen.

Like me, again, Bennie is knocked out that such adventurous and unadulterated food is being served at a shopping centre, at Highpoint.

It’s a nice place, with lots of tables and an air of spaciousness about it.

There’s a stack of staff members taking care of business and the open kitchen adds to the ambiance.

We take our time to peruse the long and lavishly illustrated menu (see below).

Apart from snacky items at the front and a list of “extras” both vegetable and meat at the rear, the menu appears to be devoted entirely to ingredient-packed soup-noodle combos in a dizzying range of variations, with prices mostly in the $13 to $14 range.

 

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We love our sole dabble from the snack/smaller list – pickled vegetable threads ($3).

But these turn out to be largely unnecessary due to the sizes of our soup-noodle meals.

Beware – these are so big that at a pinch one could serve as a meal for two moderately hungry people.

 

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Bennie chooses the deep-fried pork with pickles ($13.80).

He likes it – with some reservations.

The broth is salty and yummy, while the battered pork goes good though, unsurprisingly, becomes soggy – not necessarily a bad thing – as he progresses.

He slurps the slithery noodles and enjoys the pickles.

He has no time for the handful of quail eggs – he’s never dug them – or the “Canned Luncheon Ham” hidden within.

He may get the terminology wrong, but he sums up his feelings thusly: “Spam doesn’t taste good no matter what it’s in!”

 

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As with Bennie’s bowl, my own spicy stewed beef ($13.80) is a mixture of the familiar and the not so.

The broth is good and towards the more fiery end of the spice spectrum, while the beef is chunky and tasty though quite solid.

For just about every mouthful that is comfortingly familiar another explodes with sheer, exotic strangeness.

I do know that in the process of enjoying this dish I eat at least three varieties of mushrooms or – more accurately, I suspect – fungus for the first time.

My attempts to discover what it is I’m eating – “Is this a mushroom, is this some sort of tofu?” – fail despite a couple of staff members giving it a crack.

They seem disinclined to find someone who can do so.

We enjoy our lunches but perhaps not as much as we may have wished.

I put that down to what I suspect is a mixture of us being pushed somewhat out of our comfort zones – even though we both choose dishes that are, superficially at least, among the least challenging on the menu – and the simple truth that perhaps this food style is not for us.

Nevertheless, we depart full of admiration – and even a little awe – for the fact that such things are being served at Highpoint.

 

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Top-notch burgers in Kensington

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ed22

 

Mr Ed, 285 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 6444

“Cafe By Day, Burger Bar By Night” – that’s Mr Ed in Kensignton.

Having checked it out in the former regard – see here – it’s become a sometime coffee spot for me, and perhaps I’ll grab one of their terrific pies or sweeties.

Tonight we’re in the house to check out the burgers.

The previous night, Bennie I had perused the menu – see the Mr Ed website here.

Having looked at the varied ingredients and the prices, Bennie wondered aloud if the Mr Ed burgers would offer sufficient eating.

And well he might …

The prices range from $14.50 to $17.50.

Among the ingredients listed for the nine burgers are pickled zucchini, Hereford beef, bourbon bacon jam, confit baby tomatoes, tomatillo salsa and shredded kale.

Ooohhh – sounds fancy!

But will we get a good feed or dainty, boutique burgers gone in a mouthful?

Actually, at another time and on another visit I might choose to compile a meal just from the very alluring list of sides.

How about rainbow slaw, purple congo/kipfler/bullhorn pepper fry-up or merlot pickled onion rings?

Ahh, but not tonight – on with the burgers!

 

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Bennie goes the Buddha burger of minute eye fillet, soft egg, kassler, oven dried tomatoes, crumbled aged cheddar, house relish, roasted garlic aioli ($16).

He loves it – a lot.

It’s proves to be a very messy proposition but that’s fine, of course.

He loves the way all the varied, high-falutin’ ingredients – including “the nicer than normal ham” and the runny egg – combine.

This burger maven rates it a very solid 8.5 or even 9.

Yes, that good.

Only glitch – and it’s only a very minor one – is he’s unused to having your real, actual meat in such a meal.

He’s (very) used to hamburger patties, whereas this is in effect a steak sanger and he grapples, but only very momentarily, with the eating skills required.

I go the Wagyu beef burger with pickled zucchini, raclette, baby leaves, house relish and mustard mayonnaise ($14.50, top photo) – and it, too, is a doozy.

The beef patty is about an inch thick, well seasoned and delicious, and the dressings and zucchini noodles are wonderful.

 

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For sides, we get a small serve of the home-made fat chips ($4).

My heart sinks a little when I spy what appear to be wedges but … wedge-shaped they may be, but our chips are fabulous.

Once-boiled and once-fried, they have tender, hot innards that veritably scream: “Potato!”

 

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We complete our meal with a mixed pickle plate of jalapenos, carrot, cucumber and cornichons ($5.50).

We both love pickles so we both love this.

The jalapenos are somewhat out of place but the cornichons hit the spot and the carrot and cucumber are true delights that are pickled somewhat in the sweet, delicate Japanese style.

We’ve enjoyed and admired the Mr Ed take on burgers.

We’ve received burgers that don’t see us waddling out of the place having completely stuffed ourselves.

But we consider the quality of the ingredients and cooking and the resultant flavours well worth the money we have paid.

We recommend the Mr Ed burgers to anyone who has become a bit jaded with 8bit and the like.

The service has been fine, Mr Ed is a fine place to spend an hour so and we reckon their burger endeavours deserve greater patronage than the handful of occupied tables we’ve observed this Friday night.