No more pickled dork

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Bennie and I have used Buckingham Street as a back-street route home from the West Footscray, Sunshine and the likes for years and probably thousands of times.

One time, as we were stopped and waiting to turn right into Victoria Street, Bennie gazed up at the faded lettering of the windows of what used to be a butcher shop.

He struggled to make out the words …

“Pickled … pickled … dork!”

As we turned right and started heading for the underpass, I started laughing.

Then Bennie started laughing, too.

And I started laughing even more – so much so I almost had to pull the car over to let it all out.

That incident has been a running gag at CTS even since.

Somewhat sadly, the “pickled dork” is no more.

The two windows have been superbly brought back to their original glory.

It’s all part of a revamp of the two-storey brick building at 70A Victoria that will see it be auctioned on March 28.

 

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Vendor Dave gives me a rundown on the joint’s history …

He tells me the building went up in 1889.

Butcher John Cashmore signed the property over to his wife before departing to do his bit in World War I.

Upon his return, the property ownership reverted back to his name and stayed in the family until Dave bought it in 1989.

Locals who have passed by many times in the past decade or so will be aware that the corner house has had many, um, colourful tenants.

Dave’s had enough of the landlord lark so under the auctioneer’s hammer it must go!

The real estate listing for the property is here.

 

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Old-school WeFo

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Con’s Fish And Chips, 577 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9689 280

Bennie and I had good fish and chips from Con’s many moons ago but haven’t explored the place further since then.

This time, I’ve been nudged through the door by Col and the very excellent Barkly Village Facebook page he runs – he’s raved about the Con’s burgers several times, arousing my interest.

Truth is, we’d looked elsewhere largely based on our preference to eat in and sit down whenever possible, no matter what kind of food is at hand.

So I’m delighted to find, in what is a basic take-away operation, a small table and chairs for my comfort and enjoyment.

Long tells me she and Hung have run the joint for about 11 years but that they still see the eponymous Con from time to time.

 

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Did I say old-school?

How can you tell?

 

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I’m super impressed that Long provides me a half serve of the minimum serve of chips for $2.

They, too, look old-school but are fine, hot and enjoyable.

Predictably, even a half serve is way too big.

 

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My “one with the lot minus egg” ($7) is a two-hands job that is demolished quickly – it’s a typically enjoyable, um, old-school burger.

In the way of such places, the patty has been smashed flat.

I don’t have any problem with that – tradition is tradition, after all.

But next time, I’ll request an extra patty.

These folks are so friendly and obliging, I’m sure that will not present any problem!

 

Con's Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

 

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Bowling up for a roast lunch

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Newport Bowls Club, 4 Market Street, Newport. Phone: 9391 1212

Lawn bowls – any kind of bowls, for that matter – do not ride highly in the CTS sports world.

But I do love hanging out for a while in a bowls club – they’re so prevalent in Melbourne, it’s hard not to spend some time in them, be it for a gig a feed or … maybe even for a game of bowls.

Newport Bowls Club is a classic of the old-school.

 

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And like many such institutions, it’s making good efforts at making itself part of the local community beyond bowls players.

It hosts the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club and holds other music events.

On the Sunday I visit, a large group of young families – including many bubs – is in the house to enjoy the $20 offer of barefoot bowls in conjunction with a special menu.

I’m in the house for the $10 Sunday roast (see menus below).

 

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What looks like a modest and even perhaps drab meal is very enjoyable.

The roast beef is well done without being dry and is pretty good.

But it’s the vegetables that star – the al dente cauliflower and superb roast spuds are particularly memorable.

 

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I’m easily persuaded to partake of the member-created sticky date pudding ($7).

It appears to be of modest dimensions but turns out to be quite filling.

Even better, it a has lightness of texture and flavour that is sublime – with a generous gob of ice cream doing the business, I can easily imagine I’m desserting at a fancy restaurant somewhere!

Check out the club’s website here.

 

Newport Bowls Club on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.1

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dough21

 

CTS has become quite besotted with the fish and chips served up by Dough! in Blackshaws Road, Newport.

They’re quite different in vibe and personality from those created by our other fave F&C joint – but no less excellent.

The chips are tumbler-peeled, hand-cut and all-terrific.

The fish, in this case a nice piece of blue grenadier, is always beautifully cooked although it does usually fall apart in my hands.

I don’t care, so good is it!

The calamari, too, is always tender and tasty – and it’s the real thing.

See earlier story here.

Sweet sensations

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victoria2

 

Victoria Sweets, 216 Blackshaws Road, Altona North. Phone: 9391 2322

Early on in its history, Consider The Sauce dropped in on Victoria Sweets a couple of times … must have been on very slow days as on both occasions as we struggled to find anyone to serve us.

Since then we’ve been happily distracted by many hundreds of other stories but we’re game for another try.

Today we do better and we’re ever so glad!

The place has a humming smell of sugar and nectar and is crammed with Lebanese goodies that are sold at $20 a kilogram

We go out of our way to order items that are not baklava or in that style – we seem to have consumed plenty of them in recent months.

 

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Our tray of goodies, arrived at after much pointing, costs $12.

It’s only upon returning home that we discover just how fabulous, fresh and delicious the Victoria Sweets products are … we’re still working our way through them but we can report that the numbers that look like spring rolls are very sticky tubes supremely stuffed with a lush vanilla cream.

Victoria Sweets?

 It’s taken a while but I suspect we’re about to become very regular customers.

Heck, I may even try to wangle my way into kitchen visit to observe a baking session!

 

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We also note with interest the presence of good-looking gelati.

We’re told it’s made off-premises but within-business – this will be for another visit, hopefully before the weather turns nasty.

 

Victoria Sweets on Urbanspoon

 

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Jamaica in Yarraville: Review

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OK, Roderick – you’ve for sure taken care of us tonight; now we need some sugar!

 

Bax Food Co, 83 Gamon Street, Yarraville. Phone: 0402 751 108

How wonderful is it that a Jamaican restaurant is up running in Yarraville?

“Very” is the conclusion of our table of five after a spectacular mid-week dinner.

There’s enough of us to try – and share – just about everything on the menu.

It’s all good or better.

And much of it is very, very good indeed.

CTS has a long, pre-blog relationship with these Gamon Street premises – oft times Bennie and I used Gravy Train as a regular breakfast spot, those breakfasts being mostly made up of just toast and hot beverages.

Somehow along the way, Gravy Train seemed to get overtaken by foodie developments in Yarraville village, Seddon and several points in between.

So fronting here, to a refurbished location, to join my four dining companions has something of an air of circles turning and regeneration.

 

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The makeover, both inside and out, is substantial but also very colourful and funky rustic.

It fits the casual, happy vibe of the place to a tee.

We found the service to be very fine and the wait times for our choices shorter, if anything, than we might have expected.

 

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Cassava chips ($7) are plain of flavour but a crisp delight nonetheless.

 

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Ackee, saltfish and mushroom patties with tomato love apple sauce ($10) are like delicate treats something like curry puffs with a taste like mum’s homemade fish pie.

 

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Jerk roast corn with coconut jerk may ($6) is a wild, different and delicious contrast to plainer versions of roasted corn.

Yum factor: High.

 

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In a meal of many highlights, perhaps the most giddy, moan-inducing reactions come with dishes that mirror and even best many of those we’ve enjoyed in recent months at various BBQ joints around town.

These smokey BBQ pork ribs ($13), for instance, are immense in every way – spicy, charred, OMG.

 

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Likewise with the jerk Picapeppa hot wings ($9).

These are even spicier than the ribs, a little more piquant and every bit as awesome.

 

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Goat curry ($24) has wonderfully tender, fall-off-the-bone meat and is gorgeous.

 

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Our curry is served with roti bread (also available as a side, $4) unlike anything roti we’ve tried before.

It’s almost-crisp and spongey but does the mopping-up job expected of any kind of roti just fine.

 

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Oxtail stew with butter bean and carrots ($25) has sweet meat easily exctracted from gnarly bones and is another winner.

With its star anise, you know what this reminds me of?

Vietnamese beef stew!

Only two of our party had any depth of experience with Jamaican food before our meal, but I had a strong intuition that the Bax fare would be somehow familiar in any case, perhaps based on my familiarity with New Orleans and South Louisiana food.

Such turns out to be very much the case.

The Bax goodies can sit comfortably alongside other westie options such as  Vietnamese and African – right at home but strikingly different.

As chef Roderick points out, such is always going to be the case as creole food (using the word in it its most universal sense) the world over often draws on shared traditions.

As regards to pricing, the oxtail stew and the goat curry are substantial, bigger than they appear in the photographs, are sharing material for up to four (with other dishes alongside) and  quite good value.

 

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Rice ‘n’ peas ($6) is a Jamaican staple that is nice enough but gets a bit lost amid the richness of what surrounds it.

 

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Sadly, the same can be said of our fried snapper with pickled condiments and salad ($28).

The fish is beautifully cooked but arrives at our table last of our mains and at a point where we’re just about full to the ears, its plainness overwhelmed by the spiciness that has preceded.

Full, maybe, but still able to find room for shared desserts …

 

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Dark Shadows ($10) is an intriguing mix of condensed milk and grapefruit – it’s tangy and smooth.

 

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But sweet potato pudding ($12) is more our go – it’s like a very dense, rich bread and butter pudding-meets-caramel slice.

 

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Rum and raisin ice-cream ($5) is brought-in but nevertheless very good – it has, as several of my companions note, an unusually high level of “rumminess”.

In her review on Fill Up On Bread – see here – Mairead comments that perhaps Bax has gone a little overboard with the bax (box) concept in the form of too much cardboard, especially given the prices.

To tell you the truth, we have been so busy eating and enjoying we didn’t notice.

Bax Food Co, it seems clear to me, is sure to be a successful ornament to the local eats scene.

Very highly recommended!

 

Bax Food Co on Urbanspoon

 

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Lunch surprise in Altona

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Two Bros On Blyth, 51a Blyth Street, Altona. Phone: 9398 8882

Consider The Sauce travels to Altona for a lazy mid-week lunch on the recommendation of a long-time reader who moved to the area a couple of years back.

She tells us she did, at first, miss her former Kensington home and its proximity to considerable eats depth, but she reckons things are looking up in Altona – and points to Two Bros On Blyth as a case in point.

The cafe is smallish, with communal or bench seating on the inner and three communal tables on the outer.

 

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I find the staff and the service to be fine.

The breakfast options are many; the lunch options less so.

I choose from a display-cabinet range of jaffles and baguettes and a single salad, though a keen looking Asian salad is added to the line-up as I depart.

I opt for a baguette of ham, brie and horseradish, wondering how those ingredients will combine and figuring the $14 price tag is about right these days.

So I am surprised and delighted when my lunch arrives beautifully presented on a board with “extras” that include cornichons and a salad.

 

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It’s the salad that lifts my repast way beyond a mere quick lunch and into the realms of something to be savoured rather more.

It’s a lovely mix of rocket, cucumber, fennel and small chick peas, all very well dressed.

I discern little or no sinus-clearing tang from horseradish, but otherwise my baguette is fine, with all the fresh ingredients making their voices heard.

 

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My $3.50 cafe latte is very nice.

I doubt Altona will ever be a first-choice dining option for us, but with the advent of joints such as Two Bros On Blyth, ya never know!

 

Two Bros on Blyth on Urbanspoon

 

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