Happy Camper delivers

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A cold Monday night after a hard day’s work.

Nothing much to look forward to except thawed out soup, an NRL game I don’t really care about and a good night’s sleep.

And another solid day at work when I awake.

Then I see the Happy Camper Pizza Facebook post about how they’re all set up and ready to go at Yarraville Gardens.

It’s way too cold for that sort of carry on, IMO.

But home delivery?

Oh yeah, that sounds real good.

I last spoke with Remi at a Footscray game at the Western Oval, him mentioning then that delivery service was in the works.

So I phone up … and get the man himself taking my order.

From the menu at the  Happy Camper website, I choose the Playing With Fire with tomato, mozzarella, hot salami, olives and red onion.

 

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No more than about 15 minutes later, it’s Remi who cheerfully hand delivers my pizza, with which I get a cute fridge magnet and a one-off $10 off offer if, next time, I order through Delivery Hero.

I pay $14 for my pizza plus a $3 delivery fee – not really economical for solo dining, but pretty good for two or more.

As for my pizza … well I really am a happy camper.

It’s not particularly fiery but it IS a whole heap better than your typical home-delivered pizza.

It’s delicious, with a beaut crust.

I wonder if I am the only home delivery this night that involves a customer clad in Spongebob pyjamas …

 

Happy Camper Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

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Back with the classic cars

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garazi22
Garazi, 107 Gamon St, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 2677

It’s been more than a year since we’ve set foot in Garazi – back then, soon after it opened, it was once for a write-up and then on another closely following occasion.

Maybe it’s because, situated as it is on Gamon Street, our minds are already on foodie pastures further afield when we pass it.

So it is today.

Bennie’s copped a full-on meat-free, dairy-free vegan dinner on Friday and a healthy Lebanese lunch with pals on Saturday, so I’m very happy to let him have his way with Sunday lunch.

“Burger, masala dosa, fish and chips, roast lunch, laksa, Mexican …”

I tick off this list as we motor up Gamon and turn into Charles Street, without any noticeable enthusiasm being forthcoming from my CTS Partner.

By this time I begin to realise he simply may not be hungry.

Weird! Well, weird for a 13-year-old …

 

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So I do a U-turn and head for home, happy to call it quits.

But as we pass Garazi he becomes more animated – so in we go.

It’s a treat!

The seating area has been expanded into the real-deal garage of classic cars, among which it’s a hoot to sit with late-breafasters and friendly pooches.

The service is grand and it dawns upon us that we should treat Garazi with more mindfulness for coffees and quick bites. (We don’t do breakfast, not while out and about anyway …)

 

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For all his lack of interest to this point, Bennie makes short work of his burger with the lot ($18) from the specials board.

It’s a good, hearty cafe-style burger and the pattie tastes good and meaty to me.

 

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It’s a good thing his meal comes with stacks of OK shoestring fries, as my reuben sanger ($13) is completely unadorned and even looks a little on the mean side in terms of size versus price.

But in its simplicity, it’s a ripper.

The bread is just right – not too light, not too heavy, toasted and buttered to perfection.

The thick-sliced corned beef is tasty, as is the Swiss cheese, while the plentiful pickles provide plenty of salty, piquant tang.

 

Garazi on Urbanspoon

Zing! Lebanese in the ‘hood

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Many thanks to Josh, Christine, Julian, You Know Who and Eliza for helping CTS check out the west’s new Lebanese eatery!

Saj Mediterranean Grill, Shop 27 320-380 Epsom Road, Ascot Vale. Phone: 9078 2633

Saj Mediterranean Grill replaces a short-lived Turkish establishment in the showgrounds’ shopping precinct, which has never held much allure for us.

It’s a terrific new arrival – and Consider The Sauce makes the most of our first visit by rocking up with a nice bunch of our regular dining companions.

It’s done out in stark fast-food style, but the food on offer – see menu below – goes quite a bit further than the bakeries our western Lebanese experiences have thus far been restricted to.

We get real plates and cutlery – and cheerful service.

Saj is named after the saj grills, rounded dome plates used to grill the flatbread.

CTS has only ever seen these before at this Coburg institution.

Between us all, we try a good-sized chunk of the menu – but without any intent to do so, we mostly veer away from the more substantial sharwarma and mashawi (grill) wraps.

Even Bennie – given complete freedom to order whatever he pleases (i.e. hamburger) – dines elsewhere.

The skewered meats in the display cabinet look the goods but will have await a follow-up visit.

What we have ranges from good to very good and we’re all very impressed.

Having a new Lebanese eatery in the neighbourhood is a clicking-heels event around here!

Beyond basic descriptions and prices, my assessments and comments are to do with those dishes I personally taste.

 

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Kibbeh ($2) are hot, a little bit spicy, juicy and very fine. Some of my companions find pine nuts, but not so I.

 

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Warak-arreesh (stuffed vine leaves, $1.50 each) are smallish, plain and just right.

 

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Hommus ($5) is fresh and smooth but of only mildish taste.

 

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Baba ghannouj ($5.50) is fantastic – it hasn’t got that prized smokiness but it IS fresh, lemony and full of eggplant flavour.

Both dips are served with the same flatbread used to make the saj pizzas, and more of it is brought to our table without being requested.

 

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Did I say fresh?

Everything here is fresh-as – including this fattoush ($4.50), its joyful jumble of veggies beautifully dressed and anointed with crisp, fried bread.

 

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The tabouli ($4.50) is just as CTS likes it – wet and lemony. It’s a generous serve for the price, too.

 

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The cheese and turkey saj costs $7.50.

 

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Bennie describes his chicken fajita sanger ($10.50) with chook, caramelised onion, capsicum, mushrooms, avocado and cheese with “fajita sauce” as “nice”.

 

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The chicken mashawi ($9) is skewered chicken with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and sauce.

 

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A couple of us order the lahm bi ajin ($6) – saj of “mince meat, onion, tomato and spices”.

It’s nice enough but turns out the description is rather more lavish than what is pretty much the stock-standard “meat” pizza we get at other bakeries.

 

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Mediterranean salad ($6.50) has the same fresh vegetables seen elsewhere with wonderfully chewy, salty chunks of grilled haloumi.

 

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We finish off with a couple of choc banana sajs ($6.50) – a sweet delight with nutty extras!

We’re already looking forward to our next visit.

How can this place not be a hit?

 

Saj Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

 

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Pay parking for Yarraville, Seddon, Footscray South

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Maribyrnong council is seriously looking at introducing paid car-parking for parts of the municipality that have thus far gone without having it imposed.

There’s obviously a lot of huffing and puffing and “public consultation” to go on before this becomes a done deal.

But the tenor of the council’s community and services special committee report on Pay Parking In Maribyrnong – which you can read here – leaves little doubt that this will eventually happen.

The pay parking areas being proposed are:

Yarraville:

1. Anderson Street Between Buninyong Street and Willis Street.

2. Ballarat Street between Simpson Street and Canterbury Street.

3. Canterbury Street between Railway station and Willis Street.

4. Canterbury Street car park.

5. Simpson Street off-street car park.

Seddon:

1. Charles Street between Gamon Street and Bourke Street.

2. Gamon Street between Charles Street and Station Road.

3. Victoria Street between Charles Street and Buckley Street.

Footscray South:

1. McNabb Avenue.

2. Nicholson Street between Buckley Street and Irving Street.

3. Albert Street between Buckley Street and Hopkins Street.

4. Albert Street car park.

Joseph Road Precinct:

1. Maribyrnong Street between Hopkins Street and Joseph Road.

2. Joseph Road.

3. Neilson Place.

4. Moreland Street between Hopkins Street and Neilson Place.

5. Warde Street.

6. Wightman Street and Selina Street.

7. Whitehall Street between Hopkins Street and Neilson Place.

I have an open mind about this.

The report is honest in stating that whatever other issues are at stake, revenue-raising is a significant part of these proposals: “The generation of non-rates revenue such as paid parking, is an important element towards achieving a long-term financially sustainable City.”

I can’t help feel a certain sadness that the sleepy village feel of Seddon and Yarraville is to give way to a more regimented form of commerce.

Pay parking for the Jospeh Road area is seen as a forward strike with the push for full-on development there growing: “Whilst Joseph Road precinct is not currently a saturated location, imminent multi-level development up to 32 storeys will create a substantial increase in parking demand.”

“Information and feedback sessions” to discuss these proposals will be held as follows:

Yarraville:

Tuesday, September 2, 4.30-6.30pm,

Sun Theatre, 8 Ballarat Street, Yarraville.

Footscray and Seddon:

Wednesday, September 3, 4.30-6.30pm,

Footscray Town Hall, corner Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray.

 

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The beauty of western vistas

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The western suburbs have certainly got their hooks into me.

When I am visiting other parts of the city, even those generally deemed as being more aesthetically pleasing than the west, I am frequently beset by an urgency to get home to our “industrial landscapes”.

And in those landscapes, I find beauty and allure.

I revel in the weirdness and the sometimes startling juxtapositions.

I love tooling around western residential areas only to be blindsided by paddocks and old farm houses.

That’s why the work of Tarneit artist Rachel Hanna reverberated with me when I learned of it.

Rachel has been painting for 10 years and has lived with her family in Tarneit for two, and she too reverberates with the west.

“You can breathe over here,” she tells me while installing her exhibition, On The Way From Here To There at the Point Cook Community Learning Centre.

Rachel tells me that, among other things, she adores shipping containers as subjects – although she confesses she finds them difficult to paint.

Looking at the paintings in her exhibition, I find some that I recognise immediately, others that are less obvious – but they all have a genuine western vibe about them.

The paintings are for sale, ranging in price from $150 to $650.

When I venture that such prices seem rather low for exhibition works, Rachel quips: “They’re priced to sell – I need more canvases!”

On The Way From Here To There at the Point Cook Community Learning Centre, 1–21 Cheethamis  Street, Point Cook, until September 19.

For more details, go here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yarraville eats goss

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The pace of change in the Yarraville village in the past decade or so is likely to seem somewhat sedate when various properties take on new guises in coming months.

By talking to many Yarraville business folk, I have tried to verify the following – but it all must necessarily be taken as “street talk”.

If anyone knows more or can provide more concrete details, I will be appreciative!

1. The St Georges ballroom space (above) is to become, I am told, a cafe. The proprietors have ties, allegedly, with Picklebarrel in Williamstown and Pint Of Milk in Newport.

 

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2. The Ballarat Street premises that housed the eatery called the Bank is being revamped, so I am told, as a bar that will serve some sort of Asian-fusion food.

 

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3. The Ballarat Street shop that housed Trenta Cucina is to become, so several people informed me, a Mexican restaurant.

 

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4. The Ballarat Street premises that formerly housed Ella Bache, opposite Feedback Cafe, is to become – so two sources informed me – some sort of “health food” cafe.

 

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5.The Blarney Stone is in the process of being sold, with settlement due in days. Rumour has it the pub will close for about a month, with the new business going “country style”. Steak ‘n’ kidney pie and ploughman’s lunches, perhaps?

 

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6. Not much information – or even scuttlebutt – could be had about the Anderson Street shop, next to the chemist, which was most recently home to a fingernail emporium. Two phrases I heard in conjunction with the property were “gelati” and “frozen yogurt”.

 

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7. The Anderson Street shoe shop business has two weeks of its lease left to run. The proprietor told me she had no idea of what the incoming business will be, but another local told me she had heard it would definitely be a food business of some sort.

 

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9. Finally – not food but … the Anderson Street panelbeater has closed after 35 years, with a fit-out underway that will see the premises home to studios for the purposes of “clinical pilates”, physiotherapy and “yoga/barra dance”.

So very Footscray

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daf4

 

Cafe D’Afrique, 137 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 9411

Consider The Sauce was once a regular – a few years back – at Cafe D’Afrique.

But for coffee only.

It was excellent coffee at an equally excellent price.

But I never got a handle on the food situation.

Sometimes there seemed to activity in the kitchen, sometimes not.

Sometimes some customers were eating, more often – IIRC – no one was.

Certainly, there was no menu or blackboard.

So I gave it up, and even moved on from coffee visits as work and other activities had me looking elsewhere.

 

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But today, having completed a few chores nearby, I spy at least half the 20 or so customers chowing down.

“This is ridiculous,” thinks I. “There’s food here – and I want to try it”

So I initiate a to-and-fro discussion with genial gent I take to be the owner.

“Beans,” says he.

This would be the foul I see being happily consumed by several customers.

“Anything else?”

“Meat …”

“How much?”

“$10.”

“OK.”

Ordering done, I take a seat at a back table and wait.

But not for long.

 

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I’m very happy with my lunch.

The salad is typically African – fresh, zingy and powdered with pepper.

The lentils are mush, mild and nice.

The lamb is fantastic – lean, pan-fried, free of fat and gristle, seasoned with something that could be just plain curry powder but definitely includes turmeric.

It’s a beaut, light, tasty and satisfying lunch.

 

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An ultra-low coffee price means nothing if the brew isn’t good.

Still, I’m stunned to discover the admission price for my cafe late is STILL $2.50 – same as it was several years ago.

Best of all, my coffee is utterly excellent.

I’m told the name of the Sudanese dish I’ve just enjoyed is cheya. From what I can gather from Mr Google, this means something like “fried meat”.

As I depart, I see a recently arrived customer served what appears to be tibs and injera, so there’s more going on here than the absence of a menu might seem to indicate.

But you do need to ask.

Personally, I enjoy this sort of scenario – it requires enjoyable engagement that can be missed by merely pointing at a menu entry.

It feels good to be fed and back on familiar terms with such a righteous Footscray fixture.

 

Café D'Afrique on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Nora’s charity lunch

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char10
Eid Mubarak/Selamat Hari Raya Aidul Fitri and Fundraising for the Homeless, hosted by The Migrant Hub and Australian Malay Foundation, held at Kelly Park Centre, Werribee

Sometimes, it seems to Consider The Sauce, the idea of running a western suburbs food blog by focusing solely on community events and festivals – and ignoring completely reviews or stories about regular restaurants and cafes – seems entirely viable.

Doing so would, I suspect, render CTS of less practical use to most of our regular readers, lurkers and friends.

But nevertheless such an idea – even if somewhat fanciful – holds appeal.

Because there’s no doubt whatsoever that we immensely enjoy our visits to and involvement in community events – the fabulous people, the food, the whole darn vibe.

 

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So when we learn that Mother Nora is organising a charity bash for the homeless in Werribee, we pay attention.

Mother Nora is one of the brains behind Werribee’s MiHUB Cafe (see recent and lovely posts at Footscray Food Blog and Let’s Get Fat Together), a wonderful community activist in all sorts of ways and someone CTS holds in the highest regard.

In this particular case, though, I had an ulterior motive.

Recently, I was rapt to discover that one of my Star Weekly colleagues is a fellow blogger.

You can check out Sumeyya’s work here.

I read through many of her essays with mounting excitement – truth is, I am a little bit in awe of the power, precision and beauty of much of her writing.

Yet lest it be thought she is all about utter seriousness at all times, she has a crack-up sense of humor and invariably a twinkle in her eye!

And as I read, two thoughts hit me almost immediately: “I bet Nora would love to meet Sumeyya, and I bet Sumeyya would love to meet Nora!”

 

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And so it was the Sumeyya, Halil and myself gaily hit the road for Werribee on a chilly Sunday in high spirits.

So … my two friends did meet, but only briefly, as Nora was very busy scuttling about keeping the event’s momentum going.

Oh well – at least a connection was made!

In the meantime, the three of us settled in for an enjoyable afternoon that entailed, among other things …

 

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Halil is obviously completely enthralled with proceedings; Walter and Mother Nora bottom right.

 

… chatting with our table companions …

 

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… and eating MiHUB-style food – of course!

I was particularly impressed with a gloriously sticky chicken curry and what was among the best beef rendangs I’ve ever encountered.

We’re talking really long, slow cooking here!

There was music, too.

I really enjoyed the beautiful and hypnotic sounds provided by the Jawa Pitu Band.

And it was to the vamping of those artists that I was persuaded to participate in a “booty shaking contest”.

It was all good fun!

 

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Afghan kebabs for Footscray?

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surra1

 

Consider The Sauce pal Juz has alerted us to something interesting happening on Barkly Street – at number 241 to be precise.

My first thought on looking at the pic he sent me was: “Afghanistan!”

As in the sort of kebabs found at Master Afghan Kebab in Sunshine and Rezah Afghan Kebab in Brunswick.

The best I can do with some sleuthing is to discover that Surra is a residential area of Kuwait – which appears to be, perhaps coincidentally, the home of the Afghanistan embassy.

A lunchtime Saturday visit by myself fails to reveal much more – just a couple of blokes working on the windows.

So … not a lot go on.

Yet.

 

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Fab Melbourne eats history on show in WeFo

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menu1

 

Pod @ Post Industrial Design, 638 Barkly Stree, West Fooscray. Phone: 0400 193 038

Pod in West Footscray has something special on show.

Chef Jess has come into a possession of a collection of perfect-nick menus from famous – legendary even – Melbourne restaurants of the 1970s.

They have been mounted on a wall adjacent to Pod’s kitchen – and, yes, you’re very welcome to go and check them out!

I was fascinated reading them – check out the prices for starters!

So far as I can see, there’s nothing priced above $5 in the three examples below.

I even spotted a handful of establishments that I had dined out at least once my own self.

The display includes menus from The Eltham Barrel, Didjeridoo, Tolarno, Geoff Brooke’s Steak Cave, Nutcracker, Sukiyaki, Maxims, Pickwick, Bird & Bottle, Charley Browns, Lamplighter, Mayfair,  Society Restaurant, Fanny’s, Two Faces, The Reef, The Gallery, Bernardis, The Terrace, La Bouillabaisse, Cafe Florentino, Golden Phoenix, Coonara Springs, Beefeater, Stage Coach Inn, Jamaica, Casa Manna and Omar Khayyam.

As you can see, with few exceptions they are pretty much all of variations of one sort or another on French, Italian, steak and seafood. And represent, I’m guessing, a large swathe of the then extant Melbourne restaurant mafia!

Fascinating!

 

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So good in Meadow Heights

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mea3
Meadow Heights Classic Lebanese Bakery, 19/A Meadow Heights Shopping Centre, 55 Paringa Boulevard, Meadow Heights. Phone: 9309 8206
Sweet World, Shop 20, Meadow Heights Shopping Centre, 55 Paringa Boulevard, Meadow Heights. Phone: 9309 2552

Working at Airport West has changed the way I think about the Ring Road.

So, too, has the cessation of the long-running works that made the road a sometimes stressful route.

Instead of ploughing my way across the city, it now seems like a breezy avenue to foodie riches in the northern suburbs, especially on a sunny if cold Saturday with light, free-flowing traffic.

Take the Pascoe Vale Road exit, a few clicks past Broadmeadows central, turn left on Paringa Boulevard and I’m at Meadow Heights Shopping Centre.

It’s a mid-sized centre with a nice, relaxed vibe as folks go about their business.

Inside, there’s an Asian grocer, an IGA, a halal butcher and so on.

Outside to the left, there’s what looks to a pretty good Turkish kebab place and, right next door, a halal pizza joint.

On the right are the two businesses a colleague has given me a great tip about.

 

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Meadow Heights Classic Lebanese Bakery has, I’m told, been on these premises for about four years.

But it’s got a lovely, warm, lived-in vibe and the staff are super.

The range of pies and pizzas is mostly regulation, superbly and cheaply priced, and attracting a steady stream of hungry customers.

I choose for my lunch, though, a pizza I have never come across before.

The zayban ($5, top picture) has tangy yogurt, fresh mint, olives, cucumber and tomato.

Right here, right now its seems like a brilliant contender for my meal of the year.

It’s perfect!

I grab four spinach and cheese pies for home use. They’re $3 apiece, also outstanding and more heftily filled than is often the case.

Then it’s time to switch from savoury to sweet and Lebanese to Turkish with a stroll right next door to Sweet World.

 

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The baklava, as fully expected, is excellent and full of dusky flavour.

I like it that it is served in a modest, $1.50 size, too.

Coffee can be a bit of a lottery in such places, so I am happy to report that my $3 cafe latte is expertly done.

 

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I get a modest package of take-aways here, too.

But not of the baklava or the other syrupy items; instead I get lovely looking, and buttery, cookies.

I know not the Turkish name for them, but they look awfully similar to Italian biscotti!

The wikipedia entry on this suburb is blunt: “Meadow Heights offers little in the way of attractions …”

Consider The Sauce disagrees!

 

Meadow Heights Classic Lebanese Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sweet World on Urbanspoon

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Phat cats go good

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phat6
Phat Milk, 208 Mt Alexander Road, Travancore. Phone: 9376 6643

The FB message from good mate, former colleague and occasional Consider The Sauce lurker Lee was simple: “G‘day, our local cafe – Phat Milk – has ramped up its game and is worthy of a visit from CTS. I’ll even pay!”

And so it is that I venture to Mount Alexander road for a classic, enjoyable catch-up and a fine early lunch/brunch.

I’d noticed a cafe at this end of Mount Alexander Road just in passing on previous visits in the vicinity – usually to grab some biscotti and the like from Pace Biscuits.

Lee tells me the current crew has been on site for about two years and that he and his family have become very happy first-name regulars.

 

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I love our brief time together, swapping tales of our current exploits in the journalism game; that game’s sometimes inexplicable twists and turns; the much-loved, good, bad and utterly indifferent of our various mutual acquaintances; our respective families and children; and food ‘n’ coffee doings in the inner west, especially over their way in Kensington and Moonee Ponds.

And I love the place.

And the food.

And the coffee.

Phat Milk’s front portion is all typical Melbourne inner-city cafe, with wraps and various other goodies on display.

Up and along a few hallways is a nice backroom, where we make ourselves at home, and an adjoining garden space with seating.

I’m intrigued and excited to take note of a pronounced Middle-Eastern slant in the breakfast and lunch menus, and waste no time in going in that direction when ordering.

 

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Middle Eastern breakfast of grilled zaatar, poached eggs, beetroot relish, falafel and hummus is terrific.

The falafels are big, soft and crumbly. The chick pea dip is fresh. And all of it works really well together.

 

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Lee goes for the purple carrot and sweet potato latke with blueberry cured salmon, quark cheese (see wikipedia entry here) and poached egg.

His latke tastes good and funky to me, and that house-cured salmon has me making a mental note: “That’s for me next time!”

And get this – for food so lovingly prepared and presented that is so very lovely to consume, we have paid $15 (me) and $17 (him).

Bargain!

My cafe latte is perfect.

Thanks, Lee, for the company and the hot tip.

My shout next time, when I’ll be sure to bring that Mark Twain foodie book for you.

 

Phat Milk on Urbanspoon

 

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(The above menu pic will be replaced at the first available opportunity!)

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Good Vietnamese in a good spot

3 Comments
cho1
Mamma Cho’s, Shop 1/419 Gordon Street. Maribyrnong. Phone: 9318 8691

You won’t find anything much different that can’t be had at a recognised Vietnamese precinct such as Footscray or St Albans.

But Mamma Cho’s, sited at the Edgewater shopping “centre”, is on to a pretty good thing, we reckon.

The place is crisp and attractive.

The service is friendly.

There’s a heap of parking, even on a busy Saturday.

And, perhaps most attractively, Mamma Cho’s is nicely situated at what is for many CTS readers a handy, easy stop between either going to or returning from Highpoint or other shopping chores over that way.

 

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OK, we skipped Saturday breakfast, which may have sharpened our appetites somewhat … but still, we loved our lunch of simple, regular Vietnamese food of the kind we’ve enjoyed countless times.

My crispy skin chicken with tomato rice (com ga chien don com do, $11.50) was just right, the egg-studded rice nice and fluffy, the chook coming easily from the bone and the soup/broth hot and not too sweet.

Upon request, the sweet chilli sauce was replaced with the much-preferred (by me) soy sauce studded with fresh red chilli slices.

 

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Bennie liked his beef pho ($11).

Having tried it on a previous visit, I can attest to its quality.

 

Mamma Cho's on Urbanspoon

 

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CTS Feast No.9: Xiang Yang Cheng

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TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

CTS Feast No.9: Xiang Yang Cheng, 672 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 7128
Date: Thursday, August 21.
Time: From 7pm.
Cost: $25.

Driving towards a rendezvous with CTS Feast No.8, Bennie and I were discussing option for the next such outing.

“What about the hot pot place?” he asks.

Great idea!

As we had plenty of time to spare, we headed to Mount Alexander Road and put our proposal to the Xiang Yang Cheng team.

Once we discussed what’s involved, their answer was: “Yes!”

It’s on …

XYC is, we reckon, an ideal vehicle for a CTS Feast – it’s a cool restaurant with VERY interesting food, both of which we’re happy to endorse.

And we also reckon their super Sichuan hot-pot cooking is ideal for the enjoyment of a gathering of CTS friends … we hope you think so, too.

In our discussions with Peggy and Tracey, we looked at offering each table the same representative choices from the XYC line-up.

In the end, though, I decided it best to simply let the Team XYC to do the choosing from their very long menu, which you can check out in our CTS review here.

The XYC tables seat four, so we are throwing this invite open to 24 guests.

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

 

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8bit: The Bennie Verdict

7 Comments
bit22
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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