Yarraville’s new foodie pub

Leave a comment
hyde4
Hyde Street Hotel, 188 Hyde St, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 2163

As Victoria On Hyde and in our now many years in Yarraville, we’ve had close to no use for these premises.

Sure, an occasional quick-stop for beer and/or wine … but the only time I ever stuck my head inside the pub proper, I promptly fled.

Now, though, oh boy!

The place has been re-branded as The Hyde Street Hotel and given a radical makeover – and we’re very happy to be taking it for a whirl on Easter Eve, about a week after it has opened.

There’s a rather spartan public bar where a limited choice of menu items is available at significantly lowers prices than in the dining room.

There’s a couple of cruisey lounge areas.

hyde3

And there’s the dining room itself – airy, bright and attractive. It almost has an outdoor feel about.

It has booths, widely separated tables and lots of room.

The menu starters are in the $10 to $20 range and display the most diversity of the kitchen’s output, with influences from Asia and the Middle East.

From there the menu diverts to regular pub fare, including “classics”, mains including roasted lamb rump and “bbq’d” kangaroo loin, pizzas and steaks – including a kilogram rib eye for two at $75.

Overall, the prices seem less than at the Mona Castle and more in line with the Plough.

We are served well by young staff dressed uniformly in hipster black and our meals arrive promptly, the wait time spent checking the place out and frankly ogling with much interest the plates bound for the tables of other families and groups.

We go for a couple of the classics.

hyde2

My fish and chips hit the spot.

The salad is a fine thing for this kind of food in this kind of place – fresh greens and some finely cut cucumber, radish and red onion, all well dressed.

The fish is three medium-size pieces of rockling that are sweetish, delicate and add up to a good feed.

Plate aesthetics have dictated the fish is placed atop my chips, so some of the latter are spoiled by oil seep – but the rest are hot, crisp and hastily consumed.

hyde9

By contrast, I feel a little sorry for Bennie in regards to his choice of the wagyu beef burger ($24), which comes with the same chips.

It appears to be a good, unfussy burger but it simply doesn’t seem to provide him much of a dinner experience.

It’s gone in about two minutes and is a messy handful.

It has good melted cheese, some greenery, sauce and mayo, caramelised onions and that’s about it.

No bacon; just sayin’ …

But brevity of eating has, in this case, no bearing on quality.

As we walk home, Bennie spends the first block or so expounding with passion and enthusiasm on his burger … the deliciousness of the meat, the “crisp on the outside and soft inside” chargrilled bun, the whole deal.

To the point of saying bacon may have been of nuisance value only.

“Next time, you’ve just gotta try it, dad!” he proclaims.

An obvious winner …

Hyde Street Hotel on Urbanspoon

hyde6

hyde7

hyde1

hyde8

hyde5

Food trucks – Altona, Williamstown readers have your say!

3 Comments

alwill1

Disclosure – the two reporters who filed this Maribyrnong/Hobsons Bay Weekly story about food trucks in the west are colleagues of mine; I am quoted in the story and the newspaper has used a photograph provided by CTS.

But I confess to being bemused by the comments in the story by the spokeswomen for both the Altona Village Traders Association and the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, it is the job of such groups to promote and protect the businesses they represent.

But the idea of “running food trucks out of the town” seems a little, um, confrontational.

There are places we like to eat in and shop at in both Williamstown and Altona. We will discover more.

But I can only go with what numerous residents and readers from both suburbs have told me in the years CTS has been operating – that while there is plenty of choice, people in general think there is much that is “average”, over-priced or both.

So Altona and Williamstown readers, what do you think … food trucks, do you want them?

 

 

 

 

 

An Ethiopian welcome to Footscray

Leave a comment
ko2
Kokeb Restaurant & Cafe, 247 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 0157
Snowtree, 119 Hopkins St, Footscray

Eliza was one of the many lovely and talented people with whom I worked at the Geelong Advertister.

IIRC, she left not too long after I did … to pursue a gig practising the black arts of PR on St Kilda Road.

As is so often the case these days, we both sort-of followed our respective journeys from Facebook, where – among other things – I monitor with interest the comings and goings of my extended family of media industry brothers and sisters.

That all changed a few weeks back when I received a wonderful tweet from Eliza:

“Hi Kenny, how are you? Am moving to Footscray tomorrow – will need to keep a closer eye on your blog!”

Cool!

My reply was immediate:

“Hi Eliza! Wow that’s great! Will you have dindins with me and Bennie?”

We took our chat into private channels and – bingo! – here we are just a few weeks later having a swell dinner with Eliza and her partner, Josh.

ko1

Kokeb joined the ranks of Footscray’s Ethiopian eateries a few months ago.

It’s a charming space and we are equally charmed by the service offered us by Helen and the music – on a Tuesday night! – of Melaku.

The menu has all the Ethiopian regulars covered, with a few more interesting items.

But we do away with all that – in the interests of easing “catching up” conversation – by going for the $22 a head banquet.

Eliza has us all laughing with stories of how her PR gig came unstuck and we quickly and in some depth swap notes on how we’re both faring these days, she as online editor and social media honcho … back at the Addy.

It’s a great role for her, I reckon.

But Bennie and I are just as delighted to have she and Josh as new neighbours, and excited to introduce them – for the first time – to the delights of Ethiopian food and injera.

They take to them with gusto – and so they should, as the Kobeb banquet spread is top-notch.

All is fresh, hot and tasty.

ko3

We get two kinds of lamb tibs – the regular “white” and the more spicy and red “Kokeb” tibs. Both very good.

There’s the chopped greens of gomen wot and the delicious and chunky carrot, cabbage and potato of cabbage wot.

And, of course, lentils a couple of ways.

Best of all, though, is the shiro, which is served separately from an earthenware pot.

It’s a hot, spicy split pea soup/stew flavoured with berbere.

There’s plenty of food for our admission fee, and we even take Helen up on her offer to top up our supplies of the vegetable dishes and injera.

Some of the cool, crisp contrast usually offered by the presence of tangily-dressed lettuce, cucumber and tomato would have been a bonus.

As our meal and the eating of it wind down, Bennie gets a case of the restless – so we send him off on the daunting challenge of finding us somewhere that is doing dessert relatively late at night and relatively early in the week in Footscray central.

Success!

So we all troop off to the Korean joint Snowtree.

ko6

To my surprise, they’re still serving what look like pretty acceptable Korean dinners – so maybe this is somewhere to take note of as being (maybe) open when all else is closed hereabouts.

But we make to do with a couple of serves of their “Snowtree Belgium waffle” ($7.50).

The waffles are just OK and the cream, I’m almost certain, comes from a can; but all is wolfed down anyway – including all the fruit and the frozen yogurt.

Welcome to the ‘hood, Eliza and Josh, and – yes – we’ll be making the housewarming!

Kokeb Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Snowtree on Urbanspoon

ko4

ko5

ko7

ko8

All change at Werribee South

7 Comments

south3

If change is a given, then change and its ramifications are a way of life in the western suburbs.

For years now, or so it seem, one or more of the streets surrounding our Yarraville home have been in the process of being worked upon.

In the greater west and in a broader sense, the issues of change are the very substance of much of my weekly, regular newspapering gig, be they concerned with politics and culture or economics and infrastructure.

Transport, be it rail or road, is a particularly knotty and sensitive subject.

But for all the growth and upheaval in the west, there is no change going on quite like what is in the process of happening in hitherto sleepy Werribee South.

There, a project involving more than 100 apartments and an “integrated retail precinct” is rapidly taking shape.

You can see the developer’s website here.

south4

From all that I’ve read, no one seems at all sure what sort of impact this is going to have on Werribee South.

Added to the mix is the surprising news – well, surprising to me anyway – that plans for a Werribee South-to-Melbourne ferry service seem to be gaining very real traction.

The traffic generated by 100 apartments, their residents and service vehicles is one thing.

Throwing in the daily comings and goings of 3000 ferry commuters is quite another.

south2

The main routes into Werribee South – Duncans and Diggers roads – are fine two-lane thoroughfares for much of their lengths, even if they are invariably stained dirt brown by market-gardening activity.

But in places, both roads take on a distinctly backwoods feel, with potholes, bumps and dodgy edging to the fore.

As for the food portion of the development’s retail precinct, my expectations are at zero.

“Franchise” and “generic” are terms that spring readily to mind.

Degani, anyone?

Not that we’ve got anything against that particular coffee shop chain.

Indeed, I’ve been told that company behind it is also behind this place, which we like just fine.

But I’ll not be holding my breath hoping that Wyndham Harbour bucks the trend of greater Melbourne generally doing a lousy job of seaside eats.

south1

Greek treats made with love in Kingsville

4 Comments

oil6

Olive Oil & Butter, 196 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9315 1060

There’s an awful lot in the name of this great Greek bakery in Kingsville.

You see, that’s what they use – olive oil and butter.

Oh, of course, there’s other ingredients – but the name nevertheless symbolises a keen dedication to natural products.

No ingredients with numbers rather than names, no premixes … just a righteous determination to make and bake with the simplest and the best in an entirely old-school manner.

This is the kind of place at which the declaration, “Our products have a limited shelf life”, is a proud boast.

Olive Oil & Butter is run by Pelagia, her brother Chris and their mum Martha.

It’s a first restaurant/cafe/bakery outing for the family – and that’s a good thing, as it means the recipes are derived from an inter-generational tradition.

After my lunch is done and paid for (see below), I introduce myself to Pelagia, who is nice enough to set up a display platter of the Greek baking that is available this day. The line-up tends to change, but the prices are mostly in the $4-5 range (less for biscuits).

oil5

 Clockwise from top right:

* Koulouraki – biscuit with vanilla.

* “The best” galaktoboureko – Filo pastry, semolina-based custard, vanilla, syrup with cinnamon and cloves.

* Baklava – roasted almonds and walnuts filling filo pastry with a cinnamon and clove syrup.

* Revani – semolina cake flavoured with lemon and orange sweetened with an orange-zest syrup.

* Another version of koulouraki.

* Paksimadi – a crumbly vegan biscotti flavoured with orange.

As Pelagia explains the ins and outs of the baking before us, we are joined by her mum.

It’s easy to tell from the glint in her eye and the pride in her work that Martha is serious about “olive and oil and butter” and using only the very best ingredients. And no preservatives at all …

I try only a few of the above assortment – they’re delicious.

The rest go home with me – it doesn’t take too long for me to realise my insistence on paying for the lot is going to be rebuffed at every turn, no matter how hard I try or how long I persist.

Olive Oil & Butter does breakfast and lunch, too, though much of what is available in that regard is of non-Greek derivation – pies, muffins, focaccia and so on.

oil1

I do enjoy my pastitsio ($15), though.

It’s a hearty dish that is something of a variation of moussaka, with the good ground beef and tubed pasta melding into the rich bechamel sauce. The accompanying salad is just, fine, too.

oil7

And for dinner, I am also gifted this gorgeous scroll-style spanakopita ($9).

Like the bakalava and its variations (katafi, gianniotiko, saragli), the cheese and spinach scroll is made with filo pastry that is made from scratch in the kitchen.

How good is that?

My two cafe lattes ($3.50) are excellent, BTW!

PS: I will update this post with “tasting notes” as I work my way through my trawl!

The Olive Oil & Butter Facebook page is updated regularly with news and photos of what is available.

Olive Oil & Butter on Urbanspoon

oil2

oil4

oil3

 

Random bits

2 Comments

nora1

Consider The Sauce revisited one of its fave places at the weekend.

MiHub Cafe is just our sort of establishment, and I was looking forward to reconnecting with its great community vibe.

(See earlier stories here and here.)

So my visit wasn’t so much about blogging – I didn’t even get my camera out – as it was about beaut food and people.

I had my fill of both, even running into a fellow Rickshaw Run volunteer, and comparing notes on the wonders of Werribee with she and her friend.

Sadly, I didn’t get to talk to MiHub stalwart Nora, as she was attending some sort of event in the city.

Since hooking up with her on Facebook, I have been enjoying her near-daily gifts of Koran-inspired pithy wisdom and love.

But I did come away from my Werribee visit with the latest edition of JOM – Journal Of Malaysians Down Under.

Yep, that’s Nora on the cover … and reading the interview with her inside, I had confirmed what I already suspected – she is a wonderful woman!

You can read the interview here.

And get ye down to MiHub!

From what I could gather during my most recent visit, the best action there is taking place on Friday nights.

Bennie and I will check it out soon and a report will be forthcoming.

****

Oh dear!

I was surprised to discover, during a footy sojourn, that a regular CTS reader was harbouring a misunderstanding about the new, ticketed and paid-for format of the CTS Feasts.

He was under the impression that the fee – $20 at this point – is being split between CTS and the participating eateries, but that punters are still expected to pay for their food on top of that.

It’s not so! Your ticket payment covers everything bar drinks.

There are still a handful of tickets unsold to our repeat session at La Morenita on Sunday, June 8. See story here.

Is there such a thing as too many food trucks?

7 Comments

how1

The days when the west seemed forgotten or ignored by Melbourne’s developing food truck industry sure seem like a long time ago and a long way away …

Tonight on Somerville Road there were 14 – that’s right, 14 – food truck in operation!

I’ve liked all the truckers I’ve met.

And I like that they like each other.

But I wonder how they can all make a buck in such an intense environment.

Those that I talked to tonight said business was good without being outstanding.

There was certainly a happy vibe in evidence!

And, no, I didn’t partake, having already eaten in Carlton …

Footscray returns to the Western Oval

11 Comments

vfl4

vfl2

Upon moving to Melbourne about three decades ago, I was quite taken with Australian football – this strange game adored by millions but played only, or mostly, in a single country … and a single city (mostly) at that.

As I established a new life for myself, and being as I knew few people, it was not unusual for me to attend three VFL/AFL games a weekend – imagine the cost of doing that these days!

I never got serious about barracking for any particular team, but usually went for the underdogs in any given game.

All that was long enough ago that I actually made it to some of the old-school suburban grounds – in fact, IIRC, I may have actually attended the final ever seniors game at the Western Oval.

So I am really quite excited to front up for the return of Footscray – in the form of the Western Bulldogs’ stand-alone VFL side – to the Western/Whitten Oval.

vfl3

Marley and her family, Maddie, Ruby and Rory.

Even if I have reverted to other football codes in terms of my active sports interests.

I arrive in time for the start of the second quarter, end up staying to the final siren and have a ball.

There’s gratifyingly big crowd on hand, kids and families and dogs everywhere – none of whom have had to pay for their suburban footy fix.

It being after breakfast but too early for lunch, I’d envisaged grabbing a coffee from the Bulldog HQ eatery The Pound …

vfl1

… but the queue nixes that idea right off.

However, I am delighted to find that among the array of eats being provided at the train-line end of the ground are Remi and his super-gorgeous Airstream Happy Camper Pizza van.

vfl6

Too early for lunch? Nah, time to try a whole Happy Camper Pizza for the first time ever!

vfl8

My $12 margherita is perfection in every way – hot, fresh, excellent ingredients in just the right proportions and very, very tasty!

vfl14

There are old-school footy traditions going on everywhere, including kids and balls and dads on the ground at half-time and anyone with an interest taking in the three-quarter-time huddle.

vfl12

I run into and enjoy the company of CTS readers and footy buffs (from left) Michael, Footy Maths Institute, Sian and The Holy Boot’s Football Emporium.

Also met but unphotographed is Dugald Jellie, whose report on the occasion can be seen here.

I understand there are about five more VFL home games for Footscray this season – it’s a CTS recommended activity!

(BTW, Footscray thrashed Richmond …)

Happy Camper Pizza on Urbanspoon

vfl11

vfl7

vfl5

vfl10

Melb’s food blog rankings

2 Comments

alex9

Random pic that has nothing to do with the story …

Thanks to Ed Charles of Melbourne food blog Tomato and Thang No at Sydney blog Noodlies, and a lot of work, those interested can have a look at a rankings list of “Australia’s top food blogs”.

As ever, I grumble the use of the word “top” when the listings are based solely on traffic as ranked by Alexa.

Such a strategy doesn’t take into account all sorts of factors, including a blog’s engagement with its readers – and CTS, through the burgeoning Feasts, could hardly be more engaged.

And “top” is meaningless in terms of how successful individual bloggers feel their blogs are – it’s easy to forget that bloggers of all sorts have a variety of vastly different motivations and notions of what constitutes a successful blog.

But everyone loves lists and I’m no different.

I actually found the Noodlies combined Melbourne/Sydney too confusing and thus of little interest.

Ed’s Melbourne-specific list I found a lot more interesting.

Consider The Sauce comes in No.54 on a list that numbers 152, with almost 100 more not ranked because they are too new or have too little traffic.

I’ll take that – for a blog that is so obsessed with a particular part of Melbourne and devoutly avoids the trendier foodie happenings and menus across our city.

Footscray Food Blog comes in at No.28.

But I am interested in learning what other Melbourne food blogs regular CTS readers follow or even check out occasionally.

 

 

 

 

CTS Feast No.7: La Morenita 2

6 Comments

ctsfeast6

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

Consider The Sauce Feast No.7: La Morenita

67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911

From 6pm on Sunday, June 8.

****

Wow – Maria and Marco of La Morenita and Consider The Sauce were knocked by the response to CTS Feast No.6!

So much so, we’re happy to mount an identical event a couple of weeks later.

Hey, we’re a little nervous – but enough people have let us know they are interested in a repeat or were disappointed in missing out on the first that we’re going ahead anyway!

The menu will exactly the same – see below.

As will the price ($20) and the number of tickets available (25).

See the original CTS Feast La Morenita post here.

****

MENU

Cheese, spicy chicken and beef empanadas

Choripan (chorizo in a roll)

Cocktail hallullas (Chilean bread), pebre (spicy chilli sauce)

Traditional ham and cheese sandwiches de miga

Churrasco (burger with beef, tomato, avocado and mayonnaise)

Custard berlin (doughnut)

Milhoja (“1000 layers”) cake (which Marco will slice on the night)

A Jarrito (Mexican soft drink)

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

Macedonian magnificence

6 Comments

zeg3

Zegov Charcoal Grill, 16 Wood Street, Thomastown. Phone:  9078 6811

Nat “The Nose” Stockley has a super-sleuthing way of finding about new joints that fits right fine with the Consider The Sauce ethos.

So when he tips us to the existence of a new eating emporium – or, even better, asks us to join him in checking out – we invariably respond with alacrity.

In this case, the business in question is a newish Macedonian place way over there in Thomastown.

No problem – a sweet drive on the ring road, particularly with a slew of new music to listen to, is a breeze and seems no more “out there” or onerous than some of our more far-fetched westie exploits.

As I drive, I have visions of perfectly grilled meats and fabulous cabbage salad dancing in my head.

That’s precisely what we get – and we get more besides.

A WHOLE lot more.

zeg9

As we get comfortable in the typically Euro-appointed eatery, Nat and I are like a couple of giggling schoolboys.

Truth is, we both get an immense rush from finding such out-of-the-way places.

As well, I am delighted to find that Zegov ticks another CTS box – regular readers will know we get a particular kick from finding great food on industrial estates. This isn’t that precisely, but it’s real close.

I’ve had no lunch, so am hungry – my mouth really does water as we peruse our menus, which feature both the expected and the not so much.

We choose a couple of starters and a couple of mains – in the latter case, choosing different platters from the three mixed grills available.

zeg5

Piroshka ($4 each) look like Chiko Rolls and are filled with a mix of cheese, pickled gherkin, ham and mayo. They’re delicate but, for mine, a little on the bland side given the potential pungency of the fillings.

zeg7

Makallo ($7) is chargrilled green chillies in oil “for dipping”. This is nice enough, though I could wish for more pronounced spice and flavour.

Sounds a little on the ho-hum side so far, doesn’t it?

Well, hold on – things are about to get very interesting!

Something spurs Tanya and her mum-in-law Lidija to get really serious about having us waddle out of the place.

Whether it be the fact we’re photographing everything that moves (and much that doesn’t) or that we look hungry (it certainly can’t be that we look skinny because we don’t) … out come three more starters we haven’t ordered just for us “to try”!

Wow!

zeg4

Nafora ($6) is lightly chargrilled bread with chilli flakes and cheese that we gaily use for dipping in the oil of the above makallo.

zeg6

Sarma ($16 for two) are right up there with the very best cabbage rolls I’ve had, regardless of derivation.

They’re smaller than is often the case, but so tender and packed with not rice but instead a gloriously hearty beef mince sauce.

zeg10

Grafce ($7) are baked beans – they’re smooth and hearty, but maybe get a little lost in the multitude of food around us.

zeg8

Finally we get to our mains – mix char grill 1 for him, mix char grill 2 for me.

Both cost an outrageously cheap $18.50, with the only difference being that Nat gets pork neck pieces and I get lamb chops.

Gosh, they’re fantastic! The only problem is, we’ve already eaten so much we struggle to do our platters justice – I eat only one of my chops, for instance.

But the meats are superb – plain, juicy, expertly cooked and including five “kebapi” and, for variation, a skinny pork snag of sneak-up-on-you spiciness.

And the cabbage salad?

It’s perfection in every way!

Such a simple thing and such a joy, the cabbage is both tender and crunchy, and a little vinegary to boot. As it should be.

It’s pretty much the only thing we both clean our plates of.

We think we’re done – but Tanya and Lidija have other ideas …

zeg12

Tulumba, a dessert special not listed on the menu and yet another treat offered us “on the house”, is like a cross between churros and eclair.

Coated in clear, sticky syrup, it’s a plain and not over-rich way to cap off a magnificent eating experience.

There’s some food in the west that is similar to that to be had at Zegov, but not THAT much.

So this wonderful place is well worth a drive the ring road makes easy.

And I just know that Bennie will love the $10 burgers that are “served with chips in burger”!

Thanks, Nat – you’re always on the money!

Zegov Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

zeg1

zeg11

zeg2

The great western suburbs coffee debate

22 Comments

cup22

Regular readers who get their CTS fix via this blog’s Facebook page will be aware that yesterday I posted a link to a list of “Melbourne’s best coffee” as published on Urban List.

As ever with such lists, my beef is with the use of the term “best”.

Look, I’m a journalist – I know how these things work.

And work they did, in this case, with that FB post/link garnering more than 1000 views – way, way more than ever is accorded CTS’s own posts.

Another familiar beef is that in this case, as in so many others, the western suburbs did not score even a solitary mention.

So I reckon it’s worthy of a blog post – let’s have some have some entertaining discussion about your fave western suburbs coffee spots.

As listed on the CTS FB page, I have three that I absolutely swear by for friendliness, service and outstanding coffee – Cup And Bean, Feedback Cafe and Sourdough Kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

Steppin’ Out In Sunshine

Leave a comment

made5

made2

MaDE in Brimbank is a dance and music bash being held in the car park adjacent to Classic Curry and in which we almost always park when making one of our frequent Sunshine visits.

Now, dance is not really my thing, but I end up being very glad I make the effort.

This is another wonderful westie community event.

I spend quite a few hours enjoying it all – from an hour so after proceedings commence, but departing way before the party winds down.

made10

While on hand I catch all sorts of dancing and other entertainment, ranging from junior hip-hoppers to traditional styles from Africa and Europe.

And there are food trucks.

Actually, there are a LOT of food trucks – they’re so thick on the ground, I wonder how anyone is going to make a buck. Maybe things pick up after I split.

made11

Given the plethora of food rucks on hand, it is no surprise I bump into erudite and much-travelled foodie Nat Stockley.

Nor is it any surprise, given her “thing” for dance, food and, more recently, food trucks themselves, that I likewise stumble across the Urban Ma and other members of the wonderful family with which only days earlier I had been utterly privileged to participate in an amazing Pinoy family feast.

Wonderful folks!

made4

From Amy at Trailer Made Food, I secure a serve of fried potatoes with tomato sauce and Turkish sausage ($10).

made6

It’s a lovely thing!

The spuds are crisp and salty, the sauce is intense and the sausage just right.

But I’m still hungry.

made7

So I hit the Souvlaki Cart – and hit souvlaki heaven.

made8

My $10 souvlaki is wrapped in everyone’s fave Greek-style pita bread.

Internally, the lambs cubes are really, really top class and a cut way above the meat found your average takeaway souvlaki.

The only quibble I would have is that the yogurt/cucumber combo could’ve benefited from quite a bit more garlic.

made14

made13

made9

made3

 

 

 

Coasting in Yarraville

Leave a comment

neigh10

Friendly Neighbours Family Day, Beaton Reserve, Yarraville

We know some of our neighbours, one of them very well.

But, like everyone else, we could do better.

So we are happy to embrace the Friendly Neighbours Program, the leaflet of which arrived in our letterbox this week.

Even better, we are happy to check out the local festival being thrown in that spirit at our local park, which we mostly use for one of our favourite past-times.

neigh7

We can’t recall there ever being a public event in “our” park before, but we certainly hope this one becomes a regular.

Bennie remarks as we arrive that it’s the most laid-back fest we’ve ever attended – and we’ve been to heaps.

But laid-back has its charms, for sure.

We like the stalls – and we like even more that the stallholders have been charged no fee!

neigh8

I especially like talking to Karen, who makes all her hats and caps from recycled materials.

My search for a winter hat is on, but I don’t find quite the right one among her on-hand range.

But I have her details (karenfalting@gmail.com) should I decide a custom-made number is the answer.

neigh4

There’s ukeleles …

neigh1

… line-dancing …

neigh9

… and bluegrass with crowd-sourced percussion.

neigh6

We eye food trucks including Dos Diablos and Beatbox Kitchen somewhat warily – after all, our weekend eating-out budget is pretty much shot.

So we are profoundly grateful to the nice folks from the Ethiopian Youth & Parents Association who are offering, at no cost, snacks that do us just right.

They include injera rolled up like roti rolls and including dal, a sort-of bolognese and a spicy cheese-and-green number – all absolutely delicious!

neigh11

Lakehouse redux

2 Comments

lake23

Lakehouse Restaurant, 55 Cumberland Drive, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 3649

Consider The Sauce has not been back Lakehouse since its visit in the Edgewater establishment’s very early days.

We have noted, though, the mixed bag of comments that have accompanied its opening, both here at CTS and elsewhere.

We note them, but figure also they are very much par for the course for such a place in such a place.

We certainly don’t let the less glowing remarks deter us from a Saturday visit for lunch.

In fact, exactly opposite is the case, so delighted are we to grab a spot on the balcony on a beautiful, sunny and virtually wind-free autumn day.

It’s a wonderful thing – and even the pelicans gracefully soaring past as we get comfortable seem to agree.

From the lunch menu (see below), we go for a couple of the sandwiches and split them 50/50.

lake25

The open steak sandwich ($17.90) is fine, though as with all such arrangements we might quibble with the description “sandwich”.

Steak on toast or beef bruschetta might be more appropriate, as it’s impossible to eat ours in anything like the manner usually used for anything sandwich.

But the steak is nice, of just the right heft and goes well with the beetroot salsa, greenery and aoili.

The chips, served in a cute wire basket, are good and hot, though we find those near the bottom overly salted.

lake24

We are surprised and delighted to find the same chip deal arrives with the Mediterranean vegetable sandwich ($13.90), as they are unannounced on the menu.

Surprisingly, Bennie likes this even better than the steak, um, sanger.

I would have preferred vegetables such as zucchini to have more bite – these all seem rather squishy.

But the whole is good – the Turkish loaf is very fresh and warm, and the vegetables are themselves sandwiched by pesto and mozzarella.

lake26

Neither of our lunch selections are likely ever to win ecstatic “oohs” and/or “aahhs”.

But the prices have been right, the setting is simply unbeatable and the service has been just fine.

Next time, we’ll make a point of checking out some pizza or pasta – or maybe the $12 parma Thursday nights.

We’re happy to enjoy what Lakehouse has to offer without indulging in wishful thinking that it was, well, less “generic”.

In Melbourne, spectacular views and/or beach and river settings and REALLY good food just don’t seem to go together.

Or not in places we can regularly afford, anyway.

Lakehouse Restaurant on Urbanspoon

lake22

lake21

lake27

CTS Feast No.6: La Morenita

2 Comments

ctsfeast6

Consider The Sauce Feast No.6: La Morenita

67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911

From 7pm on Wednesday, May 21.

PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS SOLD OUT. CTS AND LA MORENITA ARE IN DISCUSSIONS ABOUT A REPEAT!

****

Who doesn’t like hands-on food?

Not we here at CTS HQ, that’s for sure!

Whether it be an injera-based spread or a fabulous Pinoy family feast, we just love getting our hands on the stuff.

And that’s just what we’ll all be doing at CTS Feast No.6.

We know this because La Morenita’s Maria has assured us there’s simply no cutlery to be found in the place.

Maria and her hubby, Marco, are old friends of CTS.

We use their empanadas for out-of-the-freezer light meals and snacks.

We love dropping in for coffee and cake.

We love that this friendly Latin American cafe is right there on Berkshire Road as a warm, tasty contrast to the wall-to-wall panelbeaters and the like.

Most of all, we love their amazing range of sooper-dooper, genuine Latin American sandwiches/burgers, one of which – the fabled churrasco – will be the centrepiece of CTS Feast No.6.

As with the previous Feast, a charge of $20 will apply, with the proceeds being split between CTS and La Morenita.

In this case, though, because of space restrictions, there are only 25 tickets available.

After a feast history that has so far embraced three Indian eateries as well as one each of Vietnamese and Chinese, it’s really cool to be offering CTS readers something different.

Let’s let Maria have the last word: “My aim with this night is to make sure everyone goes home full!”

MENU

Cheese, spicy chicken and beef empanadas

Choripan (chorizo in a roll)

Cocktail hallullas (Chilean bread), pebre (spicy chilli sauce)

Traditional ham and cheese sandwiches de miga

Churrasco (burger with beef, tomato, avocado and mayonnaise)

Custard berlin (doughnut)

Milhoja (“1000 layers”) cake (which Marco will slice on the night)

A Jarrito (Mexican soft drink)

Dinner delight in Yarraville

6 Comments

alpha4

Alpha Bakehouse, 42 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6111

The weight of opinion would seem to be overwhelming.

It doesn’t take a lot of looking to find accolades for the coffee served at Yarraville stalwart Alpha Bakehouse.

As well, hordes of commuters get their “roadies” here despite there now being two alternatives that are actually closer to the station.

In my city commute days, I did likewise – but always found the coffee mediocre. But as I say, I am in the minority.

More broadly, we have never really warmed to Alpha. The occasional pie, but that’s about it.

Besides, at lunchtime, the place is so very, very busy.

Always.

Again, we are in the minority.

We’ve been aware for a while the place is now open for dinner – and are open-minded enough to give it a go.

What we find and are provided makes us converts.

alpha1

The joint’s daytime role as a bakery/cafe/sandwich place remains apparent at night.

But the Alpha crew has otherwise done a fine job of fostering a real restaurant ambiance.

In the long room, there are many small tables, a larger one of the communal variety and a broad bench at the front.

Wowee – all are set with real-deal napkins! We appreciate that.

We lover our pozzie at the front bench. It’s a fine place to await our meals on a balmy Indian summer’s eve as we watch the commuters heading home in an endless parade.

The Alpha’s dinner mains mostly range through the $15 to $25 mark and can be described as being in the family bistro or local pub tradition (see menu below).

alpha3

For once, I pull parental rank on Bennie and choose the “Alpha wagyu burger” ($18).

It’s good, with a nice, hefty patty that perhaps – by our usual standards – could use a bit more zing in the seasoning department.

The bun is excellent, and the greenery and tomato are respectively crisp and fresh.

A nice, crisp slice of bacon would have been appreciated, though.

The chunky “hand-cut” chips are beaut, and I even like them dipped in the generic tomato sauce.

alpha2

As luck would have it, Bennie’s meal trumps mine – ironic, given his chicken parma ($18) is what I would have ended up with had he been allowed his burger druthers.

As he motors though his dinner, I venture that it is probably the best parma he’s ever had.

He nods in the affirmative.

Based on my sample taste, I reckon it’d be in the vicinity of that category for myself.

It’s really good. And the meat is served mostly beside – rather than on – the chips. Hurrah!

The parma itself is fine, non-reconstituted chook.

Even better, the topping provides a beautifully finessed harmony between cheese, ham, tomato and sage – something that is, in our experience, far from common.

His chips are the same good deal as mine, while his salad is way better than the mere garnish that has attended my own burger plate.

It’s a winner!

Alpha’s dinner offerings are unlikely to become regulars for us, but we love that it’s there – based on our two meals, Alpha is a classy, viable alternative to similar offerings nearby.

And the early-evening service has been attentive and friendly.

Alfa Bakehouse on Urbanspoon

alpha6

alpha5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check your spam daily

7 Comments

vic9

Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar, 28-30 Young Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 9500

Just like everyone else these days, I am always looking for where the next opportunity or possibility may arise.

So I have developed a daily routine of always checking the spam file of my email account.

What I find there is almost always … spam.

But, just very occasionally, there is something more interesting.

Through that routine I find an interesting approach from publiicst Yvette and her company X2 Marketing.

Her firm represents, so she tells me, a small number of western suburbs restaurants. Would I be interested in some sort of collaboration with her company and the restaurants involved?

A very, very good half-hour phone conversation ensues.

I like it that Yvette and her partner, Anna, have no set ideas how food bloggers and their clients may interact and they seem to be open to ideas. Even better, the Consider The Sauce Feast concept spark a good deal of enthusiasm.

Both women come from a corporate background, yet have ended up in the same place as CTS, preferring the personal touch and a general embracing of the “small is beautiful” ethos.

vic4

Two of the eateries they represent hold no interest to Consider The Sauce at all, but one of them most certainly does.

So it is that all three of us meet at Vicolo, in Young Street, Moonee Ponds. (CTS did not pay for its meal – full disclosure below.)

I am very familiar with Young Street in Moonee Ponds – indeed, Fresh On Young was the subject the very first CTS story.

But I have always been deterred by the somewhat forbidding glass facade of Vicolo, despite a good review from Lauren at Footscray Food Blog.

So I am delighted and happy to find that behind the glass is a classy Italian joint.

I really dig meeting and talking with Yvette and Anna. Despite our different backgrounds, I’d like to think we are on the same page.

On this Thursday night, there is a happy vibe in the place, which is crowded with what I presume are regulars.

Even better, I adore the boss lady, Maria, and the way she sparkles and genuinely seems to care about every table of guests.

Yvette, Anna  and I star with a trio of spuntini.

vic1

Whitebait ($11) are warm verging on cold, but I’m guessing that in the antipasto swing of things this is perfectly acceptable. They’re crisp and unoily, with the fried richness being cut beautifully by the excellent tangy salad.

vic2

Arancini ($10) are a big step up from the tough, unappetising footballs found in generic eateries across the land. These are delicate and variously flavoured with goat, pumpkin and cheese.

Similarly light of flavour and weight is the gorgeous salt and pepper calamari ($11).

vic5

As we await our main, Maria is only too happy to give me a brief tour of the kitchen, expressing the hope that I’ll be comfortable with the fact her two cooks are Korean folks trained by herself pretty much from the ground up.

As if I would care!

One of them, Naggie, is happy to be photographed. The other, not so much …

vic6

Maria explains how she prepares her renowned risottos in a restaurant context – by mostly pre-cooking the rice and keeping all the flavour packages separate, with the end product being as genuine and delicious as you could wish.

vic7

The house red sauce, Maria explains, is made from only the best tomatoes – tinned and puree both.

vic10

I get lucky with my choice of main – it’s a casserole-style goat number ($36) that isn’t even on the specials list. It’s sticky, rich and in every way excellent, the tender meat falling easily from the bone in a way that only comes from long, slow cooking.

My companions enjoy their pasta choices – linguini marinara with fish, mussels, pipis, scallops and calamari ($26.50); and lasagne ($23.50).

vic11

Desserts all come with a $12 price tag, with the lemon tart and tiramisu going down a treat.

On the basis of our combined meal, I’m happy to conclude that Vicolo does classic Italian very well.

As for possible future collaborations between Vicolo and/or X2 Marketing, stay tuned …

Consider The Sauce’s meal at Vicolo was provided without payment being required. Management had no prior knowledge of what would be ordered, and neither sought nor was granted any editorial input into this story.

Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar on Urbanspoon

vic3

CTS Feast No.5: Indian Palette

2 Comments

pal9

pal8

Indian Palette, 140 Victoria Street, Seddon. Phone: 9689 8776

Consider The Sauce Feast No.5 at Indian Palette in Seddon was a rip-roaring winner.

Thanks to Francis, Sue and their kitchen crew and staff, the food was wonderful and there was plenty of it.

As I’d hoped, everyone was knocked out by the wonderful eggplant dish andhra kodikura with its utterly distinctive flavour generated by peanuts, sesame seeds and tamarind.

pal4

This being the first paid and ticketed CTS Feast made the whole vibe quite different.

Fours tables of eight made for a happy, bubbly atmosphere as fellow foodies and westies got down to it.

pal3

I managed to speak to most of our guests at some point during the course of the night.

Among the happy throng were …

* Serial Feast attendees Michael and Sian, and Daniel and Richelle.

* New friends met for the first time such as Michelle, of Good Day, Scumshine, and Jenni, who I missed out on talking music with – such is the burden of being host!

* Jill and Patrick of Spice Bazaar.

* Marco and Maria of La Morenita in Sunshine – one of our fave places. Stand by for a forthcoming announcement of a joint CTS venture with them!

* Tom, principal of Bennie’s old school Sunshine Christian, his wife Robyn and their friends Adrian and Emma.

pal1

Thanks for coming everyone – I had a ball.

And thanks for so eagerly embracing the new CTS Feast model – more is definitely better, and I’m absolutely thrilled that between us all we made it work so well.

MENU

Entrees

Cut mirchi (fresh green chillies cut and dipped in gram flour batter and deep fried)

Lamp pepper fry (boneless lamb pieces cooked with pepper and Indian spices)

Mains

Gutti vanakaya kura (mini eggplant seasoned with ground nut, tamarind pulp, finished with South Indian spices)

Andhra kodikura (a favourite homestyle Southern Indian spicy chicken dish with garam masala, caramom, green chilli, cloves and cinnamon)

Dal fry (yellow split lentils cooked and fried with onions, ghee and coriander)

Other

Butter naan

Saffron rice

Dessert

Badam kheer (ground almonds cooked in milk and sugar, flavoured with cardamom)

The Indian Palette on Urbanspoon

pal10

pal11

pal12

Happy birthday, Eduardo!

5 Comments

ed35

Catching up with my pal Jacqui of Urban Ma and her hubby, Wes, at Pho Fever was long overdue.

So later that night, from our respective pads, we FB messaged back and forth, setting up a mid-week lunch for a few days later.

On the morning concerned, I message her: “Lunch? Or Not?”

She replies: “Heya!! It’s my dad’s birthday today and now he doesn’t want to go out for dinner. I’m going to have to shop at the market today for some dinner!”

What unfolds is a most fabulous day and night.

Long-time readers will know that quite some time ago now I had a number of awkward encounters with Pinoy eateries. All along, various folks – including Jacqui, in our initial email conversation – told me home cooking was the only way to appreciate food from the Philippines.

And here I am, through sheer serendipity, about to be granted entre to a most special birthday celebration of the Pinoy home-cooking variety.

But the food and its preparation, good and enjoyable as they are, are just a part of what is about to unfold – even more moving is being welcomed into the homes and hearts of extended Medilo clan with wide open arms.

That’s special!

Arriving at Jacqui’s Cairnlea home, I quickly make the acquaintance of her cousins, JV and Arielle.

I meet, too, the birthday boy, Eduardo, who turns out to be excatly the same age as me – 37. Haha …

ed5

Then it’s off to Alfrieda Street with my fellow blogger, cousins and baby Daniel for the big shop.

We’re figuring to do quite a lot of what we need to do at Big Sam’s Market, but end up getting the job done on Alfrieda itself, at traders within a few hundred metres of each other, with a side trip to a Pinoy grocery a block or so further away.

Among the many, many items we pick up are …

ed1a

… banana leaves …

ed4

… pork belly …

ed6

… and fruit.

ed7

Lunch? Banh mi, of course – BBQ chicken, BBQ pork, meatballs and tofu spread among the four of us.

ed8

Before heading home, we hit the St Albans IGA for more prosaic items such as tomatoes and onions. Daniel gives his fanging approval to the toms.

I’m impressed with this supermarket. It’s a lot bigger than our Yarraville IGA and has a really pronounced European/Continental vibe. Well worth checking out!

ed9

Then it’s home for us and a happy afternoon of prep.

But not before the shopping booty is duly recorded by all and sundry – as is the way of the world these days …

ed10

The marinade is prepared for the pork belly.

ed12

The milkfish is cleaned by JV then stuffed with tomato, onion and tamarind leaves.

ed11

Arielle and I thread on soaked skewers the BBQ pork that Jacqui’s husband, Wes, set to marinate earlier in the week.

ed13

The mussels are steamed with ginger and more …

ed14

Daniel, meanwhile, grabs some time out for a spell with his favourite movie.

As we’d been shopping, I was happy that after quite a few encounters now, Jacqui’s gorgeous boy finally cracked a smile for me – and even held my hand in one of the shops as he went looking for his mum.

ed15

Then, in two cars, we ferry the food and ourselves the few blocks to the home Jacqui’s parents, finding on arrival Eduardo already  firing one of two BBQs that will be used.

ed17

JV gets the cooking underway, starting with the pork belly. Things are starting to smell very interesting!

ed19

More of the clan seem to arrive with every passing minute – including Wes …

ed20

… and Jacqui’s mum, Marissa, who is preparing a typically Chinese-inspired Pinoy noodle dish.

ed22

Out back in BBQ territory, it’s the turn of the pork skewers and milkfish, which have been wrapped in banana leaves.

ed21

The rest of the leaves are to be used as a giant serving plate-cum-tablecoth for the entire spread, but not before Jacqui has wiped them clean of grit and dust.

ed24

The calamari get the BBQ treatment, too, and are then sliced by Jacqui.

ed25

More people are arriving … they eventually include, all up (and I’m hoping I’ve got everyone covered …) aunty Ann and cousins Johan, Andre and Jed; and brother Jonathan and wife Katrina.

ed38

The last to arrive for the party after her work is gig is sister Jospehine, who is very chuffed about her new doughnut socks.

ed26

It’s almost time!

Arielle, Marissa and others get to laying out the food on the banana leaves.

ed23

Special touches include this dipping sauce for the meats made from vinegar, garlic and chilli.

ed30a

More photos …

ed31

… and then it’s on!

No cutlery here, folks!

Much eating is done and laughter laughed, eventually giving way to happy sighs.

Thus ensues several hours of happy socialising and conversation.

ed33

Though in one more way of the modern world, the younger cousins soon find something more worthy of their time and furrowed brows.

ed37

Josephine has joined the gang to help encourage Daniel to puff out the birthday candle sitting atop aunty Ann’s cupcakes. He gets there eventually!

ed39

Daniel, by the way, is a Bonds Baby!

Oh my – sincere thanks to the Greater Medilo Clan for allowing me to share their special day.

I’ll never forget it.

ed40

ed28