Meal of the week No.5: KItchen Samrat

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The perpetual blog-driven need for the new and interesting can mean old reliables are overlooked.

But as it happens, this very mid-week lunchtime I am in the mood for Indian snacky stuff.

And I am in Footscray.

So I step through the doorway of Kitchen Samrat (36 Leeds Street) for the first time in years.

I am surprised and delighted to find the place has gone from shabby to somewhat chic.

 

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It looks like a proper Indian restaurant now.

There’s even real cloth napkins, the classy effect of which are rather diminished by there being some dried food crud on the bench seat I initially choose.

The menu is longer and also more proper, and includes a number of good-looking banquet options.

Perhaps a lingering and wide-ranging CTS meal here is warranted.

But I spy with delight that the quick lunch items such as cholle bhatrua at Amritsari kulcha ($12) are still in the house.

The latter is just lovely – chick peas, butter knobs, pickle, onion and two wonderful breads stuffed with potato, coriander and spices.

Footscray eats goss

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Changes are afoot in Nicholson Street, Footscray.

Pho Ta (above) and …

 

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… Babylon have both closed.

Asking around, the best I could discover in terms of reasons was along the lines of “problems with landlord”.

These closures are a shame as both joints added diversity to a colourful part of Footscray.

 

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Over in Hopkins, Snow Tree has set itself up for soon-come visit by the CTS team by the agency of a much more attractive fit-out and a much longer menu – including fried chicken!

 

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The Dancing Dog building will be auctioned on Saturday, April 18, at 1pm.

There is a meeting being held tonight (Wednesday, March 25) with a view to making a stab at keeping the property out of the hands of developers.

For more details, check out the Permaculture Out West Facebook page.

 

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Meanwhile, up in West Footscray, what was once Gusto will soon become Dosa Corner.

According to the always reliable Barkly Village Facebook page: “Gusto will be replaced by a South Indian Style Restaurant. Ex chef from Dosa Hut across the road.”

We wonder if there will be any point of difference between the new place, Dosa Hut and the neighbourhood’s other Indian eateries.

Truth is, though, Dosa Hut is usually busy so maybe it’s not an issue.

 

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Dosa Hut itself is growing, with the opening of a branch in Tarneit at the Wyndham Village Shopping Centre.

I suspect our Tarneit readers are doing cartwheels.

Very excellent – bank on it

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

Ovest has been open a while by the time Team CTS visits.

Every time I’ve passed by in recent weeks when the place has been open, it’s been jumping.

So our hopes are high – especially those of my friends, who live just a black away and for whom this shapes as a welcome local of the non-Indian variety.

Our hopes are fulfilled, and in terms of the food well exceeded.

 

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Here’s the bottom line – we have one entree, one side, one pizza, two mains, one dessert, two glasses of wine and a soft drink.

The bill comes to just cents above $40 each.

What an absolute ripping bargain!

We’ve booked at 6pm on a Sunday night – which may have been a mistake as it’s family rush hour, the joint is very noisy and the service is a little scrappy, but not enough to cause any alarm.

When I amble back to my car, post-dinner and after having picked up a wonderful loaf of freshly baked bread from my companions’ place, Ovest is a lot more placid.

The dining room looks a treat and it’s a wonderful thing that this old bank is playing host to such vibrant life.

 

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Coleslaw of cabbage, pear, radish, lemon and parmesan ($12) is a real big serve of yum.

At first, I wish for a little more salt and flavour bite, but by the end I come to love the rather perfumey flavours.

 

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Saganaki kefalograviera, sherry vinegar-soaked currants and pickled onions appears modest of portion but is so rich that three of us are happy.

The cheese has a marvellously toasted and salty crust.

 

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A mushroom pizza with taleggio, caramelised onion and fior de latte ($20) is very, very good, its many fungus chunks having a real meatiness about them.

 

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Tuna nicoise ($26) is a stunner and very generous to boot.

Underneath that handsome slab of fish lie spud discs and heaps of superbly creamy mayo.

My roast of the day (top photo, $25.50) is a simple but good-sized snapper stuffed with lemon.

The fish is lovely but it’s the accompanying salad/salsa that makes this dish sing – the clever addition of pickled chilli discs adds not just random exclamations of heat but also a just-right tartness.

The good, hot chips are served in such quantity that there’s more than enough for us all to share – but then, that’s true of everything we’ve enjoyed.

 

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By the time dessert selections are to be made, we’re stuffed.

So to speak.

So two becomes one with three spoons.

Panna cotta of yogurt, vanilla and strawberry jelly ($10) is just the sort creamy dream you’d expect and lasts all of about, oh, five seconds.

The jelly is a delicately-flavoured delight.

My pals are stoked.

So would I be if this “local” had just opened a minute from my front door!

 

Ovest on Urbanspoon

 

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MiHub rocks it again

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Consider The Sauce is happily falling into the happy routine of always, whenever possible, attending MiHub functions at the Laverton Community Hub.

Where else would we want to be early evening on a Saturday once a month?

But I suspect there is a limit beyond which reader endurance and loyalty should not be prodded in terms of recording each event.

There’s a fine line between giving context to food reviews and stories by interweaving other aspects of our lives into CTS on the one hand and overdoing it on the other.

 

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So this may well be the last MiHub story for a while … although I will for sure continue to post MiHub notifications on the CTS FB page and continue to recommend all and sundry give MiHub activities a go!

As I posted on FB yesterday: “Yum food, delicious people!”

 

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The “pop-up market” in this case was a part of Diversity Week, so there was a heap of people and a heap of food.

The theme was ostensibly Malaysian – but there was also Middle Eastern sweets, Indian tucker and Afghani fried chicken.

 

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I ate well and widely.

And I just loved meeting and talking with all sorts folks.

This time around they included CTS readers …

 

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… Sara and Sharon …

 

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… and Roopi and Jaspreet.

 

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As well as my Star Weekly colleague Karen, her hubby Chee (on the right) and their friend Sharil!

 

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Wot’s hot in Willy

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Consider The Sauce loves Williamstown.

We love being there, throwing frisbee there and going for drives around the bay.

But it’s also true we’ve long been a little underwhelmed by the food available there.

But we keep on trying.

Our destination upon departing Yarraville for a feed – into the hinterlands of Footscray, Seddon, Sunshine and beyond, OR turn left and head for Willy, Newport, Spotswood and Altona – usually pretty much comes down to a metaphorical coin toss.

But that’s just us … Williamstown CTS readers, friends and potential pals we meet along the way almost invariably tell us, with heartfelt sighs, they wish their local eating-out options were better.

And yet … inĀ  recent months we’ve had some truly magnificent food in Williamstown.

It’s true, you won’t find the same spicy diversity as in other western suburbs realms.

And you will pay more – but not that much more.

Here’s what Willy food has put a skip in our step in recent times …

 

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Pizza d’Asporto, Rifle Range Shopping Centre, 71 Kororoit Creek Road. Phone: 9397 2033

Can’t be beat, we reckon.

Fabulous pizzas, pastas and salads – and, perhaps even more importantly, a friendly welcome that makes you feel like regular even when you’re still to become one.

See story here.

Pizza d’Asporto was also the joyous location of a recent CTS Feast – read the wrap-up here.

 

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Santorini, 1 Parker Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9399 8520

Superb Greek on a lovely heritage Williamstown building.

The marinated lamb shoulder “shaved off the spit” is highly recommended.

See review here.

 

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Mezmez, 42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8804

Nutella doughnuts.

Actually, there’s much more to be had at this swell Ferguson Street cafe, including salads and more with a zippy Mediterranean outlook.

See earlier stories here and here.

 

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Prince Albert Hotel, 149 Douglas Parade, Williamstown: 9397 5117

Delightful pub on Douglas Parade that manages to be both elegant and casual.

Excellent service and a killer rib eye with superb extras all part of the deal.

See review here.

 

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Shelly’s Beach Pavilion, 26 The Esplanade, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 7878

The new venture that has taken up residence in what was Sirens has been visited just once by us but we were impressed.

See review here.

Meal of the week No.4: Xuan Banh Cuon

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xuan1

 

Xuan Banh Cuon in Sunshine is a firm favourite of CTS, one we wish were able to visit more often.

So it’s nice to be greeted with smiles all round when we do.

Today – and while Bennie is making happy with his usual chargrilled pork with vermicelli – I get to play with two new additions to the menu.

Actually, we have tried the green papaya salad with beef jerky before – in a picnic setting.

Here, in the restaurant itself, it’s every bit as good – crunchy AND chewy, tangy and completely awesome.

It’s a lot wetter (i.e. more profoundly dressed) than the above photograph indicates.

Even better, this small serve ($6) is ample enough for Bennie to get a good taste as well.

Remarkable bargain!

And who doesn’t love it when roasted peanuts crown such a dish?

(The large size costs $10.)

 

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And how about this – banh goi or Vietnamese puff ($2)?

I could describe this as a Vietnamese version of your regular curry puff – but that would be doing it an injustice and would not be particularly truthful, either.

The deep-fried outer is crisped to a tee and delicate.

The loosely-packed innards consist of prawn, pork, vermicelli, mushroom, carrot and daikon.

And a lot of amazing.

See earlier story here.

New crew at Willy Beach

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Shelly’s Beach Pavilion, 26 The Esplanade, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 7878

Our lunch adventure destination was a Willy pub we’re told does a real fine Sunday roast meal.

We soon discover that the pub in question does do a Sunday roast – but only for dinner.

So we end up at Shelly’s Beach Pavilion somewhat by default.

No matter – this replacement for oft-derided Sirens has been high on our radar anyhow.

As it turns out, given the happy hubbub that is in evidence, I’d say we’re lucky to snag a table for the two of us.

 

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I have an open mind about this new venture.

I’ll be trying hard to not let the knowledge that it is being run by an “events company” colour my impressions.

Though I confess that upon reading the menu several weeks earlier my heart sank a little when I spied the inclusion of a cliched “trio of dips”.

The place’s interior and most-excellent patio appear little changed but the furnishings, zippy, apron-clad staff and the professional service give the place a swish feel.

We dine off a real tablecloth and use real serviettes.

Could it be that this signature, landmark western suburbs venue is finally getting the eating place it warrants?

Our verdict, based only on a simple, light and very nice lunch, and the deftness with which we are served, is: Yes.

 

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Spaghetti vongole ($26) has all it needs – heaps of garlic, oil, breadcrumbs, chilli and clams.

If the resultant dish falls a little short of really impressing, it’s nonetheless rather nice.

The clams themselves are plentiful, gorgeously tender and delicious.

 

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Our pizza of tomato, rocket, prosciutto, tomato and cheese is good for its $19 asking price.

The toppings are excellent, though they do slide from the base with slippery ease.

Regular readers will know we now favour a nearby outfit that does excellent pizzas, a wide range of them, for very good prices.

But we’ll not be turning our noses up at a pizza pie of this calibre, especially given the lovely beach-side setting.

 

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A garden salad ($8) of fine leaves and baby tomatoes is a good accompaniment.

It’s to Shelly’s credit that they are having cheapo “special” nights away from the regular menu in a bid to win over regular, local customers …

On Wednesdays, there’s pizzas with a beer or wine for $15.

And the Tuesday $20 steak deal doesn’t sound too shabby, either.

As well, they’re doing breakfast – though going by their website, not for real early starters.

Regular sourdough toast goes for $7 and a “double” bacon and egg roll with gruyere for $15.

Smashed avo with goats cheese AND poached eggs sells for what sounds like a good-deal $14.

So … our inaugural visit to Shelly’s has done more than enough to encourage a return.

Our total bill comes to $61, which includes two $4 Cokes.

Check out the Shelly’s website, including menu, here.

 

Shellys Beach Pavilion on Urbanspoon