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

Great Greek in Willy

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

On the eve of our mid-week dinner at Santorini, I spend some time checking out the restaurant’s website and menu – and hatch a plan.

I will, without blushing, hijack the ordering for our table of five.

As it turns out, one my companions, Jacqui, the Urban Ma, has received advice that puts her mindset in the same place as mine.

Says Jacqui: “My friend said to me, ‘Whatever you do, don’t have the dips, don’t eat the bread!'”

Indeed, why bulk up on those reliably nice things when, as non-paying guests (see full disclosure below), we can order whatever we desire?

Why not make the most of the opportunity by ordering elsewhere?

So we do!

 

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We – Jacqui, hubby Wes, son Daniel, Bennie and myself – proceed to enjoy a spectacular Greek feed in a lovely Williamstown building.

Built in 1850, the triangular building was once the local post office, and looks out on the bay as it does so the then postmen (and women?) could observe when the boats were incoming.

The interior is elegant yet casual, the service spot on.

 

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Had we gone the regular route with dips or one of the banquet choices, we would never had tried the simple yet amazing horta ($10) – greens, lemon and olive oil.

This chicory looks plain, eats delicious.

 

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Fasolakia ($12.90) is another green and healthy treat, with its beans, spinach, feta and toasted almond slivers.

 

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Our three-starter line-up is completed by the spuds.

What can I say?

How about: “OMG, OMG, OMG!!!”

Really, these humble tiganites patates ($7.90), pan-fried in olive oil, oregano and “kalas salt”, are so so simple yet so very yummy.

So much so that none of us mind at all that quite a few more of them turn up as “trimmings” for our main selections.

 

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Chargrilled prawns ($34.50) and …

 

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… kota souvlaki (marinated chicken cooked over charcoal, $26.50) are good, solid, enjoyable Greek fare, though the chicken is a tad on the dry side.

But they are well and truly aced by …

 

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… the arni gyros of marinated lamb shoulder “shaved off the spit” ($28.90).

This is fabulous stuff that well and truly destroys my some-time belief that the only difference between the food to be had at your typical souvlaki shop and that from more swish Greek restaurant proper is the price.

Wrong!

You’d be very lucky indeed to find lamb this good, this crusty, so unfatty, so joyously enjoyable in a takeaway joint.

What’s more, it’s an impressively big serve.

With its spuds, pita bread and tzatziki, and with the addition of a salad on the side, this would make a perfectly satisfying and affordable meal for two.

Our lamb is unanimously voted the hit of the night.

Along with them spuds!

 

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Our mains have been suitably accompanied by a good horiatiki salad ($14.90).

 

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Did we leave room for dessert?

Yes.

Loukoumades are smaller than those I’ve eaten in the past but they are nicely chewy and really nice.

And in Bennie’s world, deep-fried = good.

 

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Galaktoboureko is even better, it being a semolina custard sandwiched between filo pastry – this is a sort-of Greek-style vanilla slice, but less sweet and cloying.

Check out the Santorini website, including menu, here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Santorini as guests of management. No money changed hands. We ordered whatever we wanted. Santorini management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Santorini Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.3: Blok M

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In the city on medical matters – very good news as its turns out – and checking out the “little” streets and laneways around the Flinders Street end of Elizabeth.

Wow, there’s a lot going on, a lot of new action happening.

Many of the places I observe are doing great business and appear to be serving many different kinds of food I’d be very happy to try.

But they’re all so busy!

That’s not in the least bit appealing.

So that’s why I choose Blok M, just up the hill little at 380 Little Bourke Street.

I peruse the pleasantly dog-eared and lengthy menu.

There’s some dishes of which I’ve heard; many more of which I have not.

I choose nasi campur, which is described as “mixed vegetables served with grilled chicken and oxtail soup” and costs $9.50.

The wait time is longer is than I expect but no stress – I’m not in any danger of missing my appointment.

My meal arrives and it’s as pretty as a picture.

Good rice.

Sweet, salty oxtail broth – like an Indonesian version of pho.

A jumble of cabbage and carrot that is like an unpickled achaar.

A chicken thigh that seems cutlery-resistant at first but which turns out to be perfectly cooked and tender, the sweet glaze making it resemble Pinoy-style chicken.

Ahhh, what a fabulously and perfect random surprise and delight – a really fine ten-buck feed!

If I worked in the CBD, I’d be checking off the Blok M menu items one by one until I’d gone through the whole lot.

 

Blok M on Urbanspoon

 

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A terrific Willy pub

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

Consider The Sauce has got a lot of advice from doctors in the past six months.

Some of it has even been about food.

One of them, for instance, a Williamstown local, spoke admiringly about the Prince Albert, its $12 burger nights and its perpetually $15 parmas.

Bennie and I stuck our noses in one Sunday night, really liked the vibe of the place and vowed to return, though we did dine at our fave pizza joint that night.

Then, a few weeks later, the following arrived by email:

“Hi Kenny, I’ve recently discovered your Blog & Facebook Page. I am Michael, one of the new owners at the Prince Albert Hotel in Williamstown. I took over this pub four months ago alongside my father in October, and would love to invite you down for a meal on us to check it out and see what you think and if it’s worthy of a blog post, which I hope it would be.”

Why sure, we’re into that!

(Full discolsure below …)

On the night we visit, I find out that Michael and his dad have little or no pub or hospitality experience, though Michael did work at the Prince Albert for 10 months or so before the pair took the joint over.

Perhaps that fresh-faced approach is no bad thing, as I reckon these guys are definitely doing something right.

 

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There’s a casual bar area and there’s a beer garden.

But it’s the slightly more formal dining room that knocks me out.

This has an elegant ambiance, without being stuffy.

We have a lot of good foodie pubs around us these days but a newish sheen is often part of the deal.

At the Prince Albert, I feel like we are soaking up the love from a comfy yet spiffy local, the whole deal accentuated by the very good black-clad, relaxed staff.

The four of us share two starters …

 

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Chicken and sweet corn croquettes with avocado and tequila dip ($16) are daintily crisp on the outer, rich and gooey on the inner, though there seems only the mildest chook or corn flavour to me.

The dip is OK but not, IMO, a very good match for the croquettes.

 

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Salt and pepper squid ($14) is likewise dainty and fresh but is under-seasoned by the rights of our four palettes and their utter familiarity with highly-spiced food of various Asian varieties!

But wait … we’re just getting started and things get better for us.

Lots better …

 

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The recipient of the seafood linguine ($26) likes her choice plenty, telling me that with it absence of tomato it is a bit different from what she might expect in a swish Italian eatery but still very enjoyable.

I’m surprised to see unbidden grated cheese atop the pasta prawns but my pal is fine with that as she likes it that way.

 

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Two of us choose the top-of-the-line rib eye steak ($34), mine with a basket of fine chips, red wine jus, a good slaw and equally fine and fresh rocket, cucumber and tomato salad.

 

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My meaty companion gets the same slaw but opts for mash and asparagus.

Wowee, this is the best steak I’ve had for a long, long time.

It has a just-right but suitably subtle charred and salty exterior and is cooked perfectly to the requested specifications (medium rare).

It’s perfect!

There’s a heap of places where you can get an equally great chunk of beef, of course, including in the west.

But the great thing here is that Prince Albert steaks come complete; there’s no need to top up with extra sides.

The accompaniments are all terrific and make this something of a bargain.

 

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Our visit coincides with Tuesday’s $12 burger night, so predictably that’s what Bennie chooses to do, getting the $12 sandwich as opposed to the $24 job that’s on the regular menu – we’re told they’re very similar in any case.

He likes his burger but is a bit “meh” on it, telling me the relish doesn’t “do much”.

I dunno, mate – it looks mighty fine to me.

Could be it’s time for this young man to start thinking about what other food is available to him.

Could be a case of too many burgers!

We four share two desserts …

 

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Eton Mess ($12) looks like a disparate array of components but the raspberries, passionfruit, meringue and ultra-rich cream work together to very yummy effect.

 

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The waffles ($12) are also tasty, though I do wish the very good brought-in ice cream and strawberries had been served to the side in order to preserve waffle crispiness for our eating pleasure.

As ever, Consider The Sauce partaking of food for which we don’t pay is no impediment – and never will be – to an honest appraisal of our experiences.

But the minor quibbles mentioned above should in no way be seen as detracting from our enjoyment of the Prince Albert, the esteem in which we hold it and the super night we’ve had.

We wish it was our local!

And I reckon we’ll be back soon … if only so I can try that burger for myself and see if Bennie’s “meh” should have rightly been “mighty”!

Check out the Prince Albert website here and check out the pub’s Facebook page for the cheap weekly “night” specials.

(Consider The Sauce dined at the Prince Albert as guests of management. No money changed hands. We ordered whatever we wanted. The Prince Albert management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Prince Albert Hotel on Urbanspoon

 

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Bits and pieces

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What’s in a name?

Consider The Sauce, for instance!

The truth is, CTS was chosen – and the domain name registered – quite some time before this blog made its debut.

There was never any hesitation.

Most people, when they learn of it for the first time, are variously intrigued or appreciative.

By and large, I am very happy with my decision about my blog’s name.

It’s a little clever and classy.

By not tying me down to a specific geographical, it allows me to cross the river without fear of being trolled.

And it allows me to bang on about berets and barbers, son and surgery and a lot more.

But I do sometimes wonder how different things would be, how CTS would have evolved and how different I might be perceived as a blogger, had I chosen a name such as Western Suburbs Food Blog!

No matter – I suspect that in the long run, CTS as a moniker will be an outright winner and one of which I will always be proud.

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Don’t forget the CTS guest post competition – see details here.

As it stands, a week after announcing the competition, there have been no entries at all!

So if you can bash out a few words and/or bang off a couple of pics on your phone, and submit them to CTS, your chances of winning lunch for four at Woven cafe in Yarraville are very, very excellent!

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Our pals at La Morenita/Latin Food & Wines are holding a Feast.

This is not an official collaboration with Consider The Sauce – though yours truly will be playing a hosting role on the night.

But we are happy to endorse what we know for sure will be a great night.

Ribs? MMMmmmmm …

No trybooking set-up this time – book by phone or dropping into the Berskshire Road shop.

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Have you been following the wild and rapidly unravelling saga of “super blogger” Belle Gibson and her blog/foundation The Whole Pantry?

See the latest story here.

I confess that as a journalist, news junkie, blogger, foodie and one of the cancer afflicted, I find this to be a train wreck from which it is impossible to avert my eyes.

I know this:

Consider The Sauce has been involved in running three low-key, small-budget fundraisers – two of them last year.

In each case, and utterly regardless of my own financial situation, the idea that the money raised was somehow “mine” for a period of time never entered my head.

In each case, the money raised – minus, in the two most recent cases, a few minimal dollars in trybooking fees – was transferred to the recipient charities immediately or within a few hours or days.

I purchased tickets for all three events for Bennie and myself.

And this …

In making decisions about my own cancer treatment, I never for a moment entertained what are rather crudely labelled “alternative therapies”, although a couple of people did try to nudge me in that direction.

Like choosing Consider The Sauce as a blog name, that die has well and truly been cast and the surgeons’ scalpels have done their work.

Such decisions are fully personal, of course.

But I do seriously wonder about the harm proponents of such therapies can do – especially one who finds herself in the kind of strife Ms Gibson is now in.

Meal of the week No.2: Bax Food Co

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After having already hit Gamon Street’s fab new Jamaican eatery with a largish group that pretty much ran through the entire menu, I’m excited to be taking Bennie there.

And I know just what to order to press my teenage dude’s buttons.

Mine, too.

BBQ pork ribs, jerk Piccapeppa chicken wings, BBQ corn, cassava chips.

It’s a lip-smacking feast for two moderately hungry lads.

The chicken wings, at $9, strike us as a bargain.

The superb chips provide affordable bulk.

Between the slaw with both meat choices and the corn, there’s enough veggie action going on.

Even with a couple of $3 soft drinks, we pay a very good $41.

As we amble back on to Gamon, energetically flossing our teeth, Bennie opines:

“That’s the best food I’ve had in Yarraville.”

I’m inclined to agree with him.

See earlier review here.

Visiting Helen

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My colleague and pal Helen has been absent our office for a couple of weeks, so I inquire if she’d like a visitor.

I have an ulterior motive – truth is, I miss her wicked.

It feels odd to be driving the same road as took us up this way to acquire the Black Devil but, of course, Helen drives this way and that every working day.

When she is working.

I drive on past Kyneton and, after a few misturns, find the spread with the white picket fence.

My friend’s house is a big, cool thing from the 1880s.

It’s gorgeous.

 

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Bennie and I have been the lucky recipients of Helen’s generosity in recent months in the form of plums and nectarines.

But I am little prepared for the richness or depth of the goodness she has at hand on her amazing spread.

There’s … several varieties of apple, mullberries, strawberries, raspberries, a gazillion herb varieties, tomatoes and much, much more.

 

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Helen’s sister – one of them – Fiona turns up.

I am delighted to learn she also is lovely, mad and funny.

 

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Fiona has brought Middle Eastern-style salads from one of her faves, Cliftons Cafe.

Together with some backyard stuff picked from this spot and some sweet treats I’ve brung from Berkshire Road, we feast.

 

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I’d initially suggested that Helen may have been sick of being house-bound so a visit to one of the local eateries could be the go.

But this is much better – I feel privileged to partake in such a beautiful setting with such fine company.

 

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I take home a box of lovely quinces.

The two poached eggs I have for dinner are as free range and organic as eggs get.

 

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