Finally trying the local F&C

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Under The Sea Fish & Chips, 49 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6912

Consider The Sauce has long held a preference for fish and chip joints that offer more than paper-wrapped bundles.

We like our F&C and accoutrements fresh-as and eaten at restaurant-provided seating – even if it is of the most rudimentary kind.

We like it, too, when proper cutlery and crockery are part of the deal.

So we’ve never gotten around to trying our very popular local fish and chippery.

But with Bennie being a happy fish eater these days, he’s several times recent in months declared his preparedness to troop around the corner and bring our dinner home.

So off he goes … and back he comes with a meal I find OK in some regards but disappointing in others.

Low expectations met?

Yes.

 

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The chips are hot but on the dull side for me.

Ordering instructions had been for a small so naturally the medium Bennie gets is excess to our requirements.

The calamari rings are of the reconstituted surimi variety, so are automatically graded “OK”.

Fish of the day is blue grenadier and it’s real good.

What’s more, we receive three generously sized pieces instead of two, so we eat really well.

But the batter of one of them is stuck to the paper and is only messily removed.

It’s been good fare, especially as the whole lot cost something under $20.

But I won’t be in a hurry to return.

 

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And with dinner?

Bickford’s, of course.

We go through at least a bottle of this stuff a week – lemon or lemon barley now that the bitter lemon variety seems permanently unavailable.

But tonight at the IGA we spied a new flavour – apple and cinnamon.

I detect only the faintest of spice undertones but Bennie reckons it’s the best of the lot.

 

Under the Sea on Urbanspoon

Do dogs dig dumplings?

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love3

 

I Love Dumplings, 311 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9372 5218

The restaurant also known as Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen appears to have bowed to the obvious and inevitable by embracing I Love Dumplings as its major name.

It’s also moved a few doors up the road – into what was once a bank building.

 

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On the outside, it’s drab, box-like appearance still reeks of financial sector.

 

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Inside, and after a no-doubt expensive and extensive makeover, it looks like, well, a Chinese restaurant.

With a happy, big mid–week lunch crowd in attendance and a vinegary tang in the air, it sounds and smells like one, too.

Team CTS is today two robust appetites and one not so much.

We order smartly and stick solely to dumplings – or almost – in celebration of the management’s embracing of the dumpling love mantra.

The lunch menu (see below), mind you, has a lot of very well priced and interesting non-dumpling dishes about the $10 mark that will make this a lunch hot spot for sure.

We spend about $10 per head and eat like kings.

 

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Pan-fried chicken corn dumplings ($9.80 for 15) are extreme in terms of plainness but taste beaut, the lovely chicken meat having enough corn kernels to provide flavour and texture lifts.

 

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Steamed pork and spring onion buns ($11.80 for six) are, we are assured, quite different from the regular BBQ pork buns.

We don’t find that to be the case, but they’re a hit anyway – quite delicate, and with enough moistness in the filling to offset the doughy exteriors.

 

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Steamed vegetarian dumplings in Sichuan chili sauce ($9.80 for 15) are our best dish.

The soy-based, thin sauce has enough of a spice kick to make the already fab dumplings really sing.

The parcels are packed with all sorts of goodies that make the absence of any sort of animal protein an irrelevance.

Do dogs dig dumplings?

The guide dog trainers of two lovely labs that have been in the house for lunch-time assure us they would if they could!

 

I Love Dumplings on Urbanspoon

 

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Willy noodle shop

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wok4

 

Wok Rite Inn Noodle & Snack Bar, 5 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 4077

Wok Rite Inn has been recommended to us more than once by a regular reader whose opinions we respect very much.

The vibe, we have been told, is one of a neighbourhood noodle shop with a bit more going on than in your average such establishment.

Over two visits, we discover that’s a fair assessment.

The staff seem to be many and are obliging.

There’s basic seating both inside and out.

The menu ranges widely through Chinese, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes – something that’s not always a good sign, of course.

The food we are served is adequate in an average sort of way.

If we were any of the locals we see coming and going, we’d be regulars who know exactly which of the many menu boxes get our ticks.

 

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Beef rendang with rice ($14.50) is rather good.

It’s on the sweet side and (unsurprisingly) mildly spiced, but there’s a heap of good, well-cooked beef.

And the generous flourish of snow peas and broccoli is appreciated.

 

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The basic curry laksa ($13.5) appears to be not made from scratch – but I’m OK with that.

I’ve had worse at supposedly specialist Malaysian places in the west.

I like the tofu and vegetable components.

But the main protein hit comes from far too much roast pork of a thick and rather rubbery variety.

 

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There’s plenty of that pork in the kwai teow ($13.50), too, though not so much as to deliver imbalance.

Bennie likes it even if he fails to finish it off – the serves here, it must be said, are of a very generous nature.

 

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I’m told the beef curry puffs are made in-house but that my vegetable rendition is not.

I’m fine with that, too.

I suspect that’s the case with the likes of curry puff and samosas at more places across the west than most of us might suspect – especially at the lower end of the price spectrum.

What I am not fine with is the fact my fried parcel is stone cold in the middle.

A perfectly cooked replacement, brought with an apologetic smile, tastes just right.

Check out the Wok Rite Inn website here.

 

Wok Rite In Noodle & Snack Bar on Urbanspoon

 

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Yup! Another new Yarraville joint

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beat9
b Eatery 21 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 362 080

So Yarraville’s long-time burger place has gone.

No surprise, really.

Perhaps it was nudged out of the picture by the arrival of a Grill’d outlet just up the street.

Or perhaps it had simply done its dash.

Whatever the case, a new business is in residence – one we believe has proprietorial links with the previous establishment.

The place has been done out a treat – the ambience speaks of laid-back cool without trying too hard.

The upstairs area remains, but we hunker down in a nice back room.

 

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We suspect, appraising the menu and generally taking in the operation, that while the success of this business is no doubt the paramount aim, such success may lead to other eateries of the same ilk opening up elsewhere.

The staff, we find, do a fine, on-the-ball job for us.

The two-sided menu (see below) covers the breakfast-and-more territory, including some very unusual items.

Sesame-seared ahi tuna nachos, prawn and crab “bang bang” cakes or Italian soda fountain drinks, anyone?

In the interests of blog diversity, Bennie has been banned from ordering the burger.

So he does the next best thing by nominating the steak sandwich (pictured at top).

It does good for him, with the nice slab of meat, good rocket and garlic-lemon aioli dressing all disappearing very quickly.

The chips are unlisted but we’re glad to observe their presence, as it makes the $15.50 steak sanger price tag a good one.

The chips are good though could be hotter.

 

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We share one of the smaller items – a duck rice paper roll ($5).

It’s OK but the quack quotient is on the tardy side, meaning the roll’s filling is mostly vermicelli.

Presentation has trumped eating practicality – the hoisin sauce is prettily drizzled on the roll, the eating of which is thus a very messy business indeed.

 

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For the second time in a week, I go the healthy route with my chicken salad ($16).

It’s a nice thing, beautifully presented and super fresh, especially the finely grated apple, which mixes well with grapes of both kinds, celery and chicken.

It’s like a waldorf salad with bells on – but without the waldorfs.

Ha!

The chook is a bit tasteless and I generally think of my lunch as being on the bland side.

I resist the temptation of requesting salt and/or pepper dispensing implements, but wonder if the rest of the menu evinces such rampant moderation in the seasoning department.

Given the spread of the menu, b Eatery we feel is likely to be a hit with families.

It appears to have been set up with some ingenuity, finding a niche in jam-packed Yarraville by doing what many others are without mirroring the competition in any precise way.

 

B Eatery on Urbanspoon

 

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Meatmaiden without restraint

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Meatmaiden, Basement, 195 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. Phone: 9078 77

Nat and I visited Meatmaiden in November for a Saturday lunch.

We had a Very Nice Time, though in truth we didn’t get too carried away.

But I know that this kind of utterly delicious BBQ food requires, on occasion, a lack of restraint.

So I’m delighted to be back for dinner as part of a CTS team numbering four.

And this time, there will be no holding back.

The reasons are several …

It’s the end of my long, wonderful, meandering, post-surgery down time.

The regular work routine will kick in in just a few days.

And – perhaps most importantly – it is birthday time for one of our group!

 

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We even do cocktails all round – non-alcoholic for Bennie!

With no hesitation, we all four opt for the “chef’s choice” Maiden’s Mood deal of two small/share dishes, three from the smoker/grill/not-meat, and two sides for $49 per person.

We only do so after ascertaining that we will not, by choice, be served anything from the “not meat” line-up.

We’re here for the meat.

We’re most certainly not here for eggplant, even if it is BBQ eggplant.

And we’re most certainly not here for pumpkin, even if it is smoked pumpkin.

What we are served sates every desire for BBQ we possess.

It’s fantastic.

And there’s a lot of it.

 

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Up until this point, I would’ve rated Meatmaiden – with its clubbish, sophisticated atmosphere – as a little less our go than the raffish roll-up-your-sleeves vibe of Fancy Hank’s.

As of tonight’s feast, I am more than happy to give them equal billing.

The Maiden’s Choice?

Very highly recommended by us all, and good value to boot.

Here’s what we devour …

 

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Devilled eggs – delicate and mildly but beautifully seasoned flavour bombs.

 

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Two serves of pickled heirloom veg, chilli and goat curd – a wonderfully tangy mix of all sorts including baby carrots and beetroots.

 

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Southern fried chicken ribs with tequila mayo – crunchy and fab.

 

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That divine brisket – the serve is way bigger than it appears in this photo.

 

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Lamb ribs with lemon crumb – black-as, fatty but very enjoyable.

 

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Two serves of wonderful pulled pork – we struggle to eat it all.

And fail.

 

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Two serves of fries – they’re fine but seem somehow superfluous to our present carnivorous requirements.

 

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A big bowl of coleslaw.

It’s good, but I reckon it could do with a good dollop of some form of acid.

As we wind up our very extremely meaty evening, Bennie wonders aloud if ordering all of the above separately would cost more or less than what we’ve paid.

We doubt it. But we’re not about to spoil our post-meal glow by doing the maths.

Why bother?

Just go for it!

Check out the regular prices at the Meatmaiden website here.

 

Meatmaiden on Urbanspoon

Newport cafe cool

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odd1
Odd Spot Cafe, 302 Melbourne Road, Newport. Phone: 9399 2241

Following a knowledgeable recommendation, we give Odd Spot Cafe a whirl after stocking up nearby on goodies for the general all-round comfort of our new family member.

Odd Spot Cafe is situated amid a strip of shops on Melbourne Road to which we usually pay little interest as we’re usually too intent on going elsewhere when we whiz past, though we’ve also heard that the Thai joint Siam Kitchen is worth checking out.

Odd Spot has a nice fit-out dominated by black and white that speaks of coolness on a hot day.

It presents as an oasis.

We really enjoy our lunch choices and find the service to be grand.

 

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Odd  Spot features a number of dishes and a philosophy and approach that embrace “health food” – the sort of thing that can send the senior member of Team CTS fleeing.

So Bennie’s burger ($16) amply illustrates the “don’t judge a book by its cover” axiom.

It’s all-round fantastic.

He would’ve preferred onions to be cooked and some bacon but he really digs the pronounced pickled cucumber tang.

Is there anything more important – apart from the patty itself – to creating a successful burger?

The crinkle-cut chips are fine.

 

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Kenny, what are you thinking?

Sesame-crusted carrot fritters with “wilted spinach, pesto, hummus and micro herbs” ($16.50)?

Yes, I surprise myself by going all healthy.

Perhaps it’s a the festive season and all that oh-so-rich food we’ve been eating, but it does me fine.

Sure, the carrot pulp of the fritters is coated with sesame seeds rather than crusted or even, it seems, really cooked.

Perhaps I would’ve liked a bready base of some sort.

And the seasoning levels are way below what we’re used to in our mostly multicultural journey.

But right now, here today, this hits the spot.

 

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The Odd Spot cake display cabinet is chockers with great-looking things.

Bennie and I split a “chocolate fondant of goodness” ($4).

It’s a paragon of choc intensity and we love it.

Our cafe latte and hot chocolate are winners.

 

Odd Spot Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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Country pub lunch and Boris

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boris10
Cosmopolitan Hotel, corner High Street and Cosmo Road, Trentham. Phone: 5424 1516

Our Monday trip to Trentham and Woodend, postponed from the heat-struck weekend, has as its main purpose choosing a new family member for Bennie and I.

But of course we have multi-faceted aims that include eating.

As company we love having along two pals who are as intensely passionate about all sorts of critters as they are about a good meal.

After a nice, safe drive on a lovely summer’s day we depart our car, stretch and take in the fetching surrounds of Trentham.

Original plan had been to dine at the town’s famous bakery but we make an impromptu last-minute decision to try one of the two pubs on main street instead.

We do good.

The food we try is typical pub fare, enjoyable and fairly priced by the standards of our westie pub haunts.

 

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The cool, gloomy bar and dining room are almost deserted, but we love the garden out back – it’s big and charming thanks to its slight scruffiness and plentiful shade.

As we commence our lunch, we are among the first customers. By the time we depart, the place is doing good trade for a Monday.

 

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A shared plate of Cosmo fried chicken with chipotle mayonnaise ($14) is beaut.

The crumbed chook is hot, superficially grease-free, tender and tasty; the smoky condiment is marvellous.

 

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Two of us go the chicken parma ($19).

It’s a winner, the thickish chicken slab tender in the middle, hot throughout, topped by the usual and with a nice sage tang permeating.

The chips are excellent.

What is it with parmas and salads?

Is there some sort of dictate-from-on-high that means parma salads must always look like a clone of the above pictured mix of mismatched ingredients?

 

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Thankfully, the salad accompanying Bennie’s salt and pepper calamari ($28) is much better, with its orange, radish and fennel components in harmony with the rest.

This is our most expensive selection, but there’s no doubting its quality, the soft-textured batter allowing the calamari’s flavour to sing.

 

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Spinach and ricotta dumplings with basil, napoli sauce and parmesan ($26) are a lighter treat with appropriately milder flavours.

 

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On the way back to Woodend, we pause for a breather at Trentham Falls – yes, that’s Bennie right in the middle there.

 

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Then we’re at Pet’s Haven for the culmination of a long-considered decision – yes, a feline for us.

I don’t let us get too involved in hand-wringing because, yes, they’re all gorgeous.

I withstand Bennie’s forceful arguments in favour of one particular kitten, but only after ascertaining from the staff that the fact it has only one eye and stitches where the other used to be will in no way harm its chances of finding a new home.

We settle on a feisty 11-month-old black devil named Boris.

 

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So now Team CTS is three.

In our first 48 hours with Boris, I wonder if I’ve made a mistake – if perhaps we should have chosen an older, more sedate and settled companion.

Boris is a small holy terror, a ball of hyper-energy.

But then again this is probably the first time he’s been able to run and cavort relatively freely for who knows how many weeks or months!

Check out the Cosmopolitan website here and Facebook page here.

 

Cosmopolitan Hotel on Urbanspoon