Seaside Flatbread Cafe, 34 Borrack Square, Altona North. Phone: 9391 6655
It’s a lovely Friday but dad’s not working; nor is son at school.
He’s smashed his right foot something dreadful at school, to the extent we’ve had to get X-rays done.
But the news is all good – no fracture, no further treatment needed than the course of time and the natural healing process. And no need for spending the rest of the day in hospital, waiting to have a cast applied.
Still, he’s earned a nickname for the day – “Hoppy”!
Time for a well-earned lunch break at one of our favourite places.
Since rumour mongering about its imminent arrival and then writing about Seaside Flatbread Cafe and its food, several pertinent things have occurred.
For starters. we’ve become regulars. Not once a day or even once a week regulars, but often enough to satisfy our cravings for Lebanese goodness.
Then both Consider The Sauce and Seaside Flatbread Cafe scored generous, righteous mentions in a story by Nina Rousseau in The Age.
Along the way, yours truly helped the business – for a small fee – in getting its Facebook page up and running.
That particular avenue of a career-like future generated by this blog is proving more tricky than anticipated.
I still think a lot of western suburbs eateries really, really need help with social media.
But convincing them of that fact – and that it’s worth paying some cash for – is something else entirely!
In any case, Seaside Flatbread Cafe seems to doing a fine FB job all on its own these days … and besides, we love Rouba, her family, their food and their business so much we’d do what we’ve done for free!
And with any suggestion of conflict of interest dispensed with, we can go back to telling you how much we dig the place.
The week previous to the foot injury, we’d visited with another youngster in tow for a fine lunch of pizzas, including divine Nutella pizzas for Bennie and his wee mate.
In the process, though, we noticed a couple of Lebanese blokes chowing down for another kind of lunch entirely, one we did not even know SFC was purveying.
So we’re back today with for the foul.
First, though, some of our usual faves …
Tremendous stuffed vine leaves, this time – oh yes! – topped with slices of luscious, lemony potato I’m pretty sure have been part of the cooking process.
Kibbeh ($2 each) tasty and tender, with the delicate lamb and onion mince so liberally studded with pine nuts.
Then it’s foul time …
Rouba tells us that normally she prepares her own fava beans, but as it’s Ramadan, the foul ($8) she whips up for us will be made using canned beans.
We don’t mind that at all.
And if anything, we seem to benefit from having a serve of foul specially prepared for us – the mix of beans, olive oil, garlic and tiny tomato pieces warmed through but not cooked is wonderful and more like a salad than a mashy stew.
On hand are pickles of the turnip, cucumber and very mild pickle variety.
But the real stars of our show are the one, then two terrific breads we are provided straight out of the pizza oven.
They’re big, round and inflated.
But unlike those of a similar bent we enjoy on Sydney Road, these are thin and crisp on top, thicker and moister on their bottoms.
This is a first for Bennie and he just loves the way the rotund breads emit steam when punctured!
Despite it being Ramadan, one other table is enjoying a foul meal.
So I ask Rouba why this dish is not listed on the printed or wall menus.
She tells me “our people” – meaning the Lebanese community – know foul is available without having to be told, and her family has been unsure whether such fare would be enjoyed or even desired by the wider community.
My sense of the situation is that Seaside Flatbread Cafe is feeling its way with what might work and that Rouba and her crew need encouragement to provide broader eat-in food than their very fine pizzas and pies.
In any case, asking what’s available beyond what is listed or otherwise obvious would seem to be a cluey way to proceed at this Altona gem!
One reader who commented on Nina’s story in The Age opined that making a song and dance about a Lebanese cafe in Altona was silly as the western suburbs were rich in Lebanese foodiness.
Well, that’s not my understanding of the situation at all.
Apart from SFC, there’s bakeries in Newport and Altona – and that’s it
If anyone knows otherwise, we’re all ears …
As ever, Bennie finishes with a Nutella pizza ($4).
Despite my skepticism, these really do work, the earthiness of the plain yet wonderful bread working hand in hand with the creamy richness of the saucey spread.