Phat cats go good

2 Comments
phat6
Phat Milk, 208 Mt Alexander Road, Travancore. Phone: 9376 6643

The FB message from good mate, former colleague and occasional Consider The Sauce lurker Lee was simple: “G‘day, our local cafe – Phat Milk – has ramped up its game and is worthy of a visit from CTS. I’ll even pay!”

And so it is that I venture to Mount Alexander road for a classic, enjoyable catch-up and a fine early lunch/brunch.

I’d noticed a cafe at this end of Mount Alexander Road just in passing on previous visits in the vicinity – usually to grab some biscotti and the like from Pace Biscuits.

Lee tells me the current crew has been on site for about two years and that he and his family have become very happy first-name regulars.

 

phat7

 

I love our brief time together, swapping tales of our current exploits in the journalism game; that game’s sometimes inexplicable twists and turns; the much-loved, good, bad and utterly indifferent of our various mutual acquaintances; our respective families and children; and food ‘n’ coffee doings in the inner west, especially over their way in Kensington and Moonee Ponds.

And I love the place.

And the food.

And the coffee.

Phat Milk’s front portion is all typical Melbourne inner-city cafe, with wraps and various other goodies on display.

Up and along a few hallways is a nice backroom, where we make ourselves at home, and an adjoining garden space with seating.

I’m intrigued and excited to take note of a pronounced Middle-Eastern slant in the breakfast and lunch menus, and waste no time in going in that direction when ordering.

 

phat4

 

Middle Eastern breakfast of grilled zaatar, poached eggs, beetroot relish, falafel and hummus is terrific.

The falafels are big, soft and crumbly. The chick pea dip is fresh. And all of it works really well together.

 

phat5

 

Lee goes for the purple carrot and sweet potato latke with blueberry cured salmon, quark cheese (see wikipedia entry here) and poached egg.

His latke tastes good and funky to me, and that house-cured salmon has me making a mental note: “That’s for me next time!”

And get this – for food so lovingly prepared and presented that is so very lovely to consume, we have paid $15 (me) and $17 (him).

Bargain!

My cafe latte is perfect.

Thanks, Lee, for the company and the hot tip.

My shout next time, when I’ll be sure to bring that Mark Twain foodie book for you.

 

Phat Milk on Urbanspoon

 

phat3

phat1

(The above menu pic will be replaced at the first available opportunity!)

phat2

phat8

Cafe madness in Seddon

5 Comments

sed1

 

The Charles Street video store is no more.

And the premises’ windows have had placed in them paperwork for a hospitality industry enterprise.

Normally, I would’ve noted this with interest and awaited further material progress.

But in this case, I have been alerted by CTS pal Tennille and colleague Xavier to the presence of plans for the site on the website of the Maribyrnong council.

See the plans here.

I do not know if all such plans submitted to council are as detailed as these.

For they certainly give a very real idea of just what is proposed.

Included are artist impressions such as the one above, as well as information such as a parking analysis, existing site photos, proposed “colour palette” and floorplans.

 

sed2

 

Also provided is a montage of “inspirational cafes & images”, including shots of Captains Of Industry, Flip Board Cafe and – quite bizarrely it seems to me – Common Galaxia from just up the road!

 

sed3

Cool cafe in a great ‘hood

2 Comments
ed3
Mr Ed, 285 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 6444

Consider The Sauce loves Racecourse Road, but coffee and cafes aren’t what come to mind when we head that way.

There is coffee to be had there, including a couple of longstanding businesses that may get the CTS treatment at some stage.

Mr Ed, though is a new place that inhabits what was formerly the premises of an undertaker.

It’s been open since February, and based on the jam-packed crowd on a recent Sunday when is stuck my nose inside for a look-see, it’s doing quite well, thank you very much.

At first blush, it appears Mr Ed could be yet another westie hipster haven.

Cool black-and-white artwork?

ed2

Tick!

Cutting-edge design stools?

ed6

Tick!

But the proof is in the pudding – or, in this case, the pies.

ed8

Take a look at these beauties, which sell for $9.50. (They’re a lot bigger than they appear in the photograph.)

After my lunch, I take one of the veal, bacon and portolbello mushroom specimens home for dinner.

Like everything else in the place, as far as I can tell, they’re made in-house.

For a week-day lunch, I find the staff friendly and obliging.

In addition to breakfasts, Mr Ed does a nice line in creative sandwiches that all cost around the $10 mark.

There’s blackboard lists of specials such as a risotto, pulled chicken sliders and beer-battered flathead with purple congo wedges.

The adjacent list of “usual suspects” includes a “beef and basil burger”, and beyond that are offered about a handful of salads.

ed1

I choose one of the more expensive dishes – smoked trout and warm egg salad with celeriac remoulade with salmon pearls on rye toast ($16.50).

This is way more “plated” and pretty than is normal for CTS, but it’s truly a lovely thing.

It’s mildly flavoured and falls into the light lunch category.

But all the components work together beautifully, celeriac strands almost like noodles and the trout given some added richness thanks to the egg and some just-right poppy texture thanks to the pearls.

Mr. Ed on Urbanspoon

ed5

ed4

ed7

ed9

ed10

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

 

Garden delight in Kensington

3 Comments

white8

White Rabbit Record Bar, 176 Bellair St, Kensington. Phone: 9376 5441

Always been music crazy – and always will be.

But have never been much of a record collector, not really.

Sure, I’ve gone through the occasional phase of accumulating a few originals 45s and 78s along the way.

But for me it’s almost always been about the music, not its format.

Hence these days, in a collection of several thousands CDs, the larger part – and certainly the portion I enjoy with most zeal – comprises releases of music originally released on 45s and 78s and even cylinders anywhere from the 1890s to the 1970s.

It’s all digital but it’s all old, too.

So while being sympathetic, I’ve never a been a member of the cult of vinyl.

Which perhaps explains why early on in our westie life I mentally dismissed White Rabbit as a vinyl hangout that offered nothing much more than a cool space and an option for coffee or wine.

What a surprise then to discover there’s much more to the place – a full kitchen and a lovely back garden setting included – and that that’s been the case for a long while.

white4

As well, in the process of enjoying a lazy mid-week lunch, we’re delighted to find that among the staff members is gentle pooch of a certain age named Jessie, whom we enjoy getting to know while we await our food.

white5

From the specials board, Bennie chooses the B.L.A.T. ($12.50).

It has all the appropriate bits and pieces and does good for him, even if it doesn’t have him metaphorically clicking his heels with glee.

white6

Chosen from a trio of antipasto-style plates, my falafel-based outing ($17.50) has winning points and some that I could happily do without.

The Turkish bread, for instance, is regulation but nicely toasted – making the crackers and wafers a tad superfluous.

The falafel balls are warm and quite good, as are the salad bits and mixed olives.

But the oil-drenched bowl of roast capsicum and cheese distracts.

The best aspect of my lunch are the house-made dips.

The houmus and another based on rocket, coriander, garlic and more are mildly flavoured but very tasty.

I suspect we could’ve chosen our lunches more wisely – perhaps the specials board spinach and fetta borek would’ve wowed us, and we’d for sure be interested in checking out the beef burger with “chunky potatoes” I saw listed a few days prior if the opportunity presents in the future.

But in terms of relaxed vibes, lovely setting and warmth of welcome, we consider our belated discovery of the White Rabbit riches within a fine thing indeed.

White Rabbit Record Bar on Urbanspoon

white1

white9

white2

white3

white9

white10

white11

Could be burger of the year …

3 Comments

chase2

Chase Kitchen, 80 Hudsons Road, Spotswood. Phone: 0423 742 460

The initial aim of our Sunday drive is to eyeball the tall ships parked in the bay at Williamstown.

But that plan comes to nowt when we find the traffic backed up way before our destination and even some way down The Strand.

No way – we’re not that keen on things nautical!

So off we go with lunch on our minds.

Bennie – surprise, surprise – fancies a burger; his dad’s fancy is turning to the roast lunches available in the vicinity.

Bennie gets his way, but that’s a good thing indeed in this case.

We park expecting to hit the Spotiswoode pub, but choose to check out the action on Hudsons Rd anyway.

And what do we find but a new arrival.

Well, relatively new.

Chase Kitchen is open for business on a shopping strip that has become rather competitive – there’s a hip bakery and three other coffee/breakfast/lunch places right across the road.

We decide to give it a go based on the Boston Burger advertised on the footpath blackboard sign and end up being really delighted we have done so.

Inside is a chic but mostly regulation cafe space with stools and tall tables at the front, other seating further in, a back room between the front counter and the rear kitchen, and a garden further out back yet to be utilised.

The service and welcome we are provided are exemplary.

Certainly, the sharing of our two choices – the burger ($14.50) and the pulled pork roll with Asian slaw ($16.50) – is obligingly handled by the staff.

chase1

The pork roll is fine and generous, although the crunchy, creamy, delicious slaw rather overshadows the pork.

But the burger is better – Bennie even rates it the best he’s had this year.

That’s high praise from An Expert.

The patty has great flavour, although it does seem a little mushy – more of a meaty texture would be grand.

But what really makes this a burger supreme is the tangy, spicy mayo given a righteous kick from jalapenos and terrifically crispy bacon.

It’s really, really good.

We are both given heaps of thin fries that are hot, salty and pretty damn fine, too, though some of them seem a bit limp to me.

We are not the first Melbourne bloggers to cover Chase Kitchen – that honour falls to our pal Jacqui at Urban Ma – read her review here. Although it may seem a bit boring that Jacqui and her family ordered exactly the same as us!

Chase Kitchen on Urbanspoon

chase3

Mama Bear

2 Comments

mama7

mama6

Mama Bear, 526 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 0386

In terms of location, Mama Bear really has it nailed.

Roughly equidistant from the coffee-and-more riches of Union Rd, the swell Asian smorgasbord on the other side of the railway line on Racecourse Rd and undistinguished Macaulay Rd, it really stands out.

Even better, unlike the situation on those three nearby strips, the parking here is unrestricted on both sides of the road. You may have to look for a wee while at weekends, but I doubt it’ll be any great problem.

Lovely exterior artwork, concrete floor, random yet stylish furniture, vintage signs, a high communal table with stools – yes, this is hipster cafe territory.

As you’d expect, breakfast is the big deal here. Heck, there’s not even a lunch menu – the post-noon fare falls under the heading “Brunch”.

The building was previously a Mexican joint the threshold of which we never crossed.

Co-proprietor Daniel tells me that ithe building’s first role was as a stables or some other equine-related business. He shows me the indentations where horses had gnawed away at the window frames.

mama4

I love the display of $3.50 old-school slices and hedgehogs. Some are brought in, some are made in-house.

The non-breakfast line-up is compact and appealing, with all items sitting on or around the $17 mark.

There’s a pesto-based pasta, a blackboard risotto, a calamari salad and a beef cheek slider.

I go for the Angus burger.

mama1

The orthodox in me yearns for something more usually related to burgers for accompaniment – coleslaw maybe, or chips. Or both.

But truth is, I am a fan of the rocket and fetta fad – and this is a good one: Fresh, lemony, tangy.

The skewered pickled cucumber is a crunchy, slightly sweet and delicately seasoned delight.

The beef patty looks modestly sized but is quite substantial. More importantly, it tastes fantastic. If only all burgers were this juicy! Maybe it could’ve done with a slightly heavier hand in the salt, pepper and seasoning department, but it’s still a very fine thing.

By the time the beef is all gone, I’m left with a handful of other ingredients – high-quality bun, shredded red cabbage that looks pickled but doesn’t taste like it, tomato, good and gooey cheese, mustard and mayo. But they’re all so classy, I enjoy consuming every last morsel.

Has my Mama Bear burger been worth the extra few bucks above what you’d pay for a basic sandwich at, say, Grill’d or Jus Burgers?

Yes.

To finish, a cafe latte is ordered.

It’s insanely excellent.

Mama Bear on Urbanspoon

mama5

mama2