Indian street food in Laverton

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A-One Sweets, 52 Bladin Street, Laverton. Phone: 8360 7989

Consider The Sauce enjoyed its visit with the Urban Ma to new CBD joint Delhi Streets – the food we had was good.

But I have been bemused, but not surprised, by some subsequent reviews of the place.

More precisely, I’m bemused that the place’s publicity is being bought into to such an extent that it is being put about that Delhi Streets is doing something edgy and adventurous in “bringing Indian street food to Melbourne”.

I feel this is misleading as just about everything Delhi Streets serves has long been available across Melbourne, including West Footscray, Werribee and elsewhere.

The places that do Indian street food can sometimes be businesses of the more regulation Indian variety that have dosas, chaat and the like on their menus – but they’re also often humble shops that do little more than serve snacky Indian treats and have overwhelmingly Indian customers.

A-One Sweets is one such place.

 

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Like so many of its kind, it’s a bare-bones Indian cafe – with lots of sweets of course!

But they do a nice, simple and very cheap line of snacks such as aloo tikki and pani puri.

There’s also a vegetarian thali and paranthas stuffed with gobi, aloo or paneer and served with butter, yogurt and pickle.

I’m actually in Laverton to do some volunteer duty on the West Welcome Wagon sausage sizzle at the market at the Woods Street Arts Space.

But I know that if I turn up for tong duty on an empty stomach, I’ll end up eating about a dozen of those $2.50 suckers.

And while I’m partial to a sausage sizzle snag in white bread, I most certainly do not want to make a meal of them, so to speak.

So I venture to the Bladin Street shops a few blocks away and into A-One Sweets, which has been on my to-do list for a while.

I tell the nice man behind the counter, as I peruse the menu, that I feel like something other than chole bhature – that, indeed, I’ve had that fabulous Indian dish at many places festooned across the west.

“Ah,” he says with a big smile. “But have you had our chole bhature?”

He’s persuasive, I say “Yes!” and I’m ever so glad I do.

 

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My $9 meal is a doozy.

The breads are puffed up like footballs and ungreasy.

There’s plenty of yogurt to join the regulation raw onion slices and commercial, tangy pickle.

Best of all, the chick pea curry is very nice indeed.

I love it and pretty much leave my thali tray clean.

 

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From there it’s back to Woods Street to join my fellow WWW sausage sizzle volunteers.

It’s great to meet and swap notes with some fellow westies.

We sell a heap of snags and make some good cash money for West Welcome Wagon.

Everything I am wearing, though, will be going straight into the laundry basket!

A-One Sweets is one of those gems of places away from the main drags and shopping centres that are an outright pleasure and thrill to stumble upon.

 

A-One Sweets on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.8: Footscray Best Kebab House

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After the excitement of the Dancing Dog building auction, Bennie, Che and I are up for lunch – a late lunch by our standards.

Footscray Best Kebab House is a long-time fave of Consider The Sauce – see older story here.

The truth is, though, that my couple of visits in the past year or so have had me wondering if this great place has lost its edge.

My solo meals seemed to lack some sparkle and the serves seemed a little on the mean side.

But on this visit, we work out a way to make FBKH really sing again.

For the three of us we order a large lamb kebab meal ($16) and three stuffed vine leaves ($1.50 each).

The stuffed vine leaves are fine but slightly redundant to our purposes.

The ordering of a main kebab meal for the three of us turns out to be a masterstroke.

The chilli dip is as sensational as ever and the yogurt dip (spinach in this case) is also beaut.

The salad is the usual cool and very unique-to-this-place jumble of vegetables.

The lamb is sensational, especially mixed with judiciously with both dips.

But here’s the thing – this single large kebab plate does all three of us just fine.

Much, much more affordable than ordering a small plate apiece at $14 – and it makes much better use of the big serves of the fabulous fresh bread that are routine here.

Brilliant!

Moonee Valley eats goss

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Big changes are afoot at Italian restaurant Vicolo, the Young Street venue for a memorable 2014 Consider The Sauce Feast.

Come early June, Maria will be closing the joint down for a couple of weeks for a major overhaul – this place is most definitely going to look very different.

Some time at the end of June, she will be reopening as Harry’s Bar, named after the Venice institution of the same.

And she will, of course, be serving that famous bar’s signature drink, the bellini (Prosecco sparkling wine and peach nectar).

Maria will retain some of the current and longstanding food, but the famed risotto list, for instance, will be cut to the lunch offering of 10 varieties.

Coming in will be an increased emphasis on pizzas and things such as goat and porchetta roasted in a stone oven.

As well, there will be breakfast and brunch offered at weekends.

Consider The Sauce will have a great reader giveaway for the Harry’s Bar opening night party so stay tuned!

 

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Moonee Ponds has a brand new dumpling place.

Dumpling House is at 2A Everage Street (phone 9372 9188).

Becky and Joseph have been up and running for only four days when I visit.

The room is bare-bones cafe style but the service is grand, and Becky is very keen to get customer feedback.

They have a longer, regulation-style Chinese menu (mainly for nights) but the lunchtime gist of it is two lists – one of “with rice” dishes and another of dumplings (see menus below).

 

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I just love the chicken and mushroom wontons in “peanut, chilli and spice sauce” (15 for $10.50).

There’s not much evidence of peanuttiness but that’s OK – if the descripition had been “with chilli-infused soup”, I would’ve ordered it anyway.

As is evident from the above picture, it’s fiery – in fact, at the upper limit of my spice threshold.

Yummy, though!

The wontons are fabulous – small, lovely of texture and with a nice, hefty hit of ginger.

And I love, too, the chopped bok choi.

Often such dishes are served with whole leaves, which can be both hard to handle and bitter.

These are neither and really lovely to eat.

They’re the best “dumplings” I’ve had this year – and that’s saying quite a lot!

Dumpling House on Urbanspoon

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On the other side of Puckle Street, in Pratt Street, what was until recently a Brown’s Bakery is in the process of being transformed, according to one of the builders I quiz, into “a fancy fish and chip place”.

Cool!

 

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Yarraville Mexican better

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Village Cantina, 30 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 8000

It’s been six months since Consider The Sauce’s first visit to the then newly opened Village Cantina in Yarraville.

I’m happy to return, especially as Bennie has yet to do so and it fits right in with our mid-week nothing-planned-for-dinner situation.

Without intending to make such a direct comparison to that first visit, we end up ordering two items had on that occasion – and it’s something of a revelation.

 

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First though we start with “street style chargrilled corn” with chipotle mayo, queso fresco and lime ($5).

Our single serve cut in two lasts all of about five seconds.

It’s yummy but oh-so-very small!

 

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Bennie’s beef burito ($14) is a big step up from the same item ordered by me on that initial visit.

This is much more deftly done with none of the solid if enjoyable stodginess I experienced.

The filling has very nice shredded beef and there’s salsa, sour cream and guacamole on the side.

 

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But the real eye-opener is the nachos ($13).

I’m not sure why I order this, as nachos can so often veer between acceptable bar/snack food for sharing and a gloopy, unappetising mess.

The new-look Village Cantina nachos has real good melted cheese, guacamole, black beans and salsa in great profusion atop a big mound of good corn chips.

But this nachos is lifted to a whole ‘nuther level by the fabulous strips of grilled chicken that have tremendous flavour and a bit of a cajun thing going on.

It’s the best nachos I’ve ever had.

There’s so much of it – and its tastes so good – I’m happy to fully share with Bennie once he’s done with his burrito.

Heck, it’d make a fine light meal for two!

 

Village Cantina on Urbanspoon

 

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Fabulous Greek feast for WWW

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TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

Ever since running a successful event at the Plough in Footscray to raise money for West Welcome Wagon, I have been wanting to run another.

It’s been what they call a learning curve.

Picking a suitable restaurant is easy.

Finding one with the required community spirit and generosity is significantly harder.

Finding one with both that is big enough to hold the sort of numbers required to raise a good whack of WWW-bound cash is MUCH harder.

 

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When the proprietor of Williamstown Greek restaurant Santorini contacted us with a view to having Team CTS eat at his establishment, I had a hunch.

“Maybe this is the one!” I thought.

And I was right – when I asked Craig if he would be interested in hosting a WWW fundraiser, he said: “Yes!”

And, just for the record, he did so before the CTS story about our fabulous dinner was published.

I’d earlier contacted Mia of West Welcome Wagon to tell her I was eager to organise another fundraiser.

Here’s what she said of West Welcome Wagon’s efforts to help asylum-seeker households in the west:

“We have had money flying out the door of late. So very many households arriving here with absolutely nothing … the influx was so sudden and great that donations in kind haven’t been enough and we’ve been buying things like food and paying for trucks to help move beds. My point being, we are definitely, more than ever, open to fundraising!

So our June 24 feast date is more than timely!

Of course, a worthy cause is no reason not to have a bunch of fun and eat exceedingly well.

And for that, both Mia and I thank Craig and the Santorini team very, very much.

Here’s the drill …

At our fundraiser, there will be heaps of great food in the generous Greek tradition.

The ticket cost is $50 per person – with 40 per cent of the takings going straight to West Welcome Wagon.

(CTS will be taking none of it and we will be buying tickets.)

The banquet we will be served normally costs $55 – so we are getting it for $5 less and still raising money for WWW.

How cool is that?

 

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Here are the details:

West Welcome Wagon/Santorini/Consider The Sauce fundraiser

Santorini Restaurant, 1 Parker Street, Williamstown.

Wednesday, June 24, from 7pm.

Cost: $50.

Food: Banquet (see above).

Drinks: Not covered by the ticket price but freely available on the night from the bar.

Tickets: There are 50 places available.

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

We are looking forward to enjoying your company!

Croatian comfort food oozes soul

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Restaurant Katarina Zrinski, 72 Whitehall Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 5866

It is a wonderfully improvised approach that takes us to Footscray’s Croatian Club this chilly Friday night.

It’s the usual drill – get in the car and seek food with a handful of only vague locations rattling around in our minds.

We’ve enjoyed the food at Restaurant Katarina Zrinski several times but it’s been at least a couple of years since we visited.

(Katarina Zrinski is apparently considered “one of the greatest women in Croatian history” – see wikipedia entry here.)

It’s good to be back in this big, cheerful room.

As expected on a Friday night, the place is pretty much fully booked – not full yet but working on it.

But we’re early enough to snag one of the undressed table, joining another pair of walk-in non-Croatian types.

On previous visits here we’ve mostly loved the grills – things such as cevapcici and raznjici (grilled pork pieces), served with chips and utterly brilliant cabbage salad of the kind so often found in cuisines of eastern Europe.

Tonight, though, and perhaps feeling the onset of winter in our bones, we go big on old-school Croatian comfort food.

 

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But not before tucking into a massive bowl of girice ($11) as found on the specials blackboard.

“You have got to be joking!” proclaims Bennie as our whitebait arrive at our table.

In New Zealand, I grew up regularly eating whitebait of a much smaller kind, usually mixed in a gloopy batter and fried as fritters.

These whitebait are much, much different – bigger, deep-fried, salty, crunchy and very fishy.

Despite his eye-popping surprise at being presented with so many fishes, Bennie likes them as much as I do.

There’s way too many of them for us, though – we don’t even eat half.

They come across to me as an ideal sort of snacky bar food along the same lines as beer nuts, though the staff tell me that is certainly not the intention.

From there we head into much more familiar and heart-warming territory …

Mains here hover around $18 for smaller serves and $25 for larger portions – more if you’re inclined to seafood.

But we’ve learnt from previous visits that the larger deals – especially of the non-grill meals – are humongously big.

So we get smart by ordering $17.50 serves of sarma (cabbage rolls) and “gulas”.

We do good as this turns out, on top of the whitebait, to be just right for two moderately hungry boys.

 

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The cabbage rolls are both different from any I’ve enjoyed before and as good as any I’ve eaten.

The point of different comes from the filling being less rice and more meat, in this case a tangy mix of both pork and beef.

The dollop of mash belies its plain appearance by being an excellent foil for the meaty rolls.

Until recently, Bennie and his mum enjoyed both our mains as cooked by a now former neighbour of theirs named Draga.

Bennie announces with a lofty voice of authority: “There’s no doubt that Draga’s cabbage rolls are better than these!”

Man, Draga’s cabbage rolls must be to-die-for!

 

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The gulas is a stunner – and very generous for a so-called smaller serve.

Atop gorgeously smooth mash, the beefy stew is rich and has heaps of tender meat.

As far as I can tell, it’s cooked with not much more than onion and seasoned with little more than salt and pepper – but that means it’s sublime in its simplicity and packed with earthy soul.

Free advice: Don’t order the large gulas unless you’re sharing!

 

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I suspect that, for ourselves and many other inner-west residents, Restaurant Katarina Zrinski falls off the radar a little.

That’s a shame as the food is great, it’s a very family-friendly place and the service is fine.

Check out the Restaurant Katarina Zrinski here.

 

Restaurant Katarina Zrinski on Urbanspoon

 

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A prize-winning lunch

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Erika won our guest post contest with a wonderful piece of writing that touched people – read it here.

Now she’s done it again, finding that taking her family to Woven to enjoy their prize lunch evokes all sorts of fabulous family foodie memories.

She’s a star!

 

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By Erika Jonsson

When my sisters and I were young, Mum used to let us choose the menu for our birthday dinners.

The options were endless. Would it be pasta, Sichuan-style chicken, oyster beef or tacos?

Roast pork with crackling, chicken with lemongrass or wonton soup?

My mouth still waters thinking about it.

Funnily enough, my younger sister and I always chose the same dish, albeit with different sides.

Trish picked steamed vegetables (which I still find odd) while I chose corn and twice-cooked chips.

The meat was schnitzel – usually veal – that was succulent and tender, crumbed to perfection and fried

just long enough to cook through.

It was heaven.

Year after year our menu remained unchanged.

When I was 14 and nine months old, I started working at a toyshop on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

My family lived out of town, so my little part-time job meant spending the night at my grandparents’ place.

They had immigrated to Australia from England when my mum was a child, and

Grandma’s cooking was Britain’s finest.

Pork pie, battered fish, Yorkshire pud, roast anything.

The only herbs I remember in her kitchen cupboard were salt, pepper and season-all.

Everything she cooked was simple but so tasty.

On Fridays before I started work, Grandma would cook big fat pork schnitzels with chips and corn – my favourite meal.

While the meat was the star of the show, the chips were really my favourite.

Potato in any form was welcome on my plate – with a combination of English and Swedish heritage, that’s probably no surprise.

My love for potatoes led to disaster when I left home and headed to the big smoke to study.

I’d been led to believe a fast metabolism was the reason for my then slim figure.

Well, my metabolism and I both got lazy at uni – and I put on about a dozen kilos by eating twice-cooked chips for dinner around five nights a week.

The day my knee-high boots wouldn’t zip up properly, I swore off chips, lost most of my potato weight and gave away my deep fryer.

Since then, chips have only been an occasional indulgence – a special return to my youthful addiction.

Last week I came as close as I ever have to ordering chips as a main when my family went to Woven in Yarraville for lunch.

And that was after I had already eaten my main.

My meal was a perfectly modern re-imagining of my favourite childhood dish.

The pork tonkatsu burger was made up of a juicy pork loin crumbed in panko inside a brioche bun with house-pickled daikon, Kewpie mayo sauce and a cabbage and fennel slaw.

Right next door to the burger was a generous serve of hand-cut chips, still in their skins – just like I like them.

Those chips transported me to Friday nights at Grandma’s, to special birthday dinners and to university over-indulgence.

Normally, I share my meals with my kids but not this day.

My husband, who had the bang-up burger with chips, also found his plate was under attack – but I protected my potatoes with a ferocity I didn’t know I possessed.

“Please, Mama? Could I please share your chips?” my son Joe pleaded after he had finished with his crumpets with honey, caramelised pear and mascarpone.

I feigned deafness and kept eating with greedy abandon, using my chips to mop up tasty drips of Kewpie sauce.

There is magic in food.

Smells and tastes can evoke stronger memories than pictures – such was the case for me at Woven.

It was a magical meal – I definitely plan to go back soon, though I’ll have to watch my waist.

Thank you to Dan, Dave and their team for a great meal and a great experience.

Thanks also to Consider The Sauce for offering such a special prize – I’ve never won anything so tasty!