Village Cantina – excellente!

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cantina29

 

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

Barely a week after Village Cantina’s opening, Team CTS descends on the joint for a taste of what it has to offer.

It’s busy as all get out.

Wait time is prolonged but the staff do their best.

We recommend, while the place is so busy with folks checking it out for the first time, that the best times to visit are early or late.

The expectations and hopes of we three are quite finely calibrated.

We don’t expect the authenticity of La Tortilleria.

OTOH, we’re hoping for something better and more enticing than what is offered by the likes of Salsa’s or Guzman y Gomez.

Sometimes – like right now! – Mexican food through an American prism is just the ticket.

That’s exactly what we get.

But … it’s very good.

Much better than we expect!

 

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Jalapeno poppers ($6 for three) are wonderful, with gooey cheese centres and breadcrumb coatings.

They’re spicy, too. Much hotter, in fact, than any of the array of hot sauces at hand.

 

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We try them all just to make sure!

 

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Instead of fiddling around with a bunch of other entrees, we go for the nachos ($12), which is another winner.

That the beef is shredded and lovely, rather than merely ground, is testament to the fact that Village Cantina is staking out the high ground when it comes to this sort of food.

 

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My beef burrito ($13) is good, with the cheese shining out amid the other ingredients – rice, black beans, salsa and shredded beef.

It’s solid, satisafying and enjoyable.

 

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But I do look with envy at the selections chosen by my companions – they appear both more interesting and more refined.

The bloke who chose the pork quesadilla ($12) is very happy indeed.

 

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Fish and pork tacos ($6 each) also hit the spot, with their recipient telling me the former has good, crisp and solid chunks of fish.

Our dinner, including three Mexican soft drinks, has cost us precisely $65.

And that, we reckon as we very happily depart, is a bargain.

 

Village Cantina on Urbanspoon

 

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Williamstown eats goss

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willy1

 

At Williamstown Beach, the lovely property that until recently and for many years housed Sirens has the forlorn look of a failed business.

What it does not have is the look of dereliction or neglect.

Yet.

You’d think somebody would get in quickly before summer really gathers momentum.

 

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At Nelson Place, what was once Tai Hoong is now Fong’s Kitchen – though a section of the menu is labelled “Old Favourites From Tai Hoong”, so presumably there is a connection between old and new, family or otherwise.

The menu (see below) has a tight selection of Malaysian and Chinese selections, and definitely has some things I’d like to try.

 

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I like the look of the dark wood and minimalist cafe vibe, too.

But today I ordered the Hainanese chicken rice – after ascertaining a bowl of chicken broth was part of the deal – only to be told 30 minutes later that they’d only just commenced to start boiling the chook!

So I departed unfed, but will be back.

 

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A few doors along is the Advertiser Bar & Grill.

According to its Facebook page, it opened in early September – and yet is already undergoing a massive overhaul.

The story, according to a neighbouring trader, is that the joint was hit by a fire, insurance issues have been settled and they’re looking to reopen early next year.

 

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And a few doors along from there is the newly opened Williamstown branch of New York Minute.

Despite having a rather average time of it on our last visit to the Moonee Ponds place, we still have a soft spot for NYM so hope the new outlet is going great!

Reports, anyone?

 

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willy7

A monarch among Melbourne’s laksas (2)

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kitchen22

 

Kitchen Inn, 469 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Phone: 9328 2562

Appointment in the city, park at Vic Market, left enough for time for a quick lunch – of course!

I have no great plans or destinations in mind.

Indeed, this stretch of Elizabeth Street is so busy at lunch time I’m happy to get a seat just about anywhere.

I have no plans to write or take pictures.

But then I get Kitchen Inn’s Sarawak laksa ($10.90).

CTS has been here before.

I’ve even had the laksa here on another occasion.

But …

I don’t remember it being THIS good!!!

Gravy that looks like a rich chocolate milkshake. Spice/heat levels that are just right and plenty of deep, dusky flavour – quite unlike the more regular laksas around town.

Vermicelli only in terms of noodles, which is real nice for a change.

And the extravagant goodies … oh my!

Shredded chicken, two monster pieces of chewy tofu sucking up that amazing gravy, fish cake, bean sprouts, quite a few very good prawns, noodle-like strips of omelette.

And – best of all – stacks of salty pork belly/crackling that is wonderfully crunchy to begin with but that becomes equally wonderfully soggy as the eating of my meal unfolds.

Wow.

This is a 10/10 laksa – a masterpiece of Melbourne cheap eats.

See earlier Melbourne laksa monarch post here.

 

Kitchen Inn on Urbanspoon

 

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Ripper Sri Lankan buffet: $15

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lanka2
Chef Lanka, 50/B 217 Mickleham Road, Tullamarine. Phone: 9338 3839

This Chef Lanka is the youngest of three siblings – the others are in nearby Glenroy and the Melbourne CBD.

It’s a big, ritzy room with a raised area lined with many serving “chafing dishes”, the premises being sandwiched – so to speak – between a Subway outlet and a restaurant of the pizza-pasta-seafood-steaks variety.

Just up the road is fine Lebanese place done out in fast-food livery.

Only a few of those heated serving contraptions are in use for the Saturday lunch buffet – makes sense, as we are the only customers.

But there’s more than enough range for a grand lunch and the quality is high.

This is, in our estimation, very good Sri Lanka tucker.

(I’m a bit disappointed in the pics – they make the food look less good than is the case!)

 

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Two kinds of rice …

Fried rice that recognisably of Chinese derivation but somehow different – it’s plain wonderful.

Chicken biryani quite different from those we get from our fave West Footscray haunts – milder, sweeter thanks to the currants, but still real nice.

 

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Lamb curry with meat quite well done but of deep flavour that’s somewhat like the vinegary tang of a vindaloo. I’m told, however, that it’s nothing of the sort …

Devil Chicken – another dish of seemingly Chinese heritage. The battered meat is nicely chewy and the dish as a whole is very mild – this surprises us as it appear as though it may quite spicy-evil.

 

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Jackfruit curry that looks so unappetising that I give it a miss. At first glance, I take it to be made of overcooked fish cutlets!

A highlight – cashew curry, the nuts with just enough gravy and just enough softish crunch left in them.

 

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Spicy potatoes so very, very familiar from my workplace’s weekly, Friday curry runs to another fine Sri Lankan place just up the road apiece.

Another highlight – a super mix of carrot, broccoli and cauliflower done in coconut milk and crushed mustard seeds.

It’s very yummy!

 

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As well, on hand is an endless supply of pappadums and maldive fish, if you like ‘em!

Chef Lanka has a mixed bag of buffet offers, depending on the days of the week and times of the day.

The lunch buffet we have dug costs $15 on Saturdays and Sundays.

The same deal costs $12 for lunch from Mondays through to Fridays.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, a $25 buffet is on offer – and we imagine this will be fabulous when we get around to trying it.

On those nights, all the many serving contraptions come into play – that’s a lot! – and so the food will be even more colourful and diverse, and perhaps even include a goodly dash of seafood.

There’s an extensive a la carte menu as well – including hoppers.

At dinner time Mondays through Thursdays there’s a superb thali-style deal I checked out on an earlier, solo reconnaissance visit.

 

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How’s this for $10.90?

The same lamb curry as in our lunch buffet, coconutty chick peas, coconutty and scrumptious okra, an oily but delicious mix of eggplant and potato, rice and pappadum.

Superb value!

The achaar I ordered separately out of curiosity. It was fresh and crunchy but I found the mustard oil flavour somewhat overpowering.

Check out the Chef Lanka website here.

 

Chef Lanka on Urbanspoon

 

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Deer Park eats goss

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deer2

 

Western Pho in Deer Park is on the move.

The humble yet excellent Vietnamese eatery on Burnside Street – written about and given a new and glowing thumbs up from CTS regular Juz here – will move around the corner to the service road shopping strip on Ballarat Road in three months or so.

Proprietor Phi tells me there will be more food, more staff and more seating – the new joint will have a seating capacity of at least 60.

I caught up with Phi and his builder, “Junior” Espinosa of GE Builder, at the old premises as they were discussing the floor plan for the new place.

“Junior” tells me has worked on such CTS faves as Hyderabad Inn, Dosa Hut and Pandu’s – that’s a nice pedigree!

 

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The new place still bears the signage of the previous tenant.

 

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And just a few doors away preparations are underway for an Indian eatery and …

 

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… another Vietnamese place!

This phases Phi not at all – competition being good and helping to build a happy neighbourhood eats destination, he reckons.

 

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Meanwhile, in even more good news for locals, the current Western Pho premises on Burnside Street, will be renamed Western Roll and feature banh mi, rice paper rolls and the like, including sauces from Phi’s hometown near Cam Ranh Bay – and coffee.

It’s all happening in Deer Park!

 

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Mexican in Yarraville – it’s open!

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cantina1

 

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

 

SEE REVIEW HERE.

 

By the time I discover Village Cantina in Ballarat Street is up and running, it’s too late – I’ve already had an at-home dinner!

(Nothing flash – sourdough ciabatta toast topped with tomato slices and sardines …)

So this post is more your newsy story to alert readers to the opening and the subsequent rise village diversity.

We’ll no doubt be taking the menu for a test drive very soon and will write about the food then.

 

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The place is done out in colourful cantina style with some nicely cool art works in place.

They’re busy even just an hour after opening.

The compact menu doesn’t get in the least bit adventurous or weird – here you’ll get grilled corn, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and churros.

On the other hand, the tortillas are being supplied by El Cielo of Port Melbourne, so the quality should be there.

(See menu below.)

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Out back, there’s a three-table funky garden for chilling out purposes.

For opening hours, check out the Village Cantina Facebook page.

 

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Far out Flemo burger

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streat1
Streat, 307 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9629 4222

Consider The Sauce has stuck its nose into Streat numerous times.

But such has long been our penchant for the spicier, more exotic and evolving available elsewhere on Racecourse Road that we’ve never stayed to partake.

And that’s despite the fact we know Streat is a commendably community-minded enterprise that works tirelessly to fight homelessness.

So I’m happy to be meeting long-time CTS supporter Daniel for lunch and to be doing so at Streat at his suggestion.

I am surprised, however, to lay eyes on the blackboard menu (see below).

My recollection is of a more diverse line-up including the likes of Korean fried chicken.

Today, we’re gazing at a menu that runs simply from breakfast to bagels and burgers.

Still … no problem!

Especially when our lunches arrive.

 

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My “Racecourse Rd” burger ($11, $12.50 with bacon) really is excellent in every way.

Maybe not quite a 10, but a 9 for sure.

Everything is proportionately spot on, expertly assembled and of high quality – the beefy patty, the dressings, the salady bits, the sauce, the cheese, the perfectly two-handed size.

The wire basket of chips ($3.50) is just as good – there’s precisely right number of them to complete a fine and finely priced lunch.

 

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Daniel goes with his regular choice here – the “Wellington St” ($12.50) with fried chicken with coleslaw, mayo, Sriracha, mayo and cheese.

This looks the goods, too.

The chicken chunk is very fat and, my pal tells me, crisply fried.

At his request, we also get a couple of small pots of Sriracha for chip-dipping purposes.

I’m glad I’ve finally hit the Streat – ya never know where the next perfect burger meal is coming from!

 

STREAT on Urbanspoon

 

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