Yarraville pub – back to the future

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It’s something of a surreal hoot to stand amid the gutted rubble of the Yarraville boozer as it undergoes a drastic refurbishment.

Consider The Sauce gets it that there is some sadness around about the demise of inner-west old-school blue-collar pubs.

But CTS has no doubt the Yarraville pub has been in need of a new look and a fresh direction for some time.

And talking to Jason (pictured above), spokesman for the new all-westie owners, I rather think there are grounds for optimism.

There will be no pokies and not even pizzas – or “not at this stage”, in terms of the latter.

He says the reopened pub – the mooted date is mid-October – will be “a traditional pub with a twist”.

 

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And it is surely a good sign that the joint will revert to being called the Railway Hotel – vestiges of which remain.

The menu is in the process of being formulated, so everything Jason tells me comes with an “approximately” qualification.

But and just for instance … chicken parma for $21.50, unless you buy one on $15 parma night (Mondays).

There’ll be bar food/tapas.

And there’ll be a Sunday winter roast deal.

As well as an all-new wine list couple, there will a selection of boutique beers, including Two Birds.

 

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Wow – great offer

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Consider The Sauce has not been in the habit of talking up specific offers by particular restaurants – so far as I can recall this is a first.

I am happy to do so not on the basis of giving yet another plug for a favoured eating place but because I genuinely think CTS readers will appreciate knowing about the beaut offer I came across during the course of a Monday night “can’t be bothered cooking” quick bite in West Footscray.

Regular readers will know that Hyderabad Inn, at 551 Barkly Street, is among our faves among the bustling West Footscray Indian contingent – indeed, it was the venue of the first-ever Consider The Sauce Feast!

The joint’s “spring special offer” is currently available Mondays through to Thursdays and between 6pm and 7pm.

Heck – that’s eating hour for Team CTS! And I suspect most all families, too …

Here’s how it works …

Get any regular dosa and a can of soft drink for $3.95.

Insane!

The dosa lineup numbers 30 and ranges from masala, lamb and chicken dosas through to chicken tikka and tandoori vegetable.

They’re normally priced at up to $13.50.

Or you can choose from the smaller range of 70mm dosas, grab a can of drink and pay $6.95.

The 70mm dosas usually sell for up to $16.50.

The biryani deal of which I partook is just about as good.

My chicken version (pictured above) was its usual excellent self, with all the bits and pieces present and in working order – moist rice, high spice levels, fried and raw onion, peanutty gravy, raita, hard-boiled egg, two good-sized chook bits.

For this, and a can of soft drink, I paid $9.95.

Normal price for the rice alone is $15.

Get it while you can!

 

 

 

Persian in Footscray

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Kebab Surra, 241 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 0432 064 280

Meet Maria, Mohammad and Ali, the fine folks who have brought Persian food to Footscray.

Having watched with excitement the development and fit-out of their Barkly Street shop, after I was tipped to the news by CTS pal Juz, I jumped – once I laid eyes on the menu – to what came to seem like a wrong conclusion.

“Afghani,” thought I, seeing as there were so many similarities with a much-loved Sunshine joint of the Afghanistan persuasion.

But then the signage went up and … Persian it is!

Of course, it’s somewhat immaterial … our table of three erases our ignorance while awaiting our lunch by ascertaining that, in geographical terms at least, what was once Persia is very much today’s Iran and Afghanistan.

Whichever way you slice it, this is very good news for the neighbourhood … we three enjoy our lunch and vow to work our way through the menu on subsequent visits.

 

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Special kebab surra ($14.90) has superb meat. The minced lamb skewers are both juicy and a little crunchy thanks to diced onion. The chicken is succulent and very tasty.

(The cubed lamb that would normally also come with this dish is not ready on the day we visit …)

The freshly made bread that accompanies all our dishes is classic flatbread, warm and chewy.

Our salads are fresh and nice enough, although I would prefer to go without the sliced black olives. The strong flavour seems wrong somehow.

 

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Ghormeh sabzi ($13.99) is a big hit with all of us – it really is lovely.

It looks like an Indian saag/spinach dish.

But it tastes very different. There’s lamb, yes, but the key here is the use of dried limes, which give the gravy a wonderful yet low-key citrus feel.

There’s red beans in there, too, adding to the textural mix.

 

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The lamb shank that comes with my baghali polo ($14.99) is much meatier than appears may be the case, and the meat itself has that pungent lambness that I covet but not everyone does!

I’ve never had rice such as this before … it’s very mild. It is heavily flecked with dill yet there is just the merest whisper of dill flavour. And throughout there are broad beans, which help make for a different kind of texture and feel.

 

Kebab Surra on Urbanspoon

 

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Down at the oval

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Gorilla Grill. Phone: 0401 830 800
Kalamaki Greek Street Food. Phone: 9602 4444

 

Maybe it’s spring … but I’ve come full circle in how I feel about the food truck scene as it happens in the inner west.

After harbouring doubts pricing and comfort levels, I have come out the other side a keen fan.

I know this …

Every time Bennie and I drive past Yarraville Gardens, even if we don’t stop, we eagerly count of the truck turn-out and discuss those we have yet to try.

And on recent truck outings, we have unabashedly enjoyed the social atmosphere involved, invariably meeting friends old and new and loving the all of it.

The trucks and their operators seem to have fitted right in.

They’re a happy crew and we enjoy talking with them.

 

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That the food truck scene has become such a complementary part of our western food scene is a credit, I reckon, to all involved – from the operators and the council right through to the punters, their kids and dogs.

So mid-week we are happy and relaxed as we head to the smaller truck gathering point at Western Oval.

We wave hello to Remi at Happy Camper and Conan and Raymond at Big Cook Little Cook and head for the two untried by us … and make happy in a way that highlights one of the strengths of the food truck scene: We order our dinners from different trucks.

 

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From Gorilla Grill, Bennie grabs the Gorilla “Thriller” Pork Ribs ($13, see menu below).

I don’t try, but gee it all looks good and my partner is very happy.

 

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At Kalamaki Greek Street Food, I pass on the “souva” line-up and head straight for one of two platters available (menu below).

The Kara has a skewer apiece of chicken and lamb, a rustic grilled pita bread, fine chips and tzatziki.

It’s all good or better and just the dinner I have been seeking.

The dip is thick and great for chip dipping and meat slathering.

I make butties with the chips and pita.

Yum.

 

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Just as we are getting down to chowing down, we cheerfully greet CTS pal and food truck aficionado Nat Stockley.

It’s an unplanned food truck moment.

 

Gorilla Grill on Urbanspoon

Kalamaki Greek Street Food on Urbanspoon

 

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Let’s help West Welcome Wagon

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Plough Hotel/CTS Fund-raiser for West Welcome Wagon
Plough Hotel, 333 Barkly St, Footscray.
Tuesday, October 7, from 7-9pm.

To book for this event, go HERE.

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Like anyone else who receives the Facebook feed from West Welcome Wagon, I am super impressed with the work they do.

It’s a small, tight volunteer group that helps asylum seekers in the western suburbs.

It’s run almost entirely through the group’s Facebook page.

They take care of many needs facing about 200 homes containing about 1000 people.

People who are facing an uncertain future, who cannot work and have very little to get by on.

West Welcome Wagon, its volunteers and drivers provide them material help.

They provide them, too, something just as important and often sorely lacking in the lives of these folks – simple human contact and companionship.

A lot of what West Welcome Wagon provides comes in the form of donations – furniture, clothes, toys and so on.

But a lot of what they provide requires cash – items such as food and underwear, for instance.

So Consider The Sauce is very happy to be raising some of that cash in conjunction with the Plough Hotel in Footscray.

Our party will be held on Tuesday, October 7, from 7pm.

The cost is $30 and the ticket limit is 40.

Our party will be held at the bar end of the Plough and the vibe will be mix ‘n’ mingle rather than formal and seated.

The terrific food will be in the form of tasty canapes, antipasto-style treats and pizza.

The Plough will be reimbursed to help cover their food costs. The ticket price does not include drinks.

All the remaining money, minus TryBooking fees, will go to West Welcome Wagon.

Between us all, we’ll be able to get that amount significantly above $1000 by auctioning some goodies that are being donated by some generous local businesses. Details unveiled in coming weeks!

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

To book for this event, go HERE.

Burgers – a tough business

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New York Minute, 491 Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9043 1838

Last time Consider The Sauce frequented New York Minute, Bennie devoured a beaut two-handed, multi-level burger with which he was well pleased.

That was a while ago – and some time after our initial stories about the place (here and here).

We’ve eaten a whole helluva lot of burgers since then.

Bennie, in particular, has come to consider himself an expert, refining as he goes just what it is that pushes his burger buttons.

And the burger biz has changed a lot in that time, too.

There’s a handful of food trucks going around that specialise in burgers of various kinds, some of them doing excellent work.

And these days there’s hip outlets such as 8bit going very hard indeed for those burger dollars.

It’s a tough business – even if all that is good news for burger consumers.

So we are very interested to discover how New York Minute – which will soon be opening a branch in Williamstown – is going these days.

The answer?

It’s going OK … although we conclude the place has lost something of its charm and edge.

 

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During our Saturday lunch visit, business is brisk.

The place’s small space has been reconfigured – there’s no longer any interior tables, just window bench stools.

We grab one of the two outside tables.

Bennie’s New York – with “2 beef patties, special sauce, spinach, cheese, pickles & onions” (top picture, $12) – looks the goods but fails to elicit the much sought after groans of pleasure.

To use Bennie’s terminology, it’s “just a burger”.

 

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My brisket burger – with “Prime cut beef & sweet pickles with special sauce” ($9) – is OK but also lacks the sort of oomph that would set it apart.

There’s just not enough here to get in any way excited.

 

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Our large chips ($5) certainly look the part.

But what at first glance may appear to be a bronzed tan increasingly looks orange.

I detect an unwanted sweetness, but Bennie reckons that’s all about the charmless “aioli”.

But he also reckons there’s an excess of chicken salt going on here.

I’m not sure about that …

Going by the joint’s Facebook feed, New York Minute is a happy, happening thing.

But based on our latest meal, we reckon it’s entered the realms of merely good rather than excellent, as subjective as that may be.

 

New York Minute on Urbanspoon

China Bar 24 hours a day

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China Bar, 257-259 Swanston Street, Melbourne. Phone: 9639 6988

Because of a pre-fatherhood, pre-western sojourn spent living in the CBD, the Russell Street China Bar became a much-loved and endlessly reliable and enjoyable eating place.

So it’s a little difficult for me to think of China Bar as a franchise chain.

But there it is, right on the group’s website.

They’re everywhere.

And – this I did not know – the group also encompasses Claypot King and Dessert Story.

Not that that should come as any surprise – there is a marked similarity in branding.

And another surprise – according to Urbanspoon, the Russell Street branch (the original?) is “closed temporarily”.

We’re back from our Friday CBD adventure, so have no way of knowing what this means.

Maybe a short-lived closure to enable a no-doubt badly needed tart-up?

No matter … after witnessing the Melbourne Storm down the Brisbane Broncos in an exciting, tough game at AAMI Park, Bennie likes the idea of trying out the newish “24-hour” China Bar.

As we amble up Swanston Street, we seem to be amidst the wind-down of the end-of-working-week crowd, with the night-owl activity soon to be ramping up.

 

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Inside China Bar, all is China Bar – even if the physical surroundings themselves are different.

Many people are eating, staff members – some of them with familiar faces – are bustling about.

That bustle and buzz is a big part of the attraction, as it is just about anywhere in Chinatown.

There seems to be more customers than I would normally expect chowing down on dumplings and smaller dishes.

But we go with the familiar.

 

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My Hainanese crispy chicken rice costs $12.90 and stacks up thusly …

Rice – good chicken flavour but it’s packed so tightly into the bowl that it has become almost a like a pudding that needs carving.

Soup – warm only but good

Chilli, ginger/garlic/oil and cucumber accessories – oh dear, simply not enough zing.

Chicken – very crispy, very good, with a serving size that (as is so often the case) eats bigger than it appears. I could live without the gooey sauce underneath.

So … a little underwhelming considering the high esteem in which I hold the Russell Street branch, which I last visited late at night just a few months’ back.

Does this meal diminish my warm feelings for China Bar?

Just a little …

 

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Bennie is quite smug in his certainty that his “seasoning salt spare ribs with rice” ($12.90) is the superior choice of our two meals.

He may be right.

I don’t try the chicken but the accompanying jumble of onion, capsicum and spices tastes OK.

But when asked if what he’s eating is as good as the same dish at a certain Chinese joint in Sunshine, his answer is: “No!”

 

China Bar on Urbanspoon

 

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