Meal of the week No.6: Ebi

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f&c

 

The dinner hour for CTS and, we suspect, many other bloggers and foodies is somewhere between 6pm and 7pm.

For some, this is the legacy of having – or having had – very young children.

Perhaps “available light” has something to do with it.

I’ve even heard of bloggers who only do lunch for that very reason!

But a big part of it for us is … we’re hungry for food, hungry for adventure.

So 8pm seems way too late, especially on a work/school night.

The Mediterranean post-sietsa 9pm or later?

Unimaginable!

Early evening dining also means missing rush hour and always getting a seat.

In the case of tiny Ebi in West Footcray, that latter point is no small thing.

Entering by myself and taking a seat at the bar, I go through the usual routine … look at the display cabinet, consult the blackboard menu, peruse the regular menu, before saying …

“I’ll have fish and chips thanks, John – large!”

John: “How did I know you were going to say that?!”

Me: “Hmmpf! You must have other regulars who always order the same thing?”

The genial, chrome-domed Ebi host the proceeds to count off a long list of regulars with whom he is on first-name terms and their invariable choices – “fish three ways”, vegetable balls, udon, bento and so it goes.

Everyone gets their own groove on at Ebi …

Kiwi connection in Sunshine

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ka1

 

Bro’s Choice Cafe, 250 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9939 7512

You can buy Kiwi-style Ka Pies all over.

But where they are made is at 250 Hampshire Road.

But 250 Hampshire Road is also home to Bro’s Choice, a humble cafe that – naturally – sells Ka Pies!

It’s a straightforward place and about far from hispsterdom and smashed avo as it’s possible to get and still be a cafe.

I’m happy to call it home for half an hour as I sample my choice of pies.

Yes, I have two – at $4.50 a pop each.

Smoked fish pie is delicate, subtle and very nice.

Lamb roast pie is some kind of magic.

Yes, it tastes of lamb.

But more than, it tastes like ROAST lamb!

How cool is that?

With it sheep meat, bits of spud, carrot and corn, and gravy, it’s very, very good.

I take home four cold pies for further exploration with Bennie – two apiece of hangi pie (with smoked pork, kumara and potato) and pork and watercress.

I’m knocked out to find the price of the cold ones is a real fine $3.50.

Bargain!

And significantly less than the prices listed on the Ka Pie website, never mind delivery costs.

So Bro’s Choice would seem to be logical destination to stock up on these goodies.

We’ll be doing so.

Ka Pies may not have the same heft or all-out richness as Pure Pies but they taste just as good and are a whole cheaper.

 

Bro's Choice Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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A fine pub experience at the right end of the CBD

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Hotel Spencer, 475 Spencer Street, West Melbourne. Phone: 9329 9116

Once upon a time, long ago, pre-Bennie, pre-blog, I dined at Hotel Spencer when a record company picked up the bill.

At the time, IIRC, it had forged something of a reputation for hearty pub food, including offal and the like.

So Bennie and I are happy to accept an invitation to dine there and see how it’s going these days (full disclosure below).

The answer is: Very well.

The new bosses, Wes and Hennie, have been in the house for about two years.

There’s quite a lot of residential tucked away down here either side of Spencer Street, and Wes tells me with enthusiasm about their regulars and locals and the good things that are happening in the neighbourhood.

 

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It’s a gorgeous place, particularly the dining room.

To my spectacularly untutored eye, there is something of the art deco about it, but Wes tells me the place was built in 1850.

The upper floors are taken up by backpacker accommodations.

The menu is very keenly priced, with just one dish clocking in at above $30 and quite a few mains below $20. It has many typical pub dishes but also a few things more unusual.

 

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The vegetarian antipasto platter ($18) makes a fine and light start for us.

The arancini are chewy in the middle, crusty on the outside and anointed with a periperi sauce that leaves my lips all a-tingle.

Bennie loves them.

Bennie doesn’t like zucchini.

Nevertheless, I persuade him to try the chargrilled zuch slices, so good are they!

Yep, he digs them.

The eggplant doesn’t quite pack the same flavour punch.

The hose-made chutney, olives, roasted red capsicum and mozzarella with pesto are all fine.

 

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One I spotted bobotie ($22) on the menu, I was always going to try it.

I’ve done some beforehand homework on what is sometimes referred to as “South Africa’s national dish”, so am a little perplexed by what I am served.

It’s drier than I am expecting and has lentils.

Turns out, this is the Hotel Spencer gluten-free interpretation, hence the lentils instead of the traditional milk-soaked bread mixing with the beef, and I’m told, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, salt, pepper and chutney, with more of the latter on the side.

It all is tucked under an eggy custard topping that makes it a little like moussaka.

Likewise in terms of gluten-free, “cauliflower rice” replaces regular rice – it tastes good!

I enjoy my bobotie, and I am intrigued by it.

Would I order it again?

Hmmm, not sure!

 

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I am so busy contemplating my main, and eating it, that I plain forget to quiz Bennie about his chicken burger ($16), though the mouthful I sneak tastes good to me.

But as we later walk back to our car, and are discussing our Hotel Spencer experience, he opines without prompting: “I liked my chicken burger – it was really good!”

Good enough!

 

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For dessert, we go with the “Treat Yourself” platter ($19), which has samples of all on the menu.

There’s a crunchy bread pudding, a croissant pudding that has Bennie humming with joy, a milk tart and house-made chocolate ice cream.

It’s all very good and quite the bargain.

 

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We’ve loved our visit to Hotel Spencer and envisage a soon-come return to check out the very attractively priced specials.

Added bonus for those coming from the western suburbs: For a mid-week dinner, there’s stacks of parking.

Check out the Hotel Spencer website, including menu, here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Hotel Spencer as guests of management. No money changed hands. We ordered whatever we wanted. Hotel Spencer management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Hotel Spencer on Urbanspoon

 

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Meal of the week No.5: KItchen Samrat

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samrat2

 

The perpetual blog-driven need for the new and interesting can mean old reliables are overlooked.

But as it happens, this very mid-week lunchtime I am in the mood for Indian snacky stuff.

And I am in Footscray.

So I step through the doorway of Kitchen Samrat (36 Leeds Street) for the first time in years.

I am surprised and delighted to find the place has gone from shabby to somewhat chic.

 

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It looks like a proper Indian restaurant now.

There’s even real cloth napkins, the classy effect of which are rather diminished by there being some dried food crud on the bench seat I initially choose.

The menu is longer and also more proper, and includes a number of good-looking banquet options.

Perhaps a lingering and wide-ranging CTS meal here is warranted.

But I spy with delight that the quick lunch items such as cholle bhatrua at Amritsari kulcha ($12) are still in the house.

The latter is just lovely – chick peas, butter knobs, pickle, onion and two wonderful breads stuffed with potato, coriander and spices.

Footscray eats goss

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footgoss4

 

Changes are afoot in Nicholson Street, Footscray.

Pho Ta (above) and …

 

footgoss3

 

… Babylon have both closed.

Asking around, the best I could discover in terms of reasons was along the lines of “problems with landlord”.

These closures are a shame as both joints added diversity to a colourful part of Footscray.

 

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Over in Hopkins, Snow Tree has set itself up for soon-come visit by the CTS team by the agency of a much more attractive fit-out and a much longer menu – including fried chicken!

 

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The Dancing Dog building will be auctioned on Saturday, April 18, at 1pm.

There is a meeting being held tonight (Wednesday, March 25) with a view to making a stab at keeping the property out of the hands of developers.

For more details, check out the Permaculture Out West Facebook page.

 

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Meanwhile, up in West Footscray, what was once Gusto will soon become Dosa Corner.

According to the always reliable Barkly Village Facebook page: “Gusto will be replaced by a South Indian Style Restaurant. Ex chef from Dosa Hut across the road.”

We wonder if there will be any point of difference between the new place, Dosa Hut and the neighbourhood’s other Indian eateries.

Truth is, though, Dosa Hut is usually busy so maybe it’s not an issue.

 

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Dosa Hut itself is growing, with the opening of a branch in Tarneit at the Wyndham Village Shopping Centre.

I suspect our Tarneit readers are doing cartwheels.

Very excellent – bank on it

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ovest25

 

Ovest, 572 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7766

Ovest has been open a while by the time Team CTS visits.

Every time I’ve passed by in recent weeks when the place has been open, it’s been jumping.

So our hopes are high – especially those of my friends, who live just a black away and for whom this shapes as a welcome local of the non-Indian variety.

Our hopes are fulfilled, and in terms of the food well exceeded.

 

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Here’s the bottom line – we have one entree, one side, one pizza, two mains, one dessert, two glasses of wine and a soft drink.

The bill comes to just cents above $40 each.

What an absolute ripping bargain!

We’ve booked at 6pm on a Sunday night – which may have been a mistake as it’s family rush hour, the joint is very noisy and the service is a little scrappy, but not enough to cause any alarm.

When I amble back to my car, post-dinner and after having picked up a wonderful loaf of freshly baked bread from my companions’ place, Ovest is a lot more placid.

The dining room looks a treat and it’s a wonderful thing that this old bank is playing host to such vibrant life.

 

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Coleslaw of cabbage, pear, radish, lemon and parmesan ($12) is a real big serve of yum.

At first, I wish for a little more salt and flavour bite, but by the end I come to love the rather perfumey flavours.

 

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Saganaki kefalograviera, sherry vinegar-soaked currants and pickled onions appears modest of portion but is so rich that three of us are happy.

The cheese has a marvellously toasted and salty crust.

 

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A mushroom pizza with taleggio, caramelised onion and fior de latte ($20) is very, very good, its many fungus chunks having a real meatiness about them.

 

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Tuna nicoise ($26) is a stunner and very generous to boot.

Underneath that handsome slab of fish lie spud discs and heaps of superbly creamy mayo.

My roast of the day (top photo, $25.50) is a simple but good-sized snapper stuffed with lemon.

The fish is lovely but it’s the accompanying salad/salsa that makes this dish sing – the clever addition of pickled chilli discs adds not just random exclamations of heat but also a just-right tartness.

The good, hot chips are served in such quantity that there’s more than enough for us all to share – but then, that’s true of everything we’ve enjoyed.

 

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By the time dessert selections are to be made, we’re stuffed.

So to speak.

So two becomes one with three spoons.

Panna cotta of yogurt, vanilla and strawberry jelly ($10) is just the sort creamy dream you’d expect and lasts all of about, oh, five seconds.

The jelly is a delicately-flavoured delight.

My pals are stoked.

So would I be if this “local” had just opened a minute from my front door!

 

Ovest on Urbanspoon

 

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MiHub rocks it again

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mihub413

mihub410

 

Consider The Sauce is happily falling into the happy routine of always, whenever possible, attending MiHub functions at the Laverton Community Hub.

Where else would we want to be early evening on a Saturday once a month?

But I suspect there is a limit beyond which reader endurance and loyalty should not be prodded in terms of recording each event.

There’s a fine line between giving context to food reviews and stories by interweaving other aspects of our lives into CTS on the one hand and overdoing it on the other.

 

mihub46

 

So this may well be the last MiHub story for a while … although I will for sure continue to post MiHub notifications on the CTS FB page and continue to recommend all and sundry give MiHub activities a go!

As I posted on FB yesterday: “Yum food, delicious people!”

 

mihub45

 

The “pop-up market” in this case was a part of Diversity Week, so there was a heap of people and a heap of food.

The theme was ostensibly Malaysian – but there was also Middle Eastern sweets, Indian tucker and Afghani fried chicken.

 

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I ate well and widely.

And I just loved meeting and talking with all sorts folks.

This time around they included CTS readers …

 

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… Sara and Sharon …

 

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… and Roopi and Jaspreet.

 

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As well as my Star Weekly colleague Karen, her hubby Chee (on the right) and their friend Sharil!

 

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