The Heights of baking excellence

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impasto3
Impasto Forno Antico, 157 Military Road, Avondale Heights. Phone: 9331 1111

Here’s a quirk of the western suburbs …

It’s possible for a resident of Sunshine North to stand on one side of the Maribyrnong River and hold a conversation with a friend or neighbour standing on the other side in Avondale Heights – without either of them having to raise their voices.

But if one of them wants to drive to the other’s home, well the quickest route is pretty much via Highpoint!

Avondale Heights seems sort of stranded.

It’s bisected by its only main road, the arterial thoroughfare known as Military Road.

I’m told much of the suburb’s population derives from post-war immigration of the Italian variety.

 

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Certainly, at one of Military Road’s shopping precincts there is an emporium of things most excellently Italian.

Recently, this bakery being on one of my routes to work, I picked up a panini for in-office lunch purposes that was a $7.50 just right – fresh roll filled on the spot with mortadella, roasted capsicum and artichoke.

Yum!

Today, I go the strictly sweet route.

 

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The pear and almond tart ($4.50) and a slice ($3) that is a full-on flat version of a Christmas-style mince pie are wonderful and classy – and a lot more filling than they appear at first blush.

I rather wish I’d gone for one of the lighter things – such as the cannoli.

My $3.50 cafe latte is excellent.

Before my sugary lunch I’d felt all spruced up and looking good after a superb “hot-towel shave” and mo’ trim thanks to Matt at Matt’s Men’s Room.

Excellent, professional and friendly, he did me this fine service for a charge of $15.

How good is that?

 

Impasto Forno Antico on Urbanspoon

 

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Our fave taverna

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oil21
Olive Oil & Butter, 196 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9315 1060

Olive Oil And Butter has become a “regular” for us.

We love that it’s doing its own thing away from the cafe culture of both Yarraville and Seddon.

The geography also means parking is never a hassle.

The coffee is reliably very good.

We love the syrupy sweet treats such as baklava, the custardy galaktoboureko and the more austere biscotti-style of paksimadia and koulouraki.

 

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But it is the plain cake-iness of the semolina revani that we have cone to love most – at first because it goes home in better nick but eventually just because it so good.

Especially when its syrupy richness is cut with a big dollop of high-class organic yogurt.

 

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We take the spanakopita and its meaty cohort the kreatopita home often, too.

These cost what seems a rather hefty $8.50.

But one look, feel, smell or taste of the incredible quality of the pastry involved soon dispels such misguided views.

 

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For in-house savoury treats, best bet is the tight blackboard list of rustic Greek dishes – just the sort of thing you might find at a roadside taverna.

Horiatiki salad with loukaniko (sausages) is a treat for $16.50 (top photo).

The serve is significantly more generous than the picture suggests.

Best of all, there are multiple discs of superb, sweet, tangy, smoky sausage.

The grilled, seasoned Greek-style pita bread – perhaps from this place? – does good mopping up the juices and a rather miserly serve of a nicely spicy pepper dip.

See earlier story here.

 

Olive Oil & Butter on Urbanspoon

Mezmez – return visit

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mez5
Mezmez, 42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8804

We sometimes have a laugh about how fickle the winds are that blow Consider The Sauce this way and that as it embarks on its adventures.

It’s our Saturday jaunt, we’re hungry and feeling virtuous after about an hour’s worth of house-cleaning in our low-maintenance home.

Heading towards Fehon Street, we are confronted with road signs ruling out a right-hand turn and destinations such as Seddon, Footscray and beyond.

So a left turn it is … and Williamstown, with no specific destination in mind.

We park and check out a cool pizza place that is on our “to do” list, but they’re not rolling yet despite it being 12.30pm.

Maybe next time for them.

So we are happy to return to Mezmez, which we wrote about just a few weeks back – it’s a beaut and significant addition to the Williamstown food scene, and we’re eager to try some more of their dishes and write about them.

 

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Bennie has been given the run of menu, including the more substantial and expensive meals, but goes for the pide with BBQ zatar chicken, peppers, spinach and chipotle mayo ($14).

It goes down a treat.

He especially like the herby nature of the chicken.

 

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My salad of baby beetroots with walnuts, goats cheese, witlof, pasrley and orange dressing ($15) is fabulously brilliant.

It’s a big serve – I take a while longer to eat my lunch than Bennie does to eat his sandwich – and filling for a dish made up so much of water-based ingredients.

The way the various goodies both play off each other and meld together is magical.

The key ingredient is the witlof, the bitterness of which moderates the beet sweetness.

Wow.

 

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Mezmez today has some keen-looking baklava on display but we find we are unable to do anything but order another of their Nutella doughnuts ($3.50).

Both myself and the occupants of the adjoining table are bemused by Bennie’s display of inexpert cutting the sees us end up with two unequal doughnut halves.

Oh well – even the lesser of the two tastes divine to me.

Just like that, Mezmez has become a CTS favourite.

 

Mezmez on Urbanspoon

 

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After the Raincoat … what?

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Well actually, after the closure of venerable Kingsville institution the Famous Blue Raincoat there will be … more Famous Blue Raincoat.

In the short-term anyway.

Meet Andy, the Newport local whose family is taking over the Vernon Street premises.

They hope to open in about a week.

There’s no great overhaul going on – just a spring clean of sorts that will take in a spruce-up of the lovely garden area out back.

A rebranding of sorts is likely to take place early next year.

The food offered will stay solidly in the cafe format but with a few Andy tweaks along the way – an emphasis on nifty salads instead of fried food, for instance.

I spy a pork burger on the dummy menu Andy lets me examine.

All such goodies as relishes and sauces will be made in-house.

The new/old joint will be open six or maybe seven days a week but not at nights.

There is a strong likelihood, however, of there being some night action along the lines of monthly theme nights of four or six courses with matching beer or wine.

 

CTS Feast No.10: Phat Milk – the wrap

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CTS Feast No.10: Brunch at Phat Milk, 208 Mt Alexander Road, Travancore. Phone: 9376 6643. Sunday, November 9, from 11am.

How good and enjoyable was this CTS Feast?

Well, for purely selfish reasons, I’d have to proclaim: “It was the best!”

You see, not only was this the first Feast in held in daylight hours and the first hosted by a cafe, it was also the smallest … well, OK the smallest since the very beginnings of the CTS Feast tradition.

And I know full well that organising and hosting a small number of people is significantly easier and less stressful than hosting a big bunch.

In this case, too, Bennie and I knew about half the guests already and enjoyed the heck out of getting to know those we didn’t.

As we arrived, the Phat Milk crew seemed to be embroiled in a frantic breakfast/brunch rush … but things soon seemed to settled down, and the timing of our massed arrival ended up seeming quite good.

Shaun, our main server, Rose, and the rest of the staff looked after us supremely well.

Bravo!

 

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As our brunch unfolded and the conversations ebbed and flowed, I realised that on top of all the many pluses of the CTS Feasts, they also provide a simply lovely and easy way for likeminded folks to mix and mingle and make new friends in a way that isn’t always that easy in other social settings.

So I was thrilled to see three guests – who had only met for the first time an hour or so earlier – swap details as the event wound down.

And Bennie and I even snagged – and feel very privileged to have done so – an invite for a homecooked Indian meal in Seddon from a lovely couple of regular CTS readers attending their first CTS event.

Wow!

 

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So many, many thanks to Alice, Nelio, Ankitha and Raj, Shamaila, Amanda, Chiara, Lisa, Julian and Christine for making this a wonderful occasion.

The food?

I thought it was outstanding.

 

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As on a previous visit, I went for the purple carrot and sweet potato latke with blueberry-cured salmon, quark and a poached egg.

It was a lot more filling than it looks here!

Most others also chose from the breakfast menu, with table’s dishes including …

 

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… a cauliflower omelette and …

 

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… baked eggs, as well as …

 

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… your more traditional, custom-selected breakfast fare.

(Swamp Thing? Gee, I wonder whose meal that could be?)

 

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Only two of us chose from the blackboard lunch menu (see below).

The entire CTS party “oohed” and “aahed” when Ankitha’s salt-and-pepper soft shell crab burger (pictured at top) arrived, while Raj’s garlic-and-thyme chicken cous cous salad also looked mighty fine.

Obviously, this event was a co-promotion between Phat Milk and CTS … but I really do dig this one-of-a-kind establishment and the people who run it.

They offer not just great food but also twinkle-eyed personality to go with it.

 

Phat Milk on Urbanspoon

 

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Knocked out in Williamstown

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mel9

 

Mezmez, 42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8804

When it was known as Plumm’s, 42 Ferguson Street was a quasi-regular for us – for breakfasts, lunches and even, IIRC, the odd dinner.

I think that between Plumm’s and Mezmez, there was another inhabitant of the address but I can’t recall its name.

Certainly, there has been a long period on non-use for the address before the recent opening of Mezmez.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing, with a view to dispelling “failed restaurant karma”.

Not that we’re suspicious or anything!

In terms of a fresh start, it’s also a fine thing the Mezmez crew has overhauled the room so that it bears little or no resemblance to what went before.

 

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There’s lots of wall tiles, lots of wood and a variety of different seating and eating configurations.

When we visit for Saturday lunch, the place is buzzing, there are happy people in abundance and staff are on the ball.

Mezmez is a sister restaurant of Pint Of Milk in Newport, so as you’d expect has many of the same cafe strengths going on.

But the new place looks and feels very different.

More to the point, outside some orthodox breakfast items, the Mezmez menu (see below) – especially the brunch and lunch lists – evinces a strong Turkish and Mediterranean feel.

And that’s mostly why we’re here and excited about it.

 

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We’re allocated a small wall-mounted table with tall stools towards the back of the room – and we’re happy about that.

Because we’re sitting right at the very spot where food leaves the kitchen and heads for the customers’ pleasure – so we get a good look, while we’re waiting for our meals, at what other folks have been ordering.

That ranges from breakfasts of the basic, toasted kind and the more ornate and decadent through to an “ancient grains” salad, panfried saganaki, crispy fried squid and preposterously fat lamb koftas.

IT ALL LOOKS FANTASTIC!

 

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Bennie chooses the buttermilk pancakes with sour cherries, toasted walnuts and halvah ice-cream ($18).

He’s happy enough, but reckons there’s too much sauce!

I grab a bite and am impressed.

Perhaps, at $18, a third pancake might not be too much to expect.

And perhaps he’s old enough and savvy enough to understand that just because his father lets him off the leash for a sugar hit doesn’t mean that’s going to be the best direction to head.

Because he’s frankly envious of my …

 

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… “mez platter” ($16) with its olives, dukkah, falafels, cauliflower fitters, dips and bread.

It’s all good or much better.

And I always admire any such dish that is constructed with such skill that all the players are in correct proportion so they all “run out” at the same happy conclusion to the meal.

That’s certainly the case here.

The outright stars, though, are the tightly-packed and fragrant falafels and sublime cauliflower fritters.

Wow!

Deep-fried yet ungreasy, they’re packed with flavour – and in the case of cauliflower, that always seems to me some kind of miracle.

That vegetable doesn’t have the most robust flavour characteristics yet often it seems to survive all sorts of cooking techniques.

The only faint quibble I have is wishing the dips had a bit more zing.

 

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As we’d awaited our meals, Bennie went close to toddlerhood regression and the throwing of a tantrum when he saw the blackboard words “Nutella Donuts” had been crossed out.

No problem, my friend – that is yesterday’s news so we’re good to go.

 

 

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Oh boy, this is awesomeness personified – and a bargain at $3.50.

Just so good – ultra gooey and divine.

And filling, even shared between the pair of us.

 

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Nor surprise, eh, that my $3.60 cafe latte is brilliant?

Williamstown locals have a new star to adore.

 

Mezmez on Urbanspoon

 

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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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