Cafe joy away from the main drags

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Woven Cafe, 175b Stephen Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9973 5926

It was while scoping out the fit-out progress of Woven that I discovered, courtesy of a friendly local, that Stephen Street was once, many moons ago, actually the main drag of Yarraville.

All that changed, apparently, when the train line went through … and the main trading/retailing action switched to Anderson and Ballarat streets.

Makes sense really, as Stephen Street is a wide boulevard … it’s nice to see some activity returning to an area away from the village proper.

It’s sweet, too, for the four of us troupe off to try out the newly-opened Woven.

 

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Disclosure – Dan, one of the Woven partners, and his family are a long-time CTS buddies and attendees of CTS Feasts.

But as this is an impromptu lunch, not Dan nor anyone else involved knows we’re coming, though we are outed soon after being seated.

Doesn’t matter – as on every other occasion when folks have twigged bloggers are in the house, the food we receive is the same as all the other customers.

So is the fine service.

Woven is a compact space that has been fitted out beautifully.

With its outdoor seating and smartly-chosen location, it’s a hit in the making.

The menu (see below) is tight and right, canvassing breakfast through lunch.

 

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The other two lads opt for the “Bang Up Burger” ($18.50).

Both are really impressed.

Says the Bennie: “The cheese was nice, the salad was dressed, the patty was good, and the bacon and the sauce were good, too. It was all good! It all fitted together!”

The vibe I get from both Bennie and Julian is that this is a very enjoyable, solid burger.

Their meaty handfuls are abetted by “hand-cut twice-cooked chips”.

They’re fine things, indeed.

And with their skins and dimples and imperfections intact, they’re in the same tradition and mindset as the chips we get at this Newport joint.

If this is a trend we say: “Yay!”

 

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I go the salad route with happy results.

The Moroccan chickpea salad with pickled carrots, fennel and tea-soaked currents ($16) comes with chorizo added for an extra $4.

Sometimes chorizo-added dishes – often pasta or salads – can be mean in the sausage department.

That’s certainly not the case here – there’s plenty of it, which is a good thing as it’s a mildly flavoured and seasoned dish and the chorizo adds needed spice and grease.

The carrots are only slightly pickled and I even add some salt.

But it’s all good, crunchy, fresh, wonderful and of very generous size – the chickpeas themselves are a buttery yellow and perfect.

 

 

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The bread for Christine’s “lemon and herb chicken with aioli and rocket sanger” ($10) comes from another of our fave local haunts and my regular morning coffee stop.

The chicken tastes fine to me, and she gets the same chips on the side for an extra $3.

So … $13 all up? That’s a bargain right there!

We go without coffee – though with the other partner, Dave, at the coffee machine helm, I’m betting it’ll be brilliant when I do try it.

We hit the road for home and the other side  of the tracks, stopping by for a sweet, cool treat at yet another local fave – one that is, I’m told, also a supplier to Woven.

Choc orange for him, apple pie for her, lavender and white choc for Bennie and myself …

 

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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Nice vibes in Moonee Ponds

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320 Ascot Vale Road, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9370 2649

For many years, these Ascot Vale Road premises housed a corner store that was a bit of a secret – it stocked products and groceries of the South American/Latin American variety, including Jamon.

Alas that opportunity for CTS story has now gone, and in the store’s place is lovely cafe.

Ascot Food Store appears to be ideally place midway between the Puckle Street area and the eats region of upper Mount Alexander Road.

There’s heaps of residential blocks around here and I bet there’s plenty of locals who really, really loving having this new place so handy.

 

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I could be the world-weary scribe and say Ascot Food Store is just like so many cafes all over the place, including the west.

But that would be silly of me.

And it would be to deny the expertise and good cheer of the staff, the white-centric fit-out that confers a relaxed, tranquil vibe on the front room and two further inside, and the quality of the food.

It’s a very breakfast/lunch place, and – based on our meals (see menu below) – I’d describe the serves as light eating.

A hungry table of two who throw in a couple of sides and coffees will find themselves paying between $25 to $30 per person – the going rate these days for this kind of food in this kind of place.

And no complaints from us.

 

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My companion – Karma of alergicinmelbourne – likes her “Benedict” ($17) of poached eggs on top of an English muffin and shaved pork belly, all topped with bearnaise.

As far as I can tell, in this case anyway, “shaved pork belly” = “crackling” by any other name, so I can’t help but admire the sheer artery-clogging chutzpah of it.

 

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My “Apple Wood Smoked Ocean Trout, Freekeh, Roasted Caluliflower, Coriander, Cress, Shredded Kale” ($18) is fine, too.

The fish is a nicely hefty slab and beautifully cooked, though there is precious little smoky flavour.

The freekeh and cauliflower are indistinguishable, but the fish’s base is nicely most.

With the kale and salad bits, it all makes for a lovely, light lunch.

My cafe latte is very good.

Check out Karma’s take on our lunch here.

 

Ascot Food Store on Urbanspoon

 

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Salad oooh! on Barkly Street

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Pod @ Post Industrial Design, 638 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 0400 193 038

It’s taken Consider The Sauce a while to get around to writing about Pod, a preview story aside and a newsy item on the kitchen’s gallery of vintage Melbourne menus.

Truth is, since it opened, Pod has become one of our regular stops.

Most often for always excellent coffee.

Sometimes for a sweet treat, as well – including a preposterously orgasmic choc cake Bennie and I shared a few months back.

More substantial Pod fare has been had less often, but today is definitely the right time for lunch.

Saturday, early spring gloriousness, the staff not run off their feet and a jazz combo doing their best Sonny Rollins in the window.

 

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I don’t have to make myself right at home because it already has that sort of feel about it.

I know not about the breakfast line-up here, but when it comes to lunches – and this has been noted elsewhere – the lovely food Jess is sending out from the kitchen is beautiful and delicious but decidedly not of the cafe heartiness variety.

But while the serves seem far from gargantuan, the quality is unmistakable – besides, it’s a light lunch I’m after.

 

 

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My warm salad of roasted seasonal vegetables is perfect in every way.

The superb potato, red onion, carrot, fennel and beetroot speak in magic tongues with the parsley, plentiful pine nuts and goats cheese.

Wow!

Worth every cent of the $16.50 I have paid for it.

There’s some very cool symbiosis going on between Pod and P.I.D.

The latter’s Mary tells me that in terms of buzz and customers, the results are most definitely greater than the sum of two parts.

I have reproduced below the current breakfast and lunch menus, but Fiona tells me they’ll be changing in a few weeks.

My $3.50 cafe latte, too, is perfect.

 

Pod @ Post Industrial Design on Urbanspoon

 

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Back with the classic cars

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Garazi, 107 Gamon St, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 2677

It’s been more than a year since we’ve set foot in Garazi – back then, soon after it opened, it was once for a write-up and then on another closely following occasion.

Maybe it’s because, situated as it is on Gamon Street, our minds are already on foodie pastures further afield when we pass it.

So it is today.

Bennie’s copped a full-on meat-free, dairy-free vegan dinner on Friday and a healthy Lebanese lunch with pals on Saturday, so I’m very happy to let him have his way with Sunday lunch.

“Burger, masala dosa, fish and chips, roast lunch, laksa, Mexican …”

I tick off this list as we motor up Gamon and turn into Charles Street, without any noticeable enthusiasm being forthcoming from my CTS Partner.

By this time I begin to realise he simply may not be hungry.

Weird! Well, weird for a 13-year-old …

 

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So I do a U-turn and head for home, happy to call it quits.

But as we pass Garazi he becomes more animated – so in we go.

It’s a treat!

The seating area has been expanded into the real-deal garage of classic cars, among which it’s a hoot to sit with late-breafasters and friendly pooches.

The service is grand and it dawns upon us that we should treat Garazi with more mindfulness for coffees and quick bites. (We don’t do breakfast, not while out and about anyway …)

 

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For all his lack of interest to this point, Bennie makes short work of his burger with the lot ($18) from the specials board.

It’s a good, hearty cafe-style burger and the pattie tastes good and meaty to me.

 

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It’s a good thing his meal comes with stacks of OK shoestring fries, as my reuben sanger ($13) is completely unadorned and even looks a little on the mean side in terms of size versus price.

But in its simplicity, it’s a ripper.

The bread is just right – not too light, not too heavy, toasted and buttered to perfection.

The thick-sliced corned beef is tasty, as is the Swiss cheese, while the plentiful pickles provide plenty of salty, piquant tang.

 

Garazi on Urbanspoon

So very Footscray

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Cafe D’Afrique, 137 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 9411

Consider The Sauce was once a regular – a few years back – at Cafe D’Afrique.

But for coffee only.

It was excellent coffee at an equally excellent price.

But I never got a handle on the food situation.

Sometimes there seemed to activity in the kitchen, sometimes not.

Sometimes some customers were eating, more often – IIRC – no one was.

Certainly, there was no menu or blackboard.

So I gave it up, and even moved on from coffee visits as work and other activities had me looking elsewhere.

 

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But today, having completed a few chores nearby, I spy at least half the 20 or so customers chowing down.

“This is ridiculous,” thinks I. “There’s food here – and I want to try it”

So I initiate a to-and-fro discussion with genial gent I take to be the owner.

“Beans,” says he.

This would be the foul I see being happily consumed by several customers.

“Anything else?”

“Meat …”

“How much?”

“$10.”

“OK.”

Ordering done, I take a seat at a back table and wait.

But not for long.

 

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I’m very happy with my lunch.

The salad is typically African – fresh, zingy and powdered with pepper.

The lentils are mush, mild and nice.

The lamb is fantastic – lean, pan-fried, free of fat and gristle, seasoned with something that could be just plain curry powder but definitely includes turmeric.

It’s a beaut, light, tasty and satisfying lunch.

 

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An ultra-low coffee price means nothing if the brew isn’t good.

Still, I’m stunned to discover the admission price for my cafe late is STILL $2.50 – same as it was several years ago.

Best of all, my coffee is utterly excellent.

I’m told the name of the Sudanese dish I’ve just enjoyed is cheya. From what I can gather from Mr Google, this means something like “fried meat”.

As I depart, I see a recently arrived customer served what appears to be tibs and injera, so there’s more going on here than the absence of a menu might seem to indicate.

But you do need to ask.

Personally, I enjoy this sort of scenario – it requires enjoyable engagement that can be missed by merely pointing at a menu entry.

It feels good to be fed and back on familiar terms with such a righteous Footscray fixture.

 

Café D'Afrique on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

Fab Melbourne eats history on show in WeFo

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Pod @ Post Industrial Design, 638 Barkly Stree, West Fooscray. Phone: 0400 193 038

Pod in West Footscray has something special on show.

Chef Jess has come into a possession of a collection of perfect-nick menus from famous – legendary even – Melbourne restaurants of the 1970s.

They have been mounted on a wall adjacent to Pod’s kitchen – and, yes, you’re very welcome to go and check them out!

I was fascinated reading them – check out the prices for starters!

So far as I can see, there’s nothing priced above $5 in the three examples below.

I even spotted a handful of establishments that I had dined out at least once my own self.

The display includes menus from The Eltham Barrel, Didjeridoo, Tolarno, Geoff Brooke’s Steak Cave, Nutcracker, Sukiyaki, Maxims, Pickwick, Bird & Bottle, Charley Browns, Lamplighter, Mayfair,  Society Restaurant, Fanny’s, Two Faces, The Reef, The Gallery, Bernardis, The Terrace, La Bouillabaisse, Cafe Florentino, Golden Phoenix, Coonara Springs, Beefeater, Stage Coach Inn, Jamaica, Casa Manna and Omar Khayyam.

As you can see, with few exceptions they are pretty much all of variations of one sort or another on French, Italian, steak and seafood. And represent, I’m guessing, a large swathe of the then extant Melbourne restaurant mafia!

Fascinating!

 

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Phat cats go good

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phat6
Phat Milk, 208 Mt Alexander Road, Travancore. Phone: 9376 6643

The FB message from good mate, former colleague and occasional Consider The Sauce lurker Lee was simple: “G‘day, our local cafe – Phat Milk – has ramped up its game and is worthy of a visit from CTS. I’ll even pay!”

And so it is that I venture to Mount Alexander road for a classic, enjoyable catch-up and a fine early lunch/brunch.

I’d noticed a cafe at this end of Mount Alexander Road just in passing on previous visits in the vicinity – usually to grab some biscotti and the like from Pace Biscuits.

Lee tells me the current crew has been on site for about two years and that he and his family have become very happy first-name regulars.

 

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I love our brief time together, swapping tales of our current exploits in the journalism game; that game’s sometimes inexplicable twists and turns; the much-loved, good, bad and utterly indifferent of our various mutual acquaintances; our respective families and children; and food ‘n’ coffee doings in the inner west, especially over their way in Kensington and Moonee Ponds.

And I love the place.

And the food.

And the coffee.

Phat Milk’s front portion is all typical Melbourne inner-city cafe, with wraps and various other goodies on display.

Up and along a few hallways is a nice backroom, where we make ourselves at home, and an adjoining garden space with seating.

I’m intrigued and excited to take note of a pronounced Middle-Eastern slant in the breakfast and lunch menus, and waste no time in going in that direction when ordering.

 

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Middle Eastern breakfast of grilled zaatar, poached eggs, beetroot relish, falafel and hummus is terrific.

The falafels are big, soft and crumbly. The chick pea dip is fresh. And all of it works really well together.

 

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Lee goes for the purple carrot and sweet potato latke with blueberry cured salmon, quark cheese (see wikipedia entry here) and poached egg.

His latke tastes good and funky to me, and that house-cured salmon has me making a mental note: “That’s for me next time!”

And get this – for food so lovingly prepared and presented that is so very lovely to consume, we have paid $15 (me) and $17 (him).

Bargain!

My cafe latte is perfect.

Thanks, Lee, for the company and the hot tip.

My shout next time, when I’ll be sure to bring that Mark Twain foodie book for you.

 

Phat Milk on Urbanspoon

 

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(The above menu pic will be replaced at the first available opportunity!)

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