Greek treats made with love in Kingsville

4 Comments

oil6

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

There’s an awful lot in the name of this great Greek bakery in Kingsville.

You see, that’s what they use – olive oil and butter.

Oh, of course, there’s other ingredients – but the name nevertheless symbolises a keen dedication to natural products.

No ingredients with numbers rather than names, no premixes … just a righteous determination to make and bake with the simplest and the best in an entirely old-school manner.

This is the kind of place at which the declaration, “Our products have a limited shelf life”, is a proud boast.

Olive Oil & Butter is run by Pelagia, her brother Chris and their mum Martha.

It’s a first restaurant/cafe/bakery outing for the family – and that’s a good thing, as it means the recipes are derived from an inter-generational tradition.

After my lunch is done and paid for (see below), I introduce myself to Pelagia, who is nice enough to set up a display platter of the Greek baking that is available this day. The line-up tends to change, but the prices are mostly in the $4-5 range (less for biscuits).

oil5

 Clockwise from top right:

* Koulouraki – biscuit with vanilla.

* “The best” galaktoboureko – Filo pastry, semolina-based custard, vanilla, syrup with cinnamon and cloves.

* Baklava – roasted almonds and walnuts filling filo pastry with a cinnamon and clove syrup.

* Revani – semolina cake flavoured with lemon and orange sweetened with an orange-zest syrup.

* Another version of koulouraki.

* Paksimadi – a crumbly vegan biscotti flavoured with orange.

As Pelagia explains the ins and outs of the baking before us, we are joined by her mum.

It’s easy to tell from the glint in her eye and the pride in her work that Martha is serious about “olive and oil and butter” and using only the very best ingredients. And no preservatives at all …

I try only a few of the above assortment – they’re delicious.

The rest go home with me – it doesn’t take too long for me to realise my insistence on paying for the lot is going to be rebuffed at every turn, no matter how hard I try or how long I persist.

Olive Oil & Butter does breakfast and lunch, too, though much of what is available in that regard is of non-Greek derivation – pies, muffins, focaccia and so on.

oil1

I do enjoy my pastitsio ($15), though.

It’s a hearty dish that is something of a variation of moussaka, with the good ground beef and tubed pasta melding into the rich bechamel sauce. The accompanying salad is just, fine, too.

oil7

And for dinner, I am also gifted this gorgeous scroll-style spanakopita ($9).

Like the bakalava and its variations (katafi, gianniotiko, saragli), the cheese and spinach scroll is made with filo pastry that is made from scratch in the kitchen.

How good is that?

My two cafe lattes ($3.50) are excellent, BTW!

PS: I will update this post with “tasting notes” as I work my way through my trawl!

The Olive Oil & Butter Facebook page is updated regularly with news and photos of what is available.

Olive Oil & Butter on Urbanspoon

oil2

oil4

oil3

 

The great western suburbs coffee debate

22 Comments

cup22

Regular readers who get their CTS fix via this blog’s Facebook page will be aware that yesterday I posted a link to a list of “Melbourne’s best coffee” as published on Urban List.

As ever with such lists, my beef is with the use of the term “best”.

Look, I’m a journalist – I know how these things work.

And work they did, in this case, with that FB post/link garnering more than 1000 views – way, way more than ever is accorded CTS’s own posts.

Another familiar beef is that in this case, as in so many others, the western suburbs did not score even a solitary mention.

So I reckon it’s worthy of a blog post – let’s have some have some entertaining discussion about your fave western suburbs coffee spots.

As listed on the CTS FB page, I have three that I absolutely swear by for friendliness, service and outstanding coffee – Cup And Bean, Feedback Cafe and Sourdough Kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

In tune in Yarraville

2 Comments

feed6

Feedback Cafe, 31 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 1955

Bad impressions can linger.

Feedback Cafe has been around for what seems like forever – certainly as long as we’ve been in the west and hanging out in the village, and certainly long before we’d ever heard about food blogs.

Management changed about five years ago but we’ve been slow to re-frequent the place.

We didn’t have what you’d call rotten times at Feedback back then, but a certain charmlessness in both food and service terms meant the place fell into the “prefer others” category.

Following more regular visits in recent times, a beaut lunch Bennie and I enjoy there has us wondering why we haven’t made Feedback Cafe our Yarraville home base all along.

The music really, really helps.

Those recent visits have mostly been made to a soundtrack of greasy, swinging, rocking old-school ’40s and ’50s rhythm and blues.

For our Monday lunch, Bennie and I are serenaded in a different way – by troubadour Michael Hurley.

Hurley is part of a brilliantly crazy musical tribe that also includes the Holy Modal Rounders and Jeffrey Frederick.

Fully embedded in American music traditions, but always standing slightly, hilariously, magically apart, this whacko crew also includes my good Kentucky pal Gary Sisco.

feed3

During our lunch, I Facebook message Sisco to tell him we’re enjoying his mate Hurley while dining and that the music-crazed Feedback crew have even been known to enjoy a Holy Modal Rounders-themed week.

Now THAT’S cool.

Sisco had his own album, Sisco & Pals the End of the Trail, released through the Jeffrey Frederick website a few years back.

The album is still available there, as are heaps of other releases by these folks.

The site is chockers with memorable, incredibly funny hair-raising tales of the tribe’s history by Sisco and others.

And like Sisco, I reckon the 1976 album Have Moicy, featuring Hurley, Frederick and the Rounders, is an outright masterpiece that stands with the very best Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Chuck Berry or any other American genius you can think of has ever come up with.

OK, on with the food!

The feedback lunch menu (below) has a decided American south/south-west slant without getting too precious about it.

That’s a bit like the way the decor and general atmosphere go their own slightly scruffy, comfy lived-in way in a nice contrast to the increasing hipster-sheen of Yarraville and Seddon.

The staff, too, have that slightly scruffy, comfy, lived-in look. (Joke!)

feed1

As I did on my previous visit, Bennie orders the pulled pork po’ boy with slaw and chipotle BBQ sauce ($10).

It’s fresh and crunchy, and he likes it, but hankers for a more robust BBQ flavour.

And he frankly, rudely ogles the popcorn chicken po’ boy a lovely gran is attacking at an adjacent table.

It DOES look real fine!

feed2

My hillbilly chilli of chipotle, stout and puy lentils with corn chips and sour cream ($11) is unlike any chill I’ve ever had.

There’s no red beans, for starters!

But with the sour cream, a lesser amount of cheddar and some salsa, the beautifully cooked lentils make for a satisfying lunch.

The corn chips are the same quality brand we always have around home – that’s a good thing!

After a couple of stupendously fine cafe lattes, I remark to Bennie as we amble up Ballarat Street that my beverages have completely alleviated my back pain.

That’s not true, but they’ve sure made it more bearable!

(PS: I saw the Holy Modal Rounders live on Haight Street, San Francisco, in 1977!)

Feedback Cafe on Urbanspoon

feed4

feed5

feed7

Pod at P.I.D. – something exciting for WeFo

3 Comments

pod1

Meet Fiona, Mary and Jess.

Mary – she’s the one in the middle – is the proprietor of Post Industrial Design, the grooviness emporium at 638 Barkly St in West Footscray.

Soon she’ll be sharing that space with Fi and Jess and their new cafe/eatery called Pod.

Fi will be a familiar face to many Consider The Sauce readers on account of her varying roles over the years at Cafe Fidama, Touks and Sourdough Kitchen.

Jess reckons the lack of gas for cooking sits well with the food and drink philosophy to which he and Fi will be adhering.

I’m sure there’ll be some heartiness involved, but much will be of the lighter variety and you won’t be seeing the likes of a Big Breakfast at this joint.

Their motto – inscribed on their business card – is “Darn Good Food”.

While almost all of the hard yards of fitting out remain to be done, Fi tells me they’ve already started making their own pickles and cordial.

How good does that sound in terms of hopeful signs for really yummy, hands-on and soulful tucker?

They’re aiming for an early November opening.

pod2

Could be burger of the year …

3 Comments

chase2

Chase Kitchen, 80 Hudsons Road, Spotswood. Phone: 0423 742 460

The initial aim of our Sunday drive is to eyeball the tall ships parked in the bay at Williamstown.

But that plan comes to nowt when we find the traffic backed up way before our destination and even some way down The Strand.

No way – we’re not that keen on things nautical!

So off we go with lunch on our minds.

Bennie – surprise, surprise – fancies a burger; his dad’s fancy is turning to the roast lunches available in the vicinity.

Bennie gets his way, but that’s a good thing indeed in this case.

We park expecting to hit the Spotiswoode pub, but choose to check out the action on Hudsons Rd anyway.

And what do we find but a new arrival.

Well, relatively new.

Chase Kitchen is open for business on a shopping strip that has become rather competitive – there’s a hip bakery and three other coffee/breakfast/lunch places right across the road.

We decide to give it a go based on the Boston Burger advertised on the footpath blackboard sign and end up being really delighted we have done so.

Inside is a chic but mostly regulation cafe space with stools and tall tables at the front, other seating further in, a back room between the front counter and the rear kitchen, and a garden further out back yet to be utilised.

The service and welcome we are provided are exemplary.

Certainly, the sharing of our two choices – the burger ($14.50) and the pulled pork roll with Asian slaw ($16.50) – is obligingly handled by the staff.

chase1

The pork roll is fine and generous, although the crunchy, creamy, delicious slaw rather overshadows the pork.

But the burger is better – Bennie even rates it the best he’s had this year.

That’s high praise from An Expert.

The patty has great flavour, although it does seem a little mushy – more of a meaty texture would be grand.

But what really makes this a burger supreme is the tangy, spicy mayo given a righteous kick from jalapenos and terrifically crispy bacon.

It’s really, really good.

We are both given heaps of thin fries that are hot, salty and pretty damn fine, too, though some of them seem a bit limp to me.

We are not the first Melbourne bloggers to cover Chase Kitchen – that honour falls to our pal Jacqui at Urban Ma – read her review here. Although it may seem a bit boring that Jacqui and her family ordered exactly the same as us!

Chase Kitchen on Urbanspoon

chase3

Backyard Vietnamese and a huge flying octopus

1 Comment

wea14

Weasels Garden Cafe, 8 Murray Street, Abbotsford. Phone: 9410 0214

It’s been an ordinary sort of week.

No actually catastrophes, but the senior partner of Consider The Sauce has felt harried and frazzled, and a bit down on life to boot.

All of this was exacerbated by the sudden arrival on Friday morning of explosive lower back pain.

The last occasion of such a severe episode – a few years back – saw me attempting to soldier on and ending up in an ambulance.

So this time, Bennie and I know just what to do.

Nothing.

More particularly, the cessation of all normal activity.

So … no work, no getting paid for work (such is the life of the casual employee), no driving and – hence – no school for the boy. (Mind you, Bennie’s teacher is happy for him to miss a day of schooling for some quality home/dad time …)

Happily, all that horizontal rest and sleep pays profound dividends, so the next day finds me well on the way to wellness.

Not fighting fit mind you, so not up for anything too tumultuous or strenuous – so that counts out the Ethiopian festival in the mall.

But we ARE up for a leisurely drive to Richmond/Abbotsford, especially as we have a hunch our destination will provide not just fine food but also a tranquil, beautiful setting in which to enjoy it.

wea2

Weasel’s Garden Cafe is, well, a garden cafe set in a Victorian home on a residential street about a block from the intense Vietnamese vibe of Victoria St.

After we’ve ordered, I get talking to the other person taking photographs of the lovely garden that features chillis and lemons and much else besides.

This is Jen, who is part of the family responsible for this newish business.

She tells me it is the brainchild of her sister, Linh, a keen gardener after whose cat the cafe is named, while their mum, Phuong, does the cooking.

The cafe has been open about five weeks, with most of the customers being just plain old Australian, with only the occasional visit from those of a more Vietnamese Australian persuasion.

Jen reckons that’s down to Richmond no longer being residentially affordable for the wider Vietnamese community, even while Victoria St remains one of Melbourne’s most storied Vietnamese precincts.

I reckon it could be down to Vietnamese folks being unused to chowing down in such a setting.

Could be we’re both right.

wea8

Jen also tells me there was only one formal objection to the opening of the cafe on a residential street.

That makes sense – after all, this is not a night-time joint and, besides, who wouldn’t want a lovely garden cafe serving coffee and Vietnamese food on their street, or even right next door?

Weasels Garden Cafe is working on several fronts – breakfast, coffee, Vietnamese food (see menu below).

But we’re definitely here for the latter, of which there are half a dozen offerings.

We drove here vaguely assuming we’d be supping on pho, but as it turns out we end up splitting a couple of very different dishes.

Bennie opines that what we’re served is very much your standard Vietnamese tucker of the kind we’d be served much closer to home.

He has a point – though the point is only so sharp.

wea4

Grilled chicken with fried egg and rice ($12.50), for instance, IS standard issue, but all is freshness and the chicken is intense with marinade flavours and free of skin, gristle or fat. The egg is runny and perfect.

wea5

Marinated pork with lemongrass, ginger, salad, herbs and vermicelli ($12.50) is just as fine, with the presence of celery and red capsicum making it stand out.

We enjoy our lunch very much, especially in such a grand setting. If we have any wistful desires they would be along the lines of wanting a little more chilli oomph and sharper, more robust flavours in both dishes.

By this time we are loving the joint so much we have easily abandoned the idea of stopping somewhere in Carlton for gelati, and dig in right where we are for coffee and a sweet treat.

wea7

My cafe latte and his hot chocolate are just right.

Our gluten free rock crackle ($3) seems to be weirdly misnamed – world’s best hedgehog would probably be more accurate.

It’s both light and incredibly rich, and studded with puffed rice and (I think) dried raspberries.

It’s more substantial than it looks, too, so much so that my normally ardent sweet tooth son does not finish his portion.

By the time we’re done with Weasel’s, our only regret is that it’s on the wrong side of town.

This place has us hoping that some westie entrepreneurs might take up the challenge.

After all, we have hundreds of cool ethnic eateries in our wider neighbourhood and a growing numbers of fine cafes – but, as far as we are aware, none that combine both with quite this level of harmony and style.

As we depart, little do we know our day’s adventures are not yet completed – for we have yet to meet Tony The Kite Man.

Tooling home and driving alongside Royal Park – something we’ve done thousands of times before without finding cause to stop – Bennie spies something mysterious and thrilling in the sky.

So this time we do stop.

wea13

In the middle of a wild paddock behind the hospital and high in the sky, what we find is a kite.

And not just any kite – this is the biggest by far either of us have ever seen.

It’s at least 50 feet long and in the form of an octopus.

Even better, instead of the tentacles being flat, plain cloth, they’re inflated by the wind.

It’s a magnificent sight!

We get talking to the kite’s flyer and owner, Tony, as the darkening sky threatens an afternoon apocalypse.

At some point, the kite shakes free of its moorings, so we all run off in pursuit.

Well actually, the other two run … I walk gently.

The kite is on its way to a gentle landing, but luckily Bennie apprehends its line spool before it becomes embedded in a tree.

As our new friend and kite expert quips: “All trees love kites and getting a kite out of tree is mostly impossible.”

The impending rain nixes out combined efforts to get the kite flying again, but somehow I’ll think we’ll be back some Saturday afternoon soon to see Tony in action.

As Bennie points out as we move on homewards, there’s something both marvellously exciting and sublimely peaceful about kites.

They’re good for the soul.

And crook backs.

Weasels Garden Cafe. on Urbanspoon

wea1

wea10

Linh, owner of Weasel the cat and Weasel’s the cafe.

wea11

wea9

wea3

wea6

wea12

Making a toilet call in Yarraville

1 Comment

garazi3

garazi8

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

A new breakfast/coffee/lunch place on Gamon Street?

By my count, Garazi makes it six.

But let’s not get all ho-hum about this.

Situated at the less caffeine-crowded Somerville Rd end of Gamon, Garazi seems well placed to prove attractive to locals who may prefer the ease of access compared to, say, the more congested and busy Yarraville village in one direction and Seddon in the other.

The new joint is an adjunct of the longstanding wedding car business that shares the property, while the cafe itself was formerly a wedding photo business.

Owner Tony, who has run the various businesses here since 1984, tells me the cafe space has had quite a lot of work, time and money put into it.

It’ a big, roomy and bright space, despite the overall blackish colour scheme. And it’s pleasingly uncold when I visit.

There’s an automotive theme going on here, but it’s not excessive.

garazi3

Apart from some wall trappings and a great-looking “sofa and two chairs” obviously extracted from a motorised vehicle, at the moment there’s an old-school Mini in the house as well as a chassis and engine of what I at first take to be some from sort of truck.

No so, says Tony – they’re actually from a 1948 Jag, the body of which sits next door, in a corner with the many gleaming Rollers looking on.

A novel twist is the entrance to the loos – through a vintage telephone box!

The menu is well thought out, with a lot of options and the line between breakfast and lunch fodder rather blurred.

“White bean mash, field mushroom with fennel salad and capers” ($14.50), for instance, is listed with the eggy dishes but sounds like a fine light winter lunch to me.

garazi7

Instead, I go for the “beaut napoli meatball baguette with swiss cheese” ($13.50).

It IS beaut, too, a nice chewy loaf over-stuffed with three plump and flavoursome meatballs, lots of gooey cheese and an excellent tomato sauce.

It’s hands on and messy – and that’s a compliment. Some fresh rocket wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s easy to admire my lunch’s singular focus.

My cafe latte ($3.50) is a fine thing.

Some of the sweeties and pastries are imported, unlike the luscious-looking blueberry, banana and chocolate pudding that will sadly have to await another day for a CTS outing.

Garazi on Urbanspoon

garazi9

garazi6

garazi2

garazi10

garazi5

garazi4

garazi1

Meat-free but even Garfield would dig it

Leave a comment

pickle2

The Pickle Barrel, 60 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9399 8338

The Pickle Barrel prospers without the groovy factor sported by other coffee/breakfast/lunch places in Williamstown and the wider inner west.

It does so, from what I’ve been able to gather as a sometime customer for a quick coffee and/or lunch, by providing good, solid food, excellent coffee and good service.

The place seems habitually busy, yet there are always plenty of staff members on hand to handle the load.

It’s a smallish cafe, with a limited range of takeaway produce and deli lines, three small tables along one wall, two more larger, communal tables and high stools facing the windows.

The outside tables are always popular, even in winter, and there’s always newspapers on hand.

There’s longish lists of both breakfast and lunch fare, but the main stock in trade are the numerous and good-looking flour-based options – wraps, paninis, baguettes and other sandwiches.

pickle1

Today, though, I take a punt by opting for the unmeaty version of the lasagna dishes on display (both $9.90).

What a handsome slab of stuffed pasta it is.

Beneath a nicely toasted cheesy cap are multiple pasta layers sandwiching plentiful amounts of ricotta, potato (I think), zucchini and more – including a tomato-based sauce so deeply, intensely coloured and flavoured that I have to eyeball the display cabinet again to make sure I haven’t been presented the meat lasagna by mistake.

It’s all fantastic and hearty and tasty – so much so that I easily forgive the fact my meal slides from lukewarm to cool at the centre of what is, after all, a very generous serving.

pickle3

Before I depart, I tumble into another serendiptous conversation with a complete stranger.

But Megan is a writer and West Footscray resident, so we become fast pals as we gleefully compare notes on mutual places, people and topics of interest.

Despite not being a Willy local, Megan regularly travels here for The Pickle Barrel’s coffee, of which she is a huge fan.

So … I order one for myself and a repeat for her.

She’s right – my cafe latte is superb.

The Pickle Barrel on Urbanspoon

pickle4

New Kingsville coffee spot, WeFo momo update …

5 Comments

project1

What was once Petitou at 206 Somerville Rd is now Project 206.

The place looks a treat, the coffee is good and they have a buy-five-get-one-free loyalty card and wifi.

Food runs, at present, to breakfast regulars, such as eggs and pancakes, and light lunch fare, such as a soup special, frittata and lasagna.

The kids/toy space at the back has given way to more regular seating and a liquor licence is in the works.

Owner Natalie tells me there are plans afoot to see the abandoned servo across the road become a four-level apartment block.

Whatever our collective ambivalence about rampant apartment development, that will surely be an improvement on the current eyesore!

Project 206 is open 10am-3pm Mondays, 9.30am-4.30pm Tuesdays to Fridays and 9am-430pm at weekends. Phone: 90044563.

project4

Meanwhile, over in Barkly St, Magic Momo Kafe proprietor Ravi tells me his baby is still at least a week away from opening its doors for the first time.

He’s taken a realistic approach to competing with the varied Indian options in the area, so is excited about a menu that covers a number of bases.

He promises a lively cafe vibe with great coffee and a spectacular range of Indian sweeties.

Pre-match brekky a lark at the park …

Leave a comment

tofwd1

TOFWD* the organic food and wine deli, Orrong Park Tennis Centre, Sydney St, Prahran. Phone: 9510 6481

For a couple of reasons, Bennie has missed both footy practices this week.

Still, we’re up for the Saturday game, prepared to front up, make our apologies and get into it.

Feeling a bit out of the loop, we rely on the bare bones information on the official draw – which tells us it’s the first away game of the season.

Easy – over the bridge, along Kinsgway and eventually turn left on to Orrong Rd.

It’s only on awakening that I recall this fixture the previous year started a full hour earlier than usual, supposedly to preserve the afternoon tranquility of the sensitive residents.

So just to make sure, we hit the road at 7.30, only to arrive and find … no one, save for an adult exercise group and a heaps of dogs chasing balls.

tofwd5

How to pass the time? That decision is a breeze on account of the presence of a rather lovely cafe.

Breakfast was bananas so we’re for sure up some actual on-a-plate food and suitable beverages to accompany.

In junior football settings, I find the usual canteen fodder of snags in white sliced bread sublimely appropriate, but given we have the time, we certainly plan on making good use of what is at hand.

TOFWD, a sister establishment to the one in Degreaves St in the CBD, has some inside seating, but a whole lot more outside in the sun.

It’s a lovely setting, which we are delighted to find is matched by the food, service and coffee/hot chocolate.

tofwd2

Bennie’s “egg & bacon butty w spinach and bbq sauce on toasted ciabatta” ($10.50) looks a little light on for the price.

But it looks and smells divine, and does a fine job for the boy.

My repeated requests for a taste are deftly waved aside by my smirking offsider.

tofwd3

My “avo & fetta smash” ($10.50) is likewise satisfactory.

It’s fresh as can be and on good bread.

So if you’re not here to play tennis, play fetch with a four-legged buddy, otherwise exercise or await your junior rugby teammates, is there any reason to visit TOFWD?

Well, yes.

The lunch menu (below) features such items as salads, pasta and a pie.

It’s quite the gem and this has been a fantastic Melbourne accident.

Open 7.30am-3pm Monday-Friday , Saturday 8am-3pm and Sunday 8am-2pm. Through the tennis term, are open until 5.30pm Monday to Wednesday.

TOFWD* the organic food and wine deli on Urbanspoon

tofwd4

tofwd8

tofwd6

tofwd7

tofwd9

Brunetti

9 Comments

brunetti12

Brunetti, 380 Lygon St, Carlton. Phone: 9347 2801

If there had been a red carpet and VIP list involved, we wouldn’t be up the first or on the second.

Nevertheless, we reckon we’re smack bang in the middle of a bona fide Melbourne event – a happening packed with buzz and delight.

It’s the opening day of the ultra-swish new Brunetti and we’ve fronted for breakfast.

So have a lot of other people; everyone, staff and customers alike, is revelling in the moment.

brunetti3

We know there are those who never had much or any time for the previous Brunetti incarnation in Faraday St, finding it too slick, flash and imposing.

For them, the new premises are likely to be even more problematic – because the new Brunetti is huge, taking up almost the entire space of what used to be Borders and running from the Lygon St entrance to the more formal restaurant space at the Drummond St end.

In between there is everything you’d expect – gelati, pizza oven, biscotti, pastries, cakes and more.

And a raised caffeine hub with two gleaming monster machines already doing grand business.

brunetti13

Our semi-regular Brunetti visits have almost always been about mid-week gelati treats, takeaway biscotti or breakfast, and doubtless that will continue to be the case.

We’ve never had much truck with the more substantial fare, though it seems it may possible to pursue those avenues in the new place with more ease and perhaps even greater quality.

Because there is a lot of comfortable seating spread along the length of the premises.

The place will still be a madhouse at peak times – in our experience, that means any weekend after about noon in spring or summer.

But there is no denying the spaciousness and style of the new place – it’s like the old Brunetti on steroids.

If you loved Faraday St, you’ll likely love Lygon St. If not … run!

brunetti1

It’s a special adventure so I let Bennie off the leash – he enjoys not one but two apricot Danish pastries at $4.10 each. They’re fresh and hit the spot.

His two hot chocolates are slightly better than good but don’t send him into raptures. Same thing goes for my two cafe lattes.

My toasted ham, cheese and tomato is a $9.50 dream that has me issuing moans of delight.

Really, it’s hard to imagine how a toasted sandwich could be better – excellent bread uniformly, perfectly toasted; great tasting ham; gooey melted cheese.

When Bennie has a taste, the cheese strands stretch from his sandwich-holding hand to his gob until they snap and bounce happily off his chin.

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

brunetti8

brunetti2

brunetti14

brunetti7

brunetti6

brunetti4

brunetti9

brunetti10

The Rusty Fox

2 Comments

rusty5

All smiles on opening day – (from left) Rusty Fox crew members Jennifer Galea, Kim Scott, Rebecca Creighton and Manuel Santeiro.

The Rusty Fox, 501 Macaulay Road, Kensington. Phone: 9372 1218

It’s very early on opening day for the Rust Fox, a brand new and ultra-chic “old-style provedore and locally driven deli” on Macaulay Rd.

As such, we’re happy to leave a closer examination of the food available – both eat-in and take-home – for another day.

Which isn’t to say we’re not tempted by the list we spy that includes, among other lunchy and brunchy items, Vietnamese chicken coleslaw and a simple sandwich of leg ham, cos lettuce, cheddar and Dijon mustard.

But we make more than do with a very excellent cafe latte, a hot chocolate and a couple of crunchy, buttery chocolate and walnut cookies.

Bennie’s hot chokkie adventures can range, often within a single week, from magnificent to thoroughly unmemorable. So we’re happy to report the Rusty Fox is very definitely of the former category.

The Rusty Fox fit-out is a true delight, capped off by a number of murals by street artist Kaff-eine.

We enjoy our beverages and munchies in the back garden space.

Front of house has a single table in the window area and a number of stools cuddling up to the servery/bar area.

Between the eat-in menu, the blackboard list of available meats and cheeses, a refrigerated area containing soups and the like, and a wall adorned with house-made condiments and other tasty items, it seems the Rusty Fox crew have put a lot of thought into making the best use of the space available to feature a lot off high-class foodiness.

The Rusty Fox on Urbanspoon

rusty2

rusty4

rusty8

rusty1

rusty7

Mama Bear

2 Comments

mama7

mama6

Mama Bear, 526 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 0386

In terms of location, Mama Bear really has it nailed.

Roughly equidistant from the coffee-and-more riches of Union Rd, the swell Asian smorgasbord on the other side of the railway line on Racecourse Rd and undistinguished Macaulay Rd, it really stands out.

Even better, unlike the situation on those three nearby strips, the parking here is unrestricted on both sides of the road. You may have to look for a wee while at weekends, but I doubt it’ll be any great problem.

Lovely exterior artwork, concrete floor, random yet stylish furniture, vintage signs, a high communal table with stools – yes, this is hipster cafe territory.

As you’d expect, breakfast is the big deal here. Heck, there’s not even a lunch menu – the post-noon fare falls under the heading “Brunch”.

The building was previously a Mexican joint the threshold of which we never crossed.

Co-proprietor Daniel tells me that ithe building’s first role was as a stables or some other equine-related business. He shows me the indentations where horses had gnawed away at the window frames.

mama4

I love the display of $3.50 old-school slices and hedgehogs. Some are brought in, some are made in-house.

The non-breakfast line-up is compact and appealing, with all items sitting on or around the $17 mark.

There’s a pesto-based pasta, a blackboard risotto, a calamari salad and a beef cheek slider.

I go for the Angus burger.

mama1

The orthodox in me yearns for something more usually related to burgers for accompaniment – coleslaw maybe, or chips. Or both.

But truth is, I am a fan of the rocket and fetta fad – and this is a good one: Fresh, lemony, tangy.

The skewered pickled cucumber is a crunchy, slightly sweet and delicately seasoned delight.

The beef patty looks modestly sized but is quite substantial. More importantly, it tastes fantastic. If only all burgers were this juicy! Maybe it could’ve done with a slightly heavier hand in the salt, pepper and seasoning department, but it’s still a very fine thing.

By the time the beef is all gone, I’m left with a handful of other ingredients – high-quality bun, shredded red cabbage that looks pickled but doesn’t taste like it, tomato, good and gooey cheese, mustard and mayo. But they’re all so classy, I enjoy consuming every last morsel.

Has my Mama Bear burger been worth the extra few bucks above what you’d pay for a basic sandwich at, say, Grill’d or Jus Burgers?

Yes.

To finish, a cafe latte is ordered.

It’s insanely excellent.

Mama Bear on Urbanspoon

mama5

mama2

Mo Jo La Coffee

Leave a comment

mojola1

Mo Jo La Coffee, Cherry Lake, Millers Rd, Altona.

Laurence has been running his coffee service at Cherry Lake since September.

He tells me the business is going fine, to the extent he’s even pondering an extension into food realms.

A carpenter in his previous life, he built his very cool cart himself.

He’s open seven days a week and from around 6am on week days.

That’s when he gets good custom from the commuters; later on in the day there’s an influx of mum with babes and toddlers in tow.

The cafe latte he makes me is terrific – hot and strong.

The business gets its name from Laurence’s daughters – Moana, Joanne and Lauren.

mojola3

Over by the lake itself, I get talking to a trio gregarious fishermen.

Vladimir, Paul and Vladimir are all from Altona by way of Slovakia.

They tell me they’re trying catch the pest species carp.

When they then tell me it’s not unusual for the anglers hereabouts to pull in carp weighing six, seven, eight and more kilograms, I frankly and rather rudely express strident disbelief.

Surely they’re winding me up?

So Paul sends me over to examine the contents of a big red bucket at the fishing pozzie of some fellow fishermen about 20 metres away.

mojola2

Peering in, I am gobsmacked to see a still very much alive fish that is at least a foot and a half long!

The boys tell me that the carp they catch here make good eating, but that they remove the oily skins and that the fish does have a lot of bones.

One of the Vlads cheerfully informs me that if he were to reveal the secret ingredients of his bait balls, he’d then be obliged to shoot me.

mojola4

mojola5

An old argument …

6 Comments

Meet Peter and Annette.

These lovely folks service my coffee needs when I’m working in Geelong.

Their old-school coffee shop is situated in the equally old-school Centrepoint Arcade.

The arcade, like so many of its kind, is a little dowdy these days, forced to stand in the metaphorical shadows of two nearby shopping centres.

It has a beauty salon (of course), a frock shop, a loan merchant, while quite a few of the shop fronts and other spaces are used by Diversitat for training purposes.

No surprise there are few empty shops as well, while at one end is a beaut barber emporium staffed entirely by also-lovely gals of a certain age.

Peter and Annette serve up sangers and a range of homemade goodies to customers almost all of whom seem to be long-standing regulars.

They display a generosity of spirit and patience with the dears who expect a bit of a natter as they mull over the choice schnitzel or meatloaf.

I’ve learned to depart and return in 10 minutes or so when there are more than a couple of customers waiting to be served.

I’d always had them pegged as a retired couple who were using their business as a way of staying active and topping up the super a bit.

So I was delightedly surprised to discover they have been doing business in the same premises for 25 years.

I doubt Peter and Annette consider themselves baristas, but nevertheless they consistently turn out affordable coffee ($3) that tastes like coffee – something that cannot be said of their various competitors a block or so in any direction.

The whole vibe could not be of a contrast to that of Padre Coffee at South Melbourne Market.

On a recent visit to the market, I enjoyed a superb coffee at the Padre out let there.

Writing about it, I tossed in the casual observation that Padre seemed to to be “one of those new-school cool coffee chains staffed exclusively by young hipsters”.

Later that night, I thought to myself: “Am I really OK with that?”

To tell you the truth, I’m still not really sure.

But giving free rein to some good-natured curiosity, I emailed the company asking about its policy regarding mature-age workers and whether only young staff were employed.

The company did reply, the gist of it being:

In response to your query – you can rest assured our company is not one ‘in
pursuit of a certain look and image’.

As you would have seen – we’re all about coffee, our customers and a great
space to relax and enjoy a coffee (although South Melbourne can be very
hectic on the weekends).

Kudos for actually replying to my inquiry, except for the fact it did not address my main question.

In fact, it’s pretty much a gold-plated fob-off!

And had it not been for the nature of the reply, I most likely would’ve let the matter drop.

But, instead, it spurred me top check out one of the company’s other outlets – the Brunswick East Project in upper Lygon St.

There, by contrast with the South Melbourne Market shop, the coffee was barely average.

The fittings, furnishings, the whole vibe were pure-bred inner-city hip to an almost painful degree.

And the half-dozen or so staff had many, many years – decades, in fact – to travel in life before anyone would think of calling them mature age.

Padre Coffee seems in many way admirable endeavour – passionate about its product, professionally run and so on.

But …

Like so many employers, Padre would no doubt claim it does not discriminate on the basis of age – that those employed are chosen simply on the basis of merit.

Such may even be the case.

Equally obviously, though, there are cases in which discrimination is at work.

Proving so, of course, is well nigh impossible.

Commenting on my thoughts on this topic, a friend said:

And anyway, if I owned an inner city cafe, I probably wouldn’t employ anyone over the age of 25 anyway. I suspect that younger people could be more easily trained, they would have the stamina to do the job, and as a group, it is far easier to get a team to bond when they’re all in the same age bracket. And younger people are more likely to accept the pitiful wages they would be earning and be more flexible with the working hours required.

My reply to that is simple: Piffle!

As this is a subject of personal significance to me, I have read much about it.

I cannot recall reading about a single instance in which these hoary old (!) arguments have been substantiated or quantified in any way.

Indeed, the available research seems to overwhelmingly indicate the exact opposite – that mature-age workers are rich assets on almost every level.

And anyone who thinks I’m raking in the dough working as a part-time sub-editor for the Geelong Advertiser is utterly deluded.

Besides, at the risk of sounding precious, I’m interested in work that is an enriching, creative part of life; the money side of it is very negotiable depending on the circumstances.

In terms of the hospitality industry, there are many grey areas when exploring this issue.

All power, for instance, to the self-employed of all ages who run owner-operated businesses.

A sub-set of that are the many great family-run businesses that provide so much of our eating-out pleasure.

That’s some real hard yards right there, too, spread right through whole extended families – from toddlers to venerable elders.

But presumably the benefits, investment and security derived are likewise spread.

But when it comes to an employer like Padre, it seems fair enough to ask the question.

Getting a straight answer, of course, is another issue entirely.

In the meantime, I plan to make it my business to direct my business – and my mature-age-dollars – wherever possible towards food and coffee outlets and employers that obviously do NOT discriminate on the basis of age.

And in discriminating against those I suspect of doing otherwise, I won’t be breaking the law.

Besides, in the case of Padre and its Brunswick outlet, the welcome mat is not out anyway:

honey & coco

2 Comments

Honey & Coco, 42B Hall St, Newport. Phone: 9399 4493

It’s the neighbourhood immediately surrounding Newport train station that saw me renounce the use of public transport for my quasi-daily commute to Geelong.

Especially during the colder – and darker – months, the station and nearby shopping strips were grim, bleak and even occasionally forbidding and threatening.

In a more relaxed space on a sunny mid-week mid-day, the vibe is quite a bit more welcoming.

Not that this appears even now as a foodie destination.

There’s a range of traders doing most things most locals probably need, but it’s hard to conjure up more enthusiasm than that.

Perhaps the Thai restaurant? Prices pretty steep by our standards, but I have a hunch it’ll be a good one when – not if – we finally visit.

There’s two cafes of the urban chic variety – one either side of the tracks.

But the prices in one scare me a bit when I am only seeking a cheap and cheerful lunch.

And the other has a dauntingly high baby/toddler head count whenever I’m in the vicinity.

Which is how I find myself settling into Honey & Coco.

It has a slightly more utilitarian feel than its two immediate competitors, but it smells good, and the deal is sealed when I spy something on the menu that I find I want and didn’t even realise it.

The enticing aroma, I suspect, is emanating from the day’s soup special, vegetable, which the majority of customers are enjoying.

There’s a smallish range of filled Turkish loaves that look pretty good, while the muffins, cupcakes and so on seem standard.

But I go for the Greek salad.

It’s available with various protein additions at a price, but I keep it plain and simple, seeking a light, healthy, crunchy lunchy.

Surprisingly for lunch-on-the run cafe-type places of any stripe, my salad is made to order and from scratch.

It’s thus super dooper fresh – the cos lettuce is especially toothsome.

If there are things about it I’d prefer to be otherwise – plain olive oil instead of a balsamic dressing of some kind that stains the fetta cheese brown, the cheese itself too highly crumbled, kalamata olives I’d rather the stones were still in, the ’70s-’80s rock music – I’m prepared to write them off as personal preferences.

And at $10 with two segments of Turkish bread, it’s a good price for a big serve.

I’m happy with my lunch.

My cafe latte is even better – very good, in fact.

Honey & Coco has a down-to-earth warmth and welcome that has obviously earned the loyalty of the regulars who come and go as I enjoy my time there.

Honey & Coco on Urbanspoon

A letter to Padre Coffee

2 Comments

Hello there!

 May name is Kenny – I am a father, foodie, journalist and blogger.

 Yesterday, during a visit to South Melbourne Market, I enjoyed a Padre café latte.

 It was excellent; the highlight of my visit by far.

 The staff were very professional and helpful.

 However, I couldn’t help but notice they were all very young.

 I really hope your company is not one that, in pursuit of a certain look and image, turns its back on mature age workers!

 How totally unhip would that be?

 Cheers, Kenny Weir

Cup & Bean follow-up …

Leave a comment

Cup & Bean, 20 Wembley Ave, Yarraville. Phone: 0459 075 207

Wembley Ave in Yarraville has become one of our favourite places to stop by, what with Cup & Bean and Mishra’s Kitchen living companionably side by side.

Tim continues to create superb coffees for us when we drop in, and we’ve also snagged a few on our way to Saturday morning sports fixtures.

This short follow-up post is all about singing the praises of the really fine stuffed baguette sandwiches Tim is also creating.

The sourdough baguettes are par-baked to about the 80 per cent mark and then snap frozen before Tim takes delivery of them, and he does the rest at his leisure.

I sometimes find the idea of baguette is better than the reality, with the crustiness frequently taken to gum-shredding heights.

Not so here.

The bread is firm on the outside but fresh and bready on the inside – marvellous in fact!

Mine is filled with wonderfully fresh ingredients – leaves, cheddar, tomato, avocado, some mayo to help things along and, especially fine, thick slices of ham and stacks of them.

A perfectly yummo light lunch for $6 when another bowl of noodles or curry or rice is a stretch too far.

My coffee, as ever, is wonderful.

Cup & Bean on Urbanspoon

Fifty-Six Threads Cafe

9 Comments

This guest post has been written for us by Consider The Sauce pal Peppy/Karen. You can read her reviews at Urbanspoon here – as you’ll see, she’s very much on the same page us! Thanks for the cool company, fine conversation and the write-up!

Fifty-Six Threads Cafe, 56 Derby St, Kensington. Phone: 9376 6885

This one is a diamond in the rough – newly opened Fifty-Six Threads Café sits at the bottom of the imposing brown public housing block on Derby St in Kensington.

The name is a combination of the street number (56), with the “Threads” representing all of the different cultures and communities entwined like thread – very fitting for the latest social enterprise by AMES in conjunction with Urban Communities, in which the “main objective is to provide employment and training opportunities for new migrants”.

How good is this?  Get a good feed and help those who are new to our shores obtain hospitality skills!

After following Consider The Sauce since moving to the area 12 months ago, I finally got around to telling Kenny how much I liked what he was doing in his blog. Less than a week later we had arranged to meet to check this place out for lunch.

Both Kenny’s blog and Footscray Food Blog have been favourites of mine since moving to this side of the city and they have helped me to discover the amazing places to eat and go to on the west-side, so I am honoured to be able to contribute a review to CTS.

What is nearly as important as the food to me is the service, and this place won me over as soon as I walked in – very friendly and welcoming.

Nothing seemed like too much trouble and I think they were genuinely interested in making sure that we enjoyed our meal there. The fit-out is full of timber and cool suspended lighting – honestly, you could be at any of the fancy new cafes in the area sitting in the sun-drenched dining area.

Now on to the food!

The menu is split into two sections, All Day Breakfast and Weekly Specials.

Sadly the chick pea chips had sold out (cry) so Kenny went with the chick pea, bacon and thyme broth ($8) and I went with the Beetroot tamarind and dill spring rolls ($12).

I must admit I did have a bit of food envy when Kenny’s huge bowl of chick pea goodness arrived – it was a generous serving of bacon and vegetables cooked with garlic, carrot, onion and of course chick peas with two slabs of sourdough just waiting to be dipped in.

However, when my spring rolls arrived I think we both ordered winners.

The substantial cigar-sized spring rolls were filled with chards of rich beetroot that the chef tells me were cooked in a sauce consisting of tamarind and rosewater syrup – I will be on the lookout for a bottle of this when I’m in the Asian grocers next time.

I have a crop full of beetroot at home that I need to use and this was such an awesome way to cook it.  The pastry on the spring rolls was crisp and flaky, the salad was fresh and the orange segments were a great addition.

I love a good mayo, too, and could have probably done with 10 of those little pots as it tasted so good.

I also had a latte, which was from the Social Roasting Company – couldn’t fault it.  They also have a coffee loyalty card system there as well – bonus!

I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to go and check it out for breakfast and lunch the next day, so I dragged the husband out for a snack.

We shared a 56 Threads Breakfast ($15) and the pita bread pizza with chorizo ($8).

OMG you must try this pizza out – it was a cheesy, meaty, saucy plate of awesome.

The breakfast was everything it should be – well cooked and runny poached eggs. Oh and the red onion jam – far out loves it sick – all big breakfasts should come with a serve of this.

And don’t think I didn’t take home a freshly cooked almond and apple muffin, a little slice of baklava and a plum jam tartlet – all amazing.

I wish there were more homemade goodies to take home – I bet those chefs out the back have lots of awesome recipes for cakes and slices – or maybe I just came on a day where they were cleaned out of the cakes.

I honestly just love this kind of initiative that supports the neighbourhood – sometimes I feel that I don’t do enough when it comes to being an involved citizen of my new community.

I wish I had more time and money to give.

When I went to pay (by the way, they accept Visa/Mastercard) I had to double check the amount due – after the quick (bad) calculation in my head I could have sworn I needed to pay more.

The guy behind the counter tells me “it’s not all about the money”.

Amen to that!

It was lovely to meet up with you for lunch Kenny, hopefully more of us western suburbs food addicted bloggers can get together again soon!

Fifty-Six Threads Cafe on Urbanspoon

Third Wave Cafe

1 Comment

Third Wave Cafe in Port Melbourne.

Third Wave Cafe, 189 Rouse St, Port Melbourne. Phone: 9676 2399

Third Wave Cafe is a rather chic and appealing establishment a few blocks from the bustle of Bay St.

A casual glance may convey the impression this is just another nondescript inner-city cafe catering to workers of various kinds before, during and after their various employments.

Look just a little closer, though, and its apparent there’s a level of care and passion going on here – it’s in the various signs and it’s in the menu.

They’re serious about their coffee, they have a seriously good-looking line-up of paninis and – best of all – they have an interesting array of Russian dishes on offer.

I’ve been aware of this joint’s existence for a while, but have been in no great hurry to check it out.

But it scored a mention when I asked this blog’s Facebook buddies for suggestions of places to go for non-traditional breakfasting that goes beyond eggs-with-the-lot.

Breakfast is already done for today, but as Third Wave Cafe lies midway between a stimulating visit to Booktalk Cafe in Richmond and home, lunch is definitely on.

After I place my order, I feel a pang of regret as a couple of plates of Russian salad go passing by.

With the usual ingredients plus chicken and served with “artisan bread”, this looks seriously good for $13.

But my deal is done – meat blintzes ($16.50) it is.

Meat blitzes at Third Wave Cafe.

These look a little on the small side for the price, but I have a hunch that impression is going to prove deceptive and they’re going to reveal themselves as filling, if not hearty.

A bit like the looks of roti with curry at so many Malaysian eateries can slyly look skimpy!

I’m correct.

This is a really lovely lunch.

The blintzes and their filling are quite refined but at the same time quite filling.

The beef/pork mince is studded with very finely chopped onion and carrot.

The occasional whiff from the dill garnish and restrained dabs of the accompanying sour cream help every mouthful be an utter joy.

When my waitress asks how my lunch was, I truthfully and without hesitation say: “It was packed with awesomeness!”

The Third Wave blintzes also come in caviar, mushroom and cheese flavours, while other Russian items on the menu include borscht ($13.50), pelmeni (dumplings), syrniki (savoury pancakes, $14.50) and marinated shashlik ($20).

A Russian Sampler Plate of Russian salad, two types of blintzes (excluding caviar), meat dumplings and potato and mushroom torte costs $26.

I want to try everything … by the end of the week.

My cafe latte is pricey at $3.80 but very good.

The Third Wave Cafe website, including full menu rundown, is here.

Third Wave Cafe on Urbanspoon