Meal of the week No.11: Saudagar

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Saudagar has been a Footscray fixture for years.

I’ve had their cholle bhatura and tried some of their sweets.

But it’s never appealed as an obvious or attractive place in which to obtain a nice, cheap feed of Indian tucker.

 

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So I am delighted – thrilled even! – to discover the place has been spruced up a bit with some new furniture and a much more welcoming look that says, “Come and eat here!”

Aside from the sweets, the prices – AFAIK – are the cheapest in the inner west: Vegetarian main courses all about $8, meat mains about $10, chicken biryanai $9.

 

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I enjoy a vegetarian thali priced at $8.

Unbuttered naan – and that’s fine by me.

Excellent, uncreamy daal that has a nice hit of ginger and appears to be made of aduki beans.

Malai kofta – wonderfully delicate and toothsome potato and cheese balls in a creamy cashew nut sauce.

Fluffy rice, pickles, onion slices.

I love my Saudagar lunch but I’m not about to tell you that it’s exceptional in any way – and that’s a profound testament to just how rich we are in the west of terrific Indian food.

 

Saudagar Sweet Shop & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

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198 apartments for Barkly St, WeFo?

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More than a year ago, I tried to sweet talk the proprietor of 501 Receptions in West Footscray into letting me do a story on his operation.

Specifically, I wanted to spend a Saturday night at 501 Receptions taking in the go-to-whoa of an event such as a wedding – taking in along the way the staff, the kitchen, the food, everything.

Nothing came of my idea – even after a mutual acquaintance, someone who is something of an elder statesman of western suburbs food, tried to ease the way with 501 Receptions on my behalf.

Now I find that, under plans before Maribyrnong council, the future of 50 Receptions is very much up in the air.

 

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According to a story by my Star Weekly colleague Benjamin Millar – read it here – council is considering a development proposal that would see the property home to 198 units in twin five-storey blocks plus eight retail tenancies.

I am not automatically opposed to such a development but such a plan certainly raises many questions.

The plans show carparking spaces to the tune of 201 while, according to Ben’s story, council guidelines would require a minimum of 260 spaces.

According to Ben’s story …

“A traffic assessment by engineering consultant Cardno found ‘anticipated traffic volume … is expected to have no significant impact on the surrounding road network’.”

Hmmm … I wonder what data and/or methodology they used to reach such a conclusion?

 

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As anyone knows who regularly drives on Barkly Street, West Footrscray, or on Rupert or Cross streets, which run parallel to the railways tracks, the traffic situation in the area can get quite intense even with the current housing/resident levels.

And it would seem the revamp of West Footscray station is rather timely – but are there, or should there be, limits?

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who regularly uses either West Footscray or Tottenham stations as to whether either is nearing or already at peak capacity, especially in peak hours.

And on top of Banbury Village, what would such an apartment block plan mean for the area more generally in terms of what is often referred to as “amenity”?

Bug Boxes and Burmese

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Bug Box party, Footscray Makers Lab, West Footscray

Bug Boxes are very clever self-watering, modular raised garden beds that uses wick technology to water plants from the bottom up.

Bug Boxes are built by a team of former refugee and Australian-born carpenters at the Footscray Maker Lab in West Footscray.

They are being created, using 100% recycled materials, under the auspices of BEAUT – Burmese Enterprise Association for Urban Trading.

As it says on the BEAUT website: “When you buy a Bug Box, you give an ex-refugee tradie a job.”

They are priced from $49 to $119, with delivery with seedlings to suburbs in the west costing $10.

To arrange a Bug Box purchase, visit the BEAUT Facebook store – but be warned: the Facebook store doesn’t load on mobile devices so you will need to order from a laptop or desktop. 

Bennie and I felt very honoured indeed to be invited to the Bug Box party at Fooscray Makers Lab – but we did wonder how many, if any, people we would know there.

We need not have worried in that regard.

Among the cheerful throng were …

 

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… Mia from West Welcome Wagon – you can read about the forthcoming WWW/CTS Greek feast fundraiser at Santorini here.

There are still tickets available but they WILL sell out.

Mia is the one with the very surprised look on her face.

On the right is Liana, one of the wonderful brains behind Footscray bar Littlefoot.

Consider The Sauce has taken its time about getting around to visiting Littlefoot but as it happens we had visited for dessert post-Pandu’s just a few nights before.

So I was happy to tell Liana that I consider Littlefoot’s “injera and hazelnut chocolate pinwheels with creamy coconut dipping sauce” a work of intense genius.

Frankly: We can’t wait to return to try out the entire menu.

Stay tuned!

Liana and her family were just some of the friends I’d made during the Dancing Dog building campaign who were in attendance at the Bug Box shindig.

 

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Some of the teenagers attending were only too happy to display their social deftness.

Crowning the happy gathering was a really fine spread of Burmese tucker.

 

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The lighting situation was challenging to say the least – suffice it to say the food was delicious, even if the photographs fail to convey that fact very well!

 

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Back at Pandu’s

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Pandu’s, 351 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 8307 0789

We haven’t eaten at Pandu’s for a good long while and we’re excited to be back.

Even more so because among our group of six are two people who have pretty much eaten the inner west dry but have yet to dine at this Footscray Indo-Chinese institution.

And there’s two others have never tried Indo-Chinese at all!

After we enter and a get a table, I realise there have been changes at Pandu’s.

There’s more people in the kitchen.

The prices have crept up – but not too much.

And there’s a new menu that considerably broadens Pandu’s previously hardcore Indo-Chinese line-up.

There’s biryanis, dosas and – oh yes! – cholle bhatrua and pooris with potato maslala.

Most of those will have to wait for another day, however, as we stick – with one exception – to Indo-Chinese.

 

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One member of our group is quite taken with idea of nachos salad as spied on the online menu – as am I.

So we order two.

What we get is, well, weird.

Doritos drizzled with some yogurt and sprinkled with not a lot of cheese, onion and greenery.

It’s OK to nibble on before our more fully cooked goodies arrive.

But Doritos?

Ugh!

In quick time, arriving at our table are …

 

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… vegetable manchurian …

 

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… cauliflower 65 and …

 

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… pepper fish.

By unanimous acclaim, the fish is our meal’s big winner.

Encased in a delicious but not particularly peppery coating are gorgeously tender and tasty chunks of white fish.

As Josh says: “I could eat these all night!”

The gobi and vegetable ball dishes – standard orders for Bennie and I at Pandu’s – are good, too, though a little wetter than we’ve had on previous occasions.

We bulk up our meal by ordering another standard for us …

 

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… veggie hakka noodles as well as …

 

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… veggie Singapore fried rice.

Both are simple but very good in that trans-national way that we usually expect more of the food from Malaysia or Singapore but which is right at home with Indo-Chinese.

Finally, we also enjoy a fine chicken biryani – which I forget to photograph!

 

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Bennie and I reckon the portion sizes of non-carb Indo-Chinese selections may have been a bit smaller than on previous visits – but that could be because there’s so many pals with us tonight and the food disappears quickly.

As well, we note that the shredded cabbage is of a rougher cut that makes it less appealing to incorporate into our meal, and that the gobi, fish and vegetable balls are not adorned with the usual jumble of chillis, curry leaves, onion and capsicum.

But still, these are minor quibbles – Pandu’s remains our go-to place for Indo-Chinese.

I have not kept track of prices as I expect to just call up the Pandu’s website when I get home.

But now I discover the prices there are not up to date!

But here’s the biz – for all of the above food, and a fine meal, the six of us pay a few bucks over $90.

That is, about $15 each!

Fantastic!

 

Pandu's on Urbanspoon

Meal of the week No.10: Footscray Milking Station

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Footscray Milking Station has been around for about three years now but never before covered in any way by Consider The Sauce.

We’ve dropped in for coffee or sanger on a few occasions but …

Recently it’s become a regular for me when seeking a nice place to have a quick lunch on one of my mid-week days off, after I have taken care of blogging and associated tasks at home.

I like it – a lot – that there always seems to be ample parking.

The place is always warm and inviting.

And the coffee is grand.

A few weeks back, I had – from the specials board – a fine panini of house-smoked salmon, creamed cheese, rocket and pickled shallots.

That board is always worth checking out – one of these days, I’ll have the soup.

Today I go for the salad bowl ($12).

Normally, roast vegetable salads are no-go territory for me as they invariably number pumpkin among the ingredients.

Not today – so I’m in.

Instead, there’s big, beefy chunks of succulent fennel, chick peas, lots of parsley and even – unadvertised! – pistachio nuts, all of them dressed with a masterful touch.

I mind not in the least the other salad also includes fennel.

In this case, it’s shaved so there’s a very cool contrast with the roast version.

In my second salad, there’s also cucumber, baby tomatoes, rocket, dill and black sesame seeds.

Again, the dressing is amazing –  tangy and with just right amount of moisture to ensure ease of eating without sodden-ness.

It’s a superb, knockout lunch.

 

Footscray Milking Station on Urbanspoon

Ka-ching! Would you like a marshmallow with that?

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When Erika encino3tered the CTS guest post contest, she hinted at “degrees of separation” links between she and I but wisely kept the details to herself. Turns out she is a fellow traveller with myself on the journalism/writer road and we have many overlapping professional and personal connections. I truly loved her contest-winning story and the subsequent review of her family’s prize lunch at Woven. And now that we’ve met face-to-face over lunch, I also know she and her husband (yes, the one that interviewed me for a job about a decade ago …) are determined and even forensic about exploring the many wonderful food options right on their Footscray front door step. So I am very happy to announce that Erika will be writing regularly for CTS. We don’t know quite how this is going to shake out yet – but we figure somewhere between once a week and once a month. I am excited about the contrast Erika will provide to my own ramblings and the small children perspective she will bring to CTS proceedings – that’s important now Bennie is a young man! I hope you enjoy her contributions as much as I know I will!

 

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Brother Nancy, 182 Essex Street, West Footscray. Phone: 0439 318 820

By Erika Jonsson

Babycinos – love them or hate them, they are a part of modern parenthood.

When my son Joe was younger I rarely had to pay for a ’cino.

I would drink my coffee and read the paper while Joe made a happy mess of his froth, a milk moustache always adorning his top lip at the end.

Over time, babycinos have become a happy habit for many families like mine – and the prices have gone up accordingly.

I made the mistake of ordering one without asking the price at a popular Footscray coffee stop and was gobsmacked to pay $2.

Since then I always check, and if it’s more than $1 Joe and I share a hot chocolate.

I have a collection of photos from our babycino dates that shows my son growing too quickly from a toddler into a boy.

 

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In July last year, Joe became a big brother to Hugh.

It’s a role he cherishes and we have all settled into life as a family of four pretty well.

As Hugh has grown, Joe and I have found a chance for regular time together again on Thursday mornings at a garden in Maidstone.

One day a couple of months ago I noticed a café in Essex St, West Footscray, and pulled up without notice.

We headed inside Brother Nancy and I asked the price of a babycino.

“They’re free. And they come with a marshmallow.”

Since that day we’ve stopped almost every week for a decaf latte, a babycino and usually a yo-yo.

It’s a beautiful ritual that doesn’t break the bank.

 

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Owner Leigh is passionate about his free babycinos – he has choice words perhaps not fit for publication about cafes that charge a premium for a bit of froth.

When he opened Brother Nancy six months ago, he wanted to create a place that families could visit regularly for restaurant-quality food in their own neighbourhood.

His chef had trialled at Vue de Monde and Atlantic but embraced the chance to create his own menu without limits in an inner-suburban setting.

At the moment nothing on the menu costs more than $16.50, and every dish I’ve seen is full of quality ingredients generously served.

But it’s the ’cinos and the warm service (and Proud Mary coffee) that keep us going back.

This week Hugh joined us for his first babycino.

Joe stole his marshmallow and most of his froth ended up on the floor, but Hugh wore his milk moustache with glee and a prized new memory was created.

Leigh, your café is the first where we’ve been regulars – and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

 

Brother Nancy on Urbanspoon

Meal of the week No.8: Footscray Best Kebab House

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After the excitement of the Dancing Dog building auction, Bennie, Che and I are up for lunch – a late lunch by our standards.

Footscray Best Kebab House is a long-time fave of Consider The Sauce – see older story here.

The truth is, though, that my couple of visits in the past year or so have had me wondering if this great place has lost its edge.

My solo meals seemed to lack some sparkle and the serves seemed a little on the mean side.

But on this visit, we work out a way to make FBKH really sing again.

For the three of us we order a large lamb kebab meal ($16) and three stuffed vine leaves ($1.50 each).

The stuffed vine leaves are fine but slightly redundant to our purposes.

The ordering of a main kebab meal for the three of us turns out to be a masterstroke.

The chilli dip is as sensational as ever and the yogurt dip (spinach in this case) is also beaut.

The salad is the usual cool and very unique-to-this-place jumble of vegetables.

The lamb is sensational, especially mixed with judiciously with both dips.

But here’s the thing – this single large kebab plate does all three of us just fine.

Much, much more affordable than ordering a small plate apiece at $14 – and it makes much better use of the big serves of the fabulous fresh bread that are routine here.

Brilliant!